Throughout my pregnancy with my firstborn son, I read all of the baby blogs, avoided the foods and beverages one should during pregnancy and otherwise prepared to become a mother, but somehow I didn’t feel ‘connected’ to the baby growing inside me.
My idea of pregnancy (and motherhood) to that point had largely been gleaned from romanticised Hollywood movies, where mothers lovingly stroke their baby bumps, future fathers put their ears up to their partner’s swollen belly, and couples share their hopes and dreams with their yet unborn child.
Through those nine long months of pregnancy though, the whole process felt more about me and less about the baby.
So many changes were occurring, both physically and emotionally, and it was hard to look beyond what was happening to my poor hapless body at the time (hello incredibly sore back/swollen ankles/pregnancy insomnia).
Looking back, I believe I can attribute my pregnancy ambivalence to three key factors.
While my son was incredibly wanted, his conception also occurred a little … earlier than we’d planned.
MORE Signs of Pregnancy
I’d made an appointment with my regular GP for a pap smear, during which she asked about whether my husband and I were thinking of starting a family.
I replied vaguely with, “Sometime in the future,” but she suddenly seemed intent on fast-tracking the process amid concerns about how easily my husband and I would conceive given our age (both 35).
I believe she used the words “fertility” and “off a cliff” in the same sentence.
Armed with this knowledge, we threw caution to the wind, not thinking for one minute we would fall pregnant that very month. Which of course, is exactly what happened.
Falling pregnant so quickly (which yes, we’re incredibly grateful for given the alternative) required a huge mental adjustment. I thought we’d have at least six to 12 months to prepare for the mind shift required to become parents, but Fate had other plans.
I wasn’t emotionally ready
Of course, I had always had the vague notion that my husband and I would eventually start a family, but even in my mid-30s, I still didn’t feel like I was quite ready to commit to motherhood.
Given 40 appears to have become the new 30, and with the latest craze of young women freezing their eggs and advances in fertility treatments, not to mention women like Gwen Stefani, Halle Berry and Sonia Kruger giving birth to babies in their 40s, there’s an illusion that women have bought themselves some time.
Time to advance their careers, time to travel the world and time to find ‘The One’. While I’d ticked a lot of those boxes, I still worried that I was still a bit, well … selfish to have a child just yet.
Becoming a mother would mean an end to nights out, long leisurely brunches with friends and Sundays mornings spent in bed.
I understood mothers to be these responsible, selfless and emotionally mature women, and I wasn’t quite sure I was up to the task just yet.
Nor was I practically ready
I was largely focused on my career and there were still plenty of things – both fun (travel) and practical (paying off the mortgage) – to do before we brought a new life into the world.
I’ve come to learn that for quite a lot of parents though, feeling 100 percent ready never really occurs. There will always be things you want to do or achieve before you become parents, but the danger is – if you’re forever chasing that next goal, a lot of life can pass you by.
Having a child also doesn’t mean achieving those goals becomes impossible. In fact, many a time-poor mum will admit to being more productive when kids are on the scene, as you simply don’t have the time for procrastination.
Even so, I was more than a little panicked that I would “run out of time” to achieve all of the things I needed to before I was ready to settle down and become a mother.
The strongest bond
The weeks before my son arrived I worried about whether I would bond with my baby, given that the bond I understood to begin virtually at conception hadn’t occurred.
Turns out, feeling somewhat ambivalent throughout your pregnancy has absolutely no bearing on how you will feel about your child once they actually arrive.
My maternal instinct and the overwhelmingly love I felt for my newborn baby kicked in immediately. We made a great breastfeeding team right off the bat; and largely by necessity rather than design, I adopted many of the attachment parenting principles.
My toddler is incredibly affectionate and tactile, and the bond we have developed is the strongest, most all-encompassing relationship I have ever had.
So much so, that despite some slight misgivings, we’re currently trying for a second!