From Wishing And Hoping To Scared As Sh*t

El Sugar and I have been married since September. And I’m already pregnant. This is a cause for joy. But inside there is a tiny voice saying, “I’m not sure.”

It started before we got married. We had that conversation. You know, along these lines…
Me: “So, you want kids?”
El: “Absolutely.”
Me: “Well, how many you thinking about?”
El: “Millions.” (You can tell that El is a joker.)
Me: “Um, I am not pushing millions of babies out of my vagina.” (You can tell I’m not.)

But in the end we decided that Yes, indeed we wanted children. I agreed to “as many as God gives us, so long as that number is four or smaller.” My one caveat was that we would not even start trying until we had health insurance. El was unemployed up until a month before our wedding and I work part time as a substitute teacher. Guess what my wonderful, motivated husband did? He got us health insurance. It kicked in January. You can tell that he was ready to be a daddy.

I felt obligated to live up to my promise. We could try. So in December, since El argued the insurance would kick in by the time we were officially pregnant, we had sex! The baby making kind of sex. I thought for sure with all the medical hoodoo and what not that it would take longer. But it didn’t. And now I’m sort of in a state of shock. And the little voice inside my head is quietly asking, “Are you sure? That all this is what you want?” In my mind it’s like I immediately went from peeing on a stick to being the type of mom with vomit in her hair, no shower, running around with two different shoes on, surrounded by screaming kids, who on top of that has no support and gets no emotional fulfillment out of her life.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to happen to me. But that fear is still there. That fear that I may live to regret the decision we made to have kids. That fear that somehow by having kids I have given up all chances to be an awesome rockstar feminist.

Pregnancy so far has been draining. I understand why some women want to be pregnant. And I get why some want to have kids. But emotionally I’m not there yet. (For the record, I’m one of those girls who wanted a baby since I could reproduce.) This is a clear case where the expectation of an event and the actual reality of the event are so decidedly different that my brain has trouble reconciling the two.

The real reason that I’m writing all this is that El has been a rock. He has been there when I could not move off the couch, and supplied me with endless buttered toasts. But most of all, he has been okay with the fact that I’m not sure. He knows that I didn’t expect it now. For that I am eternally grateful. He has not pushed me to be excited. He says he will be excited for me. He tells me that everything will work out. I’m grateful every day to be in a partnership where I am supported.

Part of me needs to deal with this adjustment to my life and all the secondary qualifiers that come with it. Nothing makes the questions of, “Are you going to be applying for full-time teaching jobs this year?” and, “Is it time to go back to school to get another degree so that you are more hirable?” more difficult to answer than the fact that I’m going to be delivering a baby sometime around September. So I’m going to pull on my Big Girl Panties (and a maternity bra). I’ve promised myself that I did make this choice and I will continue to choose this. And I hope that slowly that quiet little voice will turn into an excited voice. If it doesn’t happen, then El will be there and he’ll be excited for me and for us. Maybe in this case he’s more feminist than I.

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  • You are so incredibly lucky.
    It’s normal to be scared.
    Wasn’t it Liz @Happysighs who wrote a whole series on “The Fear”?
    I am sure you will be a great mom.
    And I have never for one second doubted that I will be even an inch less me, less of a woman, of a feminist, of a baking, travel-loving, active, crazy girl when I finally get pregnant and have kids. Something we still hope for after what seems like forever.

    • jlseldon7

      Thanks. Your confidence that you will still be you, I guess that’s what I’ve been searching for. It’s gotten better. I’m working on it.

      • Just also be easy on yourself. From what I read / know pregnancy is an emotional rollercoaster, not helped by the hormones flowing through your body that affect your mood.
        Don’t be to harsh.
        You will *feel* things. But, you’ll still be you all along. The pregnancy feelings will be over and you will emerge, whole. And there are examples of mothers who are totally rocking at being themselves, take babies to galleries, travel… (Cara @Peonies and Polaroids, again Liz @HappySighs, Marcela Not saying it is easy all the time, or sugarcoating it, life is full of challenges. Just saying it can be done.

  • “In my mind it’s like I immediately went from peeing on a stick to being the type of mom with vomit in her hair, no shower, running around with two different shoes on, surrounded by screaming kids, who on top of that has no support and gets no emotional fulfillment out of her life.”

    I cannot exactly this part enough. Going from the trying to the pregnancy part it’s amazing what completely unexpected and seemingly strange fears can jump up, but this one I remember well.

    • meg

      The vomit isn’t so bad, as long as you are showering. Combined… yeah. That’s a no win.

      Spoken as someone who oddly hasn’t been puked on yet today, but who HAS cleaned puke out of her babies hair.

