My baby is due tomorrow. However, he is showing no signs of vacating his warm, cosy home and I have been advised by my well-meaning midwife that he’ll probably be late. So now, I just wait and, well, eat my way through all the biscuits I suppose.
I haven’t written anything on here since last year. I found out that I was pregnant halfway through January and my brain has not been able to put into words the complexity of emotions that this new experience has brought with it. I will, at some point, get around to writing down how I have processed this unplanned pregnancy in the last six months with help from my partner, my friends, the perinatal mental health service and time off of work.
What I will say is that one of the reasons I haven’t been able to write anything for a while is that deep down, I felt like a failure as a feminist. Absolutely ridiculous isn’t it? I have always had a complex relationship with the concept of motherhood and Kim Deal’s words constantly echoed through my mind as I waited for my womb to skip a beat each time I met a friend’s new baby. “Motherhood means mental freeze.” Those words bounced around my heart and my head as I contemplated giving up my entire identity as I inhaled the smell of another newborn’s head. I always thought I’d have children but the idea of pregnancy and having a baby was something that I always told myself I wasn’t ready for and would potentially happen in time. I had even convinced myself that I had tokophobia (fear of pregnancy and childbirth) as I couldn’t even bear to touch my best friend’s bump. I am 35 and I kept telling my partner that we would be ready in ‘a few more years.’ Giving up your body, identity, time and dreams for a life of mind numbing domesticity was just not what good feminists do, is it?
What’s ironic is that I didn’t know who I was and what my identity is until very recently so surely I had nothing to give up? But I have still mourned for something the last six months as I grapple with the idea of becoming a mother. Not only have I had to reshape who I am now and who I may become, but I have mourned for the family that I have lost and the family that my son will never have. I have been cruelly ghosted by a very close friend to my face which caused incredible stress and I have felt the full force of what it’s like to not meet others’ expectations of me. I have had to rethink my career due to huge amounts of workplace stress and this has been difficult as my identity has been rooted in my teaching practice for several years now. It is the role that gave me the confidence to be the woman and the feminist I am. After years of floundering from one disaster to another throughout my teens and twenties, I finally felt like I was good at something. I felt empowered and empowering in equal measure as I taught children about social justice and the power they hold within themselves alongside their maths and literacy. I was starting to become the teacher that I had needed as a young person.
I am now rethinking who I am as a woman, a mother and as a teacher. Pregnancy has caused me to lose a part of my identity but it wasn’t the part that I thought it would be.
Who knows what the following days, weeks, months and years will bring but I do know that I will find my new identity and it might even happen daily. I will figure out who I am over and over again and whatever happens, I will have my little boy next to me while I do it.