I did not meet my husband until I was 25. When we married, we agreed we didn’t want children. We both enjoyed our careers and the freedom to travel and come and go as we pleased. We could not imagine life as parents and decided to let others, better suited (we thought), take on that challenge.
A couple years later I realized that my priorities had shifted. The biological clock that I had once joked was “broken” was now ticking away loudly, as if it was making up for lost time. From this beginning, I began to reassess who I thought I was and what becoming a mom would mean to me.
I now understand that every woman must deconstruct her life, selecting carefully what she will keep and what she will discard from the old life, as she steps into the new. And this happens all throughout life.
Here are some ideas that can assist you in deconstruction and reconstruction of identity during pregnancy:
- Recognize that you have constructed the paradigm in which you live and that it is not difficult to make frequent minor changes. Every day opportunities challenge you to step into who you want to be: choices about handling conflict at work; defining relationships with your spouse and friends; your reaction to recognition or offers of promotion. Within daily living, you make choices based on your values and your intention (what you want as the ultimate goal.) When you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, make decisions that support your intention for the family life you desire.
- A big change is really a lot of small changes that occur in a relatively short period of time. The challenge of a major life change is that most people view the big picture result and do not see the small steps that lead there. Being present to the small shifts that take place daily, you can participate in the transition, instead of feeling overwhelm at the dramatically changed end result. Being present to your thoughts and feelings during pregnancy allows you to see the inner growth instead of feeling an identity crisis when your baby is born.
- Question yourself. Who will you become? Who do you want to become? How can you move forward within your values, so you respect your own decisions and continue like yourself? Almost every woman has fears about the kind of mother/woman/wife she will be when her baby is born and how it will be different. By asking the questions during pregnancy and intentionally defining your new role, you build a comfortable and safe place for yourself.
- Surround yourself with adoring fans. Cultivating relationships with people who fully support you as you step into motherhood gives you a place to question who you are and who you want to be as you “grow up” into this new phase in your life. It is easy to internalize self-doubt -Am I ______ enough to be a mother? Can I really do this? Allowing your friends, family and mentors to support you provides a safe place to explore the shift in your life as a woman.
- Allow time to grieve the woman you have been.You are acutely aware that your life will never be the same again. This is wonderful. And this is scary. You know who you are right now and that this will ultimately change in ways you cannot really understand until you step into those new shoes. So it is natural and normal to feel some sense of loss over the woman you are proud to be today. Allow this to flow- respect any tears or sadness as part of the process of becoming something new.
- Be present to any fears that crop up.We do not know what we do not know, so it can be intimidating and unsettling, especially for women who usually have it “together.” There is no amount of reading or external preparation you can do that can eliminate the need to address your own insecurities. Will you be able to connect with your baby and understand what he/she needs? Can you love your baby enough/the right way? What will it be like to have someone need you so completely like that? Know that there is absolutely enough love in you for this job of mothering, and lean on your cheering fan club. It is ok to be afraid- let the people who love you help you be honest with your fear.
- Know that you have within you everything you need. The most important tool you carry is your intuition. Connect to it. Inside, you know what is true and right for you and you can trust this inner guide to make decisions and choices to be the woman and mother you want to be.
You have everything you need within you to embrace the transformation into motherhood. You will shift from one state of being into another way of being. You will not remain the same, even if you try. So instead, bend with the winds of change and define yourself on purpose.
You will be glad you did.