    • Sarah

      “In my mind it’s like I immediately went from peeing on a stick to being the type of mom with vomit in her hair, no shower, running around with two different shoes on, surrounded by screaming kids, who on top of that has no support and gets no emotional fulfillment out of her life.”

      Agreed! This, exactly, is why I can’t seem to make the leap from “Yes, I think I want kids,” to “Yes, let’s do this thing.” It makes little sense to me — I don’t know a single person who is modeling this version of motherhood, yet it’s the one I can’t stop envisioning for myself. As a person who hasn’t yet had children, I just can’t seem to parse the harried mother storyline from the reality of having children. That’s either a testament to my own worst-case-scenario tendencies, or a testament to how pervasive the motherhood-as-total-identity theme is in our culture (probably both).

  • Richelle

    Dear Heidi,
    I’m a relatively new mom who has been thrown a bunch of serious curve balls in this phase of life. You’re going to get lots of advice, so pardon me while I throw some more at you– feel what you feel. If you feel it, its “normal.” Things will change a million times, but be where you are right now. Don’t let anyone tell you how you “should” be feeling. becoming a mom and being a mom is HARD, but wonderful. and everyone does it differently. Good luck, rock on.

    • Thank you for this. I can’t tell you how much I needed this today. Being pregnant is emotionally hard and when people can’t understand why “you aren’t bouncing off the clouds happy” they tend to write you off and get mad which makes me feel even worse. Thanks again.

      • SarahToo

        Yeah, ditto. It’s especially difficult to informed by other people how “happy and excited” I must be when I’m 3 weeks into the first trimester nasties, including morning sickness that basically lasts all day long, every day. Not to mention I’m in shock over having gotten pregnant at our first try, and the realization that starting NOW I’ll be responsible for a little HUMAN BEING for many, many years to come is kind of terrifying, especially when I don’t entirely feel like a responsible adult myself yet. Now that the first trimester is over, the happy and excited moments definitely happen, but they’re still interspersed with moments of overwhelmedness and anxiety. And considering it was a planned pregnancy, and I’d been wanting to do this for years, sometimes I don’t feel entitled to be anything less than overjoyed about this adventure we’ve embarked on (especially in the face of friends who are having fertility problems). But it’s an emotional roller-coaster people, so please ask me open-ended questions about how I’m feeling instead of assuming I’m over the moon.

        • Oh Ditto x a million.

          “the realization that starting NOW I’ll be responsible for a little HUMAN BEING for many, many years to come is kind of terrifying, especially when I don’t entirely feel like a responsible adult myself yet” – exactly

          And yes, I feel so guilty for feeling anything less than overjoyed especially knowing how hard it can be for others to get pregnant. Some days are better than others but the guilt combined with the fear of losing myself and being responsible for another human being is almost too much to handle sometimes.

  • Class of 1980

    I think when people imagine being pregnant, they don’t know to include the part about being tired and needing to sleep more during pregnancy.

    If you’re used to having a lot of energy, it must be like hitting a brick wall you didn’t know was coming up. You have to wonder how much the pregnancy tiredness adds to the normal anxiety. I know everything seems insurmountable to me when I’m tired, let alone nine months of it.

    Other than that, it would be unusual for a person to not worry at all. Bringing a child into the world is a huge and long-term responsibility.

  • Mags

    Oh the “you must be so excited” comments. I get them anytime I tell anyone. Well, except my boss who looked at my ghost-white, terrified face (partly induced by telling him the news) and simple said “you should be excited about this.”

    I’m almost a first-time mom due in September and scared as sh*t. I was married in July and when we had the discussions about having a kid they went more like “I think so. I’d probably regret not having children.” and “If it doesn’t happen I won’t be upset.” I also figured getting pregnant would take much longer and so just kind of slid off birth control a couple a months ago thinking that well, my sex life probably isn’t great enough to have an accident and my body would likely need a year to get used to not being regulated by hormones via the pill. I was wrong, and here I am 16 weeks pregnant. I know it’s going to be okay and am also hoping “that quiet little voice will turn into an excited voice.”

    Anyways, I just wanted to say thanks for the comment and, I totally understand you.

    • “you should be excited about this.”

      And then you punched him in the face, right? Kidding. (almost)

      I hate, hate, hate people who expect you to follow their script and chastise you if you deviate from it.

      • KateM

        And even if you fall into the super excited group off the bat, it is impossible to maintain that level for long. Especially when you feel like hell.

      • meg

        Actually, that sounds like a kindness to me. The people who say, “YOU MUST BE SO EXCITED” are… hard to deal with, because if you’re not, it’s… tricky. But what he’s saying is true: bringing a new person into the world is a good thing. Eventually. But yeah. I was never excited during pregnancy. Never. And it turned out really well.

