Checking Facebook this morning, I noticed a cute photo of some friends drinking at a bar, arms around each other, mugging for the camera. I clicked “like,” but truth be told, I didn’t really like seeing them all having fun without me. I’d been invited to join them, but at 20 weeks pregnant, I wasn’t up for a late night, especially one where I’d be sipping water while the party girls downed margaritas. So why did I feel so left out?
It’s not like I don’t want this baby. On the contrary, we tried for 2.5 years to give our daughter a sibling, and I still consider it a bonafide miracle that I’m pregnant. I’m just surprised how trapped I sometimes feel.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was all in. Excited to begin a new chapter of my life, I fully embraced the radical changes pregnancy brought. Going out and partying held zero appeal, and I rolled my eyes at knocked up friends who whined about missing sushi or vodka. These sacrifices weren’t just worth it — I wore them like a badge of big-bellied honor.
Four years later and pregnant again, something has shifted. I find myself daydreaming about jumping on a plane to Paris. Or buying leather pants. Actually, my leather pants ensemble would look great in Paris, if only I could find a pair that would fit over my bump.
Perhaps this ambivalence is the result of the four year age gap between my babies. With my oldest in preschool, I had just started glimpsing a return to normalcy again. I was sleeping through the night. I’d finally lost the baby weight and was feeling borderline attractive. My husband and I had taken our first adults-only vacation and realized, gratefully, that the spark was still there between us if we ever had time to ignite it.
But now, it’s time to bury those impulses again and devote myself fully into round the clock selfless mothering. Yikes. I feel like that crewman on the Titanic: “Iceberg, dead ahead!” Those sleepless, foggy, grungy newborn days are jutting out of the water and I’m about to ram right into them. Or, as Michael Corleone famously said in The Godfather, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in!”
And the thing is, I love being a mom. Wouldn’t trade it for anything. But I also loved being the person I was before. ie: this girl:
You’ll have to take my word for it, but I used to be lots of fun. Fearless, dancing on tables, “How did I wind up in this SoHo loft with all the circus performers?” fun. It bothers me that when I make new friends, the mommy kind, they have no idea who I really am. Yes, sure, I am the mother who lovingly picks boogers out of toddler noses and can talk for hours about nap schedules, but I’m also this other, more interesting person. The woman before the mom. After this next baby, will I even be able to find her again?
Photo: Getty (top); Amy Wruble (bottom)