Pregnancy Loneliness

Greetings from the other side of pregnancy! A post on the Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) online Forum today got me reminiscing about my pregnancy. I found being single and pregnant with twins one of the most difficult and lonely periods of my life. I had planned and budgeted for a singleton and kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t have a multiple pregnancy, but lucky me, I got a two-for-one discount from the sperm bank. I’m actually quite happy about it now, but it was not good news for me at first.

At the time I was definitely excited, but the feelings of excitement were so overwhelmed by intense fear, sadness, and guilt. I was so scared about being a single mom to two infants that if I thought about it for too long I would get the shakes and my eyes would well up. I would just take a deep breath and think about something else. I knew being a single mom would be hard and tried to be as prepared as I could be before I conceived. I knew I could do it. But I had imagined doing it with one baby at a time. With twins, I was terrified that this level of hard would be beyond me. In fact, I already knew that would be beyond me financially, which lead me to a lot of sadness.

This turn of events was the end of my financial independence and the life in the bay area that I had built for myself and loved so much . I felt pretty strongly that I needed to stay there until after everyone was born and healthy and safe, because there I had good health insurance, excellent medical care and high-risk pregnancy specialists, and a great neonatal ICU, all within 2 miles of my house. I really hate asking for help. I hate asking for money. I especially hated asking my mom for help and money because she had to give up her life for a period to come help me, plus she’s on a fixed income. I hate that I can’t be solely responsible for this decision I made, for these people I’ve created. I was so sad about this. I wanted to be able to do this myself and not ask other people to sacrifice just so I could have a baby.

And the guilt! I felt guilty for being selfish, I felt guilty for feeling scared and sad, I felt guilty for doing something that would cost other people so much. And I felt guilty for not feeling the joy and excitement that I thought I should be feeling. I mean, I asked for this! I did this all myself! I threw every ounce of energy and a fair chunk of money behind this effort, I wanted it that badly! So what was wrong with me that I felt this way? Why was the joy and pleasure in this so hard to access?

I guess I can chalk some of that moodiness up to pregnancy hormones and feeling so unbelievably tired and nauseated 24/7. But having sh**ty feelings is also just part of being human. I read in my book on carrying multiples that when most parents learn they are having multiples they go through five fairly predictable psychological stages, similar to the Kubler-Ross stages of grieving: shock, denial, anxiety/anger/depression, bargaining, and acceptance/adaptation. I guess it’s normal to “grieve” for the loss of the typical pregnancy and family that I had imagined for myself, and it’s to be expected I’d feel a sense of loss over the life that I was giving up in order to do this. And don’t get me wrong, I definitely wanted to do this! I also thought that I had come to peace about letting go of the dream of having a family with a partner, but being alone for the vomiting, the ultrasounds, the kicks… it was just so. damn. lonely. I grieved for that dream all over again.

Well, thank god that pity party is over. We survived delivery and our first (really difficult) six months in Oakland, we’ve settled into our new home in Carlsbad, and now my gorgeous, happy, healthy boys are 10 months old. My relationship with my mom has been pushed and stretched and strained, but we’ll get through it. She adores her grandsons, and she still likes me most of the time. 🙂 And now I can’t imagine any life better than the one I have with my boys.

Thinking about all of those feelings made me fervently hope that everyone’s pregnancies are going well, things are generally uncomplicated and you’re feeling happy and well. But to any of you who might be feeling sad, lonely, guilty, or just miserably huge and uncomfortable: even if you’re reading all those pregnancy and baby books alone in bed, you’re not alone in feeling the way you do. And when your pregnancy is over, you’re going to be cuddling the best thing that ever happened to you.


9 thoughts on “Pregnancy Loneliness”

  1. Thank you so much for this website and thanks to all who have contributed. I am 43 years old, single and have started my journey to become pregnant. I feel very lonely also. I am not sure where the lonlieness comes from…the fact that I have always felt alone, so the decision to be a single mother, in a weird way, seems like a natural course of events because I always do everything alone. I have great friends, but they have their husbands, children and their lives. I hope that becoming pregnant and being a single mom doesn’t jeopardize my chance of ever having a husband. I have a hard enough time getting someone to get coffee with, much less have him become the father of my child. I have a job, pretty house, a good education and many interests, and I am a good person. I have been a good mother to my best friends’ children that I took care of while she was dying. I have done everything in life that I want to do and I think I am ready but still am lonely. Therapy doesn’t help the pain of loneliness, or the pain of realizing that I may never become a mother. I worry that this pain may affect my baby or babies.