    • Just a note on this to everyone considering getting started trying: you are most fertile your first month off the pill (per my doctor husband). This came as a big shock to long-time pill-taker me who would have otherwise assumed that it would take months for my fertility to ramp up after going off birth control. So we’re deciding about when to start trying knowing that it could take a long time, but prepared (as much as we can be, which is probably not very much considering the huge mental WHOA) for it to happen immediately.

    • I got so annoyed with this that one time I answered honestly, to an older co-worker who gets on my nerves. I said, “No, we are much too realistic to be excited. We know that babies take a lot of work.” Of course, she was so taken aback and shocked that the next thing out of her mouth was, “I assume it was planned?” I said that yes, the baby was planned and wanted and we feel positive, just nothing so extreme as excitement. The conversation was pretty awkward.
      Sometimes there’s no point in being too honest. Best to keep things surface-level with people who need to be kept on that level.

  • KateM

    I could have written this post, but probably not as well. I am 25 weeks so pretty much 6 months in, and I have to say, I don’t people who love being pregnant, although I totally think a baby is worth it. Hang in there, I know it wasn’t until about 14-16 weeks that I started feeling like my self again and the 20+ weeks has been great because we got to see him on the ultrasound and I feel him everyday, (baby hiccups is the weirdest and somehow the coolest thing ). I am not any less scared but it has become a companion I have learned to live with, I try to temper it with information, and talking to women whose children I admire. I think the fear is something we signed up for, probably for the rest of our lives without knowing it. Congratulations!!

  • Rachelle

    wow thank you. :)

  • Jashshea

    Love the honesty here.

    I was never the girl who wanted children. I like kids just fine, but the over-arching negative message about what would happen to ME and MY LIFE just didn’t seem worth the trade-off. I’ve come around to the yes side on the “do I want kids” question, but it’s been such trouble making peace with that decision. The thoughts I have are about weaknesses I see in myself: I’m not maternal enough, I don’t crave pregnancy (gross), I don’t like baby-head smell enough.
    The women in my life who have children (Mom, Aunts, friends) are, by and large, people who LOVE children and most loved/looked forward to pregnancy.

    OTOH, I’m really smart. And I’m funny. And I deal well with consistent chaos. And I have a ton I could teach a little person about how to be smart, funny and maybe slightly less chaotic.

    It lessens my anxiety to hear that other people aren’t beatific-Mother Mary about pregnancy/kids. It’s some scary shit and it’s okay to feel that way. Thankfully the internet is here to help us connect with other folks who are having a more similar experience to our own. Yah!

    • meg

      I hated pregnancy and I’m not sacrificing my life. So there you are.

      Baby head smell though, that’s hormonal, if you give birth to your kid. Your baby can smell you from some enormous distance away, and you can distinguish your kids smell from all other kids smells. SCIENCE! When I pick up my kid at the end of the day, we both have to smell each other for something like 20 minutes before we can get on with our days. Crazy, no? So that is the one part that really will work itself out.

      Much of the rest of the stuff actually isn’t very important, it’s just cultural noise.

  • Bibs

    Congratulations. And thank you for this. I type this while nursing my three month old, who is the product of a very similarly terrified mother who spent most of pregnancy white-knuckling it. It’s hard. And big and scary and emotional and bizarre and physically exhausting, and yes, occassionally exciting. I struggled because I didn’t have any idea what I was actually supposed to be excited about. The whole thing seemed so abstract and hypothetical. Would I like it? Would my kid be an asshole? Would I lose myself entirely? Can people please stop the “it changes everything!” comments?

    From the other side I can now tell you that for me, I love it (and I never, never thought I would say that), my kid is usually pretty damn awesome and although the day to day of my life has changed, I feel very, very much like myself. I hope your experience is equally as good. I wish you an easy pregnancy and delivery, and a happy and healthy baby and mom.

    • carrie

      I worry about my kids being assholes. And I’m still on birth control, for f***s sake!

      Just wanted to send a BIG OLD GROUP HUG to APW and to commenters today. Then another one.

  • Kaitlin

    It’s funny how different our expectations and reality can be. I’ve experienced this with both the major life changing events that have taken place in the last year… I thought planning a wedding would be *easy* and I’d love every minute of it. It was much more stressful and anxiety inducing that I would have guessed! And I thought I’d be over the moon finding out I was pregnant when in fact there was more of a HOLY SH!T moment than jumping up and down excited. Life gets flipped upside down pretty quickly and sometimes it takes a while to adjust to the changes!

    And be warned ladies who are not yet pregnant. Sometimes it is hard, but sometimes it is easy. My husband I and decided after the wedding we’d stop preventing a baby as it took some of our friends a long time. Well we came home from our honeymoon with a bun in the oven and a due date 1 day shy of our 9 month anniversary!

