Pre-partum, the Silent Struggle
We talk about the loss of a child, of an un-born child that was barely given a chance at life. We talk about the children we have and the moments that go along with parenthood. We talk about postpartum and the journey of recovery that goes along with child birth or child receiving for every mother, no matter how joyous or painful. What we forget to mention is the prepartum period that so many woman and couples experience. The time between when a decision is made to have a child and the time it takes to bring that child into the world. Not through loss but through a lack of possibility.
The prepartum period is real, it is full of ups and downs, of false hope, tears, pain, loss, dozens of “not pregnant”, confusion, anger and perhaps worst of all a feeling of being betrayed by your own body. I spent a better part of my 20’s doing everything in my power to not get pregnant. Feeling as though if I made one small mechanical error my life would be thrust into motherhood before I was ready. Once I met my husband the same precautions were taken until we were “ready” at which point we thought “okay, this is happening NOW”. The irony of the entire situation was that my mind was ready for a child but my body had a different path.
Months passed where tears were shed, darkness rolled in and pain filled my body where a baby should have been. Just as with any phase of life that is difficult, people came to my aid to tell me to have hope, remain positive or stop thinking about it. I am not sure there is anything harder to overcome than someone (everyone) telling you to just stop focusing on the thing you want more than anything in this world. Imagine if I told an olympic athlete or a medical student to stop thinking about their goal, to just stop “trying” and see what happens. The prepartum period feels like this cruel joke of a reality where the mothers around you are telling you how stressed they are and how they miss their child free days, how every woman you see has the magic capability to be pregnant or already have a child and how every single activity you try to engage in feels empty, heartless and meaningless next to the expectation of having your own child.
One of my favorite lines was “you need to stop being so stressed out about this or it will never happen” which is turn cranks up the stress-o-meter to full blown panic mode. So I want to say to every expecting, prepartum mother and parent out there; you are validated in your pain, your anger, your frustration and your feeling of betrayal, whether you are trying for baby number one, two three or beyond. You are allowed to fixate on this because it is what you want and what you need with every cell in your body.
I am not sure that men can understand the craving that prepartum brings. That evolutionary need to have a child in your womb. The emptiness that is felt with each passing monthly cycle and the euphoria of peeing on hundreds of overpriced sticks (ladies, buy the test strips on amazon!). All I can say to the adoring husbands or partners who are desperately trying to support this prepartum period is; please be patient. Be patient beyond even your own capabilities. Remember that the woman you love is being controlled by tens of thousands of years of evolutionary need and while she is a strong, capable and amazing woman, she is powerless to this need. Allow her to cry, allow her to mourn the loss of a possible pregnancy every month. Allow the pain to flow out of her so that she can continue to push forward and prevail on your journey to be parents.
Prepartum can end in a successful pregnancy, it can end in medical assistance with pregnancy, it can end in adoption or it can end in a forfeiture of the dream for parenthood. Whatever end there is to your story remember that it is your story, it is real, it is full of you and your partners needs. Allow all of this to come in waves and process every step, make certain that regret will not be the ending to your prepartum story.
"Parenting begins the moment you may any conscious effort to care for your own health in preparation for enhancing your child's conception." —Carista Luminare-Rosen
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