“Does anyone have a parasite? You know, someone who just sucks the life out of you?”
I went to a conference last week titled, “Dealing with Difficult People”. Only in the social work field do you have opportunities to attend conferences with such titles. The speaker tried too hard to be charismatic. I was not his biggest fan. During his speech, he began enthusiastically speaking about “annoying” coworkers, as if talking bad about the people I was attending the conference with was going to win me over. At this point, he asked the crowd, “Does anyone have a parasite? You know, someone who just sucks the life out of you?”
Umm . . . yeah. Literally.
Connecting with my baby has been a difficult road for me. I wish that I could say it is an easy process. I wish I could say that the moment I saw the plus sign was the same moment I became a mother. I wish I could say her first tiny flutters feel like kicks and not uncomfortable muscle spasms,
But I can’t.
Not enough women talk about how difficult pregnancy is. Not enough women are willing to admit that the idea of becoming a mother is incredibly scary. Not enough women out there are willing to publicly say, “This is not what I wanted. This is not what we planned, but we can make it part of the plan.”
Growing up, I believed the moment I became pregnant, I would have an overwhelming rush of motherly warm and fuzzies and be automatically connected to the child growing inside of me. This isn’t a reality for me. Pregnancy makes me feel much more connected to my toilet than it does to the life I’m carrying.
Becoming a mother is a process. It is not something that instantly happens. We allow the men in our lives to process their role change, but rarely do we stop and think about how long it may take women to adjust and “become” as well.
At the beginning of my pregnancy, before I could feel her kicks, I knew I needed something to make my situation real for me. I prayed to feel her move. I prayed I would start showing sooner. I even prayed my morning sickness would return, because if I had that, I would have some semblance of a relationship with her. I grasped at straws for proof of a relationship that doesn’t exist yet.
There are small connections happening every day. Sometimes the connection is formed in a distinct kick in the rib, sometimes it’s through a painful, late-night leg cramp. I see connections in my stretch marks and varicose veins. I see it on my scale as it groans under my feet. The biggest connection I have made with her so far hurts the social worker in me. Never, in a million years, would I have believed that finding out her sex would be a turning point for me, but it was. Even though her sex is not important, it allowed me to picture her as a child, and to give her a pronoun.
Pregnancy has made me realize our connection with others is not a single line, but hundreds of small strings that hold us together.
Sometimes I imagine who she will be. I try not to, as I want her to be brought into this world with a blank slate, but I can’t help imaging what she will be like. Will she be a movie buff like me? Will she be an athlete like her father? Will she have an intense passion for learning, but a deep fear of math homework? Will I be able to instill my love of 80s music, or will I have to leave that up to my father? Will she love camping, or despise the bugs and heat? There’s no way to know. But for now, I am carrying a child. She is with me whether I am ready to be a mom or not.
We might as well get to know each other.