    The second tri-mester definitely gets easier and once I started feeling her kick it made my pregnancy so much more real to me and it kind of feels like a secret between me and my girl and makes me so curious about this little one.

    Good luck to you! And whatever happens, know that this is just your story and it doesn’t have to be like anyone elses.

    • “And whatever happens, know that this is just your story and it doesn’t have to be like anyone elses.”
      BLOWN AWAY…..

  • Megan Reynolds

    As a pretty new mom, I’d also like to throw out there that this sentiment, this “Am I REALLY ready for this?”, this “Is this what I REALLY want?” thoughts? They don’t stop once the baby is born. They’re stick around. There are times when that baby is the greatest thing in the world, and then there are those times when those questions return, wondering if you made a mistake, wondering what you might have given up. And you know what:

    It’s okay.

    It’s all okay. It’s great, actually.

    Those thoughts keep me on my toes. They keep me engaged with my life. They keep me engaged with my pursuit of self as an individual as well as understanding the new “mom” aspect of my identity. They remind me to take a step back, to see the whole picture, and enable me to dive back in again to late-night wake-ups and diapers, and feel like my world isn’t quite as small as I thought.

    • FM

      I want to exactly this 1000 times. I didn’t get this memo before my (long-awaited and desperately wanted) baby was born, and I was blindsided by those feelings. I’d like to do an “It gets better” project for new parents, because man those feelings the first few weeks were rough for us and I know our experience is not universal, but it is common.

      • One More Sara

        I’ve been a mom for nearly four years now (wutt?) and while I always liked to hear that it gets better, if we’re being honest, it doesn’t get “better” per se. It gets different (but you will sleep again! sooner than you think!). The end of every old problem is the beginning of a new and different (and often bigger) problem. Hopefully dealing with all those problems before give you the parenting skills to deal with the new problems. Motherhood, it doesn’t necessarily get better, it just gets different (with more sleep).

        • FM

          Yes, totally agree with this too. I guess I should say that the part that got better in my experience is the “this is too much” and “we made a terrible mistake” feeling gets more balanced or overtaken most of the time by the love and overall increasing moments of feeling like you’re doing things ok. Those first few weeks were a special kind of brutal for me (and many others I’ve spoken to, but definitely not all) so I do think it got better for me. Not easy, just better, and, in fact, great.

  • Marina

    “He has not pushed me to be excited. He says he will be excited for me.”

    I remember asking my mom and my best friend to be excited for me. I had a highly planned pregnancy, but in the middle of the crazy hormones it was really, really, really hard to feel excited. Somehow it helped to have people who didn’t need me to fake feeling a certain way, but were just excited on their own behalf.

    Sometimes I think pregnancy and parenthood are set up pretty well for those of us who need a lot of time to adjust to major life changes. Parenthood is terrifying, but pregnancy gives you nine months to get used to the idea. Parenting toddlers is terrifying, let alone teenagers, but you get to practice parenting on a squishy infant first. I spend a lot of time reminding myself to take it a day at a time.

    • One More Sara

      ZOMG PARENTING TEENAGERS. so effing scary.

    • Aubry

      I am one of those people who is fine with babies and teenagers, but terrified of little kids. I’m surly not the only one, but I find this much less common. Babies are babies, exhausting but dont scare me. Teenagers I get, I work with a lit of teenagers and I like them. Plus if you put the little kiddy leg work in they basically are self sustaining people by that point. Kids on the other hand… I’m terrified. The tantrums in the store, teaching them EVERYTHING about the world from “don’t kick your brother” to “start with the outside fork”, dealing with the terrible twos/threes, ug no thank you! Thankfully my FH is so amazing with the middle aged kiddos, I know he would totally have my back if we decided to have kids. I am still absolutely undecided about it, and feel different everyday.

  • I am so with you there right now. We got married in October and surprise, pregnant in January. It basically moved up our timeline of wanting to get pregnant by only 6 months, but the reality of it has left me going from excited to simply terrified.

    I think the worst part is that we’re still early enough that only a very small handful of people know, and none of them are family. The isolation doesn’t help me understand my own feelings. When someone tells me how excited they are, I wonder if we should be excited? After all, this wasn’t OUR PLAN. But by simply continuing each day, this has become our NEW plan – and that I think is reason enough to be excited.

  • NTB

    Totally normal to be nervous. My mom got pregnant early in my parents’ marriage and she was extremely scared. They had very little money and it was difficult for them. She ended up having a miscarriage and admitted to feeling guilty because she felt like the stress caused the miscarriage. (NOT saying that this will happen to you; I am just pointing out that it really is normal to be scared. And health insurance/practical things coming together compound that stress. Believe me, I am there right now.)

