Having an unplanned pregnancy
If you’re in your mid-20s to 30s and reading this, chances are you’re surrounded by peers popping out babies left, right and centre. It goes without saying then, that this is a joyous occasion many don’t hesitate to flex. After all, our generation has pioneered the likes of gender reveal parties, social media accounts for kids, and babymoons to celebrate this milestone.
It may come as a surprise to many then, that not every expecting parent shares this sentiment. You see, I’m one of those who are having a CB baby, about to contribute to the looming baby boom of 2021. And when I found out I was pregnant, I was anything but excited. Here’s why:
*All photos for illustration purposes only.
We’d barely started adulting
If you look at my life from the outside, you’d probably think that having kids was a no-brainer. When I got pregnant, my husband and I had been married for about a year and had just purchased our very first home together. At the age of 30, both of us had just begun enjoying the freedom that came with adulting.
I was supposed to be “30, flirty, and thriving” but that’s quickly gone down the drain.
Our outlook on kids was always “if it happens, it happens”, but as you can tell by my tone with this article, we never expected it to happen this soon. Our “vision” was always to enjoy at least three years of newly-wedded bliss and go on epic road trips around the world.
Plus, we had our careers to focus on before kids came into a picture. As a woman working in Singapore, I was worried my career progression would be affected. Others my age are charging full speed ahead with promotions and opportunities that I may have to give up as a new mom – especially since I won’t have round-the-clock help from family.
On top of that, my husband and I have barely started to learn how to “adult”. We have no investments nor savings after having financially supported ourselves through our wedding and home purchase. We are also completely clueless on how to take care of a baby and raise a kid – a topic which is an overwhelming can of worms filled with conflicting information.
Why my initial reaction was nothing close to “excited”
I took three home pregnancy tests the day I felt that something was “off” with my body.
When all three tests showed “positive” results, I spent the rest of the evening in a complete daze. I sat alone in my living room for six hours till my husband came home at 10PM, not having a clue as to what I would say to him. When he saw three positive pregnancy tests on our counter, he too, sat next to me in a blank daze till I asked him, “should I take another test?”
Image credit: Pexels
Like a guilty teen who’d committed a cardinal sin, I couldn’t accept the fact that I had been so careless, and my entire life was about to change because of this one slip-up.
Just like that, our grand plans for travelling the world in the future had to be axed, and we would now have to channel all our finances to cater to this child-to-be. After all, the cost of having a child in Singapore is expensive, whether it’s doctor’s appointments, hospital births, baby items, or childcare.
The most painful part of it was, as the official incubator and milk supplier of this baby, I would have to say goodbye to my favourite foods like sushi, alcohol, and late-night hang out sessions that I was used to. It may sound selfish, but I wasn’t ready to give up my freedom in exchange for zero sleep, tantrums, and an endless flow of poop, pee and puke.
The black hole of social media comparisons
Image credit: Pexels
It always happens this way: a friend of yours gets pregnant, they post an announcement on social media holding their ultrasound scan while clutching mom-to-be’s belly, with a long caption of how #blessed they are. This would be followed by baby bump updates, gender reveals and baby showers with “can’t wait to meet my little one” captions.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. A lot of couples aspire to have kids, and many women want to be mothers. And for those who achieve these dreams – good for you!
Unfortunately, that was never the case for me. I’ve never had that maternal calling, nor have I ever been particularly passionate about kids. I’m in my third trimester and my feelings haven’t quite changed.
Needless to say, my lack of excitement has made me feel extremely guilty and alienated. I questioned myself: why wasn’t I as happy as fellow expecting moms? Why have I been putting off buying baby stuff or charting birth and post-natal plans? Does my indifference mean I’ll be a failure as a parent?
After all, I should count myself lucky for getting pregnant without even trying, while people close to me struggle to even conceive.
It’s common for all of us to want to achieve a picture-perfect family
As I’d been scrolling through social media and observing a few other acquaintances of mine who are also pregnant, it’s been hard to not make a comparison to them. As they gush about their baby’s development and share pics of new baby items, here I am, having a 2PM breakdown frustrated at the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing.
