The Fear of Motherhood By Chelsy Ranard
I’ve always wanted children in the same way that I’ve always wanted a unicorn.
They are my favorite animal, mythical or not, and I’ve dreamt of having one ever since I can remember. My daydreams as a child involved me riding on the back of a beautiful white unicorn with a metallic gold horn reflecting the sunlight. The thought of actually having one makes me smile, but deep down I know I’ll never have one. The issues associated with owning one would be troublesome and, really, they probably aren’t real.
Similarly, I’ve always known that I wanted children. I love the idea of creating life within my body, raising a child that is a part of me, and experiencing a love that I have yet to experience. I see myself teaching them, playing with them, and cuddling with them. However, the idea has never really seemed realistic for some reason. It always seemed like a far-away reality, like it would never really happen. But now, I am 26 years old, engaged, and starting to feel more like an adult. I can see the prospect of motherhood coming closer and I’m terrified.
At this point in my life many of the friends I grew up with have children. I’m definitely the minority on the baby front, and I’m always in awe about my friends discussing pregnancy and babies. I hear stories about difficulties trying to get pregnant, miscarriages, painful pregnancies, and difficult child birth. My eyes are always wide with worry and I make some sort of joke in order to hide my anxiety about the whole thing. I always think, “That’s going to happen to me.” Every worst case scenario I hear goes right into the compartment in my head reserved for overreaction and worry. What if I can’t have children? How much will childbirth hurt? Could I handle 9 months of pain? Could I handle losing a child to miscarriage?
In reality, I have to remember that I won’t be the first person to have a child. If any of these scenarios happen to me, I won’t be the first one going through those either. My friends who are parents are very strong people, but I am strong, too. I have to keep telling myself that I have the ability to take the cards dealt to me and play a hand even if it isn’t the hand I would have liked. In 2015, 1 in every 8 couples has trouble getting pregnant or sustaining pregnancy, but painful pregnancies aren’t always a sign of complicated delivery or medical problems, and childbirth will most certainly hurt. Fortunately, science plays a part in every one of these worries. If my fears come to fruition, there are still steps I can take to combat all of these problems.
I remember being a child and walking home from school, living life without a cell phone, riding on the back of the tailgate on my dad’s truck, and riding my bike without a helmet. Seatbelts weren’t always necessary, smoking in the car was fine, and I knew to come home when the street lights came on. Now, many of these things are ghastly parenting mistakes that can result in death, injury, kidnappings, or jail time. I understand that my childhood was a different time completely, but what if I make a terrible mistake and my child gets hurt because of it? I am confident in my ability to understand that smoking in a car with a child is unsafe, but what about the seemingly endless list of unsafe products, practices, and food that can harm a child? Have you ever wondered why parents are required to have a car seat check for basic car seat safety before they can take their newborn home? People like me, that’s why.
There seems to be a culture of parenting fear that is causing many parents to feel this way as well. There always seems to be a toy recall, claims of health issues involved with vaccinations, foods that contain harmful bacteria, or a product that can suffocate them. How in the world does any child survive with danger around every corner like this? But, of course, I just have to remember that every generation parents their children differently and, somehow, many of us made it out alive. I will read all of the necessary books, try to feed my child healthy foods, avoid toys they can swallow, and not hand them off to any strangers and they’ll (hopefully) be fine. It’s natural for a parent to be concerned for their child’s safety, but I don’t need to leave them in a bubble forever either.
Parenting seems like such a difficult task. You bring a human into the world and have to teach them how to be a good person, have goals, and to be successful. Once I bring a child into the world, it is now completely my responsibility. I believe that parenting is sort of a learn-as-you-go process which leaves a lot of room for mistakes. I know that I’ll make a few mistakes, we all do, but I hope that the mistakes I make aren’t catastrophic.
I just have to trust that I will be prepared enough to try hard to make the best decisions I can for my children. I will have my fiancé, family, and friends to help me be the best parent I can be. I will read all the books, keep myself informed, and pay attention to my instincts. Being a parent isn’t a task to be taken lightly, but it isn’t one to panic over either. I know from watching my friends and family members that parenting is mostly a happy and rewarding experience to have. Many parents fear that they are screwing everything up and making poor decisions, so I know I’m not alone.
At the end of the day it’s pretty exciting to see the possibility of children in my future become more realistic the older I get. I am still afraid of every aspect that the parenting journey has, but with every conversation I have with my peers, every article I read, and every discussion with my fiancé I get more comfortable with the idea of motherhood. My dream for a unicorn may never come to fruition, but I’m confident that my desire to have children will; and that’ll have to do.
Author bio: Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She enjoys camping, fruity wine, and traveling with her fiancé, David.