    I find myself going back and forth between to fears: 1. the fear that I am pregnant right now, which would be very challenging for us and 2. being afraid that I am infertile. When I get my period every month, I kind of celebrate because I feel like having children for us would be a disaster right now (health insurance) but then I feel guilty and end up terrified that I will be infertile. I know that I want to have children, but I don’t know when I will actually decide that I am ready to start actively trying with my husband, or if things/money/timing/job stuff will come together and stars will align perfectly for me to feel comfortable enough to want to have a baby. Knowing that you want something but being afraid of it, I think , is totally normal when it comes to children and families. On a related note, I have no idea what I am going to do about my feelings; I guess all I can do is stay in therapy and take it one day at a time.

    hugs for you…. xo

    • jlseldon7

      A few of my friends send texts to each other to “celebrate” their periods. They are definitely trying to not be pregnant, but still… you aren’t alone in that.

    • anon

      I also have love/hate relationship with my period. We already have a son, but getting to where we are now was not easy (mostly financially speaking). He’s old enough that we both know that we want another, and while we are okay financially, we need a bigger place before that can happen. BUT, we made it work once, we could do that again right? It would be irresponsible to have a baby on purpose, but if it happens it happens. So yeah. every month when my period starts I’m simultaneously relieved and kind of sad that I’m not pregnant. And also Facebook. I love seeing all the new babies everywhere, but I WANT THEM ALL! MOAR BABIEZZZZ

    • I’m (casually) trying to get pregnant and I go back and forth between crying over my period and celebrating it. I miscarried my first pregnancy this summer and so often when the period comes I’m pretty down that I’m (still) not having a baby and hormones are making me crazy and on the other hand I’m relieved that a) I know what’s happening with my body for sure, and that’s only the case a few days of the month and b) I’m not entering -at least three months of constantly worrying about losing another baby.

      So much about making babies is contradictions. What you “should” feel, what you expect to feel and what you actually feel don’t necessarily make a lot of sense with each other.

      • NTB

        I am really sorry to hear about your miscarriage. My heart goes out to you. I cannot imagine how difficult that was for you! I hope that you find peace and healing. xo

    • NTB

      It’s good to know that I am not alone. However, it pains me to know that other women are going through or have gone through these difficult things.

      My husband and I also ‘need a bigger place’ before we have a family. We are basically still newlyweds and my question to all of the women out there is: HOW DO YOU BUY A HOUSE?! Having a kid, buying a home, downpayments, health insurance, savings, college………..HOW DO PEOPLE DO IT? This question is what ultimately keeps me terrified of having a family or doing pretty much anything besides what I am doing right now.

      • Not Sarah

        Preamble: I don’t have kids and am nowhere near having them as I’m single.

        You don’t need to buy a house before you have a kid. Babies don’t need a lot of room. Toddlers have quite a few toys, but you can make a game of cleaning up the toys. A two bedroom apartment is probably sufficient with a toddler or even a single kid at any age. It’s only when you have a second kid that you would want a bigger place.

        Your retirement comes before your future kids’ college educations. You/they can take out loans for college. You can’t take out loans for retirement.

        As for the savings part of buying a house? Just keep socking away money and it will grow. Open a separate savings account away from your checking account. It may seem slow at first, but eventually it will keep growing and be big enough. Throw found money there. Meg and David are renting a house. Other people rent apartments with kids. A two bedroom apartment could be cheaper than renting a house, depending on the area. Look at it as a dwelling structure question rather than a buying vs renting question.

        It is overwhelming…I don’t blame you there. Just try to take it one step at a time. (I know that’s hard.) Sending lots of internet hugs your way!

      • Marina

        Well, we bought a house with the help of a local nonprofit housing center. If you live in an urban or semi-urban area there may be similar things near you. They had homebuying classes, financial classes, lists of recommended realtors and lenders and inspectors, and connections to programs like a matched savings account where if you were income-qualified you earned up to $3 towards a downpayment for every $1 you put in the account. Even without things like that, though, it was great to be able to sit down with someone unbiased who could explain the difference between FHA and conventional loans, for example. Definitely couldn’t have bought a house without them.

        That said, I do also agree with Not Sarah that renting a two bedroom would be plenty of space for even two small children. We were in a one bedroom before we bought and that was a little cramped after the baby was about 6 months old.

  • Remy

    Yes, indeed we wanted children. I agreed to “as many as God gives us, so long as that number is four or smaller.”

    I smiled at this — our agreement for future adoption is “More than one; as many as we can afford to support and spend quality time with”. Whether that means a couple of infant adoptions 3-5 years apart, or a sibling group, or… we’ll have to see.

