Please see attached: a screenshot of my husband’s Oura Ring stats from the morning I told him we were pregnant. With a baby.
I’d say he was sufficiently holy-sh!tted.
This milestone – Baby #2 – was something we’d thought about for nearly five years, but for most of that time, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. (That journey featured a full breakdown, a 30-day cardiac monitor, and even medically supervised hallucinogen therapy…which I’ll discuss on my podcast.)
Even having spent a huge chunk of those five years immersed in the Baby Making and Beyond project – literally uterus-deep in everything fertility, pregnancy, and baby – I still just wasn’t sure I could handle it.
Then, once we decided to go for it, there were a few months where we weren’t sure it was going to happen, or whether we’d keep trying.
Then, at the ripe old age of mid-to-late-thirties (THAT IS A #GERIATRICPREGNANCY JOKE), I had another baby!
This all actually happened awhile back, but you know how processing wow what just happened can take some time. Then, processing so I’m going to put this on the internet?! can take even more time. Especially when what just happened that I’m going to put on the internet happened in 2020.
In fact, after my “hey I’m pregnant” Instagram post, I very consciously took an extended – more than a year – social media hiatus. I didn’t know if I’d ever write anything intended for public consumption again – and I was ok with that. There are times in life where I’ve been led to turn inward, to contemplate, to focus on what happens at home – where much of what’s good in the world takes root – and that just felt right.
Side note – thank you to all of you who checked in with me during my internet gap year. I deeply appreciated the love! And the fact that you remembered that I existed <3
While the first few months were rough, as the first few months often are, I can now truly say that our sweet little pandemic baby has brought us a deep sense of wholeness. Before this little one arrived, I couldn’t have told you what that feeling of wholeness with two kiddos would be like. Now, it just is.
(…What I mean is: I was whole before. So like…I was whole, then the baby created a new space for herself – a hole, if you will, and then she filled that hole, and then I was whole still, again. In a whole different way. Wait, what?)
Also, although I’m not sure how it’s possible, right now I think I’m less anxious than I was when we were parents of one. (Note to my therapist: YOU WERE RIGHT.)
I am grateful to my core to have this second miraculous little being in my life.
Here are 3 things I’ve learned in the process of becoming a parent (twice):
- EVERYONE’S EXPERIENCE IS DIFFERENT – AND THAT IS FINE.
Read that fifty-six times, then read it again!
You might look around you and feel that you’re the only one making certain decisions or feeling a certain way about (fill-in-the-blank). And while it’s unlikely that you’re truly alone in the world, it sure might feel like it. To take some of the “wrongness” away from this feeling (#enneagram6), just remember: though it’s unlikely that you’re really alone on your island, it’s actually okay to be “the only one.” As Michael Scott would say: “…society sucks. I don’t even consider myself a part of society.”
What I’m saying is: it’s okay to have a completely different parenting experience from your friends or family. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. In a lot of cases, it means you’re thinking deeply and truly feeling the weight of your responsibilities. More people should be like that!
It’s hard, but if you continue to sit with the discomfort and bravely make the choices that are right for YOUR family, you’ll become more confident and more self-assured in the long run. (See #3, below.) This is not easy in a society that values sameness and conformity.
And when it comes to others’ experiences, you might not “get it.” That, too, is FINE. The key word: respect. We could all use more of it.
- “Becoming” a parent is a process, not an instantaneous shift.
Yes, they say things like “the moment you BECOME a parent…” But you don’t just “become” a parent in a single moment. It’s not like “becoming” a princess or “becoming” an AT&T customer. I am still “becoming” nearly 6 years after my first little one joined the family.
In fact, it wasn’t until a few months after my second arrived that I started to feel that inkling of “hey, I think I got my POS (Parent Operating System) online!”
On top of that, I did not experience that fabled instant-love phenomenon: “the instant we saw our baby for the first time, we were flooded with so much love and we didn’t remember life before that moment…”
To my disappointment, I was more flooded with what just happened and is everyone ok and do I seriously have to get stitched up now because that feels like adding insult to injury.
Even 2 kids in, I still don’t always feel like a parent. Of course, I do the hard work of parenting, and despite my POS finally firing up, I still have PIS (Parent Impostor Syndrome).
Lately, though, I’ve noticed that my survival-mode-meter is no longer constantly in the red zone, as it was for many years. I am able to notice, and even enjoy, how completely in love I am with these truly extraordinary little people.
- You have to learn to trust yourself!
This is a frequent quote from my inner monologue. Worrying that you’re making the wrong decision is natural, especially when your parenting choices are against the grain.
(If everyone else is doing xyz, it’s probably for a good reason, right?!) (Maybe.) (But not always.)
Questioning yourself is part of being a good parent. But living in the agony of self-doubt is life-limiting and unproductive, and at some point you must move forward.
Realizing that I can worry and question myself while still trusting my ability to make a decent decision and move forward has been BIG for me.
There WILL be “wrong” decisions and regrets. That is life. All you can do is love your people and do your best. And that’s all we can ask of them, too, right?
Ah, and one more thing. The cliches are true: the days are long, but the years are short. Hindsight is 20/20. You don’t appreciate your 30-year-old knees until your 37-year-old knees pop so loudly that they wake the baby. …Etc.
I hope this helps (and if it doesn’t, I hope you find a way to get the last 5-10 minutes of your life back).
Don’t forget to catch up with me on the Liz Talks podcast!
Thanks for reading!