“I was a little over four months along here, and this was the first time I let anyone take photos of me where my belly was sharing the limelight. They talk about how if you’re devastated and you don’t want to keep the baby, you get to choose not to. And they talk about how if you’re ecstatic and want to keep the baby, you get to choose to.
Without diving into the human rights argument, which by now, if you’re reading this, you should know where my beliefs stand—I want to tell you about the third conversation ‘we’ don’t talk about. It’s the one where you want to keep the baby, but you’re not excited. Woah. Gasp. Huh?
Yeah, it exists. And the more I talk about those beginning months with other women, the more I’m learning it’s the third side of the conversation—equally as prevalent, but largely muted. And maybe it’s because it falls under a category which is often left behind in our society: mental health, complex emotions, and vulnerable truth.
So, if you’re reading this and you want to be a mom someday, or you eventually find yourself pregnant, I want to prepare you as I wish I was prepared. It might not be A or B. It might be C. You might decide to keep the baby, and it might be the most pure knowing of your life, the thing you want, the partner you want, even the PLAN you set for!
AND YET, ‘excitement’ might somehow still be missing from your vocabulary. ‘YES, and…’ It’s complicated. Especially at this age—this age where you have just as many friends who aren’t getting yeses on their pregnancy tests as those who are. By the way, that guilt is tough. I don’t know why every desiring woman doesn’t get an easy path to motherhood, and it aches my heart to realize this more and more as I live out my fertile years, and the fertile years of my friends.
So it’s innate, this shame I’ve felt in not being excited. And I think it’s also been picked up. I mean, somewhere in these 34 years of being a woman, I picked up this belief—if I’m not excited I must not want this. Or, if I’m not excited, maybe I’m a bad mom. If I’m not excited, I must be failing.
But who actually determined that? Where are they? What does THEIR life look like behind closed doors? Can I get on their calendar? I need to have a talk with them. And it’s not all grim, either—this un-excitement. I’m getting there, and with the help of a partner who has been over-the-moon since day one, and with the space of a community who cries more often than not when they learn of the news…I’m getting there. Meeting you all there. Catching up.
Hearing her heartbeat, feeling her do somersaults as we both try to get comfortable in bed at night, seeing her cute little face on the 3D ultrasound; it’s not numbing, I do feel myself getting closer and closer to ‘excitement’ to meet this little alien. She’s so strange to me, and I’m so curious.
But the beginning? They don’t prepare you for that. And maybe it’s because I’m a warrior at heart, and I got pregnant in a year where even warriors feel defeated. Maybe it’s a 2020 thing; maybe it’s the symptom of week after week of breaking news which leaves you thinking, ‘This can’t be real.’ It seems there’s doom around every corner, why should my corner be the exception?
And, so, it’s been tough. And also, it’s been the only thing I’ve known I wanted my whole life: to be a mom. Coincidentally, my biggest oxygen suck that trembles me into complete fear is: OMG this is the most permanent thing to ever happen to me. The truth is, I will never be the woman I was before the morning of July 4th, when we tried translating a Spanish pregnancy test in the morning light along the Mexican coast.
Ugh, it took me so much work to like that woman. Man, was I just getting started loving her! And the wise will try to make me feel better and say, ‘No, you’ll be a better and different kind of woman!’ Or ‘No, we’re never the same, we change in every moment.’ And that’s nice. Maybe on a day where spiritual-bypassing is what I’m seeking, that will be nice.
But if you’re reading this and you’re either not there yet, right in the thick of it, or remembering what it was like, I’ll tell you this, and it’s not going to feel, sound, or be ‘nice,’ but it’s the truth: you can powerfully choose to be a mom AND still find complete, devastating grievance for the woman you were.
I’ve spent these last few months grieving my ‘death’—which, if you believe in holistic mindsets, makes sense for how physically hard those first few months are in pregnancy. It’s as if the fetus sucks all the life out of you, and maybe the life it sucks is the woman you were; maybe your old self is sacrificing herself for the life of this new soul. And you can feel it. And it’s indescribable.
And I can see how it also somehow feels easy to forget, and so we just name it morning sickness, remember it sucked, and we move on, because so does the experience. But for me it felt like death. For life. And now I’m in the middle of the journey, and instead, I feel less grieving and more acceptance for that woman’s passing, and the feeling of this new, other woman emerging. It takes less work, it’s less exhausting—maybe I’m even closer to excitement?
I have more energy, that I know. Like I can actually clean up the debris of my fallen identity, and pave foundation for the emerging one. That’s why I needed more time than most to allow the flooding in of the word ‘congrats,’ as that word was hard in the beginning. Congrats on the death of you! And maybe in my final three months, I’ll discover my next self.
She’ll start being built. The one who will feel, for the rest of her life, like her heart is outside of her body, now labeled ‘daughter.’ But for now, I just want to say it out loud, because I think it’s important, and because I don’t want to forget this and turn into someone who bathes new pregnant moms with only excitement instead of asking, ‘But how are you, really?’
So here it is: I want this, I feel a readiness to meet this creature the more I feel her and sense her, and I’m SO happy for the vision, dream, and family that’s coming true. But godd*mn, is there a lot of grieving that comes with it. And honestly? I just don’t feel excitement. And what I really want to say is: that’s okay.
Perhaps even normal, as I’m learning, while other moms open up and share the same sentiments: ‘I cried in my car everyday for weeks.’ ‘My baby is two months now, and while I’m growing more in love every day, I’ll tell you I never found excitement. That word just never came. And still isn’t here.’ ‘I have a lot of things, but joy isn’t one of them. And I’m surprised, because this is what I’ve always wanted.’ ‘We tried and tried and tried, and years later when it finally happened…I was so ready, but I felt so guilty because everything was there but joy.’
I believe in disrupting the conversation to make way for truth. And I think this truth isn’t being talked about enough. So, let me disrupt the conversation, let me pop the glamorous bubble of pregnancy beauty, and let me tell you what might happen: you might have all your dreams come true, and you might not be excited. And you don’t need to do anything about it except not feel alone. I’m going to miss myself. I already do. And I’m ready to meet this new one, too. As my partner says, ‘I get to fall in love with two new women in March. Wow.’
And I plan on keeping telling the truth about what it’s really like. Because I’ll tell you right now, this photo, this expression, this calm, naked-faced, half-smile of knowing and grief? Well, this is what it’s really like. This is a better announcement. This is the expression of how I really feel: a kind of pensive, soft, half-smile of ease AND discomfort, hiding how terrified I am. I’ve never felt more lost from my own self, while also a deep, deep coming home. I’m not A or B—I’m C. And that’s okay.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Alex Frost of Santa Barbara, California. Follow her journey on Instagram here and her website here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more from Alex here:
Do you know someone who could benefit from this story? Please SHARE this story on Facebook.