    • Your comment reminded me of the time when a family member asked us at a family dinner who many kids we wanted, my husband said, “Between zero and one.” :)

  • It took me a long time to get over that “Holy crap! What if we just made a baby?!” feeling every month when I ovulated while we were trying. We definitely wanted to be pregnant and have kids, but oh my goodness that brings with it a lot of changes. Where we ready for that? Was I ready to do that to my body? Who knows if we’re actually ready or not, but that deer-in-the-headlights feeling isn’t nearly as strong any more.

  • As I got to the bottom of this post I was crying….for I just read my present life exactly. To a T. Almost scary similar….
    So thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this, Meg for posting.
    I now feel somehow connected to something more than me. I’m going to have a little cry, put on my big girl panties and get back to work. Heres to that quiet little voice turning into an excited voice…and for now it is okay to be a little scared too.

  • Thank you so much for your perspective. We’re about a year-ish away from trying for kids, and even when we’re not trying I feel like I constantly volley back and forth between OMG-I-want-a-baby-like-right-now and Holy-crap-kids-are-terrifying-I-will-never-be-ready-EVER. And I have always known that I want kids, which makes the volleying even crazier. I can’t even imagine what I’ll be like once it’s a done deal and there’s a baby cooking.

    • Shiri

      Yes, exactly. This is where I am and I have decided to just assume the volleying will go on, possibly forever. And, also, that wanting a baby isn’t the same as wanting to be pregnant, so it’s ok if I hate the being pregnant part.

    • jlseldon7

      Meg’s link round-up with the Ghost Ships article from Dear Sugar was super helpful to me.

  • Jessica

    I’m showing this to my fiance. I’ve always said that when I want kids I’ll adopt–pregnancy scares the crap out of me. He really wants one from his bloodline though, which I drunkenly agreed to, as long as we adopt a child as well.

    I’ve also been telling him that I will probably be a total bitch while pregnant, and he should love me and pretend that I’m not a bitch.

  • I heard part of an interview with Mandy Pitinkin (currently Sal on Homeland) on Q with Gian Ghomeshi where he described how he learned to live with fear and uncertainty. He describes it as [paraphrased] “I learned to live with fear on my shoulder, and to confront it when I feel it.” He was extraordinarily eloquent and honest about his fear. Yes, his seems more about his career, but I think it’s applicable for any kind of fear – it’s not bad to have fear, it’s more about how you deal with it.

    I highly recommend listening!
    Mandy Patinkin on Fear

    • You can fast-forward to minute 25 of
      Mandy Patinkin on Fear to hear just the fear part.

    • jlseldon7

      That link was wonderful. I love Princess Bride! You are right about the fear part.

  • Thank you so much for this! I am currently 14 weeks pregnant and feeling pretty scared. Thank you.

  • I’m still in the wishing & hoping for a baby phase but I thank you for your honesty. If I end up scared as sh*t, I’ll know it’s perfectly normal thanks to you & the commenters. Best wishes with your pregnancy~

  • Becca

    Another September due date here. I was more where this post is in November, when we got pregnant the first time. Lost that pregnancy and realized I DID want it, and now I am more on the excited side. Still terrifying though!

  • AMS

    Thank you for putting my thoughts into words! I’m due late October-early November (still waiting on a dating US to confirm due date) and I’m having a hard time reconciling my anxiety with what feels like it should be exciting. My husband, thankfully, is excited enough for both of us! We had stopped trying not to get pregnant in the fall, after getting married in July, however we had started planning a trip to Nepal in October, so the goalie was going to go back in the net, so to speak. Mama Nature, it turns out, had other plans. It’s hard not to dwell on the big things like “will I be a good mother?” but also on the less big things such as “is this the (temporary) end of our epic mountain adventures?” The other kicker is, as a military spouse who works shiftwork in a career that I love (and worked my ass off to achieve) it feels like there’s a good chance that having a child is going to totally derail things professionally. After all, I can’t exactly say “sorry, no nights for me” while he’s gone for months?
    I know this is supposed to be exciting, and on one level it is, although it is hard to see the forest for the trees!

    • KC

      On the “nights” thing, there are sometimes possibilities:
      a) nannies
      b) family (parents? aunts/uncles/siblings/cousins?)
      c) friends (with kids or without!)
      d) other community connections (where a trustworthy friend-of-a-friend might need some extra money and would be happy to let the child be stashed with them overnight)

      I know I was always more happy to do free babysitting for friends when it was a “the kid is already in bed, so please hang out here until we get back at midnight in case the house catches on fire or the kid wakes up screaming or something” sort of situation. So. Easy. Even the “okay, you need to get them through the bedtime routine, but once that’s done, you’re all clear” works (although slightly-older kids can be stinkers, especially with bedtime routines! “Can I have a bowl of sugar?” “No.” “But mommy *always* gives me a bowl of sugar at night…”)

      Childcare when infant/child is sick would be harder, though. But that’s always harder; I don’t know what kind of flexibility/cancellation your job can handle if, say, you or your kid gets the flu?

