Oh, how I’ve wrestled with this one. I have a note saved from September 12, 2021 titled “What moment did I know I was ready to have a baby?” I had all the plans in the world to chronicle this experience more frequently here on the blog, but that’s not what happened. In fact, I couldn’t predict and wasn’t prepared for anything that happened, but one thing I’ve learned when it comes to pregnancy is no one is really ready and every experience is different. Before you read any further, know these things:
- This is MY experience. I’m not here to compare myself to anyone else or weigh my hard against yours. I have a new understanding for difficult, high risk pregnancies and loss during pregnancy, but know that my difficult and my loss might not be the same as someone else’s. That doesn’t negate anyone’s experience!
- I don’t necessarily endorse every single tip or belief in the resources I’ve linked, but I still think they’re really great resources worth sharing.
- TRIGGER WARNING: miscarriage, mental health crisis
- I’m still learning! I might get some things wrong entirely here, or what worked for me might be wrong for you. Please give me grace and know I’m not writing to claim I know anything about babies or parenting. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned through my own pregnancy journey — I named my blog “Lessons Learned & Life Loved” for a reason. As I’ve already mentioned, every pregnancy is different, and one of the biggest things I’ve learned is there’s no such thing as a “normal” pregnancy.
- Expressing my honest dislike for and difficulties with pregnancy in NO way relates to my love for my daughter. More women SHOULD feel empowered to talk about the less-than-beautiful, downright awful parts of pregnancy. As always, I feel called to write about this, and if something I write in this specific post helps just one person, then it’s all worth it. If this post isn’t for you, move on.
As I’m finally writing this, I’m one day shy of being 35 weeks pregnant. My daughter could arrive in the world any day now, and I do think I’m ready. At the very least, I’m ready to NOT be pregnant. I actually very strongly dislike being pregnant, and at times during the last eight months of my life, I’ve felt pretty guilty for feeling that way. I know women who love the experience, and I know my God wants me to see the experience as beautiful, but it’s been hard. One of the most quoted scriptures in the Bible in relation to pregnancy is
Psalm 139:13-1813 For You created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in Your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are Your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with You.
You know what though? This is pregnancy from the perspective of David, someone who was a child to a mother, NOT from the perspective of a mother currently pregnant. I think mothers can look back and see pregnancy as beautiful once they know the human being who was knit together in their womb, but I also think I can still love Jesus and God still loves me even if I don’t love the experience of pregnancy. I wish more women felt empowered to say this!
Early on, one of my best friends got me a keepsake journal called Growing You because she knew I was struggling and she also knows I process my life through writing. One of the prompts for each month is to describe pregnancy in three words, and the words I used through the first and some of the second trimester were not beautiful, positive words.
I’m getting ahead of myself. I really should’ve written several posts throughout pregnancy, but like I said, I’ve wrestled with it. I haven’t even been sure I wanted to post about it at all, but here I am. This will be a series of posts as follows:
- Lessons Learned & Life Loved Through Pregnancy: Am I Ready? (this post)
- Lessons Learned & Life Loved Through Pregnancy: First Trimester
- Lessons Learned & Life Loved Through Pregnancy: Saying Goodbye to Our Fur Baby
- Lessons Learned & Life Loved Through Pregnancy: It’s A Girl!
- Lessons Learned & Life Loved Through Pregnancy: Third Trimester
So how did I know I was “ready”?
For at least a year, I’d been having conversations with my girlfriends about definitely wanting kids but NOT being ready. I consider myself lucky to have friends with incredibly different beliefs about, opinions on, and experiences with childbearing; in fact, I don’t think any of them are exactly the same and I love that. I have a friend who paved the way to motherhood when we were 20, and I have several friends who don’t think they want to have kids. I have multiple friends who have suffered through multiple miscarriages, and I have a friend who’s similar to me and wants kids but can’t fathom taking that leap of faith to make it happen. I even have a friend who’s just a month behind me in her own pregnancy and another friend who had her daughter just one year ago. I also have working-mom friends I’ve watched go through the highs and lows of pregnancy and motherhood, and I think ultimately, they’re the ones who showed me I do want to be a mom and I can do it.
Growing up, I definitely wanted to be a mom some day, and I pictured a life with kids, but as I actually started walking in the season where that could be my reality, I could no longer imagine it. There’s a reason I’m a high school teacher: I don’t love babies. I loved nannying when I was in college, and I couldn’t fathom loving little people like I loved those girls. I then met my first group of students, and I loved them even more. I considered them “my kids” and was perfectly content to spend eight hours five days a week with them but still have my own kid-free life on evenings, weekends, and during the summer. When I got married after that first year teaching, the pressure to start having babies was definitely on, but to my husband’s dismay, it couldn’t convince me.
