Baby, Maybe? On Feeling The Pressure Of Motherhood
An essay from the anthology Flaca
“I want to get better so that I can become a mother someday,” one of my community members shared during a goal setting rehabilitation exercise.
I was about 4 weeks into treatment for an eating disorder I was still struggling to admit. And the out-patient treatment facility consisted of one-on-one counseling, group therapy, nutrition classes, group activities that sometimes included cooking and the dreaded dinner time.
This got me thinking about my own prospects as a parent. Like most little girls I grew up playing with baby dolls, pushing toy strollers and placing a pillow under my nightie and pretending it was a pregnant belly.
I was always the first to volunteer to help change diapers and watch over my younger cousins and longed for a sibling of my own.
At 11, my sister was born and I took pride in pushing her stroller down the street and dressing her up. She was cool until she got a bit older, began to follow me around and embarrassed me in front of my friends with her childhood wonderment. In her defense she hadn’t done anything wrong I was just a hormonal bratty teen.
When I got married at 22 I convinced myself that having a baby was for me. After all I was married and that’s what you did. I never actively tried to get pregnant but wasn’t opposed to it happening naturally. A part of me knew it wasn’t the proper environment to bring up a child in, it was toxic and often violent, but I grew tired of being asked “when is the baby coming?”
Thankfully that baby was never conceived cutting any ties from that man.
As I enter my mid-thirties I feel the pressure hover over my shoulders, the heaviness on my chest and can hear the clock ticketing mirroring the beat of my heart.
My mental health and eating disorder are time consuming and must be kept a close eye on as one would a child. The idea of going 9 months without antidepressants, mood stabilizers and having to carry out a proper diet terries me. I often question if my genetics are worth passing along? Would I ruin my child with my disordered rituals and uneasiness around food? Would my baby inherit my mood disorder? Would it suffer from crippling anxiety, depression and lash out in fear of rejection?
Not everyday is bad but the bad ones are the worst. I’ve managed to cope with it but wouldn’t wish that upon anyone else.
“Who else wants to be well enough to have children?” The group leader asked. A couple of timid hands rose and for a second I felt a twitch. I looked down at my arm it was making its way up and I immediately readjusted in my seat and sat on my hands.