      Anyway, just suggesting that you check out your community to see if there are enough available “it takes a village to raise a child” options to cover things, or to mostly cover things, if you want to. :-)

  • AlwaysAnon

    I’m so glad APW isn’t afraid to have conversations about pregnancy and motherhood as well as partnerships and what it means to be a spouse AND very basic, practical things like how to make an easy, cheap floral arrangement. Somehow these things all seem to be truly connected and truly important (although right now I’m not sure I could articulate the exact connection between a banging DIY wedding updo and fears about pregnancy – but in my heart I feel these things should and need to all live in the same wonderful internet space!)

    I also got pregnant on my honeymoon, but it wasn’t my first pregnancy – it came after a totally 100% unplanned pregnancy that we lost just days before our wedding. I’m 36 weeks now with the honeymoon baby and if all goes well will be a mother soon.

    Pregnancy after pregnancy loss in some ways has been easier – I don’t really have the same doubts and fears many women have because the pain of that kind of loss made me so very sure of what I really wanted. Having something taken away from me sharpened that certainty. Other things have been perhaps more difficult – I’ve had more depression and more fears about this baby’s health and safety than I think I would have otherwise had.

    What I definitely didn’t know was how all-consuming I would find pregnancy. I’d heard of course that it can be hard, especially in the beginning and at the end, but for me it has been totally consuming emotionally and physically. The first trimester literally felt like running a marathon every. single. day. The second trimester was easier, but only relatively – I was still so exhausted it was hard for me to feel like I could do my job as well as I usually do. Now I have no memory and no energy, and honestly I also just don’t care about much else – all my focus IS on getting ready for the baby. I haven’t lost myself and I haven’t abandoned my other interests, it’s just that this is kind of a big thing in my life right now, and what with working and other commitments, there’s not a lot of space left in my brain for other thoughts.

    I don’t think I will be a different person or lose myself in motherhood… but I also sometimes wish my friends and colleagues were a little more understanding about the fact that this big change I’m standing on the brink of can be my focus *for right now* and it doesn’t mean I’ve “lost myself.” I feel a lot of pressure both at work and in my social life to never talk about my pregnancy or my baby plans because doing so will make people think I’ve “changed.” I feel a lot of unspoken pressure to “prove” that I’m not “one of THOSE moms” and as a result I end up silencing myself. And my friends certainly add to the pressure – they reassure me a lot that “nothing will change” and that I’ll be “a cool mom” and they don’t ask me about my experience at all. When I’ve tried to seek out more outlets for my thoughts on impending motherhood, it seems like the only things that exist are blogs and message boards that are so filled with special acronyms and things like that that I don’t feel like there’s real conversation there, either.

    I’m not sure I have a point to this comment exactly, just that I wanted to share my thoughts. :) To the OP, being real seems like the most important thing (and so often the hardest thing), whether you’re a bride or a spouse or a mom or a daughter or anything else – so kuddos to you for taking the risk of being real and sharing that here. We all benefit when we witness that kind of truth-telling and courage in others.

    • ” I haven’t lost myself and I haven’t abandoned my other interests, it’s just that this is kind of a big thing in my life right now, and what with working and other commitments, there’s not a lot of space left in my brain for other thoughts.”

      This, totally this.
      Between the fatigue and the preparations, I have very little energy to cover off anything but preparing for the baby. Thankfully though, my friends are more understanding than yours – I try and not talk constantly about the baby, but if conversation turns around to it again, I dont get looked at funny. They seem to get the fact that, for the moment, its a bit all-consuming, and I think they are all excited for us and waiting for us to come out the other side a bit at the same time :)

    • “Although right now I’m not sure I could articulate the exact connection between a banging DIY wedding updo and fears about pregnancy – but in my heart I feel these things should and need to all live in the same wonderful internet space!”

      Perhaps I can help with that articulation.

      Not that I need a banging “wedding” updo, but I could really use some good hairdo ideas right now to make me feel more snazzy while my belly is growing and my feet are swelling. And DIY is even better because have you seen the cost of cribs and car seats?

  • This is so me. I could have written this a couple of months ago!
    I was always a bit on the fence about having kids – happy enough either way if we did or couldn’t, DH was of the opinion of “If we can have them, then why not”.
    So I agreed that if he took me to Europe, we could try for six months to get pregnant. I had surgery to remove endometriosis, and we went to Europe. I somewhat expected that with my short cycles (my luteal phase was officially 2 days too short to give an embryo a chance according to what I read), that we would not be able to get pregnant naturally.

