With roughly 25 days until our first IVF try, I find myself more anxious than excited. Don’t get me wrong: I’m certainly excited. But the past week has brought about more nerves in me than I realized were there. As the reality of getting pregnant and starting a family gets closer, I’m questioning my strength — for pregnancy and for motherhood, but mostly for pregnancy. I’m pretty confident that with the support of my wife, family, and friends, motherhood will be the fun part. Sure, it will be tough, too, but it won’t all fall squarely and solely on my back (much respect to all the single parents out there who do it!).
But pregnancy terrifies me. And the thought of properly and healthfully growing another life inside of me is overwhelming at times. I know I’ll have my wife to smear cocoa butter on my belly, to run to the store for a midnight pickle craving, to tie my shoes when I can’t, and to coach me through labor. But this growing-a-life part is all me. And the physical demand of pregnancy and childbirth leaves me asking: Am I woman enough for pregnancy?
I think there’s something beneficial about having kids when you’re young and dumb. Now, I’m no advocate for teen pregnancy and I’m not suggesting that young mothers and their children don’t have a slew of issues to contend with, or that they’re actually dumb, for that matter. I’m just saying that the more you know about pregnancy, the scarier it can be. It’s more than just a romanticized event that brings about a cute little baby nine months later. I know that’s what I thought it was when I was a teenager. And part of me wishes that’s all I thought of it now.
But pregnancy is horrifying. Yes, sure, the aspect of it being how new life is created and brought into this world is beautiful. Absolutely. But the down and dirty of pregnancy and childbirth is gross. It freaks me out that at any given moment I could barf. My fear of vomit doesn’t help this concern. And my greater fear of public vomiting only enhances my anxiety about pregnancy nausea. I know that kids are always sick, and I’m OK with other people vomiting — well, I’m better with other people vomiting than with myself vomiting. Yuck, even the word. I’m sure it sounds ridiculous to those out there who can puke and go right back to whatever it was they were doing. Or to those who’ve never thought twice about it. But my very real fear of vomit has led me to teach myself certain breathing tricks and techniques to avoid hurling at all costs. I carry Tums around with me on a regular basis should nausea ever creep in. Ridiculous? Perhaps to you. But this is actually a source of anxiety in my life.
I have the pain threshold of, oh, I don’t know, say, a two-year old. How in the heck am I going to handle labor?
What if I’m standing in line at the supermarket and I have to barf? What do I do? Just today, my wife and I went out for lunch and we had to abruptly leave after I realized my stomach was a bit upset and I started having anxiety of publicly puking. I know people vomit every day. I know it’s totally normal. But it scares the crap out of me. Literally. I get myself so worked up about possibly throwing up, that I get diarrhea.
So not only do I need to look into safe homeopathic remedies for morning sickness, but I need to find some for anxiety, too.
I keep telling myself: Just get through the first few months; it’s only the first trimester that the nausea will be bad. And I try to ignore those stories about women who barf their entire pregnancies.
I know women do this pregnancy thing every day. Let’s face it, woman are amazing. And I know that vomiting is one of their last concerns when it comes to the baby’s overall health and well being. I also know that my body was designed for this. But I really wonder if all those other women are just stronger than I am. I have the pain threshold of, oh, I don’t know, say, a two-year old. I cry if I stub my toe. My light menstrual cramps have kept me in bed before. I bruise with the slightest bang. How in the heck am I going to handle labor? All this talk of tearing and crapping and squeezing that out of that and the PAIN terrifies the bejesus out of me. I’ve actually and truly considered scheduling a C-section just to avoid what I’ve already convinced myself I am not capable of. But everyone I speak to says C-sections are way worse as far as recovery pain goes, which makes my “solution” not so fitting.
So here I sit, 25-ish days out from possibly getting pregnant. I try to remind myself of the best advice I’ve gotten about this journey: Remember to have fun with it all! I know that after our little miracle arrives and is home with us — healthy and intact (God willing) — that all these fears will seem as ridiculous to me as they likely do to you now. Perhaps I’ll become an expert puker and get over this absurd fear once and for all. Maybe surviving labor is just what I need to prove to myself that I am strong.
But in the meantime, my admiration and respect for mothers grow ever strong.
Read more of Aela’s writing at Two Moms Make A Right