On the fears of motherhood and what comes next.
When I was in high school it seemed teen pregnancy was rife. Like literally everywhere so we had to do all we could to protect ourselves against this disease because it could bite us all and then our lives would be over. We were constantly prepared for what not to do through fear of what might happen, but not for what do to if it actually did happen – at any stage in life.
Now that I’m 24 and five months pregnant, it seems the tables have turned. Somewhere in the seven years that I left high school, teen pregnancy has all but disappeared and somehow we’re all waiting til we’re in our 30s to have babies – or so the articles I’ve been reading keep telling me. The thing is though I know this isn’t true because I myself know seven women, all different ages and at different stages in life, who have either just had a baby or are pregnant right now.
When I search online for advice on pregnancy and careers, all the wonder women who are featured are older than I am, have already had a start in their careers, are killing it, and even though they struggled, are apparently definitely making it work. I love these stories; they are inspirational but they also make me scared and feel slightly under-accomplished (get over yourself, Terri).
But really, what happens when you fall pregnant and you don’t have your life sorted out already? And how many people are laughing at me for saying that? If Girls and Sex and the City has taught me anything it’s that actually nobody has it figured out, period, but that doesn’t always stop the mind from spinning.
Let me share with you my story. Up until a few months ago I was living in New Zealand as a writer for a publishing company. I am now unemployed and living with my mum back in my hometown in Scotland (my inner comedian actually loves this story). So right now I’m trying to figure out how one adjusts their life when they’ve had to leave one and start another. How do you get your “career” back on track when, 1) You have a tiny life growing inside of you and, 2) Are you sure you even have a ‘career’ in the first place? These are questions I ask myself on a daily basis and it’s a roller coaster because some days my mind thinks, ‘WHY? WHAT? HOW?’ and then other days it’s, ‘Terri, you will find your way. It’s only been two months. You really need to relax.’ But I can’t relax because that’s not what I do.
I’m not afraid to be a mother, I’m not afraid of how much my life is going to turn upside down in a mere four months. I can’t wait to meet my son and each day my stomach grows, it fills me with pride and real happiness. I’m so excited to have a baby with someone I love. What terrifies me is the thought that my son might not have a happy life (a burden that will follow me to my grave now) and the thought of losing myself in the midst of motherhood. These are scary things to me. I’m only 24 and I barely know myself, how am I meant to raise a tiny guy so that he has the best life possible while simultaneously figuring things out for myself?
It would seem I’m also terrified of already screwing up my chance at a non-existent career which is ridiculous because other than write I really don’t know what I want to do with myself anyway. And truthfully, if it weren’t for my baby I would still be stuck in a place that I was actually miserable in. So why is it then that pregnancy has me suddenly terrified of ruining something I didn’t have in the first place?
I could blame a million things but stopping reading articles that don’t relate to me would be a start. I’m usually good at switching off to things I don’t like but when something is playing on your mind that can be difficult – like birthing videos. Why are they always on your YouTube suggestions when you least need them?
Life is full of adjustments and unexpected turns and only time will tell. Maybe not much will change; maybe everything will change. The only thing I know for sure is that I’m going to have an extra best friend to take with me.
I haven’t figured it all out yet but these are a few sources that get me through the day whenever I’m experiencing a trough on the roller coaster:
1. Jessica Grose – she is a writer of many things, but I mainly read her work at Slate.com where she writes about women’s issues and being a parent. Her articles helped me a lot when I first found out I was pregnant, particularly this one: The Case for Having Kids in Your 20s.
2. Jessica is also the editor-in-chief of Lenny Letter which is another goldmine of information about women from all walks of life, mothers or not. I always find it provides me with guidance even when I’m not looking for it.
3. Tamira Jarrel – a beauty blogger who also happens to be a Mum of two. She doesn’t necessarily talk about being a mother but for me it’s nice to know someone around my age can be successful on their own terms while juggling motherhood.
4. The Pool – a website for women that covers everything. Check out their candid Parenting Honestly section. It’s pretty brilliant.