    We came home from Europe pregnant. Well, officially Peanut was conceived in Hong Kong on the way home, but same thing really.

    The decision was made and I was freaked out – I was unemployed which added to the stress. But like El Sugar, MrBasketcase has been wonderful and supportive, if a bit flustered at times about my emotional state. I was ready for it to take some time, for me to have a chance to see how not getting pregnant when we were trying actually felt, and I missed out because we were too fertile.

    And even though I knew this was the potential consequence, it is still far and away the scariest thing I have EVER gone through. Everyone asks if I’m excited – hell no, I am nervous as! They are going to trust me to look after this for the next however long?!?! Am I ready for such a huge responsibility?? Well, I have less than a week before I have to deal with that reality… Wish me luck! :) (And luck back to you!)

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  • Julia

    Hi there APW!

    Just a practical note, for people practically thinking about pregnancy: health insurance is actually pretty easy to manage for pregnant ladies and babies. (You know: women just get pregnant to make the government support their fabulous lifestyles . . . duh). Most states cover pregnant women up to 185% of the federal poverty line (about $30k for a family of 2) through their Medicaid programs, and it’s not as hard to get care covered as you might think. In most states, Medicaid covers almost 50% of births, so most OBs, midwives, and hospitals take Medicaid maternity coverage with no problem. There are very few truly uninsured births in the US. Care is covered throughout pregnancy and delivery, and usually up to 2 months postpartum. Many states also cover children either entirely, or with pretty reasonable sliding scales, through CHIP programs. So many kids are covered through Medicaid that pediatric Medicaid providers are similarly relatively easy to access.

    If you are definitely below 185% of FPL, most providers will use “presumptive eligibility” and you can start getting care immediately; Medicaid will retrospectively cover care you got before you were approved.

    Coverage definitely varies by states. I’m not totally sure, but I think states are only REQUIRED to cover pregnant women and kids who are actually below the poverty line. Any coverage above this level is subsidized through federal dollars, but not required. Southern and republican states are less generous (South Carolina, Texas, Mississippi have some of the highest rates of uninsured kids and pregnant ladies). But, in most states, fewer than 10% of kids, and 5% of pregnant ladies are uninsured.

    Anyway, I know it definitely does not answer many of the life and identity questions you all were asking, but I couldn’t help but think of it when I saw how many posters were stressed about health coverage. Hopefully this helps! I just wish we were so generous with women who are not pregnant . . .

    For more info:
    Here’s a little more information on Medicaid coverage for pregnant ladies:
    And here’s how to find your local Medicaid office, so you can check your state-specific coverage:

    • NTB

      As a librarian, I am thankful for your resourcefulness. Thank you!

  • Amanda

    Ahhhh… *raises hand* Also married in September… And also expecting a baby in September already! It was so strange to see this story come up! My mind went through so many things from the peeing on the stick til it’s sunk in more now… But it often still doesn’t feel real. We also didn’t expect things to happen so quickly!!

  • Elizabeth

    That’s my baby…all grown up with her big girl panties and hooha.
    Well written sweet pea. I am proud of you for sharing, so eloquently, all of your feelings. Life has a funny way of working itself out. It’s good to remind yourself of this from time to time and to realize that many events in life, can mean different things to different people. It is a good rule to assume you don’t know how anybody truly feels about anything. The suggestion of asking open ended questions, was a powerful one, and is best heeded…by all of us… Yours included. Here comes Peter cotton tail : )
    Love Mom

  • Kara

    That’s me too. 24 weeks with a very wanted baby, that happened on the first “try” and after being married only 6 months and having a lot of life and work up in the air. It’s scary, and I’m not an “excited” person anyway, so it’s been helpful to have a formulaic answer for the “aren’t you excited?” questions.

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  • Sonja lea

    I googled “newly pregnant cant adjust” and this is where I was led to. Needless to say I’m feeling exactly as is written above and I’m so glad to stumble across all of the comments. No one tells you how hard it is just being pregnant, no one tells you it’s actually a really lonely place. I should add that we made the choice to have a baby and I’m surrounded by a very close family, all the same you bite your tongue when tempted to say how you really feel. For fear they will all think you’ve made a mistake or have regrets or your just a bad person. Being pregnant is not fun or exciting so far, it’s similar to a 3 month stomach bug from where I sit. Lack of control over your physical image, or emotions – limitations imposed where you always made choices based on your imidiate impulses. I understand I must sound like a total grump but its liberating being able to vent this without fear. Tomorrow is my first scan, maybe it will change how I feel about being pregnant or maybe it won’t. But on some maternal level I’m confident that my baby will be loved and wanted when he/she arrives. Even if pregnancy doesn’t agree with me – I need to keep confident that being a mum will.