My biggest hurdle to deciding to — you’re going to love this… to this day, I won’t say that my husband and I were actually trying to get pregnant when we did — not NOT try to get pregnant was myself. My husband has ALWAYS wanted it ever since he knew we were getting married. I even referenced something he said to me about having kids very early on in our dating relationship in Our Love Story. I always had an excuse: I wanted to focus on my career, my students were “my kids,” we hadn’t bought a house yet, I’d be a bad mom, he was too immature to be a dad, we couldn’t afford childcare or for one of us to stay home, etc. When we’d fight during the first three years of our marriage, I would even tell him I wasn’t sure I even wanted kids at all simply because I knew it would hurt him.
So truthfully, I think God transformed my heart and gave me a genuine desire to be a mom at one of the lowest points both in my life and in my marriage last June. Essentially, I had let several problems in my life build and build without addressing them, and I had a mental health crisis on the night of my brother’s wedding. I’ve put a lot of what I said and what I did that night out of my mind, but the next morning I remember telling my husband something along the lines of, “How can we trust me to be a mom after what I said and did last night?” Right then and there, I knew I needed to get help and become better. I started counseling and I restarted my blog, and I genuinely think those two things have made all the difference in my life in general, not just with wanting to be a mom.
One of the biggest milestones in my mental health journey that summer was actually the Fourth of July weekend at the lake with my immediate family. I was able to have some long overdue conversations, and I even got to use a grad school paper for my Gender Communication class to process some of my closest relationships. Somehow, I had forgotten to take my birth control pills all weekend for three consecutive days, something I NEVER have done, and I was extremely worried that I was pregnant. I called my OBGYN for advice, word-vomited my anxious thoughts to my therapist, and waited to get my period (I finally did on August 11).
In the midst of my processing and healing last summer, we also bought our first home (read the two-part story here and here), and that was always one of my BIGGEST excuses for not wanting a baby at the moment. We moved in August 16, and my husband’s school year started again on August 17 and mine on August 18, so it was a whirlwind late summer/early fall. I remember having conversations with my husband about being more ready to start trying to get pregnant but still probably not until I finished grad school the following May.
On August 28, my husband planned a date day for us to roadtrip down to our alma mater, and before we left, we each made a Spotify playlist of 20 songs about each of us individually (see mine here). I crafted my playlist chronologically from literally my birth until now. He and I went back and forth playing a song from each of our playlists and then guessing why we thought the other person chose it, ultimately having a conversation about what that song means to us.
The first song on my playlist was “Lightening Crashes” by Throwing Copper. I can’t call this a memory, but my parents have a home video of my mom flipping through my baby scrapbook with this song playing in the background. Her hands and her nails are so comforting to me in that video (I can literally see it in my mind, though I think I’ve probably only ever watched the home video once), and if you listen to the lyrics of the song, it’s all about new and old life. The song brings me to tears every time, but I don’t know if I had ever listened to it with my husband before that day in the car. That song makes me want to be a mom; I told my husband that day that I absolutely am ready to meet the person/people our future child/children will become. Now, it’s the song I hope is playing when I give birth to my daughter.
And still, I wasn’t quite ready to try. My best friend with four kids invited me to hang out with them on September 11, and that day, I asked her what prenatals she took. If you do some quick Googling or even ask your health care provider, they’ll tell you to start taking prenatal vitamins and get off birth control three to six months before you start trying to conceive to give your body time to adjust and prepare. I figured it might a good idea to start if we wanted to try the following spring/summer. On September 12, my last pack of BC pills was complete and I started taking the Enfamom Prenatal Multivitamin gummy.
The sex education we get in health class is flawed for many reasons, but my friends and I have all agreed that when you’re a teenager, they make it seem like getting pregnant is SO easy and takes having sex with anyone, any time just one time. There are certainly many experiences out there that make that seem like the truth; however, reality for each couple is much different. None of us feel like we’ve been prepared for what it takes to get your body ready, when in your cycle is the best time to conceive, or that sometimes the whole thing really is up God.
