Notes on Parenting Before I Was Ready
TW: PREGNANCY LOSS
This post will discuss feelings of disappointment related to unexpected pregnancy.
Becoming a Parent Before I Was Ready
Move states after getting hired for dream job? Check. Find cute little apartment near my closest friends? Check. Feel adventurous and excited about the possibilities of the next few years of my life? Check and check. Get pregnant? Che—wait, HOLD UP. PREGNANT? This was definitely not on the to-do list for the foreseeable future. While I had been pretty sure that someday I would become a mother, the emphasis was still very much on the “someday”.
Let’s back up a bit. Everything was going swimmingly. I loved my new place and being back in town with my friends and family. My new job was going well. I was already dreaming of the trips to come over the course of the next year. Nothing was out of the ordinary…except a little breast tenderness (read: a LOT of breast tenderness) but hey, hormones are weird so I assumed my cycle was just on the fritz after a stressful month, which is what I attributed the delay in my period to. I decided I wasn’t pregnant and for a while, just left it at that. But as time went on Aunt Flow never showed, I thought to myself, “I’m certainly not pregnant (even though I’m Googling symptoms every couple of days). But! I suppose taking a test can’t hurt.” So I casually picked one up on my next Target run.
The following morning, with a full bladder, I headed to the bathroom to do my due diligence. As soon as the sample hit the stick, it suddenly dawned on me that I actually could be pregnant. Denial is a funny thing, man. The test lay there on my bathroom counter, looking relaxed as it did its thing over the longest, most agonizing two minutes of my life. As my timer went off and I nervously glanced down at the little window, I was bowled over when I saw TWO pink lines. I ran to get the packaging from the other room to make sure I hadn’t interpreted the result incorrectly and, much to my dismay, I had indeed accurately recognized the test as positive. I looked up at myself in the bathroom mirror and the loudest, most pitiful sob I had ever heard came pouring out of my body. At the ripe old age of 23, my womb was inhabited and life as I knew it was over. On top of that, I had to tell my parents I was pregnant! I felt 16 again. I spent the rest of the day crying to everyone I broke the news to, and I was surprised to find that they all met me with acceptance and excitement for this new journey. My favorite response was via my dad who told me, “Well…you’re no spring chicken.” I started to think maybe I could do it.
Days went by and my belly started to reveal the growth with this new life. When I finally fully came to terms with this inevitable change in my life, I was able to adjust. My friends and family wholeheartedly supported me through what was to be a very long, depressing pregnancy and have now come to be the biggest parts of the village it takes to raise my son. I love him to a level I truly cannot believe. Being a mother has given me the most joyous sense of purpose and I would happily do it one hundred times over if I needed to.
I have had deep feelings of loss since becoming a parent. I have “missed out” on many of the things I anticipated experiencing in my 20s: traveling with my friends to places I had only ever dreamed of going, having enough time to myself to strengthen good habits and enjoy my hobbies, following the “normal” pathway of love/marriage/baby carriage. I even lost some of my friends. The grief was overwhelming some days and it felt shameful to be sad when I ultimately had a great life and a healthy baby.
That's where good old-fashioned therapy came in. For me, therapy has been the best source of healthy coping mechanisms as I have learned that this thought process is very normal and can happen with all different types of life changes. I still have days when I long for these things and daydream about my life in another dimension, but I now know that it’s normal to do so. I have an understanding that with those losses have come many wonderful gains. I can be happy AND grieve loss.
It’s important to note that this sense of loss can come from an entirely planned, wanted pregnancy as well—grief follows no rules. These feelings are normal if they come up in these situations, too; so know that there is no need to feel shame or guilt about them. Expected or unexpected, these little heathens rob us of the freedoms we once knew! But it’s (most of the time) entirely worth it ☺
Let's talk! For others who have had a similar experience with grief/loss due to parenthood, what are the biggest things you feel you lost? How do you cope with those feelings best? Thanks for reading and I look forward to this meaningful and important conversation!