I don’t know how to start this post, I think I should probably start with a disclaimer and a plea.
Disclaimer: This in many ways a selfish post, I know that. I know there are people feeling dark things and going through horrible things, I am not one of those people. I am incredibly lucky to be pregnant. I wouldn’t want to wish it away and I know there are thousands of people who would give anything to be in my position. I am already a little bit in love with my next child, I hope with all my heart to meet them in September and I wish nothing but goodness, health and light for them…I think it’s fair to say that this post isn’t about them as a reality just them as a concept.
Plea: I’m not looking for judgement, I’m looking for advice – am I normal, is this normal? Will everything sort itself out!?
Right so no pressure my wise readers! And please bear all that in mind as I embark on what could be a confusing medley of hormonal emotions, we’ll see…
I’m going to start at the beginning: I haven’t enjoyed this pregnancy so far. Nothing unusual in that I’m sure, first trimesters can be an arse. And mine was actually. In fact the start of the second still is. I don’t feel AS bad but the sickness is lingering which probably isn’t helping my feelings.
Feelings which are predominantly ones of entrapment. I feel trapped. I feel trapped by feeling ill firstly. Trapped in my bed and house for a long while, then less physically stuck but still trapped in a daily cycle of nausea, tiredness and now vertigo. Trapped by all those other little pregnancy symptoms that I’d somehow blanked but are now coming back to me with a vengeance.
I feel trapped in the surrender, current and future, of my body. The rest of the pregnancy beckons then the labour, the birth, the recovery, the breastfeeding, the sleep deprivation. I have always struggled with this – my body is MY body.
Yet, sensibly I know that I am willingly sharing it with my children and all these things are borne out of love and are temporary. Breastfeeding my son caused an internal struggle and shift in me like no other – it was in every way a labour of love for me – but I did it. My birth, the one I spent nine months being anxious about, was an incredibly empowering experience. And, after twelve months of parenting my son with everything I could give, my confidence and happiness was – and still is – sky high.
But still I feel trapped…scared. I want to stamp my feet and wail and say I don’t want to do it all again, it’s someone else’s turn…
And so the big one creeps in…resentment. Resentment towards my teammate, my best friend, my husband…the one in this equation who gets to keep their body to themselves, who travels abroad, who can shut the front door and focus his energy somewhere else for a few hours and days, who forgets to tell friends that we’re pregnant because his whole body isn’t reminding him every minute, who has been able to continue and thrive in a job that he loves. A job that is placed on a pedestal; a job where perspective and priorities outside it can be seen as detrimental.
I gave up my job, willingly I should add, to stay at home with our child. ‘What’s a few years?’ I said. But the few years, three maybe four, now look like turning into six, maybe seven or eight. I may have not only given up my job but my career as well.
And so I feel scared, resentful, lost, trapped.
And then I get to what is probably the crux of it…two children. Two actual children dependent on little old me. The burden of responsibility feels overwhelming. I know I’m already a parent and proud of it, but it feels as though I will really be a parent. At the moment life feels free – one child feels fairly straightforward, we can go places, travel around together, shape our lives around each other as things come up – preschool, family, hobbies. The three of us are a little team, will we still be a team when we become four?
Or will it become ‘them’ vs me? Will I be able to retain the relationship I have with my son? I’m scared about losing it and I’m scared about not having the ability to create such a good relationship with his sibling.
I’m scared too about this next child…little things like what if they don’t sleep? Big things like what if they don’t make it, what if they’re not ok? Too many things to dwell on.
And so I feel scared, resentful, lost, overwhelmed and still trapped.
I want to run away.
But I want to run away with my unborn baby safe inside me, my husband and my son at my side. So what really do I want to run away from?
I don’t know. All I know is that I didn’t feel this with my first child…I remember being a very happy pregnant person, ALL my anxiety was focused on the birth instead, far simpler. Actual parenting – living with and loving a child was too far removed from my reality to feature in coherent thoughts.
I’m wondering how others felt before they had a second child? I read a silly survey about happiness that said mothers with one child were happier than those with more…there are so many flaws in this, but I can’t get it out of my mind. What if the confidence and happiness I’ve found with one child is halved, not doubled, with two?
Writing it all down has helped immeasurably and I know these thoughts are a symptom of mood swings…if I focus on the Spring sunshine, the curry that’s ordered for dinner, my son’s cuddles I feel ok. But then the low mood comes visiting and it all creeps back up. I’m hoping to get out of this fug soon, I’m hoping I don’t let resentment eat away at my lovely relationship, I’m hoping to feel more positive, emboldened and proud of my decisions soon, I’m hoping to find a way of retaining a foot in my career (or find a new one), I’m hoping this is all relatively normal, I’m hoping to stop throwing up soon, I’m hoping to turn a corner.
And so, after some debate, I decide to publish this post, yes for advice…but also because if I don’t I think I’m in some way adding to the idea that only positive feelings are valid for positive events. The same attitude which makes some women feel so stigmatised if they suffer from Postnatal Depression or anxiety after the birth of their baby.
Then something happened, something devastating that is not my story to tell and a big rain shower of perspective fell on my frankly luxurious ramblings…and I know this is where I want to be and the questions and worries, resentment and fear will fade in the face of an actual little person with a heartbeat and a personality. I wish with every bit of me that everyone who wants this gets it, whatever emotions have to come with the package. And ultimately I’m back at the disclaimer – feeling like the luckiest person in the world right now, just trying to work out how to get that message through to my hormones.