When considering what to write for my iVillage UK article this week I decided to focus on the emotional aspect of pregnancy as this weekend saw me really struggling to keep certain things in perspective. The main trigger for me this time round was that as this pregnancy has been so physically difficult for me I have had to rely a lot more on other people to do even the simplest things, and have become highly frustrated when the nausea, instable pelvis or sheer exhaustion have scuppered my plans to get things sorted ready for when the baby arrives.
Twice this weekend I was reminded just how little I have been able to get done and how much I have had to adapt to and accept a different way of living and it all just got a bit too much. I cried, several times, but in doing so I came to see the deeper aspect of all of this, namely the fact that we are facing one of the biggest changes of our lives in becoming parents and that is downright terrifying at times.
We are impatient to meet our little guy and yet there is so much to do and think about before he arrives. And then suddenly this weekend I realised that worrying over these practical things was covering up the insecurity I felt about myself. It was the same insecurity I felt when I left full-time work because of my health. We knew doing so was essential to get to this point in our lives, but it was still hard to adjust to being out of work when my whole life I'd been driven to succeed first educationally and then professionally. I threw myself into projects such as this blog, writing a novel and setting up a small business. I busied myself with our wedding preparations, and following the wedding I devoted myself to preparing to try and conceive.
I had, in fact, just decided to start looking for part-time work again when I fell pregnant. And then I fell ill. And then life stopped. I thought I was doing much better once I stopped being sick so often and got back into the swing of my new job and yet still there was a part of me that deep down felt like I wasn't quite getting it right. The bigger I got, the harder things seemed and I went from being totally incapacitated by the Hyperemesis to completely exhausted and unable to do more than the bare minimum due to a rapidly expanding bump and dodgy hips. Deep down I was feeling like a lazy lump and a failure as a wife, because I couldn't do what I wanted to support my husband who was suffering from his own physical pain and having to support me through everything. It felt totally unfair for him and I hated feeling so useless.
Of course I didn't see this consciously, and it took a couple of emotional "meltdowns" this weekend to get to the bottom of it all. My husband is wonderful and helped me see my way back to valuing who I am and all that I can and do give. It was worth a couple of tearful conversations to feel more secure about who I am again.
And it reminded me of who I want to be, not just for me anymore but also for my husband and my son. I remembered the things we have already discussed regarding the childhood we want to provide for our little one, and how we might achieve those goals. We're completely new to this and we're bound to make many mistakes along the way, but actually we have some pretty important things already sorted out in our minds and that makes me feel better about things because I know who I am and who I need to be.
For instance, we have already discussed that in every parenting couple there tends to be a "policeman" and a "fun guy". We know without even thinking about it that I am the policeman and Tim is the fun one. I'm much stronger than Tim on the disciplining front and he is far more free and happy-go-lucky than I am. Of course, that doesn't mean that Tim won't be a part of teaching out child right from wrong, nor does it mean I won't ever have fun activities with him. It just means that when it comes to figuring out the harder decisions on discipline we know I'll be the least likely to cave in to the "puppy dog eyes" and Tim will be much better at coming up with those awesome activities we do as a family that make memories that last a lifetime. And that works for us.
We also know how we want to teach our son about life, the universe and everything. Not that we have the answers to such questions ourselves, but we know what feels right to us and that is what we want to share with our child. Everything from walks in the woods to helping with homework is pretty clear in our minds: I'll help him with English, Maths and Languages, whilst Tim will be far better suited at helping with History, Science and Random Trivia!
Of course, these are only parts of who we are and who we want to be, but remembering these things helps to ground me at times like these when I am feeling so totaly unsure of myself. I'm sure I'll have many more crises of personality as I learn and grow in my role as a parent, but for now I feel reassured that even when I'm feeling totally lost, there will be some way of finding my way back, even if it does mean having a little cry every once in a while!