In October, that’s what I finally decided to do: give it to God AKA start not NOT trying to get pregnant. I also thought I was armed with the knowledge that it would take three to six months for my body to even be remotely ready to carry another life, so I had time to actually become ready to try. After going through my health and fitness journey in 2020 (read about it in I LOST 1/4 OF MY BODY WEIGHT IN 9 MONTHS!), I had slacked a little and wanted to get back to my best shape before actually conceiving, knowing (or at least being told) it would be difficult to get my body back postpartum. Of course, my husband was thrilled. We didn’t love the idea of a July baby, but it was a due date after I was finished with grad school, so there was really nothing standing in our way besides ourselves.
On Halloween, I was late for my period, and we took a pregnancy test. It wasn’t our first pregnancy test, but it was the first one where we were actually kind of hoping to see two lines (by we, I mean me). We recorded this just in case, and my attitude towards the whole thing was very flippant. Looking back, I think I just didn’t want to get my hopes up and be disappointed. When we flipped the test over, it was negative. I still didn’t start my period, though, so on November 4, I took another negative test. Two days later on Saturday, my period still hadn’t come, and we wondered if maybe it was just too early in the pregnancy to detect it. We had sex that night, which caused some heavy spotting and ended in me crying. I looked my husband in the eyes and said, “See, I do want this. I do want a baby.”
Earlier on, I said there’s no such thing as a “normal” pregnancy. I also know that miscarriages are SO common. I’m not saying I had one back in October/November, but I think more women and more couples than any of us will ever realize have a moment like that, a moment where their hopes for a baby are crushed. Navigating pregnancy takes a new level of patience and trust that I’ve never experienced before, and I don’t think that I could do it without knowing God was in control. Ultimately, October wasn’t our month.
After processing that, I talked myself back into “not being ready” to have a baby. I realized having a July baby would be terrible timing for my yearbook program, and truthfully, I think part of me wanted to continue being selfish with my life. At that point, my husband and I were really committed to not NOT trying and didn’t make any changes. In my journal on Halloween, I wrote that I was grateful for a negative pregnancy test and added, “It’s not that I don’t want it or that I’m not ready. It’s that I just don’t think it’s the right time. I want to get pregnant in your time, God.” I hadn’t ever prayed a prayer like that and truly given it to God in that way, and little did I know, He heard me loud and clear.
I went about life as if I wasn’t pregnant and didn’t plan on it happening. I do, however, remember having a nightmare some time at the end of November or beginning of December and waking up sweating and anxious about who would cover for all of my late summer yearbook commitments if I had a baby at that time. I now know that one of the earliest pregnancy symptoms can be a change in emotions and anxiety, often manifesting in sleepless nights and strange dreams. I had so much trouble sleeping during that time, but I also knew it was a high stress time in my life as a teacher with all the holidays and end-of-semester happenings, so I didn’t think anything of it.
On December 9, I was supposed to start my period. On the 6th, one of my best friends texted me that TikTok just told her that her BFF was pregnant. She knew about not NOT trying and what happened the previous month, so I texted back, “Lol I don’t think so but I guess I could be!” On December 12, three days late, I thought I had started my period, but it was just spotting. Again, after what happened the month before, I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
The morning of Thursday, December 16 on my drive to work, the thought occurred to me that if I was pregnant, it would be a cute stocking stuffer gift for my husband if I had a positive pregnancy test. I’ve always felt weird about buying pregnancy tests (probably trauma from my teenage years), but after work, I bravely went into the Walgreens down the street from our house, looked the cashier in the eye, and bought a pregnancy test that wouldn’t just show lines but instead say the words “pregnant” or “not pregnant.”
To my surprise, that eight letter word, P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T, appeared across the screen at 4:00 PM that day.
I first had to tell my dogs (read their adoption stories here), who knocked the test out of my hand, and then I FaceTimed two of my best friends, including the one who somehow knew I was pregnant from TikTok. I told them my plan for telling my husband, and we were all very ignorant to think I could keep a secret this big from him until Christmas. One of my former students was coming by that evening, so I anxiously told her too. It was fitting that she was one of my very first students with whom I had built such a strong bond through yearbook; she had been my go-to gal all the years she was in my program. Everyone was crying happy tears, and I ultimately realized I had to tell my husband that night when he got home from work.
I ended up putting some new body wash I bought him in a gift bag with the test and called it a “happy last day of coaching basketball” gift since that night coincidentally marked the end of his middle school basketball season. He was absolutely stunned when he opened it. It’s the thing he wanted most for so many years, and I could finally give that to him. As happy as we were in that moment, we had no idea what was in store for us on our pregnancy journey.
Read the next part of the story here.