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Ambivalence

I've been desperate to have a baby for about three years. When the biological alarm clock finally went off, it did it with a vengeance and when Chris and I decided to wait a little longer to start trying I thought my intestines were going to fall right out of my body. And then we did start trying, and it was hard. My lazy ass ovaries refused to cooperate. So there were doctors who were unable to find anything wrong and then a particularly horrid summer where having a baby seemed like the stupidest idea I had ever come up with and then out of what seemed like nowhere a little pink line. Two little pink lines actually. I was thrilled. And terrified.

It's hard to describe how I feel about this baby. It isn't love, exactly, although I'm sure it will be once I meet her. It's more the feeling that nothing I have ever done or ever will do will be more important. I can't wait to see her, to meet her and feed her and bathe her and change her diapers and walk her around the living room for hours when she cries and see her learn to crawl and walk and talk and read and write and dance and drive. I want this baby. I adore her. I want to spend the rest of my life caring for and worrying about her.

But sometimes, I wonder why. Sometimes, it all seems like a colossal pain in the ass and I wonder why I wanted this in the first place and whether I really want it now. I think about having a screaming toddler or a mouthy, sullen teenager. About driving to ballet class and soccer practice and having my house always a mess with crayon on the wall and juice stains on the couch. I think about how I will probably be giving up a job that, while it does not fulfill my soul, I am very good at and for which I am well compensated and I think about how long it will take me to start over and work my way back up. I think about not being able to go out to dinner or a movie whenever we feel like it because we won't have anybody to watch the kid and probably won't be able to afford it anyway. I think about all the diapers and all the laundry and all the hours reviewing spelling words and trying to teach her algebra and how I really can think of lots of ways I would rather spend my time.

I resent all of these things, and then I hate myself for thinking them. But I wonder, do I really want this? Am I really ready to make all these sacrifices? Did I really want to give up so much of what I have to take on this new thing that I cannot yet fully understand or appreciate or anticipate?

Yes. I'm terrified, but yes. I question it, but yes. I don't fully understand why I want it, but yes.

Yes.

Comments (38)

I would imagine the way you're feeling is perfectly normal. Having a baby is a Big Deal, after all.

You've described so perfectly what it is like. You will probably feel this way many times after the baby too. And then, one day your little one will look at you and smile and say "Mommy, you are the best mommy in the world! I love you!" And your fridge will be covered with pictures she's drawn for you. And when she's scared in the middle of the night she'll come crawling in your bed because you can make it all better. And then, it will most certainly be 'yes'.

funny how that happens.
I had two children, and had all the same feelings twice. And I really enjoy my sons.
And being a good parent is THE most important job in the world.

I think it's this self awareness that will make you a good parent. It's an undertaking. It terrifies me the thought of having a child. Of being totally responsible for another life. That you know you are giving things up and are aware of that, makes your prepared to love the child with the hwoleness of your being (eww, that was a little too Deepak).

Yes, it is all that drudgery and more. But what you can't imagine until it hits you is the L O V E. That love that takes your heart and puts it through the spin cycle-- you may not even feel it right away when she's born, but when it hits you-- it's like nothing you've ever felt, and it compensates in full for you for all of the options you no longer have.

Sing it sister. ;-)

Beth, you summed up my situation beautifully too! I think that because we waited and thought about the timing for having kids, perhaps we have put in our fair share of ummm 'intectualising' over the situation. What you describe to me, is kind of a disconnect between some innate feelings [you want this, and are looking forward to it] coupled with the realisations that come from the analysis that it will bring a lot of change and upheaval [and why do you want *that*?].

I feel the same way. At 33 [dh and I] we have a lovely home, a wonderful lifestyle and great careers. And then we decided to have a baby? Logically, it makes little sense, but actually we are anticipating it like nothing else in our 7 years of marriage.

I guess all I am saying is, Beth, you are absolutely typical! :-D

I am so proud of you for voicing those thoughts. So many women I know would never ever say such a thing for fear of looking bad. But they shouldn't! All those things seem perfectly natural. How can you NOT recognized that although you are gaining something amazing, you are losing out on a lot too? Being a parent is a sacrifice, no quesion about it.

I think about that all the time as we struggle to get pregnant. I think how hard this is, and why am I going through all this trouble anyway? Maybe I should just get back on the pill and hop a flight to Tahiti. But then I look at my nephew and think about the total love I have for him, and he's not even my own child, and I realize that even if the cost-benefit analysis says this is crazy, the benefits will be indescribable.

So bravo to you for being honest and thank you for your post. It's made me feel so much better about all the emotions I am going through too.

I felt the same way when I was pregnant with my oldest. When I was pregnant with my youngest it was different because I knew what I was getting, and that's why I was excited.

