Shaming my life away….

pregnant at a wedding

There is a natural order to life. Things are meant to happen in sequential order. We are taught from a young age even through playground songs that “First comes love, then come marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage”. So what happens when all of a sudden you find yourself having reversed the “natural” order of things?

I was raised mostly in Mexico, a very catholic country. There people tend to be very judgmental if you decide to jump out of line and do something that “society” doesn’t consider appropriate. Getting pregnant by your boyfriend when you aren’t married is definitely one of those situations.

When I was 16 years old and living in Mexico I found myself trying to explore who I was and experiencing a surge of hormones most teenagers are faced with. Unfortunately, I was wrecking my reputation and causing a lot of hurt to my siblings when all the rumors about me would circulate around school. At the time I lied and told my parents that I dreamed of learning a third language and I asked them if they could please send me away to boarding school. The next thing I knew I was on a plane headed to the South of France where I would do my International Baccalaureate at the Centre International du Valbonne.

The truth was that I couldn’t bear to be in my home town a second longer. Going to school every day was torture. I had a great group of friends but they would beg me to change my ways for fear of their reputations being tarnished. My little brother would get into fist fights at school defending my honor (or lack thereof) and then my dad would punish him for getting in trouble at school. It was the hardest months of my life. I couldn’t sleep at nights, I found it hard to focus at school and keep up with my school work. Which is why I came up with the idea of going away, leaving everything I had ever known behind. I was only 16 years old but somehow I knew that life was not meant to be that hard. I hoped that distance and a fresh start would be enough to help me through those difficult times and would allow my friends and siblings to mend their own lives.

Gossip is something we all fall into from time to time. We may not do it maliciously but even if we have the best intentions we can find ourselves sharing information that wasn’t ours to share. We find ourselves judging someone else when we don’t have all of the information. We may not set out to be destructive but at some point or another we have hurt someone with the words we allow to come out of our mouths.

Perhaps this is why I was so tormented when I found out I was pregnant. I used to walk to work with my massive pregnant belly and my bare ring finger with my head held low. I used to think people looked straight at my ring finger when they saw I was pregnant and that when they spotted the empty finger they were silently judging me as they walked past.

wedding 2

Pregnancy is normally a magical time for a woman. It is a time when she glows, she is growing life inside of her and everyone can witness the miracle of her growing bump. For me my pregnancy was a time of shame. No one ever came right out and said it to my face but I can imagine the conversations that took place behind my back when people back in my home town found out I was pregnant and unmarried. Not just old classmates but also aunts and uncles who told others at my wedding that they couldn’t believe my parents were celebrating me, it was shameful that I had gotten pregnant and there they were throwing me a lavish wedding. Perhaps things were a lot worse in my mind, perhaps I projected a lot of my own feelings and insecurities on others. All I know is that even after I had my daughter I continued to feel ashamed and guilty for messing up the natural order of things.

It has now been eight years since I was pregnant and I am happy to report that the guilt and shame has faded. It has been a long road to get to this place where I am happy with the way my life has turned out. Perhaps it would have been more convenient if I had gotten married and then gotten pregnant but to be honest I don’t think things would be any different. I wouldn’t love my husband more or my daughter more if I had followed the natural order of things. Many times we are our own worst enemies. When I think back to the amount of time I spent judging myself, being hard on myself and allowing the shame to consume me I want to cry. It didn’t help me, it didn’t make things easier for me and it certainly didn’t fix anything. All I am is grateful now that I lived through it, came out the other side and am stronger for it.

kids

No matter what you are going through don’t forget you are not alone. Hold your head up high and remember that this too shall pass. Things in life are temporary and we have to enjoy them while they last.

Underneath it all….I hate being pregnant!

pregnant

Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter. When she smiles at me my heart melts. Everything I have gotten to experience with her is worth more than any plans I could have had for myself in my early twenties. Sure, I was the only person in my circle of friends to have a kid and when I met mommies I tended to be the youngest by almost ten years but somehow she makes it all worthwhile. The way I felt when I found out I was pregnant and the months of my pregnancy that followed are hard to put into words these days. So I thought that sharing a journal entry that I wrote from the 20th February 2008 when I was about four months pregnant was the best way to share what I went through. I want to be honest and transparent in all of my blog entries. Sometimes they will be funny and other times they will be painfully honest. So here it goes……

“I can’t explain the envy, sadness and the sense of being overwhelmed by everything that is going on in my life. One day I was trying to get to know myself. To figure out what dreams I had, what goals I wanted to set for myself, to discover what I enjoyed doing, what kind of life I wanted to make for myself! One test, one day changed that all.

I feel like I have to apologize for how sad I’m feeling. When people ask and say that I must be so happy that I’m expecting a baby, the normal answer should be “yes, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been!” But I can’t say that, it wouldn’t be the truth about how my heart and mind are feeling about it.

I’m hoping this feeling of being overwhelmed by all the rapid changes will soon pass. That I will begin to be happy with my pregnancy, to be content with what life I have now. But that’s all that it is- hope! I can’t actually make myself feel different. It would be fake, I would be fooling those around me and myself!

