I took the test without any fanfare, slipping into the bathroom to pee on the stick and wait for its magic pink numbers to tell me my destiny. My husband was sitting in the living room watching sports, oblivious to what was going on, when I emerged with the little white test in my hand. “Well,” I said. “Looks like I’m pregnant.”
And that was that. We took a minute to freak out, hugged, and then went about our respective days, although I kept the peed-upon stick as some strange talisman, paranoid about throwing it away. Our families were thrilled. Our friends were thrilled. We were thrilled. We started looking for a house, found one, put in an offer, and paid the down payment. Our life was about to change—a lot.
Even when you’ve been trying and planning for a family, seeing that positive test result is a shock to the system. I knew I wanted kids and would be a good mother—years of nannying had solidified that. But while my husband oscillated between feelings of joy and terror post-positive test, I was more preoccupied with how this new addition to our family would alter the world I’d worked so hard to build and who I’d become as a result.
I know my strengths and weaknesses, who my friends are, and what I want from life (for the most part!), but when you factor a baby into that equation, what changes? Who am I with a baby on my hip or a little hand holding mine? Who am I going to be once it’s no longer just me, but me plus one?
It took a long time, but I’m pretty comfortable with myself these days. That’s the beauty of aging—leaning into who you are and embracing all those ups, downs, and adult acne breakouts. I know my strengths and weaknesses, who my friends are, and what I want from life (for the most part!), but when you factor a baby into that equation, what changes? Who am I with a baby on my hip or a little hand holding mine? Who am I going to be once it’s no longer just me, but me plus one?
And then there’s the question of what kind of mother I want to be. In the age of Instagram, you’re confronted with so many options and notions of what motherhood is: the nature moms taking their babies to the ocean and the forest to frolic; the unfiltered moms who show off dark eye circles, messy hair, and stained nursing bras; the curated perfection of influencer moms; the moms who post about wine being their only salvation. Do I want to be a cool millennial mom with a linen jumpsuit and an UPPAbaby stroller? Should I be a CEO mom? A hippie mom? Regardless of what you choose, there’s so much pressure to do it well, do it right, and do it best, and it’s easy to lose yourself in the “What if?”
As the weeks fly by, taking me ever closer to my January due date, I’ve been grappling with the many, many questions and potential avenues motherhood presents, and trying to figure out which avenues align best with me.
Will I use a midwife or a doula? Do I want a water birth? Can I just go to the hospital and not care about playlists or essential oils or the outfit the baby goes home in? What am I going to wear for maternity photos? Am I even taking maternity photos? Do I really need this $200 baby monitor? Should I be going to yoga? Will Sam and I ever get to go to Grand Café again? Will my friends still want to hang out after I have a kid? Why is daycare so expensive and impossible to get into? And what the hell does a baby wear under a swaddle?
I have a picture in my head of the kind of mother I’d like to be: one who can take her baby along to brunch, the antique store, the bookstore, or thrift shopping and not get stressed out about pulling the stroller up to the table and taking up space. A mother whose child always looks stylish, even in simple black onesies from H&M, and who can dress herself equally well. A mother who is calm and chill most of the time, even when the baby’s sleep schedule is off or a routine is disrupted. A mother who speaks to her kid like an adult, who helps them explore the world at their own pace while constantly exposing them to new experiences. The kind of mother who makes their child part of their life, not their whole life.
The thing about motherhood is that you cannot plan for any of it, no matter how Type A you are, but I know that even after the blur of the newborn stage, the new routines and life lessons to follow, I’ll still be myself—just a slightly updated version who once gave birth to a small person.
The thing about motherhood is that you cannot plan for any of it, no matter how Type A you are, but I know that even after the blur of the newborn stage, the new routines and life lessons to follow, I’ll still be myself—just a slightly updated version who once gave birth to a small person. And I know that that small person is going to throw everything I thought I knew right out the window and shake up my entire being. (And likely drive me wild by insisting on wearing a Paw Patrol or tractor T-shirt every day.)
Sure, I’ll have to store my fancy vintage clothes for a bit, say “see ya later” to post-work happy hours, and maybe get in some big fights with my husband about silly things. I’ll set boundaries and open up to new possibilities. Who knows when I’ll read a complete novel cover to cover again? Life as I knew it will never be the same, but that’s the thing—the more my body changes and the more I feel the little person chilling in there flexing his muscles, the less I want it to. I can’t pinpoint who I’m going to be as a mother, and that’s one of the most exciting parts.
Kara Nesvig grew up on a sugar beet farm in rural North Dakota and pretended to be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz for about three full years. Things haven’t changed much, except she now lives in an adorable ’20s house in St. Paul with her husband, their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Dandelion and many, many pairs of shoes. Kara is a voracious reader, Britney Spears superfan and copywriter — in that order.
BY Kara Nesvig - October 8, 2020
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Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
Love it, Kara! And def take the baby to brunch as often as possible!
So excited to see you become a mom. 🥺
Loved this thoughtful post! As a woman trying to conceive for the first time, this really resonated with me. I’d love to hear from more first-time parents-to-be about their experience going through this during a pandemic. I have no idea what to expect and it seems like what might have been a fairly normal experience of pregnancy and birth won’t be the same during Covid.
I love this. I don’t think I was this aware of the changes coming at me when I was pregnant with my son. I knew life would change, but I didn’t anticipate how much after-work happy hours and spontaneous brunches make me feel like myself. I wish I did – and I wish I knew it would be temporary – it would have made the early years a little easier.
Another aspect of motherhood to consider is that fact that it’s sidelined with growing older. So in addition to priority, logistical, and commitment changes that inherently accompany parenthood, you’re also naturally passing through and entering new phases of YOUR life. The baby/toddler years are very demanding, period. For me, once my kids were about 5, I felt things lightened up, and I was able to return to MY LIFE a little more (but even then, it’s so different!). And with that, is the fact that the five-years-ago/pre-kid life I had isn’t where I’m jumping back to anyways, with or without… Read more »
Congrats. And don’t think it through too much. It’ll be different anyways. Good and bad. Somedays they look cute, you actually did a craft and they eat their spinach, the other day (more often) they have bread with peanut butter for dinner after you sat in a meeting with a CEO with spit/milk/snot on your shoulder and they have a bruise because they dropped the music box in their face while you were changing their diaper… and yes, you should take them to brunch (super easy with one kid, virtually impossible with two somehow) and put them to sleep in… Read more »