  2. wow, this hit home for me, too. I just started my own blog b/c I’m hoping for donor insemination this winter (aiming for January) and I’m already feeling lonely. Relocated back to Indy last year and my long distance relationship recently ended. Most of my friends are 150+ miles away and I just yearn to share the process with someone!

    THANK YOU for articulating things so well in this post. Best wishes to you!

  3. This article really hit home for me. I was filled with doubts and fears upon learning about my twin pregnancy. All of a sudden the realization that extended bedrest might be an option with a multiple pregnancy and trying to figure out exhorbitant childcare costs had me scared to death. Finally after 3 failed cycles, I was pregnant and I was filled with fear instead of happiness! Luckily I was able to work 34 weeks and delivered at 39. BUT, one person caring for twins is so so challenging. I love my babies so much, but this is harder than I could have envisioned. I guess nothing worth having in life comes easily, and I have two children to love and nurture for life. I am tired as hell but truly blessed.

  4. I had a single pregnancy, but still could recognize the stages and the feelings described in this article. I am now mother to a beautiful one year old boy and he is the most gorgeous baby ever. Well worth all the efforts. Well, I think this emotional battle needs to be brought more into the open. Thank you for doing just that!

  5. I loved, loved, loved this article. Beautifully written, so very open and gutsy in acknowledging the emotional pain that can be part of this process. I think the thing I resonated most with is the fear of loneliness, and the way I am being forced all over again to grieve the lack of a partner as I move through my own attempts to conceive. I am 44, widowed, and planning to have a child on my own. Because of my age, I am using an egg donor as well as a sperm donor. I have a lot of fears about becoming a parent on my own, and more immediately, going through a pregnancy on my own. While I have supportive friends and family, I have no peer models who have followed this path themselves, so I was so glad to find this forum and community of women and mothers. And this article really spoke to one of my most immediate concerns (aside from the actual worries about conceiving at all) about going through the process of pregnancy without a partner. I hope to hear more from this author.

  6. As I start trying for #2, people have not been as supportive as they were the first time around, so I definitely feel alone. I remembered there were moments when I felt very much alone the first time around, especially when I ended up in the hospital in preterm labour. Now I can’t imagine sharing my daughter with anyone.

  7. Thank you so much! I used to work as a doula and I’ve been so hyper aware of how little I can control once I agree to be part of this process that I feel like I’m having a hard time going from a thinker to a tryer. But your experience and the honesty of it -gives me so much hope.

  8. I can sympathize with all of the bad feelings associated with everything not going according to plan. My health insurance was tied with my ski teaching job, so at 38, I was on my feet skiing while pregnant. I had two roommates to help cover the rent. Both of these circumstances stunk, but after reading the above article, I guess I should be happy that there was no room for loneliness.

    My family was for the most part non-supportive. One was a fundamentalist Christian, one had had an abortion due to being single and one had quickly decided not to have children without completely dealing with the issue so my pregnancy brought up issues with each of these people and they were incapable of focusing on the well-being of their newest little relative.

    My son was born with unfamiliar disabilities. He cried 24/7 unless he was held and he had no ability to sleep. I was unable to work and found it difficult to function at all with so much sleep deprivation so I understand the financial stress.

    My children are now mostly grown. Provided they want my assistance, I have made a commitment in my mind to be there for them when they have my grandchildren. I feel that a grandparent owes it to their grandchildren to pick up the slack and give the grandchildren the best life possible. I really don’t see this as “giving up my life to come help,” although I understand that some grandparents would view it that way. The role of grandparent hasn’t been clearly identified, but it’s clear to me that parents need assistance and that grandparents can and should help improve the lives of the family members who will carry on the family genes once the grandparents are gone. That’s what being a strong family is about.

  9. Well, this was a wonderful piece. I’ve had the same problem. In fact, it was badly exacerbated by the fact that, whereas in my family, most women conceive easily, it took me three years, during which I spent some $50,000.00 to even CONCEIVE — at which point, I PREDICTABLY ended up with twins. The emotional roller-coaster THAT caused (and the fact that I started with triplets, and they told me pretty much, reduce, or lose all three [I’m only 4’11” tall], which REALLY strains my beliefs) was profound. I have DEFINITELY had some financial challenges since that time (the mega-recession wasn’t extraordinarily helpful, either), and I’ve felt ALL of the things that you describe. I was doing quite well up until all of this, but I’ve had to sacrifice my independence, too. Fortunately, I also have family that’s local, and they LOVE spending time with the boys (as wonderful as they are as babies, it keeps getting better, although the challenges are different), so SOME of the guilt factor has been mitigated. I wish you all the best!

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