A New Mother's Fear - Finding Truth in My Changing Identity


It's not often that I post a more serious entry on the blog, but I find that each time I do, it serves as a type of therapy for me. To be honest, I've written quite a few of these types of posts, but most of them remain unpublished out of fear or pride. But every once in a while I know that I need to share a post, not only for myself, but for others. Similar to this post from the past, I know I'm not alone in my feelings. That the anxiety, fear and worry are normal, and maybe even in an odd way healthy. And because I know others have been, are, or will be in in my place, I want to share my thoughts.

More than any other success in life, becoming a good mom has always been at the top of my list. But now that I'm pregnant, I find myself terrified of actually becoming one. For a long time I thought it was because lil' Wif was an "unplanned surprise;" I just needed to adjust to the new timeline my life was on and come to terms with the fact that my plan wasn't God's plan. But over the past few months, as I've watched my weekly babycenter email counter of how far along I am grow and the "weeks to go" number shrink, I've found myself becoming more and more scared to meet this little guy. 

I've had breakdowns in the car, shed tears at night, and probably have cracked one too many jokes about losing my mind (and my figure) to this little linebacker in my belly (he kicks HARD). I have yet to purchase anything beyond a few items for the nursery - I can't even bring myself to actually buy clothes or shoes or anything that he might wear, because for some reason I think it would make it too real.

I've always struggled with change, but never really knew it until my world came crashing down around me when I was getting ready to marry Mike, but that's another story for another day. Since then, I've learned a lot about myself and know that I must identify the root reason why I'm afraid of change for me to ever move forward. Add my fear of change to the fact that I've never really been a "kid-lover," and it makes me downright petrified to know I'm going to be a mom in three short months. 

Growing up, I never babysat or cared to hold a newborn - I generally just ignored the existence of babies. Even my nephews, who have shown me that I could actually love and care for a child, quickly lose their luster when I can't calm them down or they spit up on my shirt. I get desperate fast and give my sister-in-laws eyes that say, "Please take your child now or I may drop them."

So far throughout this pregnancy, I've been avoiding truly thinking about how I feel and have just been riding the highs and lows of pregnancy. But these past couple of weeks, as that number hit the "15, 14 and 13 weeks to go" mark, I've found my chest tightening up, the tears come hotter and faster, and Mike more and more bewildered at my anxiety. 

And then one day it hit me. I'm afraid of failing as a mom. To be specific, I'm fearful that I'm so selfish, that I will resent my child when he has needs that are not convenient to my life. I'm afraid that I'll be angry at my innocent child when he needs to eat, AGAIN. When I can't calm him in the middle of the night, when he needs yet another diaper change or when I have to purchase him another wardrobe for his growing body, instead of having fun money to purchase my weekly Starbucks. If I'm truly honest, I'm afraid of not having my world revolve around me. Me. Me. Me. 

How ugly is that? 

It's scary for me to have to deal with the ugly. To know that when he arrives in a few short months, I HAVE to deal. That I can no longer hide my sin-riddled heart, but that I will be tested, tried and refined. Changing long-held ugly is hard and even more so, painful. A few days ago, Mike reminded me that all parents are afraid of failing their child. And I suppose he's right. One mother might be afraid of not knowing what to do when their child is sick, another might be afraid of knowing how to instill the right morals and values, and another might just be petrified of choosing the right shampoo. But in the end, doesn't it all add up to a fear of failure in our new roles?

For some reason, I find comfort in knowing I'm not alone. To know there is an entire army of mother's out there who have shook in their boots just as much as me. Even the moms who as girls, loved to babysit, were the first to volunteer to hold a baby on their hips, and played make-believe house or school, pretending they had a flock of children they were shepherding. (In contrast, as girls, my cousin and I invented a make-believe organization called "Jensen Making Adoptions Better," - a business we "ran" where we were attempting to get rid of children, not keep them!)

Even the best of the best babysitters - the girls I always looked at in awe for natural-motherly instincts - have admitted to me that they too were scared when reality hit that another life would be depending on them. In the end, I don't think any of us are ready to take on this monumental role. Are we ever really ready for anything that will change our life and redefine our identity? I don't think so. 