Yes, you give up a lot when you become a parent, but I feel like I've gained so much more. I can't imagine the person I would be if I didn't have my kids.

I bet that's the way a lot of women feel when they have their first baby. I'm sure you're not alone. From all I hear, there will be tough times, but the good ones out-weigh the bad ones by a landslide.

totally 100% normal.
but from the second that your little girl is born, you will have an instant bond with her that you would DIE for her.

sure, the spills and the loss of freedom can drive you crazy (goodness knows my kids have learned the best ways to make mommy crazy), but i wouldn't give it up for the world.

kids are the best. there's nothing like those few special moments that will melt your heart and let you know that it's worthwhile. the first time the child reaches for you. the first time you hear the word mommy. the first time they say "i love you" without being prompted. snuggles in the morning. ah...i can't wait!!

And you will have those feelings until the day you die. As much as I love my daughter and my family and my life, sometimes I grab my head and scream and wonder what the hell I'm doing. I feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew multiple times a day. But then my little girl comes up to me and throws her arms around my neck and tells me "I Wuv Ooo, Mom" and my heart melts and I realize that I would bite off even more - hell, I would choke to death - in order to do this all over again.

It's all natural. And I'm sure you already know that.

Now? You are bringing this up this NOW? Um, there is no turning back, you know that right? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I'm just messing with ya. All your points are valid and your fears will most likely become realized but it won't be how you think, I promise. Remember I have three of those monsters and most of the time it feels like a lot of work (because it is) but to me it never feels like a sacrifice. You'll see.

be warned, sometimes there is a gap n between the resentment wearing off and the love kicking in. being a mom is the hardest thing you'll ever do. you'd be crazy to not have these feelings. but once that love hits, damn! there's just nothing else. soccer practice becomes a privelege. dirty diapers don't stink. and you'll never be the same. thank god for that, i say!

you're going to make a wonderful mommy, i can tell. :)

You perfectly described what I believe EVERY mother goes through. I have boys, but still feel all the anxiety, worry and pride you are and will continue to have. Being a mother is the most important job God ever gave me and I take great pride in raising decent human beings......as will you.

I thought the same things. Here I am, nine months in, and I honestly wonder how I lived without her. wonder why I lived without her. I went from a childless person to the mom of a baby that crawls and screams and likes to eat cords.

It is hard to gain perspective on it when all you know of this baby is what you feel of her kicks. She will come and you will love her.

You are not alone and you are normal. Big changes are ahead, but when you have a baby finger in your hand, you will realize what matters to you.

You'll do great.

Yup. My sullen teenagers drive me crazy alot and I still get bummed sometimes that my life is so hard as a parent, but nothing compares to the love. I am so proud of them and they fill me with indescribable joy sometimes even now. They are such beautiful people (even if their rooms are unfit for human habitation). How and why it's worth it, I'll never know. I just know it is. Life is a miracle. Your honesty makes you a stellar parent already.

Welcome to the ranks of the Modern Mom... ambivalent about motherhood, maybe, but never EVER ambivalent about our children.

Yes, there will be changes, and sacrifices. And I promise you -- pinky swear -- that everything that you give up will be returned to you hundredfold. We never go to movies. You know what? I don't care. There is nothing more fun than setting up Molly's "tee set" to play t-ball or just watching her read books to the dog.

Beth, thank you for the honesty of this post. Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me because I don't have a huge huge overwhelming urge to have a baby--because I think of all the pain in the ass reasons and think OMG I am a selfish selfish person. But no, its human nature to be put off by major change. But the MOMENT you see her face--I know all that will drop away and LOVE will take over.

I am so sorry that you had a hard time getting pregnant. Does it make me a bad person that it will now be easier for me to be very happy for you knowing that? I guess misery loves company, huh?

I totally understand how you are feeling. The same thoughts of "Why do I want a baby?" have been going through my head recently, as after 2 years of trying to get pregnant, we are no longer trying, but not trying not to. Why do I even want a baby when it will change my life so much? It is especially easy for me to focus on the negative changes that will happen- my own little version of sour grapes.

Don't forget that for all the changes that will make you wonder why you ever did this, there will be twice as many wonderful things that make it all worth it.

Glad to hear your little girl is perfect.

And then the fish officially became a parent. Congratulations! I have NO idea why I wanted a child - it's not like you can put the feeling into words. But, it has been the most important, scary, and rewarding thing that I have ever done. I am so excited for you and Chris it goes beyond words. I think the very reason that you want to have children, but realize that it is a lot of work will make you both great parents.

No one could have been more unqualified to raise kids than me. I was petrified both times my wife was pregnant. I would have daily thoughts that it was a bad idea.

I'm still an inept parent but I couldn't imagine my life any other way.

