It's funny, there's so much about early parenthood that I've lost to the murk of my own faulty memory, but I can still remember the predominant thought in my mind both times I held a positive pregnancy test in my hand. It wasn't Hooray! Nor was it I'm the luckiest girl in the world! or I can't wait to embark on this miraculous journey of motherhood! Both times it was this: Oh dear god, what have I done??
Don't get me wrong, both pregnancies were very much wanted and hoped for (the second one, in fact, was pursued with a somewhat unromantic sense of purpose, as anyone who's ever involved fertility monitoring is all too familiar with: "RIGHT NOW WE NEED TO BE HAVING THE SEX. THE TIME FOR HAVING SEX IS NOW"). But I can't lie, amidst the heady swirl of emotions that accompanied those test results was the undeniable fear that I had made a really, really big mistake.
Maybe I'm the only one who experienced the Test Result Freakout ... but I kind of doubt it. It's such an enormously overwhelming moment, one that promises an incomprehensible number of life changes ahead. At the time I felt ashamed for having doubts about our choice, but looking back on it, that undercurrent of OH SHIT seems perfectly natural to me.
In fact, I'm going to go a step further and admit to three other similar new-parent freakouts. Maybe you'll identify, maybe you won't.
Holy crap, this baby was a terrible idea. I remember having this fleeting thought more than once during the baby stage, when it seemed like I hadn't slept in weeks and my entire life had morphed overnight into some sort of Sisyphean drudgery involving the sound of crying, the scent of sour milk, and the sight of human excrement. My free time had disappeared, my mood depended entirely on the mood of a tiny creature who appeared to be plagued by invisible demons, and I was living in a constant state of anxiety and bug-eyed sleep deprivation.
I hardly need to say it, but this stage doesn't last. That doesn't mean it's not incredibly difficult while you're in it, though. No mother wants to admit that she's fantasized about taking a mulligan on the whole "having a baby" thing, but I'd tell anyone having similar thoughts that it's totally normal, and things will be 100 percent different a few months from now.
My body is never going to be the same. Ah, childbirth. What other life stage leaves you a hormone-addled, exhausted, physically ravaged mess right at the exact moment you take on an insanely rigorous mental and physical challenge? And then there's the whole body image whiplash of going from Round With Child to Lumpy With Puffy Parts. The first few months after birth can make you feel like your body was permanently reassembled into a new and unappealing shape, but like everything else, it gets better with time. In the meantime, I highly recommend investing in a comfy-yet-flattering pair of luxury yoga pants.
Parenthood is going to kill my marriage. Becoming new parents is a huge adjustment, no doubt about it. It's hard to keep the romance alive when you've been thrown into the trenches, fighting just to make it through the day. Candlelit dinners and festive nights on the town have been replaced with tandem diaper duty and midnight feedings, and the stress can cause all kinds of stupid arguments and hurt feelings. The good news is that surviving this stage together can bring you closer, and the bond of parenthood can bring another indescribable dimension to your partnership. You'll make it through together, and you'll emerge on the other side stronger than ever.
Have you had any thoughts like this as a parent?
Image via Linda Sharps