Monday, June 14, 2010

What scares me about pregnancy and motherhood

When I got to go see my family in Denver and tell them that we're having a baby, mom took me out for lunch and did what she does best, which is to ask very intentional and insightful questions. Mom asked me what my biggest fears were about pregnancy. Actually, very few of my fears are about pregnancy itself. It's true that over the past few years (actually through blog reading) I've heard many stories of miscarriages, still-births, disease, and dangerous deliveries. I'm more aware than ever before of what could happen.

All of that is present in my mind and I do get nervous before doctor's appointments, and I always breath a sigh of relief when we get the all clear. I do fear the pain of delivery some because I am a total wuss. I dread regular old vaccinations! Really, it's not all of that that I fear, though. I figure all of that can come as it may, ultimately they are twists and turns on the path of life, and we'll make it. My deeper fears are different.

Fear of losing my identity as "Kacie":
My immediate and early fear after finding out I was pregnant was much the same as my early fear after getting engaged. Both marked a coming major transition and change, and transition in my past is a tumultuous thing so I am always a little fearful as I anticipate a coming transition. With both marriage and having a child, it marks a change of identity as well - from a single woman to a married woman, a wife. Now I'm transitioning to being a mother. Change is inevitable, but I find myself initially reacting strongly against the feeling that I will be a whole different person, never to return to who I was before. I have seen many women become a fully different person with a whole new life that absorbs them completely both when they marry and when they have kids. I am someone that longs for security, so I react by wanting to reassure myself and those around me that although my life is changing, I will still be the same Kacie. I am essentially the same person, they won't lose me and I won't lose them or the life and relationships that I love. I never intend to be a mother who is so obsessed with mothering that all the rest of life falls away. I intend to absorb motherhood into who I already am and to let myself grow with it rather than to become a new person altogether.

Fear of the loss of independence:
I fear the loss of my independence and how I will react to it. I'm the oldest of six kids and the youngest has Downs Syndrome and so grew up much slower. I was always a caretaker in my house. I loved it and have always been told I'm a natural at mothering. However, all of that early experience made me also keenly aware of the huge responsibility that kids are, and how little freedom or time a mother has while her kids are young. The awareness of this great responsibility made me wonder if I wanted to be a mother at all - I am a very independent woman and I get things done, often alone. There's this fear that after I have this baby, I will just chafe and struggle with the loss of independence and flexibility. I'm kind of glad of that, because the more aware I am of what can be hard, the less it will shock me. Like with marriage. I was very wary of how hard marriage can me so I was very careful going into it - I wanted to truly commit to the responsibility I was taking on. Same here. I'm glad I'm aware of just what a commitment becoming a mother is.

Fear of not enjoying motherhood: 
I also have this quiet fear that I will resent motherhood. I love infants, LOVE them. The baby smells, the soft skin and hair, the little toes and baby noises, all so wonderful. A lot of people are bored or intimidated by infants, but I could just eat them up. I'm more afraid of that toddler stage when the kids want to play constantly and have so much energy, and haven't yet figured out how to play alone. I'm not a very playful person.... thank goodness I married my husband, who loves to play. I think he may make up what I lack in this area.  I'm afraid I won't be a fun mom during that stage.

Fear of figuring out appropriate discipline:
I'm afraid of working out standards of discipline as a husband and wife team. I don't know yet what I think about discipline. Thanks to a degree in counseling with classes in child development, a little of my own research as well as some people I highly respect who really discourage spanking.... I've rethought a lot of my opinions about discipline.  Isaac and I don't know yet what we'll agree on, but we know we've got to be a united team, and I worry it'll be tough to find agreement! One of the guys I work for says he and his wife argued more about discipline more than anything else in their whole marriage.

Fear of losing the centrality of our marriage: 
Speaking of marriage, that's sort of the last fear I can think of. I fear that parenting will cause us to lose the centrality of our marriage. I think the most common tragedy I see in Christian marriages is couples who are so focused on their family as a whole and raising their kids well that they merely become business partner parents rather than lovers who parent out of the romance that made the family in the first place. I love my husband, and he loves me, and I LOVE our relationship. I know parenting will be exhausting sometimes, but we've already had these conversations saying we will FIGHT to keep our relationship as the top priority, above even our children. They will benefit from it, I know.

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about being a mom, really excited actually. In the interest of not being a peppy person who only posts the positive, I'm just being honest here and showing the other side. I approach motherhood with excitement and trepidation... like most of life I suppose!


Erin said...

Kacie I thought this post was so honest, thanks for sharing, I think your fears are valid and i remember having similar fears as well. I think the fact that you recognize them as fears and are aware of your feelings is so important to dealing with them (not that I have a degree in psychology or anything!! lol) Anyways I would agree with you so much on making sure that you and Isaac agree on your discipline methods, but also I would like to say that as much as you plan for something sometimes when it is actually happening and you see things from an angle that you hadn't prethought -its ok to change. Hmm I don't know if that made sense but anyway-I think you will be a great mom and as tacky or corny as this may sound-you have the ultimate example as a parent guiding you-God and if you take everything to Him you'll find help! Ok well anyway thanks again for sharing-its so fun to experience this journey with you, thanks for keeping us in the know!

Jaimie said...

I love this post. I love honesty. Knowing what will be difficult puts you SO FAR ahead of the game. I'm sure with babies/motherhood you'll react as you do with marriage, saying it's work -- but completely worth it.

Shalini said...

I completely relate to what you have written in your post and as a woman and a mother of a 4 year old angel I can rest assure you that it all going to well and the moment you lay your eyes on the bundle of joy you universe would only circle around him/her.

Keep youra calm and all would fall into place. Enjoy each day as it comes as its going to be a new day with new challenges and newer memories to enjoy for a life time :)) Good Luck

Erin said...

Hey Kacie, I would be honoured to be a topic on your blog! Thank you for asking! And its so funny that you think my life was exotic-I was just as fascinated by your childhood and its one of the things I love about reading your blog-so much of our life experiences affect our future thoughts and actions and its really neat to see your life through your eyes!

kelleyann said...


I'm not going to lie. The transition can be ROUGH (or it can be wonderful, but it can be rough too). I don't think I've written much about it b/c it's all happened so fast but I have been most thankful during this time to have friends who are parents. Friends who are honest and allow me to say that some days I wish I could pretend Canaan didn't exist, etc. Find people who let you be honest and don't always talk about the "joys" of motherhood! They are there, but they are small moments at times and the hard is definitely still there too.

That being said, I totally resonated with you about the "play" thing. I'm not a super baby person and I'm also more of a "doer" than a player. That's been interesting b/c Nate is GREAT at playing. And I'm really happy to have a husband who will do that with his kids so well. But sometimes it leads to guilt/jealousy that Canaan won't like me as much, etc. It's good to remember we don't have to be everything, that we provide different things for our kids and they are all good. Nate actually just wrote a blog a little bit about playing on Canaan's blog. (It's a super boring blog for anyone who doesn't love our kid so I don't advertise it. It's our version of a baby book. But just in case you want to see his perspective:

Also, discipline ... we don't have it all figured out. But it's our goal to go the no-spanking route too. I'm interested how this will be b/c we are moving overseas. Already I am remembering what it's like to be in that MK culture and one of our future fellow missionaries has already had a "talk" with Nate about how we NEED to spank b/c it is what a Godly father does. It will be interesting to go counter-culturally on that ... even from what my sister plans to do!