Emotions Surrounding Pregnancy and a New Baby

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to have a baby… it’s true that there are pictures of me at the age of 2 or 3, lining up all of my baby dolls in the hallway, putting blankets over them and putting them to sleep.  When I was little and my mom would take me to doctor’s appointments near what was Children’s Hospital in San Francisco (it has since been re-named), we would go up to the nursery (this was before the days of crazy hospital security) and we would peek at the babies through the window.  I would ooooh and aaahh at them and say that I wanted to be a Mommy some day.  Apparently if you asked me at the age of 3 or 4 what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was always, “A Mommy!”  So this is clearly something I’ve wanted for a long time. 

After my surgery (in May, 2010) we got the very scary news about my Unicornuate Uterus.  Doing a Google search on Unicornuate Uteruses gives you scary statistics and bleak information about carrying pregnancies to term and about getting pregnant in the first place, so Ken and I both sort of felt a little bit of pressure to get started a little earlier than we maybe otherwise would have since there was a good chance that I could have trouble getting pregnant in the first place (I only have one ovary connected to my uterus), or that I would face many miscarriages before being able to carry a pregnancy to term.  With a unicornuate uterus there’s a high chance of pre-term labor, intra-uterine growth restriction, incompetent cervix, and breech presentation so at each doctor’s appointment I would prepare myself for the worst.  Ken always said that he wanted to have at least one kid by the age of 30 (he will be 29 at his next birthday in February), so when we first got the scary news about my uterus, we decided that we should start trying to get pregnant as soon as it would be reasonable… we figured that the earliest possible time that we could have a baby would be in October, 2012 because by then Ken would be settled in his residency program, we would have an idea of our general plans for the next 4 years, and we would be supporting ourselves financially.  So we counted backwards from October and figured we could start trying in January, 2012.  We emotionally prepared ourselves for a long road ahead… yet I got pregnant on the first cycle trying.  I found out I was pregnant on February 12th and, as you all know now, my due date is October 23rd. 

At the beginning of the pregnancy we were very cautious–we didn’t want to get too excited too fast for fear of losing the pregnancy, and we didn’t want to get our hopes up too high.  We kept saying at the beginning that we were “cautiously optimistic.”  Then as time went on and we kept hitting all of the developmental milestones without any complications to speak of, we slowly started to have a shift in our frame-of-mind.  Ken stopped saying, “if we have a baby” and started saying, “when we have a baby.”  We started having more serious chats about baby names, and we started actually looking at baby registry items online.  Now that I’m at 30 weeks, we’re not totally safe (you’re never completely safe) but it’s pretty certain that we’ll be having a baby girl very soon (knock on wood!).

Pregnancy is kind of like a roller-coaster, and I think even more so when you pushed things along faster than you otherwise would have knowing that you could face difficulties, and when you have a high risk pregnancy.  We were both shocked by how quickly it happened and I think in an ideal world, it would have taken us a few months longer so that we could be a little bit more settled.  Of course we’re excited and joyful about having a baby but, being so young, we are apprehensive about the financial strain it is going to cause: we have to pay for diapers and daycare, put money away for college and private elementary/middle/high school, all while paying off our own student loans.  Since Ken is an intern and has pretty crazy hours most of the time, I’m nervous about feeling very alone and isolated in the first few months while Ken is working and I’m at home with a baby, and Ken is worried about feeling guilty and about not having enough time to be at home with the baby.  He keeps expressing that he’s worried he’s not going to be a good father.  (I reassure him by saying that what matters is the quality of the time you spend with the baby, not the quantity of time… so when he has time, it’s important to make it special.  They’ll have to develop some father-daughter traditions and routines that are special for the two of them.  It’s all about quality, not quantity.)  I also don’t have that many friends in the New Orleans area who are pregnant or who recently had babies so, though I have a lot of great friends here, I don’t have a support system of people who are going through the same thing at the same time.  I think there’s also the stress of knowing that in January or February I’ll have to start looking for a new job in Baltimore, hopefully with benefits as good as the ones I’ve been getting through my job here, and that in June, we’ll be moving with an 8-month old up to Baltimore and we’ll have to find a new place to live, get settled in a new city, find a day-care and a new group of friends.  There’s just a lot going on. 

Sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge all of the emotions that you’re feeling and one emotion will sort of take center stage.  Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve tried to put on a happy face for everyone–when people ask how I’m feeling I say I’m feeling great and I’ve been very lucky to not have too many tough symptoms to deal with.  While that is true, I haven’t given much credit to my other emotions of fear and anxiety, and I think the other day when I started crying, that’s what I was doing for myself… acknowledging that I’m terrified and apprehensive.  That doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m thrilled and ecstatic but I do think that I have to pay attention to all of my emotions. 

Luckily there are things I can do to prepare myself which will lessen some of the fear and anxieties… when I told Ken the other day that one of the things that scares me the most is that from here on out we really have no idea when this baby is coming… she could come tomorrow (I sure hope she doesn’t!) or she could come up to a week or two after her due date, he made a really good point which is that the uncertainty scares me because I like to be in control.  There are ways I can feel more in control though, and I’m doing all I can to make myself feel like the reins (sp?) are in my hands: We’re going to our childbirth education class (we have the second one either tonight or tomorrow night), we’re getting a Doula to help with labor and delivery, I’ve gone to a pre-natal yoga class (and I intend to go back a few more times between now and the time the baby comes to meet other pregnant ladies), and I went to the La Leche League meeting to meet other new moms who are breastfeeding.  I also contacted a lady who runs a monthly mother’s group/meet-up and I’ll be going to their next event.  I’ve gotten some information about the Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital and I intend to go to some of their baby play groups to meet some more new parents. Being organized helps me to feel more in control, so I can do things to organize the nursery, pack our hospital bag, pack our diaper bag, etc.  I can also read–about labor/delivery, about breastfeeding, about sleeping, about soothing babies and about health and care of a newborn–and that helps me to feel somewhat better prepared. 

But I think what’s most important is just acknowledging that I have all of these emotions and that they are all normal.  On that list of the top ten most stressful things in life, I think having a Baby is number 1.  It’s stressful–that doesn’t mean it’s not fun and enjoyable and exciting–but it’s stressful and it’s okay to feel nervous, scared, terrified even.  What’s important is that I do things to make myself feel better prepared to handle it. 

And just cause I thought this was funny, I’ll leave  you with this, as well as excitement about the fact that tomorrow is Hump Day Bump Day!  Enjoy!

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