Planning for pregnancy and parenthood can be frightening. Pregnancy when it is unplanned can be shocking and terrifying. The many unknowns in becoming a first time parent starts a lot of introspective questioning. “Am I ready?” “Can I handle it?” “Will I be a good parent?”
In an unplanned pregnancy like mine, the overwhelming feelings of shock and panic kicked in, and I immediately started to question how it would change my relationship. This was not just a few moments of doubt that I had in the beginning – this went on for more than just a couple of months. For many, an unplanned pregnancy means a complete lifestyle change, going from only being responsible for oneself (and possibly a pet or a partner) to taking care of this little helpless human being you just created. Some see it as throwing in the towel on fun and being forced to grow up. No one wants to grow up before they are read.
I have always felt that being a mother was in my blood, that this new role bestowed upon me by giving life to a baby was as natural as breathing. Life was no longer about just me, but as my child grew, the knowledge that my life was about my baby grew as well. As my baby developed, and I could feel him using my kidneys as a punching bag, flipping and squirming, and stretching and changing shape. You start to feel these strange emotions you may have never experienced and start to grow a love for someone you have yet to meet, that in itself is scary. For me, every time I heard the heartbeat, this little bond I was afraid of not having formed more. Each doctor appointment made me realize that I would no longer just be making myself and my significant other breakfast, lunch and dinner, but that I would be feeding someone else before I could even think of what I wanted to eat. I realized any time I wanted to go somewhere chances were high it wouldn’t be by myself, and chances were even higher I wouldn’t be able to just grab my purse and go.
No one is born knowing how to be a good parent. Parenthood is something you learn along the way. As a child, I babysat cousins and learned how to take care of babies and kids. However, my boyfriend only held a baby enough times to count on one hand, had never changed a diaper and would gag when he had to pick up our dog’s poop. He has since proudly overcome these experiences as has taken on fatherhood with fierce responsibility and pride.
For many reasons it can be harder for men to accept the new role of parenthood. Some have never held a baby. Some have never been around kids. Some, like my boyfriend, feared spit-up and changing dirty diapers. Dads do not grow a human, nor do they feel the tiny shifts of a growing child inside them. Nonetheless, fathers-to-be will, at the time of birth of a child, hold the same title of parent as mothers – and it is important to lean on one another during the pregnancy stage to get to a comfortable place during birth.
What it comes down to is no matter how ready you think you are, no one is fully ready to be a parent. We have changed so much since we found out we were expecting and we continue to change as the due date approaches. As bumpy as this new road has been, it’s been fun and is only going to get better as we get to watch a miniature version of both of us learn how to be a part of society. We have the opportunity to pave a path forming a person better than the both of us while changing us for the better. Sometimes it takes becoming pregnant for one to realize that they can’t only think about themselves forever. Babies help solidify you and your partner as a team. Your opinion matters just as much as your significant others opinion and you have to respect that. As terrifying as it may be, becoming a parent even if you didn’t plan to be one is also one of the best things that can happen. The little guy has brought us and our families closer and he’s not even here yet. I look forward to each year watching him grow and learn new things. He will give us the opportunity to see life in its beauty without judgement and without hate. Here’s to a new beginning, to taking the first step into parenthood.