Savannah: At six months, I'm already feeling the mom guilt... and pride
It was fun last weekend to get Mother’s Day wishes from friends and family — even though I felt like a bit of an impostor. I haven’t done too much mothering yet, after all. (Except for making a few “motherly” sacrifices — like giving up wine and sushi for nine months. Surely that counts??) Nevertheless, I loved being part of the day for the first time, and as I blogged last week, I appreciate my mom and all moms in such a new way since I’ve become an expectant mother myself.
That said, as my little baby plugs away in utero, I have noticed a few motherly traits gestating in myself.
1. A LITTLE OBSESSED: I think about the baby pretty much every minute of every day. The baby is the first thought when I wake up, and the last thought as I sink into slumber at night. I whisper little encouragements to the baby: “You’re doing a great job growing up!” or “I’m so happy you’re here!” I pray for the baby. I sing to him/her. I wonder about the baby constantly: What are you up to? Are you sleeping right now? Are you awake? How do you feel about the Indian food we had for dinner? Are the spices a bit much? Who are you going to look like? Could you please be developing your daddy’s kind heart? And the flutter of a kick in my stomach is our silent, sacred communication — it makes my heart soar.
2. WORRY: This may be the first motherly instinct to kick in! Early in my pregnancy, before I could feel the baby’s kicks, I was constantly wondering and worrying if the baby was OK. I think that’s pretty normal. This might not be: I got one of those fetal ultrasound monitors, which are supposed to allow expectant parents to hear the baby’s heartbeat in utero.
Let’s be clear: the packaging unambiguously states, DEVICE WILL NOT WORK UNTIL LATE SECOND TRIMESTER. But there I was in the first couple months, earphones on, raptly listening to my belly (side benefit — very in tune with my digestive sounds), hoping against hope to get a little peep from baby. Just a little sign of life. I’m happy to report I didn’t freak out when I didn’t hear anything; I still had some grip on rationality and knew I shouldn’t expect anything. But I still listened, just in case baby’s heart was beating extra loudly one day, I would be there to catch it.
One day it hit me: this worrying isn’t going to end when the baby is (I pray) safely delivered and in my arms. No, that is the moment that worrying is just getting started. It makes me think of a quote I have always loved: “[T]o have a child … is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.”
3. GUILT. Even though I wake up at 3 a.m. and am housing a growing human being, I confess I feel some guilt about certain things. For example, I occasionally (read: daily) overindulge in sweets. I’m sorry, sweet little baby, for giving you a sweet tooth that might have you grabbing that extra cookie for your whole life. Also, I don’t exercise as often as I should. Let’s say I’m more of a napper. I feel terribly guilty about that. The clever Lena Dunham summed up how I feel perfectly — in 140 characters or less. “I feel as much guilt about napping,” she tweeted a while back, “as some people do about murdering.” For me that’s only a slight exaggeration. Six months in — motherly guilt? Check.
4. OVERWHELMING, IRRATIONAL PRIDE. I’m amused at myself for this new motherly trait. Like mothers over the ages, I am convinced of our baby’s magnificence based on absolutely nothing.
Oh, don’t you know my baby excels at sleeping, kicking, cell division, organ development and weight gain? Don’t you agree this baby is so photogenic and never takes a bad ultrasound? Yes, indeed, the most motherly thing about me so far is how totally enthralled with and proud of this baby I am — sight unseen. So just you wait until August rolls around and there’s a real live little person to love. I don’t even know if I can grasp the heights and depths of it until I experience it. But while I’m pregnant, I’m definitely getting a little preview of coming attractions.