To all the moms in the thick of it – the pain and sickness of pregnancy, the downright torture of sleep deprivation, the overwhelming worry that consumes you the minute that they put that tiny new life in your arms… you do NOT have to cherish this moment.
You don’t have to find a way to be present and you don’t have to live in fear that someday you are going to look back and beat yourself up for wishing these moments away and not just enjoying every single minute of it. F that.
Some days you simply can’t “enjoy it” – sometimes it gets harder before it gets easier – and some days you just have to just “get through it.”
But they are not lying when they say that it will all be worth it.
It really is allllll worth it. I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever to really embody that statement, and after two years of drowning to get to this place, I feel like I have finally arrived. It’s the most incredible feeling and I honestly feel like shouting it from the rooftops!
You see the hardest thing about my pregnancy/baby journey was how much I hated myself for not enjoying the entire experience more than I did. No one has ever wanted to be pregnant more desperately than I did, and after 5 plus years of infertility; countless surgeries, fertility treatments, and losses I was acutely aware of how lucky and blessed I was to carry a child. My mind and my heart tried to cherish the moment; I wanted so desperately to feel appreciation, joy, presence, and gratitude – but the truth is there were so many days that I just wanted “the moment” to pass so I could feel better and back to myself.
It was all just soooo much harder than I thought it would be.
My husband has a video of me seven months pregnant vowing with absolute conviction that I would never, ever, ever – under any circumstances – get pregnant again. The day we recorded the video was not unlike any other of the 266 days of my pregnancy – I was absolutely miserable and so ready for the whole pregnancy thing to be over. It’s not that there weren’t some pretty incredible, even magical experiences that come along with that whole making a baby thing, its just that for me personally, those moments for me were greatly overshadowed by the pain, sickness, and anxiety/depression I experienced while pregnant.
Because I was pregnant with twins, I especially looked to other twin moms and begged them to tell me when things would get better and I would feel like myself again– desperately hoping that they would reassure me that it would be sooner rather than later – but over and over and over again the answer was the same, “this too shall pass, it was going to get harder before it was going to get easier…but that it does get easier (most agreed somewhere around the one year mark) and that it is all worth it in the end.”
And then the babies were born….
And yes, it was an incredible relief to no longer find myself in such debilitating pain, and I would still say that my pregnancy was far more difficult than life with newborn twins was (I know a lot of moms with singles feel the opposite), but none the less – there I was at what should have been the finish line of years of needles, injections, suffering and pain. I was blessed with the most incredible gift of two perfectly healthy baby girls and an incredible amount of help and support assisting me – but instead of feeling like I had arrived, most days I just felt like someone trapped me under water. I was stressed, overwhelmed, guilty, resentful, and struggling to come to grips with how much I had to give up for the two lives that brought so much joy.
It was just soooo much work.
And honestly, there has been joy from the beginning – with joy meaning the state of connection, of intimacy, of love – an absolute insane amount of love.
But there was also this constant feeling of stress eating away at me and always robbing me from really feeling the love and the joy in the way that I had hoped and wanted to. It just wasn’t what I would define as fun. The more I grasped for balance and attempted to get back to center the more I felt like a failure. Looking back, instead of wishing that I had enjoyed the moment more, I just wish I had given myself a little more grace with where I was and given myself permission to NOT be able to feel complete gratitude and happiness in that moment.
They say that happiness is when your expectations are in close proximity to your reality. And maybe that is really the basis of the problem. You see, once you cross to the other side and come up for air it is so easy to look back with fondness at the good in it all. Science has proven that we recall our history of childbirth and child rearing with much more softness and fondness than we actually felt in the moment. And so it is easy to say, “cherish it” once the accute survival mode has passed – because it all does actually pass – and when it does, it all seems like such a small blip of time compared to a lifetime with the children who now seem to have always existed. You simply cannot imagine life without them and you really would do it all again to have the rewards of what your life has become on the other side.
And it’s heavenly – in fact it is truly define.
Slowly but surely the children begin sleeping through the night and you begin to regain your sanity. You wake up one day and realize they can play by themselves long enough that you can get a shower so you stop looking like a vagabond all the time (this does wonders for gratitude). Slowly the tiny little babies grow into stronger and more self-sufficient human beings as the fear of SIDS and breast-feeding worries slip away. Over time you begin to recognize your body in the mirror and you laugh at how monumental 15 lbs. felt when you couldn’t get the scale to move one lb. for months (it truly takes an entire year). The children cry less as you learn how to better navigate to meet their needs. Time begins to open in your day to watch a television program or actually have a conversation with your spouse. Your marriage begins to reemerge – the sex begins to come back – and for the first time in almost two years you remember how to feel sexy.
You emerge…you emerge…you emerge…only a stronger, more confident, and more whole person then you were before you disappeared into the land of procreation (that part surprised the hell out of me).
And it took me reemerging first before I could really see the fruits of my labor in any kind of real Technicolor.
Once I got back to myself, I could then open my eyes and really embody gratitude for what I had created around me, and what I had accomplished by “getting through it.” Three healthy children that were thriving – securely attached – with bold and magical personalities. A teenager who was kicking ass and taking names and managed to survive being put on the backburner has quickly metamorphosed into a more selfless and compassionate young man.
I get to spend my days with two little humans that make me laugh more today than anyone else on the entire planet. And we are all having so much fun – in fact I am having the time of my life. And it was worth it – every pound, every pain, every injection, every loss, every career sacrifice, and tear-filled sob as I cried myself to sleep – every single moment I prayed to pass was worth the life I am cherishing today – it’s truly the sweetest time in life and I’m eating up every single moment.
So to the moms who cannot cherish this moment – the ones who are struggling in the thick of it – the ones who don’t know if they will ever emerge again or if they can be pushed any further or have nothing left to give – just hang on and get through it – there are a million tomorrows you will cherish – and I promise you someday you will get to the place where it will all be worth it.