Every stage of our lives holds fear in one way or another. Going to a new school. Making new friends. Getting our first job. Committing to marry a person we love.
And of course, becoming a mom for the very first time.
I find myself in the latter situation, expecting my first child in September of this year. I can still remember the moment I found out, completely shocked by the word “pregnant” on the two digital (read: fool-proof) tests I took. Excitement and panic filled my body simultaneously. I knew that carrying a child was such a gift — one not to be taken for granted — and also never really imagined that this day would come.
Whether you’re someone who has dreamt of being a mother her whole life, or, like me, you’re a person who never imagined this reality and finds herself with a new life growing inside, pregnancy and becoming a mother are both filled with all kinds of unknowns and fears.
These are some many of us experience…
The truth is there are so many things that can go wrong in the womb that we have absolutely no control over. In fact, I believe that pregnancy is the final frontier of control, and a time when we need to depend on prayer and community more than ever before. So many of us know a woman (or several) who have experienced the deep sorrow of a miscarriage. It’s something we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy, and yet it’s a real part of life, and a natural fear for anyone in their first trimester.
Trauma In The Womb
Once we’re over the hump of the first trimester and feeling confident in the pregnancy, an entirely new fear sets in of all that can go wrong before birth even happens. I’m sure most of us know someone with a child who encountered some kind of trauma in the womb. I know two people who have children with cerebral palsy, and while they are literally two of the happiest kids I’ve ever met, I can’t help but fear something will happen to my little one before he makes his way into the world, robbing him of the ability to play the way the other kids do.
If anything is certain in life, it is that we will gain weight during pregnancy. For those of us who have struggled to have a healthy and accurate body image, this is beyond scary. Will I gain weight in just my belly, or all over? Will I carry well — like a girl with a basketball under her shirt — or just look overweight for several months? How long will it take to reverse all this expansion when all is said and done? (Don’t even get me started on the fear of stretch marks…) Body changes are a real part of pregnancy, and they can take a huge emotional toll. Rather than worry about how our bodies are being “ruined,” we’d do better to focus on what this body change represents: a tiny little life growing inside, being nurtured by nothing but our beautiful, softening, and growing body.
It’s no easy task to get a baby out of a body. Whether au naturel, with the help of an epidural, or by C-section, each form of birth has its own physical recovery associated with it. When I first found out I was pregnant, this absolutely consumed my mind. In reality, women have been giving birth forever! If they can do it, we can do it — even if it’s a bit daunting. Recovery is no small task, but thankfully we’ll have a beautiful baby to distract us, right?
Mistakes are part of life, but their magnitude seems so much greater when they have to do with how we interact with our children. As I’ve pondered life as a first-time parent, I’ve thought a lot about my childhood. While I was raised well by two loving parents who did their absolute best, I can still recall a few things they said or did that have had a negative impact on me in some way. Those of us who are perfectionists are going to want to do everything right, every single time — but that’s a standard no person can ever live up to! Parenting requires a lot of discipline and a lot of grace. We will make mistakes, and our children will forgive us — even if they think we’re a little odd.
Although it’s certainly easier said than done, we cannot let the (very real) fears of pregnancy and new motherhood rob the joy from us of this beautiful time. Yes, we will gain weight. Yes, things can go wrong. Yes, we’ll make mistakes. But in the end, we will have created a human being with dreams and desires and giggles and smiles. That is a thing to be celebrated and cherished.
Are you pregnant or a new mom? What fears have you experienced? How have you overcome them?
Images via Elizabeth Koehler