I’m 8 months along and most of my Facebook friends probably still don’t know that I’m pregnant. A few of them may have found out a few weeks ago by receiving an invite to the what was supposed to be a low key friends and family ‘sprinkle’ but appears to be turning into a highly coordinated, Emerald City- themed baby shower. More of them will find out through this post. Still others will probably just find out after ‘Name TBD’ Holman makes his debut in mid April. Each of them will have their feelings and opinions about how they found out, when they found out, and why it wasn’t sooner. But frankly, I don’t give a damn.
The truth is, I’m just trying to get through every day. One day at a time. This has been my approach to life for many years now and so far it’s mostly working. My anxiety is just a part of me that I reckon with on a minute-by-minute basis. It increases as I begin particularly dangerous tasks (taking stairs, driving cars, giving presentations) and subsides a little each time I don’t die.
In the Beginning
I was a particularly high-strung child. I was prone to frightening fits of rage and disabling distress. I have many memories of my parents trying to calm me from my over-reactions to things like a missing shoe, a failed test, or the loss of a loved one. I recall several times being told that I’d give myself a heart attack well before I understood what a heart attack even was.
During college, panic attacks and free healthcare led me to seek therapy where I was formally diagnosed with dysthymia and anxiety. This was comforting because I finally had words to describe my feelings as well as tools to help navigate and overcome them. I wasn’t just obsessed with thinking about worst case scenarios, I was biologically wired to do so and it wasn’t my fault. Also during college, terrorists flew airplanes into buildings down the street from my dorm, so I had a new worst case scenario to be grateful I’d survived and could mostly trust wouldn’t happen again.
Fast Forward to Momming
Becoming pregnant with, giving birth to, and raising my first child has given me a new stream of joys and fears that are another undercurrent of my perpetual stream of consciousness. When I first found out I was pregnant, I was actually several weeks along so I spent a lot of energy worrying that a particularly festive trip to Vegas would damage my forthcoming child for life (it didn’t).
Once I made it past potential risk of miscarriage, I almost felt comfortable sharing the news of my forthcoming child widely via social media. (I didn’t).
When it came time for delivery I knew that, as a Black woman, there was a statistically higher chance that I might die during childbirth or due to related causes. (I didn’t, but there was the nearly fatal brush with an extremely rare case of post-natal preeclampsia that sent me to the hospital for a few days after my son was born).
Even after all that, because my child is Black, I knew that he was statistically more likely to succumb to infant mortality in his first year of life, so I had 12 months of worry about that. Thankfully, he is healthy, happy, well-adjusted, loved and (most importantly) safe. I watch him daily for signs of my anxious genes and my heart aches when I see signals that he may carry them too.
At the age of 6, he is super excited about becoming a big brother. But we haven’t told him about that time daddy took mommy to the ER for what we thought was food poisoning but was actually an ectopic pregnancy that exploded my right Fallopian tube, giving me and a new reason to worry about our chances of having another child.
On Going Facebook Official
When I learned of this pregnancy, I immediately went into self-preservation mode, watching for symptoms of another ectopic and then for a later stage miscarriage, all while quietly concealing my slowly burgeoning bump from the world at large. I carry small, so it was pretty easy. But there are also side effects of not being visibly pregnant. Even at 8 months, people ask me if I’m sure I’m really pregnant because I’m not that big. It’s agonizing but I know they don’t mean any harm.
The truth is, I’m not really ready for the world to ask me questions about my journey to this point and beyond. I’m not thrilled to share bump progress pictures because I feel judged. I’m worried about my health, financial preparedness and my household’s ability to adjust to the realities of a new baby.
That doesn’t mean I don’t feel tremendous joy and excitement. I do. It’s just those are private feelings that I find so precious and tender that I guard them with my life. I know that many other parents struggle with achieving healthy emotional balance, and that’s why I share my story in spite of my discomfort.
So, digital world, welcome to my innermost thoughts. Please treat them gently.