You're about to become a mommy blogger...get used to it.

what a beautifully honest post, Beth. I'm nowhere near the parenting part of life but find myself wondering all of these things - like, will it really, really be worth of all the trouble and heartache and crazy hormones? Will The Eventual Husband love our child more than me? All that normal, human stuff.

The Cactus Fish has two very aware, loving parents - she's a blessed little girl!

I remember having all of those questions and panic moments about what I was doing / thinking when I was pregnant and then...well..then they laid him on my stomach after he was born and I knew that it was always meant to be that way. It is joy to see him every morning, every evening, and to see every thing he learns, and hear every sounds he makes. Truly, magic. Enjoy it!

I'd count any child as very lucky to have a mother like you (and a dad like Chris). You're going to be great at it Beth, and any questions you ever have will likely dissolve with one look into her eyes....

It's the only way a sane person should feel about such an enormous life change. I'd wonder about anybody who didn't.

It seems to me (a non-mommy, so I have no basis for this observation, but for what it's worth I have 19 neices and nephews, which is not the same, I know, but I'm rambling, so I'll move on) that you are entering into the 'parenting' phase of your life with both eyes open, knowing that there will be both joy and challenges ahead. It's probably healthier that way than being shocked that diapers don't change themselves or smell like bubblegum. You know? As long as the answers continue to be "yes" I think you'll be just fine. Beanette is very lucky.

I think every mother alive could have written that post with their first baby. This just proves how normal you are. :)

Man I think about those things all the time, and I'm not even pregnate yet- then I get close to my niece and I hold her and I smell her and see the way she wrinkles her nose at me when she smiles - and the answer always rings loud and clear-yep, definatly

(thus proving that you and I are both normal for a change, ain't that a kick in the pants)

Yes. Yes, exactly. I'm nodding furiously.

Every now and then you'll get those "I don't know about this" thoughts. Then, she'll smile at you, or learn something new that makes it all worth it.

No one is a ready made parent. You'll be teaching and learning at the same time.

i have a very strong feeling that you are DEFINATELY not the only pregnant lady to feel this way, whether or not they SAY it outloud or not. i am 26 and married and i waver all the time about WHEN i want kids and IF i want them at all...the exact same kind of thoughts go through my mind. you are brave and i bet you will be a GREAT mom.....and on that note, i will babysit for free, i am a qualified preschool teacher, the only catch would be that you cover my airfare, lol!!!

i agree with some of the comments.. no one is ready to be a parent but when the baby's there.. things will just fall into place. and yes, you learn a lot as you go..

don't hate yourself for resenting it. it's quite natural to feel that way. plus, if you weren't worried about giving up some of your life then i'd be worried for you. there's such a thing as being too involved in your kid's life. you can love and adore this child and not lose yourself.

as for why? oh god. a million tiny reasons. the way a small hand feels on your cheek, the unhibited giggle that erupts for no reason whatsoever. the way, no matter how much fun she's having, she'll drop everything and run into your arms screaming "Mommy!" ... and then, when the teenage sullenness kicks in and you despair, there will be moments when you'll sit down next to her and you'll have a conversation that will give you a glimpse of he person she's becoming and she will be glorious and beautiful because she'll have had two wonderful parents who trust and like her as well as love her.

for those things and so many more, Yes

There is such a huge difference when it's your child doing all of these things, trust me (though, algebra will still suck).

This post just made me want to cry-- lovely, Beth. She will treasure these posts.

It's amazing how the Mommy I love you moments and the moments when you just want to eat them they're so sweet make up for all that.

Well -- Hmm... If you find the little fish is too much to handle at times - send her to Chicago for a little respite -- I'll take her to some cool blues clubs and introduce her to real rock stars. I may even take her over to my favorite tattoo place for maybe a little fish tattoo? Hmm -- not a bad idea...

HEY! You're fine -- you're going to be a mommy -- a BIG responsibility! You two nuts will be just the thing the little fish needs --- she'll look at you lovingly each day - but secretly wonder how the hell she ended up with you -- and not in Chicago listening to great music...

Beth, I was crying reading your post! All of that is true. But the L-O-V-E, girl, the love is incomprehensible.

This morning my oldest woke up as I was getting ready for work and asked me to cuddle with her. So I crawled into bed with her and we snuggled until she fell back asleep. I must have kissed her a hundred times in that 10 minute span.

Then, I was almost ready to leave and my second came pattering into the bathroom and asked me to get into bed with her. We cosleep with her, so I carried her into bed, laying her between DH and I and she rolled between us, snuggling one and then the other, spreading both arms wide at times so she could feel us both. Oh My God. The sweetness. Spontaneous dinners out can NOT compare (though I do miss that at times ;-).)

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So the Fish Said...

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