Pretty much any topic becomes fair game when you’re pregnant. Topics you wouldn’t have dared to touch without the assistance of a pitcher of margaritas suddenly become appropriate dinner conversation:
“Hey, honey! I peed my pants when I sneezed at the dry cleaner’s today!”
“That’s nice. How are the hemorrhoids coming along?”
“Active, thanks for asking! Oh, would ya pass the salt? It’s next to that box of butt paste…”
Any topic, that is, except the F-word: fear.
After Brooke Shields’ seemingly welcomed candor about her struggle with postpartum depression, I’d assumed the doors to honest conversation about parenthood finally had been propped open. An assumption that comforted me because I’ve inherited what I like to call my mom’s “upbeat realism” gene. Pollyannas, we are not. As realists, we generally see it and call it like it is — cushioned with a hearty dose of humor to ease any stinging. Or at least we’d like to think.
It’s probably because of this outlook that I was never in any hurry to have children. Nor was Mr. Candy. We have had a fabulous life, a fabulous marriage. Mere babes when we met right out of college — Mr. Candy stole my heart when we met at a party in New York City and he rightfully accused me of drinking “pussy juice,” a.k.a. Baileys (true story) — we’ve been together ever since, for 12 freakin’ years. Partying, working, traveling, sleeping in on the weekends: a damn good life.
So of COURSE I have fears about how a baby will change our lives. How she will shift the dynamic in our marriage. How I will balance work with family. How we can no longer hop on a plane to Vegas whenever we want. How my husband and best friend is now going to be a father, first and foremost. How I am going to be a mother, first and foremost. And it’s only normal to have and voice those fears, right?
Um, yeah, apparently not so much.
“Scared?! What is there to be SCARED of?” my mother-in-law demanded to know when I mentioned I was excited about and, yes, scared of imminent mommyhood.
“Well, labor for one. And the whole lifestyle change…”
“No, no, no. It’s ALL wonderful! Every single way the baby changes your life is for the better,” exclaimed the MIL, presumably while adjusting her rose-colored glasses.
I know it was her well-meaning intention to reassure me, but I gotta tell you, that conversation really bummed me out. Hell, I may have even shed a few hormone-fueled tears in bed that night. Are my fears abnormal? Did voicing them make people think I wasn’t thrilled about becoming a mother? Because I am. Thrilled, that is. My fears do not diminish the truly overwhelming love I already have for this little girl. Love that makes me choke up at the sight of butt paste. BUTT PASTE, for crying out loud! So why are people making me feel guilty for admitting I’m also a little scared, especially when studies show that, for ninety percent of couples, marital bliss dives within a year after the birth of their first child?
Oh, what I wouldn’t have given for some “pussy juice” right then.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had someone white-wash what I believe are totally reasonable and REALISTIC fears. Pregnancy weight? No problem! It will shed right off! My marriage? Will be better than ever! It was shallow and meaningless without a baby! My dreams and career? Won’t matter so much with a baby in your life!
All I can say is, thank goodness for Mama Kirby.
“Am I weird, Mom, for worrying?”
“You’re weird, all right. But not because of this.”
“Will be TOUGH on your marriage. More stress, more fights. No doubt.”
Which makes me smile with relief. Exactly what I needed to hear. Because Mom is right: I really am weird.