With the exception of my husband and well… now TSL folk, not even my closest friends and fam know how I truly feel about this pregnancy – hence the anonymous byline.
Everyone else is more excited that I am
Here’s another thing society expects of moms-to-be: happy.
I don’t blame them. From the time people started finding out about my pregnancy, they’d ask well-meaning questions like, “how are you enjoying pregnancy?” “are you having morning sickness?” “is it a boy or a girl – what’s its name?” “have you bought all your baby stuff?”
The most common one I get is, “are you excited?”
This makes it all the harder to say anything but “yes”. Say “no” and you’ll have to give emotionally-draining explanations to people you aren’t close to. Friends and family, of course, are extremely elated about this baby – obviously more so than I am.
As someone who hates worrying her loved ones, I’ve tried to appear positive when they ask about my pregnancy, making me feel like an impostor. Because of this, I’ve ended up building more walls as I don’t want to seem ungrateful for my situation, nor unloving towards my baby.
The glowing expectant mom is a lie
Pop culture and social media paints the expectant mom as “glowing” and joyful.
I can attest that this is a lie.
Now, nothing is actually wrong with me – my pregnancy is going mostly fine, and my symptoms are considered “easy” with no morning sickness or terrible complications. Friends of mine have reminded me time and time again that I’m so lucky – and I don’t disagree with them.
But to put it simply, I just don’t enjoy being pregnant.
The media portrays that you’re supposed to be as blissful as this when you’re expecting
Image credit: Pexels
Fluctuating appetite, constant back pain and bloatedness, and feeling fatigued 100% of the time has made me feel crippled. Physical activities like walking have caused me to feel faint, and I would doze off throughout the day while being unable to sleep through the night due to bodily discomfort. Feeling weak and sick for months on end feels nothing close to “glowing”.
Finding support in a taboo situation
If you’ve read this far, you might probably be a little worried about me. Yes, I could very well have undiagnosed prenatal depression, but I’ve also been very self-aware of what I’m going through.
For one, don’t get me wrong: I want this baby. I will love it to bits and care for it to the best of my abilities.
I just dislike being pregnant, and find it difficult to navigate a society that expects you to feel and behave a certain way towards it. It doesn’t help that admitting this feels taboo, and that there’s undeniable pressure that feeling any sort of negativity towards my pregnancy equates to me being a horrible parent-to-be.
It hasn’t been all bad though. I’ve found little pockets of comfort when experiencing this pregnancy solely with my supportive-as-heck husband. We go to doctor’s appointments and talk about our “new” future together and keep most of these experiences to ourselves. Being 100% open with him about my internal struggles has also helped me retain my sanity.
I also found an unexpected form of comfort when writing this article: stumbling upon stories from other women going through the exact same thing. I realised that I am not alone, and that all feelings – negative or not – are valid.
After mulling over these thoughts for the past six months, I now allow myself to feel miserable as and when I need to. I let myself cry, recover, and rest. I also try to actively tune into those strong kicks in my belly as and when it happens, which helps me to accept a reality that I will have to face.
I’ve also been taking baby steps to preparing for the birth of this child.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by friends’ advice or freaking out about prenatal prep, I’ve stuck to what I can emotionally and mentally handle. This includes unpacking only 20% of a crater filled with pre-loved baby stuff my sister sent me, browsing baby furniture on Carousell, and watching a few videos on breathing techniques for birth and infant care.
Feeling clueless about becoming a first-time parent
Everyone’s journey to parenthood is undoubtedly a unique one. And just because all we see are happy faces on social media, it doesn’t mean that all parents-to-be are on the same page.
Being unprepared or feeling dread towards a huge and unexpected life event is something that happens to the best of us, and that’s perfectly fine. Who knows? Maybe in the future, I’ll be the one gushing over my kid and thinking how foolish I was to have ever written this.
If you’re feeling as clueless as I am, here are some articles that might come in handy: