This photo popped up recently as a “memory” on my phone. I barely remember taking it, except for the fact that it was the only picture I took of my pregnant stomach. It was exactly two weeks before I had Marin. There are of course photos of me pregnant. I write a lifestyle blog after all. But I never drew attention to my pregnant stomach. I dressed to hide it or at least make it less obvious as best I could. When this photo popped up as a memory, all of the reasons why it was the only one I took came flooding back.
I distinctly remember the feeling of going out in public when I was really pregnant and could no longer hide my protruding belly. I had this strong sense of anxiety that someone would say something like “congratulations” or “do you know what you’re having?”. I dreaded every time someone asked me if I was excited. Yeah, I’d respond half heartedly trying to force enough enthusiasm to be believable.
I didn’t like being pregnant. Anyone who’s experienced hyperemesis can probably relate, at least to how absolutely awful you feel and the toll it takes on your physical and mental health (though feeling sick during pregnancy isn’t a prerequisite for not enjoying it). I was so afraid of becoming a mom and at the same time absolutely terrified of losing my pregnancy. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be pregnant because I didn’t want it enough. Not many people want to hear how you’re not thrilled about being pregnant, especially when you weren’t trying in the first place.
Pregnancy and motherhood is full of so much contradiction. Pregnancy was awful but I was also terrified of losing something I wasn’t sure I wanted. Motherhood is incredible but it’s also absolutely exhausting and sometimes suffocating. I adore my daughter and I feel so lucky to be her mother, but sometimes I just need to get away. Sometimes it feels so full of purpose and magic, other times it feels mundane, exhausting, even paralyzing.
I don’t think any of this makes me a bad mother, it makes me a human being. Mainstream portrayals of motherhood often depict it as above all, selfless, devoted, nurturing. But a good mother is not all of these things all of the time, nor should she be. Motherhood continues to be the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Full of extreme highs and painful lows. It’s a disservice to mothers everywhere to pretend otherwise.