(Diary) Week 33: There's Nothing Wrong With You
She says it and I believe it.
Welcome to my diary. These are entires I wrote during my own pregnancy. What you’re about to read is unfiltered, unedited, and perhaps a bit uncanny. But these are my raw feelings written in real-time. Everyone’s perspective and journey is different. This is mine.
There's Nothing Wrong With You
She tells you that all of your biggest fears will come true and for the first time, in months, you exhale louder than the roars of the ocean.
You don’t know this woman, which makes you want to tell her your deepest darkest secrets even more.
That you’re 8-months pregnant and you’ve been hiding it from the world.
That you’ve done a lot of wild and crazy things in your life but nothing makes you more than scared than becoming a mom.
That you’re not ready. That you don’t know if you ever will be.
And yet none of this is strange to her. She looks into your eyes like she’s seen them before. She finishes your sentences like she’s heard every word of it some other time.
Minutes earlier, you were just walking on the beach. It was cold and snowy. Nobody was around. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, you see a woman and her poodle running toward you.
I saw you from above and thought I’d come say hello.
She tells you that her dog hasn’t played with anyone in days. That the wind from the beach has kept her inside.
She has this dazzle about her that makes her ears look like they are buzzing. She has this way about her that makes you want to pretend your fingers aren’t freezing so you talk to her forever.
You jam all 10 of yours in your coat pocket. You keep the conversation going.
I’ve just spent 5-minutes telling you my life story, she says. Come on, tell me yours.
You toss out the basic, boring, stuff.
You live in Brooklyn. You have a dog. Over there, in the distance, is your husband.
You’re so good at hiding who you are from people, but you’re even better when they let you off easy.
But she did not.
You look great, she says, her eyes twinkling around your stomach.
Ohhhhh, yeah. You start to add. You are also 8-months pregnant. You tell her you forgot. You wonder how she knew.
You’re in a large winter jacket. Your belly is pushed behind a tight pair of leggings. Three layers of sweaters. You don’t show a thing.
You hide so well, she says, about everything.
Maybe it was the falling snow that made your words slip, but for some reason, in that moment, you decide to ramble off the truth.
You tell her that you’re scared to become a mom. You tell her, with ugly words, that you are totally freaking out.
It seems impossible. What If I’m not good at it? What if my child doesn’t love me? What if I don’t love my child? What if I miss being so selfish? What if I just can’t do any of this? What I never stop being so scared?
She lets you throw it all up to her and waits until you’re finished to say:
All of your fears will come true and you will be happy that they did.
You ignore what she says. You tell her that there must be something wrong with you. Most pregnant women are excited. Aren’t they?
What about them? You are not them. And there’s nothing wrong with you.
She has three kids. She was a developmental psychologist for babies ages 0-3. You don’t know much more about her but you think she has the credibility of the kind of expert you need right now to set you straight, to shake you silly.
So you exhale, slowly, as she shares her advice.
Don’t read all the books. She read them all as a development psychologist and then had her first kid and thought: wow, all of this is such bullshit. Every kid is different. Spend time learning about your own kid once they are born - what they like, what they need, what they are trying to tell you before they can actually tell you.
Babies come out of us helpless. They need us. You have to wonder why that is. Other species like cats or birds, they are born, they stay for a little, and then they leave. Not babies. They come out relying on you, learning from you, bonding with you. They stick around, close by, for life.
You might not like your baby. That’s okay. Nobody else might tell you that - but it happens, it’s real, and it’s OK. You might start to resent them, be frustrated by them, be upset with this new life. But eventually, you bond, and that resentment turns to love.
Even when everything feels like chaos, there are two things you can do with your baby: get to know her and connect with her. AND that doesn’t have to be an all-day thing. If it’s one hour a day you’re able to do this, that’s enough.
It’s been almost an hour and you watch her nose start to run from the cold.
One more question? You know you will never see her again. You know she has no reason to lie to you, like other people in your life might, the ones who have to deal with you today, and then tomorrow. It’s harder for them to be honest when they have to love you.
Will I be okay? Will I survive?
She wants to give you hug, but she doesn’t. Instead, she tells you this:
It might not be okay, at first, but you will survive. If you didn’t, that would say a lot about humanity. You’re not the first person to do this, and honey, you won’t be the last.
It turns out, at week 33, you find what you’ve needed all along.
Someone to tell you that you’re right:
That it’s okay to be scared.
That none of this will be easy.
That you will never know what to do before you do it.
That you don’t have control over so many things.
But mostly, more than anything else:
That there is nothing wrong with feeling the way that you feel right now.
There’s nothing wrong with you.
The women tells you her name is Ethie, short for Athena.
Athena, goddess of wisdom.
She tells you she’s glad she saw you from above and came down to say hello.
You thank her for everything. You wish her well.
And as you walk away, in your own direction, you look up and see that there is no above. In the distance, just flat land. Just a parking lot without any cars.
Maybe it’s the hormones or dehydration. Maybe it’s frost bite or brain freeze.
But all of a sudden, you believe in the impossible, you believe in something that just can’t be real.
You believe that this woman found you so she could tell you:
That Jen Glantz, you’re going to do this, before you’re ready, while you’re scared, and during it all you’ll learn that that there is nothing wrong with feeling the way that you feel right now.
My love, there is nothing wrong with you.