But thank goodness for grace. Over this past month, God has been reminding me (by basically beating me over the head) of his widespread grace in my upcoming role as a parent. Through my brilliant husband, some wise family members, and during my devotional time, God has told me, "You. will. fail. You will have a selfish heart. You won't want to always want to care for your baby's needs immediately. You will find it hard to change your schedule, get less sleep and have your life broken down into three hour increments."

"But I will give you grace."

Mike always reminds me that I probably won't jump for joy at three a.m. when our baby wakes - but that's okay, I don't have to feel joy each and every time. I just have to take care of him and do the next thing. It's not how I feel, it's what I do with those feelings that matter. He tells me it's just like when he and I have an argument - I don't always want to talk about it with him, but I do it - because I know it's best for our marriage. And I know deep down, that he's right. That I don't have to have a perfectly happy heart every single moment of the day, but I do have to believe that God will work through my imperfections, to change me for his good, and grant me grace when I fail. 

Slowly but surely I'm coming to terms with this truth. I find my chest relaxing and my 2 a.m. worry spells coming less and less. I'm comforted in knowing I'm not alone and my feelings are nothing new. They don't surprise my friends, my family, and they definitely don't surprise God. Kinda ironic that I was surprised to learn that, isn't it?
Last night, Mike and I were talking about this again. He said he'd go with me to make our first outfit purchase for the baby, shoes and all. 

I think we'll tackle it this week. 

9 comments:

  1. This is beautiful. And sounds just like me. I'll have to call you when I'm there because I know it will be very similar for me. Love you friend, thanks for your honesty!!

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    1. Thanks Kristin - and you know you can always call. I can't wait until you do! :)

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  2. What a great post, Laura! I have to admit that I often worry about many of the same things you expressed in this post. I have always thought that I want to be a mom and have kids someday. But as friends and family start to have kids, I really recoil at the idea and feel bad about not wanting to have kids and give up the life Joe and I lead now. Of course, it's all deep down probably selfish reasons that I feel this way, too.

    The other day I said to Joe how much I envy people who get pregnant on accident because then they never have to make the big decision to start trying to have kids. They just have to deal and move forward. TO me, making the decision feels incredibly daunting. But I suppose that is just my perspective on this side. :)

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    1. Ha! I know what you mean about not having to make the decision if it's an accident - and that's kinda a good perspective to hear. Mike and I would always say "next year," then when it was the next year, we'd just say it again! :) I was just like you before I was pregnant and (and still sometimes am), I'm just counting on what everyone says about it changing with your own kids. :)

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  3. A lot of people have kid that were not planed. I think that that stats are sitting at like 50% of people have planed kids. God dus have a plan so like u said it was that he didn't check his plan with ur plan first. Something really crazy happens when u have a kid and all the I never held a baby worrys and thing like that go away. U fall into the role and I do me fall because no one is ever ready the a kid, unless u have like 2 already:-) u just have to get back up and drive on after u fall. Newborns are easyn ya the every 3 hours feedings suck but soon they will berunning around a busting their head off of everything and u will be like I wish u would just lay in ur rocker like u did when u were born. So enjoy the sleep and quite time now because this is the best times before u have the kid. Ps. Try the flash light trick on ur belly and see if he reacts, I alway thought that was cool.

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    1. Hey Anon - wow - had no idea the stats were that high! But you're right, I know I'm not the only one and plenty of people have had these fun surprises. :) I've heard about the flash light trick, I'll try it!

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  4. Well that pretty much sums up my last year. We didn't start the nursery until one week before my due date! However, I must say now that Grant is here, I'm having a hard time remembering what life was like without him or why I tried to hold on to it so much. Yes, having a 2 months old does expose the selfishness in my heart, but amazingly it also brings out a lot of good stuff too!

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    1. So good to hear! I like how you said "tried to hold on to it so much" - that's totally what I'm doing. This weekend we set up the crib and dresser and it helped a lot to "do" a few things for his arrival. I feel like I can actually start to say I'm excited for all that "good" purging of my heart to begin.

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  5. Delayed response, so sorry! But I just wanted to say that I so appreciate you sharing how you're feeling! I'm so excited to see how God grows you and Mike through this new experience and will be praying that He'll show you what a good mother I know you will be. Love ya!

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