Greetings from the other side of pregnancy! A recent post on the Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) members’ online Forum 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 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, we’ve settled into our new home, 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.