My little peanut is a whole year old today! I can’t believe how much has changed in the last year since he was born. He turned my whole completely upside down and I wouldn’t have it any other way (at least today. Some days are harder than others). I remember this time last year, I was at my parents’ house playing some games and hating that my baby hadn’t arrived yet. Though really, what I was hating was the fact that I thought Monkey was going to be arriving on December 10th, but I was proven more and more wrong with each day that passed. It was yet another thing I couldn’t control, which was a sore subject for me.
Control was something that I prided myself on having. After a whirlwind of teenage years that still haunt my parents, I’d finally learned how to control my own life. My bills were paid on time, I had great relationships with my family and my husband, and I worked at a job that I was good at. I was even taking control of my future by finishing up my third year of university.
As soon as I got pregnant, all control vanished. Before we found out I was pregnant (only days before I would find out), a job came up that would effectively end my university career. I was working part-time without benefits and I knew that, if I were to be pregnant, I’d need the health benefits and the better maternity leave. But we’d been trying for months and if I took the job without the pregnancy, then I felt like I’d be dropping out of school (in my last year) for nothing. I had two days to decide if I was going to apply. It felt like the universe was split in two and one version of me decided to apply for the job while the other version decided to wait it out. I couldn’t predict even a week into the future. All I saw were ‘what ifs’.
I took the job, thank God, and found out that we were having a baby. I was over the moon and while I felt guilty that I was starting a new job already pregnant, I was so thrilled that everything had worked out. I started the job, which was challenging in ways I hadn’t expected and everything was exactly how I wanted it…for 6 weeks. At 13 weeks pregnant, I had a bleed. There are few things as startling as waking up in a pool of blood when you don’t expect a period for another year.
We never knew what caused the bleed and Monkey never showed any signs that he was in distress, but it was just another moment where I had no control, even of my own body. I remember lying in the hospital bed wondering if my body was fighting with itself to get rid of the baby and I wished that there was something I could do to get it to stop. But I had to lie on a bed and stare at the ceiling. There was nothing else to do.
I forgot that I didn’t have control again by 20 weeks. I’d spent the entirety of this pregnancy “knowing” it was a girl. I’d always dreamed of having daughters, especially since I became more interested in gender politics. I imagined conversations about body positivity, gender roles, and being proud when she chose pink or blue or orange because she chose it, not because it was forced on her. I thought about perfect names and how I hoped she’d share her father’s slim figure (yes, in direct conflict with my body positivity speech) and maybe have his light hair. I hoped she’d have my smile, but not my penchant for teeth grinding. I wondered if she’d love to read and play the piano like me or love painting and action movies like her dad.
Then the ultrasound technician pointed to a fuzzy screen and said “boy.” I was devastated. How I had forgotten that there is more than one way for this to go, I’m not sure, but here I was. And I didn’t feel like anyone understood. After chatting with a professional (ah, PPD…), I know it’s about more than just control, but I was told in no uncertain terms that I had no control over the situation that day.
It took some time for me to come to terms with the fact that my life was going to be more ships, snails, and puppy-dog tails and less sugar and spice and everything nice. Then I got to realize that my little boy’s gender didn’t mean that he was going to be the rough and tumble, get into everything, messy little person (he is all of those things). It was a long process, where I had to grieve for the future that I had decided was for me and fall in love with the future that was coming no matter how I felt about it.
Once I got to that point, I think I learned a little bit about how I had less control than I wanted. But I also hoped that it was a bargaining chip with God. Well, I didn’t get the girl I wanted so I’d better get the baby on the due date that I decided. Turns out, that’s not how it works. Not at all. I wanted the baby to come before December. But November came and went. So I decided that I wanted him to come December 5 since 5 is a big number in my family. That day came and went. Then I decided December 10th was the date because that was the due date that I’d counted out (I was at the conception event, after all, so I should know when baby was going to make his entrance). Nope.
I lost hope then. All my Facebook posts for the next four days were full of anger and frustration stuffed into jokes so people wouldn’t condescend to me. And then, exactly 1 year ago, I went into labour. And this was the one thing I knew I had no control over. I knew it was going to hurt and, boy, did it ever. I went to the doctor and told them I had no birth plan, that I was along for the ride. Oh, except that I was definitely getting an epidural. If I could control anything, I was getting that freaking needle. And, turns out, I was allowed to control that part.
My pregnancy taught me that 9/10 times, I am not in control. My vision for how my life was going to be, how my son was going to be, is not what I got. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love what I have. I’ll never know if my vision would have been better, but I trust that it wouldn’t have been. It’s a lesson I have to learn daily because I have a little boy that wants to explore and make messes and laugh loudly. I also have an unplanned little one on the way, who is firmly in control of a large portion of my body. So I’m not in control anymore. Or I’ve relinquished the illusion of control that I thought I had. I mean, I still pay my bills. I still have a great relationship with my family and my husband. I don’t have a job anymore, but I work very, very hard with my little Monkey. I have control over the little stuff. And I’m okay with that. The big stuff is too much work anyways.