To someone looking from the outside in, this would seem to be one of the happiest moments in my life. As I sit here writing this surrounded by stuffed animals and cute onesies, a beautiful crib and handmade gifts, I can’t help but feel guilty. Guilty that while my family “oohs” and “ahhs” over the roundness of my belly, as friends get excited about being “aunties,” and even as I smile at my husband each night over our “joy,” I am secretly screaming and crying inside. Not because I’m nervous about being responsible for another life (something that does scare me and I take seriously), but because I never wanted this child. I never wanted to be a mother.
For women, becoming a mother is just what you’re “supposed to do.” You get older, get married, make babies, play with grandkids—and in between you cook, clean and work—until you die. I know many women getting harassed by family over when they will have kids, why it’s taking so long, and silencing that omnipresent biological clock. These women put up with those conversations because deep down, they do want children, but that was never the case for me. I knew early in life I wasn’t the mother type. I didn’t want baby dolls for Christmas and I never wanted to be anyone’s babysitter or godmother. It’s not that I don’t like kids, I just knew that they weren’t for me. But growing up in a world where you’re supposed to want kids, voicing that was always met with sideways stares and comments about how I just hadn’t found the right man yet. Then I found him, and married him, but still didn’t want kids.
I expressed my anti-baby feelings to my husband back when we were dating, but like everyone else, he didn’t believe me. He said my clock hadn’t started ticking yet. So I took matters into my own hands and used every condom, pill and spermicide I could get my hands on to prevent my biggest fear from becoming a reality. However, after an extremely romantic (but also extremely drunk) night celebrating our one-year wedding anniversary, I woke up realizing I made the biggest mistake of my life. Now here I sit, seven and a half months pregnant with a baby girl, a girl that I should already be so in love with. Instead, I feel no connection to her.
Each day fills me with resentment and it gets harder to hide my true feelings, as well as shame, over not being the mom I know my baby deserves. I don’t hate her, I feel indifferent, and that kills me. I want to be excited and in love like everyone else, but all I can think is how much I don’t want to be a mother, how much I didn’t and don’t want this child. I worry about not being able to bond with her once she’s born, about not being able to give her that nurturing love that only mommies can give. Each day, as my loving husband rubs my belly, I want to blurt out, “I don’t want this! I don’t want to be a mother!” But the thought of seeing his heart break in front of my eyes only adds to my pain, guilt and shame. It only adds to the pain of watching everyone around me anticipate joy, as I anticipate doom.
Recently I decided to go see a therapist, because the reality is, my daughter is coming. And whether I wanted her or not, I owe it to her to be the best mother I can be. When I told the therapist my feelings, and how even feeling my daughter kick fills me with dread, she told me it was just anxiety, and I’ll love her once she’s here. I’m searching for another therapist. Until then, I try to take things day by day and keep up appearances with my friends and family, all the while masking the truth. In less than two months, my daughter will be here. And when I hold her for the first time, I’m secretly praying to God that my maternal instincts kick in and she can’t see my pain. Because from that moment, it’s no longer about me, it’s about her.
And no matter how I feel, I refuse to let her down.
—As told to Danielle T. Pointdujour
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