On Being “Ready” For Children

When I was younger, I always thought that I’d get “baby fever” overnight. I anticipated it being like a switch that got flipped, and suddenly there would be a new feeling inside my heart that wasn’t there before.

The reality, however, was somewhat different.

I found out that I was pregnant literally days after changing careers. I hadn’t been an official “full-time writer” for a mere 24 hours before I was staring at a positive pregnancy test. Part of me felt cheated, like I missed out on pursuing a piece of my life that felt, to me, somewhat unattainable after having a child. I wanted to feel “ready,” I was banking on that flipped switch. And what, I wondered, did it mean if I was heading into a pregnancy without feeling that aforementioned baby fever?

For a few weeks, I existed with a sense of disconnect. It wasn’t until our first doctor’s appointment, when we heard our baby’s heartbeat, that it started to feel real. And slowly, over the next few weeks, my fear and apprehension turned into excitement and love.

But part of what I had trouble grappling with was worrying about my “pre-baby” life. I felt like I was staring at a impending checkpoint, in what would turn into a significant “before” and “after.” Nine months felt like a countdown until I became someone new, and the “old” me disappeared.

Now that I’m actually a mother, I have a different perspective on all of this. I know now that there is, indeed, a “before” and an “after,” but the line between the two is quite blurry. It’s not so much turning a page, but rather, more like walking onto a new path. I’m still who I was before I saw that positive pregnancy test, only with an entire new role to play.

There’s an idea within our society that our old selves die after huge milestone markers, such as marriage, children, and onwards. The truth is that they only die if we let them; we can still be who we were. We can still do the things that made us whole. We don’t have to let go of who we used to be in order to step into the shoes of who we’re going to become.

Moreover, the biggest takeaway I have from my pregnancy journey is that sometimes, you never quite feel “ready.” I wish I could say that there was a significant moment in which I felt that switch, but it never fully happened. In a lot of ways, this entire decision to have a child has been a huge leap of faith — and each day as a mother is another leap, over and over. If you were to ask me right now if I felt ready, the answer might still be no. But, I’ve learned, that doesn’t always matter.

Featured Image: Courtesy of Unsplash

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