This is the last week of “Decided” month, and on Monday we move into a (much needed) discussion of “The Good.” This month we’ve talked quite a bit about the fears and decisions around deciding to have kids or not, and these conversations have all take place within the context of marriage and of having made a decision to get pregnant in advance. So before we go, I thought it was important to add another voice to the discussion. Today is about what happens when you get unexpectedly pregnant with someone you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with, and you decide to keep the baby. This story isn’t finished, but the journey to finding peace within the decision is so important for all of us, whatever our circumstances.
I am twenty weeks pregnant today.
If you’re anything like me and don’t have a clue as to what all those mysterious numbers that soon-to-be-mamas are always talking about actually mean, it is just a simple way of saying, “I’m exactly halfway to the finish line.”
Looking at it now, the evolution of my pregnancy can also be divided into two distinct chapters by today’s ambiguous marker. Simply put, the first half of my pregnant experience can be only be categorized as an emotional, physical, and spiritual holy-hot-mess. However, the second half, which I clearly have yet to experience, already looks decidedly more awesome.
One of the most painful things that I have had to go through these past four-and-a-half months has been the complete desecration of my ideas about how this was supposed to be. When you set yourself up with a plan, an expectation, a hope, about how you think it all should be and then realize you actually have no control whatsoever—it can lead to serious feelings of failure, shame, and eventually a total rebuilding of your outlook on life.
The easiest way to get into the details of all of this is to start with how I actually became pregnant, and that part is very simple: I became pregnant on birth “control” (insert irony here) after dating a new dude for one month—and from the moment the display on that little game-changer read “pregnant” it has all been a total shit storm up until now, mostly thanks to said dude.
I had always hoped to have a baby some day with a healthy, supportive, loving partner whom I trusted implicitly and who was an innately kind, self-sufficient, respectable human being. This is a laughable hope now in comparison to whom I found out I had become pregnant with. Throughout this process, it has become very clear that our moral and ethical characters, our responses to life’s adversities, the stuff we place value in, and ultimately how we treat ourselves and others make for incredibly juxtaposed personalities. And what all of this made even more crystal clear is that while opposites can attract long enough to create a baby, this attraction becomes unsustainable once responsibility pops into the picture. Who knew!
In making the hardest decision of my entire life to ultimately keep my pregnancy, I have had to contend with numerous pleas and the pathetic tears from him begging me to have an abortion (even into my second trimester). I have allowed my self-worth to dwindle in tolerating his coldness, cruelty, and emotional abusiveness. I have experienced unmatched loneliness and epic discouragement from even asking for help, being told, “I’ll give you love and affection when I want to. Not when you ask for it.” Needless to say, all of this negativity, exhaustion, and stress had me drowning in an emotional tsunami that was made even more impossibly horrible due to the physical morning sickness that occurred twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for Four. Straight. Months. Let me be very clear: it was a straight up battle every single day to remind myself why the choice I made was the right decision for me.
Thankfully, around the seventeenth week, things started to look up again as I began to physically heal and an impending move into a new home was on the horizon. I kept saying to myself, “If we can just make it past this point, out of the winter months, it will all get better. He’ll love me, the baby, and we can make this work out beautifully.” Sadly, this hope was very short-lived as I discovered (on the day before the sonogram that would reveal our baby’s gender) that he had been cheating on me.
As it turns out, the most important thing about having all of this happen was for me to discover that I have non-negotiable limit to how much toxicity I will tolerate for myself, and my unborn child—and this was it. I had finally come to the conclusion that none of the fears, shames or stereotypes that I had been trying so hard to avoid, or all the reasons I convinced myself to stay and try to make it work, were more important than my own health, happiness, and future.
In coming to accept the reality and truth of my situation for the past few weeks, I believe I have experienced the entire spectrum of human emotion. Ironically, accepting these truths has made my spiritual, yoga-induced beliefs of “it really is all as it should be” become exponentially more believable. I have begun again to rebuild my entire life from the inside out as my mantra has gradually shifted from this:
“Holy shit. I’m terrified. How will I ever do this alone? My mind is like a hamster wheel on bath salts and just won’t shut up! My body is achy and I just need a tropical vacation. Will I get the dreaded stretch marks? Single. Mom. I just wanted him to step it up and be a family! I’m lonely, nervous, and totally freaking-the-f*ck-out. I failed. Who will love us? Are my abs gone forever? I did it all WRONG; this wasn’t how it was supposed to be! Am I still lovable? Ouch. Anxiety. Oh. My. God.”
“I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I have absolutely everything I need. This is going to kick so. much. ass. I have a great home. I will be the fantastic parent my child deserves. I have grace, abundance, and support on my side. I am blessed with the most incredible family and friends. I am open to an amazing relationship with a partner who will feel honored to be able to love us. I will have a ridiculously killer post-baby bod. I’m grateful for my job as a yoga teacher; look at all the teachings I have to draw from! I am gifted with a baby at the beginning and end of this journey. I forgive. I let go.”
Now, every single day, as I move forward through this next half of my pregnancy, it becomes much easier to consistently go to the second mantra. It also becomes easier to realize that the only thing I (or anyone for that matter) really, actually have control over is how I choose to experience my life—mind, body, and spirit. And while it is still not clear to me why all of it had to happen the way it did, I am comforted by the fact that at the finish line I will have all my questions abundantly answered.
I just have to wait for those answers once I meet her.
Photo by APW Sponsor Vivian Chen Photography