Pregnant & Single: The Best Parenting Advice Ever

Before last night, my pregnancy and the movie version of pregnancy haven’t had much in common: I haven’t been glowing, not even once. Not one person has commented on my beautiful skin (probably because my hormones make me break out all the time) though I have gotten some “your belly looks weird,” and “your arm is hairy.”  I haven’t had any crazy cravings like sauerkraut and bananas, though I do sometimes just… intensely want a basket of fries. My morning sickness makes the Hollywood version pale in comparison, and I haven’t lost my mind and had a total meltdown… until last night.

You see, I got home to my Mom and Stepdad’s house, after dinner over at my Dad’s place. They were watching some CW Vampire show (really, my mom loves them).  My Mom was in one of her playful, teasing moods, and I was kind of, not in the mood for it?  I’d gotten a flu shot earlier and my arm was killing me, way more than any flu shot I could remember before, and even though I’d just had a huge dinner, I was suddenly starving.  I went into the kitchen to make an egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich.  

My Stepdad asked for one too, so I spent a half hour crafting two perfect sandwiches. I made perfectly crispy and chewy bacon in the oven, cooked evenly to a gorgeous red/brown color.  I scrambled the exact right portion of eggs for each sandwich and cooked them just right in the skillet. The toast was the exact level of warmth and crispiness with the center still soft, the cheese melted perfectly between the bacon and egg.  I’m telling you, these were possibly the best sandwiches I’ve ever made.  I handed my Stepdad his sandwich, and sat down with mine on a paper plate. Then, as I went to pull up the foot rest on the recliner, my sandwich flew out of my hands and landed in a huge gloppy mess on the floor. It was totally ruined. There was no such thing as the 5-second-rule happening with this beast.

I think under normal circumstances, I would have laughed. I know my mom wanted to. I could see her covering her mouth as the stream of expletives came out of mine, and I’m just not usually like this, but there was no turning back. I was in a full-on hormonal pregnant lady rage.  To make matters worse, they both started immediately trying to make it better, offering me the other sandwich, offering to make a new one… I think most of us know, that when faced with a completely irrational projectile-egg-sandwich-hormonal-pregnant meltdown, no “new sandwich” is going to really make it better. I cleaned up my mess, ran back to the kitchen for a totally undesirable Greek blueberry yogurt, and hid in my room like a petulant teenager. It was about one bite into that yogurt that I started crying.

I was blowing my nose and just hating every bite of that cold disgusting yogurt when my mom crept in. Just like when I was a little kid, she could tell I was crying in there alone and she gave me one of those big sweet soft mom hugs. “I hate being pregnant,” I whined into her neck as she giggled at me. I really started to let it out. My stupid arm was hurting, I was so embarrassed and frustrated. She did what she always does and totally took care of my silly fragile emotions and by the end we were both laughing.  

“Did you see that sandwich fly like that?”

“Having a baby is going to hurt a lot worse than that flu shot.”  

I don’t think I could have got to laughing without her there. Somebody to hug you like that, it’s something you don’t just appreciate, it’s something you need.

In the beginning of my pregnancy, I didn’t really have a grand plan. I never expected to be pregnant. I’m single, I was struggling in New York, and my only plan, should I ever get accidentally knocked up, was an escape plan. I knew I would go home and live near my family back home in Mississippi. I had a lot of other plans for my life, but now I was going to be a single mom, and I immediately started trying to wrap my head around that, looking for help and advice.

I found plenty of articles online offering tips to single moms, and the majority of them were directed toward women going through divorce. There was certainly some good info there, but very few things talked about being pregnant without a partner.  I had never considered for a second of my life that I’d be doing this without some handsome guy by my side, ready to run out and buy me ice cream in the middle of the night (or remake a perfect egg sandwich) but here I was, in exactly that situation, and during my initial type-A research phase I found one of those handy little listicles online with this at the top: “Rely On Your Community.”  The author could have put that any number of ways:  “Let People Help You,” or “Ask Others For Things You Need,” or “Don’t Try To Do It All On Your Own.”  

I kind of skimmed over the whole thing to be honest, I mean, there was a whole Internet out there to read, but something about it stuck with me, and I honestly think it’s the best advice I found. Here I sit, on the precipice of my third trimester, belly growing and baby moving like a sea creature with eight legs, and I know without a doubt that I’m not alone in this.

Instead of worrying about being strong all the time, and feeling guilty about egg-sandwich tantrums, I’ve decided to let others in, to help me out, and to learn to say, “Yes, I would love that.”  It seems like the help I need comes along at exactly the right time, from an old friend stepping up to host my baby shower, to great legal advice from another single mom, even a trade for Doula services, people have been so generous. Friends, former co-workers, and of course family have pitched in to help with everything. It also helps that I’ve found a great doctor who keeps me calm and reassured at every appointment. It feels so great to know my daughter is getting the best start possible in life because of the love and care of so many people. I feel a lot less pressure to be super mom and I have a lot more confidence that there is safety net for when I inevitably screw up.