Now that we’re just over two months away from our due date, some panic is setting in. It’s not so much panic that we don’t have everything ready. I know that will happen in its time. In fact, we have just about everything we need for Egghead with the exception of diapers. No, this panic is a bigger one–an overwhelming anxiety about the fact that our lives are suddenly going to change quite dramatically; things for the two of us are never going to be the same again.
I’m not sure why this is coming up so suddenly. It isn’t as though I haven’t thought about this before. Perhaps it’s this refrain we are hearing from new and experienced moms–the “Oh, just wait! It only gets worse!” or “Oh you silly, naive pregnant girl. Enjoy life now because everything you enjoy about it now will soon be gone,” or my new favorite from my sister, “Are you sure you still want to have kids?” Hearing this constant barrage of negativity does tend to focus a person on what one is not going to like about parenting. Whether or not this is actually the source of my anxiety, it certainly doesn’t help.
But I can’t blame the negative nellies entirely. No, there is a fairly real fear that has surfaced that maybe I won’t like that my life has been taken over by a child, that perhaps my transition to motherhood won’t be as natural–or joyful–as I once thought. The thing is, my life isn’t that interesting. I’m not a party girl. I don’t go out much. Mostly J and I enjoy a quiet existence, but I know that too is going to be gone soon. And for so long, the idea that this quiet, simple existence was going to change completely once our child was born has been a welcome thought. It is what we clung to through a year and a half of trying to get pregnant. It’s not that I don’t welcome that change now, but I’m a little petrified of what it might do to my relationship with J or to my own sense of self.
Perhaps this is one of the hazards of having children in one’s mid-thirties or after having been with one’s partner for over a decade. We have had so much time to establish our lives together, and I have had a great deal of time to discern what sort of person I want to be in the world. J and I are closer than ever, but this closeness hasn’t always come easy, and at times, the work to maintain our relationship is downright hard. What is going to happen once Egghead is thrown into the mix? And what of all the work I have done to be a stronger, more successful woman? Will I lose my own aspirations because I’m caring for an infant who doesn’t care what his mothers do for a living so long as he’s loved and fed and has a clean diaper? Will I resent this?
Honestly, I know that J and I will continue to do the necessary work on our relationship, but I know it’s going to take greater efforts too. I know that I’ll want to be a great role model for my son, so in a way, I suppose I’m aware that I’ll continue working toward my personal and professional goals as well–but, again, with greater effort required. So why am I so afraid? Where is this anxiety coming from?
I have to assume that some of this anxiety is normal. If I weren’t thinking about the changes we’re about to undergo, I would be setting myself up for certain shock. If I didn’t anticipate that the changes might be hard, I could be looking at some serious PPD. I think I’m just longing for that happy state of anticipatory glee–wanting to be the naive pregnant girl for even a few hours a day. But that’s not realistic.
Ultimately, change is coming–big, big change. It will most certainly be hard at times. It will most likely make me cry at times and long for my quieter, easier life. But then I also know that this change is going to bring us the greatest joy we’ve ever known. And all of that is what we are in this for–the challenge and thrill of parenting. After all, for J and I, change is not the worst-case scenario; stagnation is–and we all know that stagnation is incompatible with parenthood.