So many changes, the obvious changes for those around me are of course the physical ones. The fact that the money we need to be saving for the baby may need to be spent on clothes that fit me. The dreaded feeling of standing in front of my wardrobe and realizing that none of my nice clothes fit me. That my maternity bra’s are so tight that they leave bruises on my breasts. Yes, this has been and is hard to deal with but its not the toughest aspect of it all!

What I find hardest to deal with is my mind. The thoughts of sadness, frustration and jealousy that course through me: WHAT ABOUT MY DREAMS? MY SELFISH DESIRES? MY NEEDS AND MY PLANS? I can’t reconcile these with what I expect is to come. Perhaps I have a misguided conception of motherhood, that once you are a mother you no longer have time for yourself!

As it was, I was only just discovering what I enjoyed doing with my free time. How will I now be able to do anything other than breastfeed, clean, cook, change the baby, play with the baby, etc.? I repeat, what about me? What about my selfish desires?

Will I perhaps lose myself forever, before I really ever got a chance to find myself? Will my life, the way it was 5 months ago, become a distant memory? A faded reality of what once was? Why do I feel so much pain, so much sorrow, confusion and disappointment?

Then I feel mad at myself. There are young lives prevented from living on. There are women, and families that are unable to have children. And here I am being sad about very superficial issues! When I should just get over it!

This is where the difficult part begins! Perhaps it’s natural to feel this way, but how would I know when no one else around me has ever been through this or has ever mentioned struggling in this way. I think it may also be because so much is happening in so little time: a baby, a husband, a job, no job!

The End”

Reading over these words I wrote almost 8 years ago now still makes me cry. They bring back very strong emotions and if I am honest I am not sure if I have worked through all of them. All I know is that if I could go back in time to my 24 year old self all I would say is you are allowed to feel the way you feel. Own your feelings, work through them and have faith that in the end it will all work out for the best. Because guess what? It really truly has!

That’s not saying that the past eight years haven’t brought many challenges but the one thing I can say is that I made a choice when I decided to keep my baby to fight for my future everyday. To not let myself get defeated by my circumstances but instead grow stronger and wiser. Even today I continue the search to find “myself” which at times gets lost in being a mother and a wife. I am no longer overwhelmed with the feeling of not knowing who I am. I have found that I will never complete the task of knowing myself because the person I am today is very different from who I was even a year ago. My pregnancy changed me but then again the loss of my dad was also a very big obstacle in discovering who I am. I know that life still has many more curve balls to throw at me but I am ready to play ball!

First trip with a Bump

Cairo Egypt

You know that moment when you start to wonder, why am I doing this? What could have ever made me think THIS was a good idea? For me the THIS was sleeping on the floor, on some kind of Jordanian rug in a tent owned by a Bedouin man in the middle of Wadi Rum while 6 months pregnant. Maybe I just love traveling? Maybe I love the great outdoors? or maybe my boyfriend and I just found out we were having a baby and this trip had been planned and paid for a year ago….. in your early twenties, if you’ve paid for it…. you are going on that trip…

We flew into Cairo from London, arrived at our “posh” hotel and settled in after a tiring journey (well, at least for me- I’m the pregnant one!). We spent the night planning out the next few days. The Pyramids of Giza are an absolute must, as was the Egyptian Museum. Then we would set off to Dahab (little beach town on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt).

Lets just say that when traveling to Egypt one needs to be prepared for the unexpected. On our morning walk to the Egyptian Museum we were approached by a shop owner. Very politely he asks us where we are headed. To our surprise he informs us that on Tuesdays the Museums are all closed. So, that changes things. We kinda forgot to confirm with the Hotel that the Museum was in fact open, so when he tells us this we believe him (why would he lie, right?). He then invites us into his little shop where he sells essential oils and perfumes. Now, I’m pregnant and strong odors tend to send me over the edge but this man will not take no for an answer. So into the shop we go. As we sit down the man locks the door behind us (strange but we go with it). Then he offers us some tea to which i refuse (I am not drinking anything from someone I don’t know when I’m drinking for two). He insists so much that the boyfriend ends up having to drink my tea as well. At this point I’m just praying that there is nothing in the tea otherwise I’m gonna have to carry my 180lbs boyfriend out of the shop. Luckily the tea was harmless but thats when the REAL fun began. The shop owner wants to show me all his essential oils and perfumes. He starts by trying to rub some on my hands, I am trying so hard to be polite but at this point I’m either gonna vomit on someone or scream. I start getting up saying that its time for us to go and that’s when another man shows up from behind a curtain and blocks the door. Now I’m definitely freakin out. They start speaking to each other in Arabic (which by the way is not one of the languages I speak) and I’m starting to cry at this point. The owner tells us that if we buy something then we can leave. That’s when the boyfriend loses it. Finally, that took him long enough to react. No one is gonna separate him from his hard earned cash against his will. So with a show of strength and a few tears from the pregnant girl we are finally allowed to leave. I for one was very shaken up by the whole experience but was still determined to enjoy our day. After all, it was only 10am!

To be continued….