Motherhood is a guilt ridden business. And it definitely starts the second you are pregnant. Back when I worked at Whole Foods I didn’t get to travel for the holidays. When you are working retail, especially in a grocery store, Thanksgiving and Christmas are your bread and butter. We could not request the days before either of those holidays off, particularly those of us in management. Z would spend Christmas day with me and then fly down to see his family while I worked. He’d then be home in time for New Year’s Eve.
I had the day of December 30th, 2008 off. I woke up that morning and was fooling around on the computer and I realized I was nauseous. I thought about it and realized I was nauseous the day before, and also the day before that. And I couldn’t remember when my last period was. I’d gone off the pill in early November after almost 16 years. I told my GP doctor I was doing it so my body would be free from the drugs for a while before we started trying to get pregnant. If we were going to start to try and get pregnant. I hadn’t really made up my mind, but Z was putting the full court press on me. She told me I wouldn’t even ovulate for the first 6 months or so. [This was flat out wrong information. My midwife almost had a heart attack when she heard. She said, “You hadn’t ovulated in a decade and a half! Your body was dying to release those eggs!”] I thought that was awesome because I wouldn’t need to bother with another form of birth control for a while.
I’d had one period in the meantime, but I didn’t bother to write down when. So I sat at the computer running all that back through my mind. And I felt fear settle into the pit of my stomach. I’d gotten drunk the night before. I’d been taking migraine medicine and chill pills with alarming frequency. I went to the bathroom and rooted under the sink where I found an old pregnancy test. It had expired the year before, but I peed on it anyway. And then I called Z in a white hot panic. He was getting ready to drive back to RI, so he was preoccupied. He also is pretty used to my hypochondria, so he calmly suggested I go buy an unexpired pregnancy test and use it before we jumped to any conclusions. I did. It was positive. I called him back and started crying. And I shouted, “Are you happy now?” It was not my finest moment. Z calmly replied, “Yes. Yes, I am.”
I felt like my life was completely over. I was filled with dread. Z was originally planning on making the drive in two days, but he decided to push through and get home by late that night. I couldn’t wait for him to get home; I didn’t know how I was going to get through the day. The only thing I could think to do was go to the nearest bookstore for information because I knew nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, about pregnancy.
I went to the information desk and quietly asked for the pregnancy section. It felt like I was asking where the porn was. The first book I picked up was What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It was the only one I’d heard of. The first chapter was all about what you needed to do to prep your body for pregnancy once you’d made the decision to get pregnant. As I skimmed it I started to cry. I had to put it down and go compose myself in the bathroom. By accidently getting pregnant I felt like the book was saying I’d already fucked up. I was on chill pills, allergy meds, migraine drugs; it was the holidays so I’d been drinking heavier than usual. I was sure the kid was going to have three heads. After emerging from the bathroom I went back and picked a couple of books that didn’t seem to be telling me I’d already ruined my unborn child’s life.
So I knew I was pregnant for maybe 3 hours and I’d already felt multiple waves of mommy guilt. Of course more and more has piled on at time has gone by. We moms feel guilt over everything, the stuff we can control and the stuff we can’t. We are so much harder on ourselves than we are on others (though we can be pretty judgey as well). An acquaintance of mine from high school recently started a blog and in her second post she talks about how she felt she failed her daughter by not carrying her to term. When one of my closest friends lost her first pregnancy she told me she felt like her body was defective because it couldn’t do what it was made for.
Of course the feelings of both those women are not true. It’s so easy to know you “shouldn’t” feel the sense of failure and the guilt. But now that I’m a mom I know it is also impossible not to feel those things. It was several years before I had T when my friend lost her pregnancy and I remember being furious that she would feel those things. Of course it wasn’t her fault and I was so upset she was putting herself through the wringer. After having my own miscarriage I certainly don’t think it was her fault, but I understand her feelings with perfect clarity. I wish we didn’t feel these things. But I don’t know how to stop. Anyone have any suggestions?
It got cold yesterday. Luckily he has his awesome hat.
Happy Halloween from Yoda.