Dear Mom-To-Be Who Was Never Sure She’d Get The Chance To Be A Mom,
At the next doctor’s check-in, as they bring the fetal Doppler close and you feel frozen in the uncertainty of the moment before you hear the swishing sound that signals everything is still okay, know that I have been there, that I am with you.
If you pass the twelve week mark, but are still not quite ready for the social media tell all, I get it. If you’re already showing but can’t quite handle the thought of even more people knowing, it’s okay to refuse to let people tag you in baby-related memes, to insist that group photos be cropped from the clavicle up. I changed my settings so I had to approve any post I was tagged in. This is not being unreasonable, it’s just that we know all too well how little of substance we can actually control.
I couldn’t share the news with people in person without crying. The backstory that I had previously guarded with my whole heart came pouring out because I had to explain the sobs, to qualify my muted enthusiasm. Wasn’t I happy? Happier than I felt I had any right to be yet. It’s impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t been in the same trenches, how the hope would blossom and then the fear would come in like a frost, nipping each bud with its icy breath.
If you find yourself marveling at the boldness of people who share videos of their unrestrained joy after peeing on a stick, if you’re unable to imagine the bravado it requires to make a Facebook post at six weeks, to share a name with the world during the first trimester, to publicly chronicle your ever expanding bump week by week with seemingly no awareness that for some the progression does not continue to its linear, logical end, I get you. It is entirely possible that some of these people even understand too. There are so, so many ways for a heart to be broken and no wrong way to respond to grief. But if these kind of posts make you feel isolated and alone, please know that you’re not the only one to feel those feelings.
If you’re devouring books on pregnancy, and even perusing a few on delivery, but unable to purchase any on actually raising a child because of a combination of superstition and an inability to fully wrap your head around the fact that the situation you’re living in right now won’t last forever, please know you are not alone. This is an objectively poor strategy, as it risks leaving you wholly unprepared for the actual infant you most likely will get to take home from the hospital. But I get it. And people raised babies for generations without any manuals. You will find a way to make it okay.
If you hate the word congratulations, if it sounds far too decisive and permanent for the situation you’re in, I understand what you’re feeling. If you keep asking yourself when will this all feel real? The halfway mark? At the baby shower? In the final trimester? When labor quakes through your body?
Well, I can’t tell you exactly how it will play out for you. For me, the reality of a baby that would most likely grow into a child wasn’t tangible until I could touch her. And even now, over two years later, there are times when I linger longer as I kiss the crown of her head, inhaling her scent, that the previously broken parts of my heart are still marveling at how incredibly lucky I am as they stitch themselves back together again.
I’m fairly certain that not being entirely sure you’d ever get the chance to be a parent in most ways makes you a better one. An awareness of how quickly things given can be taken away definitely makes you a better human.
My wish for you is simple – if you wake up with a buoyant heart full of hope, may you be able to surrender to it. I don’t want you to lose the happy moments to fear and magical thinking, but I understand if you just can’t help it. I’ve been there too. It was my reality for nine of the slowest moving months I’ve ever waded through. Know you are not wrong for feeling however you are feeling. Know that if you feel emboldened, I encourage you to name those feelings. Only by articulating a narrative other than the prevailing one can we round out the assumptions that exist about pregnancy and motherhood so that a women who is cautiously optimistic at best doesn’t have to feel defective.
I am cheering you on. I am willing the future to come with compassion, to answer the “will I actually get the opportunity to be a mother” question with a resounding yes. I affirm you today and tomorrow and always.