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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Life :: I Think God Knows I Love Surprises (My Pregnancy Story)

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The other day while getting lost down the rabbit hole of the interwebs, I came across an NY Mag article entitled All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting.

"From the perspective of the species, it’s perfectly unmysterious why people have children. From the perspective of the individual, however, it’s more of a mystery than one might think. Most people assume that having children will make them happier. Yet a wide variety of academic research shows that parents are not happier than their childless peers, and in many cases are less so. This result also shows up regularly in relationship research, with children invariably reducing marital satisfaction. As a rule, most studies show that mothers are less happy than fathers, that single parents are less happy still, that babies and toddlers are the hardest, and that each successive child produces diminishing returns. The idea that parents are less happy than nonparents has become so commonplace in academia that it was big news last year when the Journal of Happiness Studies published a Scottish paper declaring the opposite was true. Alas, the euphoria was short-lived. A few months later, the poor author discovered a coding error in his data..."

As someone who was diagnosed with depression at a very young age, I have trained myself to be happy over the years through a variety of methods: therapy, medication, exercise, prayer, self-help books and cathartic activities such as this -- writing. I believe that we have more control over our feelings than we realize, and happiness is a choice that can be made no matter the circumstance. Despite this viewpoint, I had to stop reading after the first page out of six. Because, after all, I had just found out I was pregnant -- something that was not in my life's plan for at least ten years, if ever.

For as long as I can remember, I did not want kids. Even as a kid myself, the idea sounded awful. I begged my mom to have a fourth child because I absolutely loved taking care of my younger siblings, especially my brother, who is nearly nine years my junior -- but I was happy to be able to give him back after a night of babysitting. To his credit, though, he was a dream to take care of. I couldn't say the same for other children that I watched; if I regaled you with all of my horror stories, I'd have to start another blog. I do have the distinct memory of one family that paid me $3/hour to babysit 8 kids, and at one point in the night they all climbed on top of me, pulling my hair and hitting me. I was 12. When their parents came in and saw me crying, they told my mom that I 'couldn't handle them' and they'd have to find someone else. Thank God.

Needless to say, after that, being a mother sounded to me like a bad babysitting job 24/7. Clearly, kids hated me, and why would I want to be around someone who hated me all the time? Of course, there were other reasons besides that -- I'd have to give up my dreams of being a famous model and traveling the world; I wouldn't have any alone time with my future husband; I'd be sick and fat for 9 months and then push something out from between my legs. Plus, babies sometimes smelled bad, were usually messy and always loud in inconvenient places like Target or the movie theatre. None of it sounded appealing, but I didn't have to worry about getting pregnant anyway, because I didn't have the chance to until after high school.

I found my first boyfriend at 18, via MySpace. He didn't have a car or a cell phone, but he did have plenty of intimacy issues. My second boyfriend tried to kill himself after we broke up, even though he was the one who dumped me. I met my third boyfriend in college, and we moved to LA and stayed together almost four years, but he didn't believe in marriage or God or, well, me. The only thing he seemed to have faith in was himself, and even then I'm not so sure.

At that point I was 24, and I stayed single for almost two years, and by single I mean I went on lots of dates and had lots of sex, most of it bad. After I was raped on my 25th birthday, you would've thought I'd slow down, but it just gave me more ammunition to see men as evil, and I used them as toys. The funny thing about having this mentality as a woman, though, is that most men don't care. I never broke anyone's heart, but I didn't get close enough to do so, because it was easier to keep everything physical, and I chose men that I could tell felt the same way.

After a while, though, you can probably guess that I got sick of it. I became bored and tired, and I needed something more fulfilling, so I swore off males altogether (besides friends and family, of course). I began concentrating on my career and my blog and my art, and I spent a lot of time alone, sipping wine and watching movies and writing. I decided that I was perfectly happy being by myself, and I told God that if I was single forever I wouldn't have a thing to complain about. I still didn't want kids, and at that point, I was okay with never getting married either. When I came to this realization, I became more excited about my future than ever -- a future of freedom, where I could just focus on me.

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Then I met Brandon.

People always told me that once I met the right person, I would settle down and want to get married and have kids and commit, but I didn't believe them. I loved bragging about being an independent woman, and I told everyone that I'd be the cool aunt, and when they had kids I'd send them money from Hawaii or Peru or wherever I was shooting at the moment. I was always happy for friends who got married and cousins who had children, but I never felt like I was missing out, and I had no idea what 'baby fever' meant.

I wasn't expecting anything to work out with B, I just thought that he was cute and seemed interesting, but things always happen when you least expect them. I didn't expect to meet his parents within a few weeks, I didn't expect to exchange the L word in less than two months, I didn't expect to move in with him after 8, and I certainly didn't expect to be expecting. But here I am, nearly 9 weeks pregnant with a baby due in September, and even though it wasn't planned, I am completely happy and excited and in awe. To be honest, I'll probably still be annoyed by everyone else's kids, but as for mine -- I know mine is going to be great. I already love this surprise guest that I know nothing about, and so does B.

This whole birthing and mothering thing is going to come naturally, I think. I'm just going to take it day by day, and learn as I go. It's a world that I've never been part of -- I never got excited over tiny diapers and miniature sized clothes, and I'm not good at anything stereotypically motherly like cooking or cleaning. I don't know how to knit; the most I can sew is a button. I swear like a sailor and I drive too fast, and before getting pregnant, I'd live on espresso and forget to take my vitamins. I don't know the first thing about planning a baby shower; hell, I can't remember the last time I went to one. And I don't know what I'm going to do about my future goals and plans, because they are all getting a total makeover.

Despite all of this, I refuse to be scared. For all intents and purposes, though, I probably should be. I should be worried about money. I should be worried about my health, and the baby's health. I should be worried about work, and time off, and what I'm going to do about work after the baby is born. I should be worried about my body, and how it's going to change, and how I'll have to change it back later. I should be worried about B, and the pressure he'll feel being a provider at such a young age, and the pressure his mother will feel when we move in with her towards the end of my pregnancy. I should be worried about what people think, especially my parents, and if they're ashamed of me because we're not married. I should be worried about the tendonitis in my right arm, and whether or not my carpal tunnel will get worse, and if I'll be able to properly carry my baby. I should be worried about the birth, and how painful and gross it will be, and how B will feel when he sees it and if he'll be okay. I should be worried about who I'm giving birth to, and if it's going to be a rebellious child, or a drug dealer, or a serial killer.

I should be, but I'm not. Because the opposite of fear is love, and I am choosing to love.

So far, that hasn't been hard to do.

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