“Motherhood was not something I was eager to enter into. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids of all ages. My undergrad degrees are in Elementary Education and Inclusive Education emphasizing in developmental cognitive, emotional behavioral, and learning disabilities. My master’s degree is in school counseling. I very much enjoy babies, kids, and adolescents — across all spectrums and abilities. Still… loving and enjoying kids is very different than being a mother.
I’m not quite sure if my adversity of becoming a mom stemmed more from fear or defiance. I suppose being 30 years old has some perks, in that I know myself much more than I did a decade ago. Surely, I can toss, at minimum, 50% of my chips into the basket of defiance. I was sick of being asked questions like, ‘When are you hopping on the baby train?’ ‘Will you have a bun in your oven soon?’ Worse yet were statements like, ‘You need to start having kids soon if you want more than one.’ ‘You’re getting older, it’s time to start planning a family.’
Y.U.C.K. Please, let me say it one more time: YUCK.
People weren’t trying to offend me, spurring that anger to burn its way up my throat. They were warmly asking, or, at times, giving kind-hearted, unsolicited advice. My reaction was more intense than it needed to be, but that’s a very ‘Brooke’ response: intense. I used to joke to my husband every time I was asked about having a baby, I’d add a year of waiting—ahh, there’s the defiance! Maybe these comments were so frequent because I married my high school sweetheart, Noah, and together, we did all the right life steps in the all the right order: we got married our last year in college, then we moved in together, got adult jobs, built a house, traveled, did all the youthful wonders… I’m sure, from the outside, it was the obvious next step: a baby.
Yet, even after 7 years of marriage, a baby was the furthest thing from my mind, and more importantly, my heart. Through thick feelings of failure, it was in my mid-twenties, when friends and family started to have kids (on purpose!), and I began to feel like I was being left behind. I realized, or perhaps better put, I convinced myself ‘mothering’ was not something I was naturally drawn to. I didn’t want a baby. I wanted to travel and sign up for another marathon, waste my time reading and writing, spend my money on selfish things like expensive cheese, not diapers. Being a woman who does not feel pulled into motherhood, who doesn’t naturally flow in that realm was hard for me. It made me question my heart, my character, my womanhood.
The weight of needing to justify why I didn’t feel adequate to be a mom heaved itself into all parts of my being. It was wearing, crumpling, tiring, and goodness, it drenched my mind and heart in an anxious and guilty panic. ‘Am I a good person? Does this make me a bad teacher? How can a teacher not want to have kids? Am I failing as a wife because I don’t want to be a mom right now, if ever?’
If 50% of my chips were in the basket of defiance, the rest were casting bets in the basket of fear. The idea of having kids was terrifying. A selfish type of terrifying. It wasn’t that Noah’s and my life wasn’t set up for it. In fact, our life together had unintentionally set itself up to be a solid foundation for a family. Noah isn’t just any spouse, he is the supportive, nurturing, best-friend-kind of spouse. Together, we had the home, the education, the jobs, the support network, the love—oh so much love! I also had a wrench of selfishness. I did not view becoming a parent to be a beautiful and freeing thing. I saw it as an all-consuming, life-changing debt. The pinnacle of sacrifice I feared I’d fail to live up to. I believed I’d lose myself.
Belief. So much of this has to do with belief. Before becoming pregnant, I believed so many lies. I told myself I had to force myself into an ‘okayness’ with giving up running, wine and soft cheeses, and my body for a minimum of a year, and pretty much the rest of my freedom thereafter. I dreaded pregnancy. That dread, those feelings made me feel ashamed and guilty, like something was wrong with me. I wondered, ‘Do all women really have an innate desire to have kids?! If so, I’m broken!’
I wish I could tell you I had a selfless heart transformation, a humbling revelation of clarity and that’s why I chose to get pregnant. No, if anything, my choice to get pregnant was absolutely vain. I did the math. That’s right, the math. It was August 2019 and I realized I’d ovulate on Noah’s birthday. ‘That’s fun,’ I thought. Then I calculated if I got pregnant on that coming ovulation, I’d have the baby the second week of May. An entire week BEFORE my birthday, before I turned 30! Even after definitely digging my heels in at the thought of appeasing society and wringing my hands in distress to cling to youth, I could still have a baby in my twenties! That sounded nice. That sounded like me winning, getting the best of both worlds: a rich decade of travel and vibrancy, and a baby too!
‘Noah, we’re going to have a baby and we’re going to get pregnant this coming week.’
I’m not joking, it went just like that. Over Labor Day weekend, I peed on that magical stick and immediately Facetimed my sister to help me discern if I was really seeing two pink lines. I was.
This next paragraph is an opportunity for me to elaborate the spark, the brazen love burning into Noah and my life when I shared with him we were pregnant, but no string of words exist that adequately explain how precious that moment was. How the hugs on the couch, the tears lining the lids of our eyes, the nervous and joyous giggles—the hope—made our living room glow that night. Everything was perfect, a scary, surreal perfect.
Pregnancy was nothing I assumed it would be. No nausea or morning sickness wiped me out, and after the first trimester, I seemed to have more energy than my pre-pregnant self. I was calm, at peace, and like my belly, I felt my heart softening, growing. My biggest fear of not being able to stay active needed not, running 3 or 4 miles each day up to 38 weeks felt good.
Pregnancy, parenthood—this entire anxious, peaceful, exhausting, and awakening journey—is never what I expected or planned. At 40 weeks pregnant, I was guzzling liters of cayenne water, soaking myself in primrose oil, throwing back pounds of spicy Indian food, walking up to 7 miles a day, and still, no sign of a baby. He waited, I truly think to humble me, to come on my thirtieth birthday. Yes, my perfect and very vain plan to have this little guy before my thirtieth year of life didn’t happen. Instead, I spent my first day in a new decade getting two failed epidurals, a spinal, and a c-section. Though not the birth I had planned for, with no sardonic humor, it was the BEST birthday of my life. Happy birthday to us, sweet baby Rhodes Boone Kupcho.
Motherhood doesn’t always come easy to me, but it’s easily the best thing to happen to me. It’s a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice, and it doesn’t necessarily mesh with my ‘I’m going to explore all my interests and desires on my watch’ type of personality. Pausing a fun activity to hide away in a bathroom or the back of the Jeep to breastfeed is difficult for me. Toting my pump to the trailhead so I can assure my sports bra will fit for my run isn’t my favorite either but Rhodes has taught me a better version of myself exists. A version less consumed by selfishness.
Rhodes has shown me the beauty in slowing down, the treasure to be found in the present moment, sitting and just letting be. When I’m with Rhodes, I stare at him, hold him close, smell his sweet baby scent—burning all of his baby beauty in my brain and forever in my heart. This journey, motherhood, it can be tough, it can be rough, it involves a lot of crying from both Rhodes and me—but even more so, it is life-changing, life-giving, life-renewing. It is so, so good. Having a baby washes life anew. Getting to love and watch Rhodes as he experiences things for the first time feels like a second chance for Noah and me.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brooke Kupcho from Helena, Montana. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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