Loving the new you
As the telltale pink cross filled the window on the pregnancy test, two emotions simultaneously flooded through me: terror and joy.
At 35, I was eager to have a child, only I had always hoped it would be within the confines of a happy relationship, with a loving man at my side holding my hand as we looked at sonograms together or listened to our unborn’s heartbeat for the first time.
That was not to be.
Living solo, in a one-bedroom apartment on a newspaper editor’s salary, circumstances seemed dire.
At the same time, I knew I had never wanted anything more in my life, so after checking in with my family (who alternately urged abortion and adoption) and my priest (who, overburdened with recent tragedy in the community, had no time to meet with me), I realized there was only one person who was going through the pregnancy: me.
Keep your doctor’s visits
From that first visit when I saw the sonogram and heard the heartbeat, I began to look forward to every checkup thereafter. I vowed to take care of that little human inside me, cherishing the newfound capacity of my body to support another life.
I paid attention to the doctor’s recommendations. Gone were the minutes of relishing in a hot tub after a swim, and I popped my prenatal vitamins daily.
As my pregnancy progressed, I took and passed the recommended tests and made sure I ate healthy, balanced meals. I stuck to my swimming regimen and even kept biking to work until about the sixth month in.
When my belly did start to swell, a change from my flat, toned stomach that had always been my secret source of vanity, I embraced it wholeheartedly. I eliminated negativity and criticism from my thoughts. I’d marvel at my body in the mirror, take selfies, and send them to people proudly. I paid attention to fashionable ways to dress a baby bump and enjoyed my luxurious mane of hair.
Enjoy the attention
People are really nice to pregnant women. Whether it be picking up dropped items, giving up their seats for you, or offering to make you meals, there is nothing like being pregnant to bring out the generosity in others.
I came to revel in this attention. I gladly accepted food, hand-me-downs, shopping trips, you name it. I let my friends throw me a baby shower and accepted gifts from people I barely knew. I found that if you are receptive to it, love and support and encouragement are found everywhere.
Let go of anger
Chances are if you’re a Solo Mom, you have reason to be angry, disappointed, hurt, sad, or resentful. Those are all perfectly valid emotions, and they have their place. However, harboring them will only lead you down a road of unhappiness and bitterness.
I came to view my pregnancy as God answering my deepest needs. It may not have come about in the way I wanted or planned, but it happened and was a wonderful, joyous occasion nonetheless.
I turned any feelings of self-pity into gratitude, being thankful that I was blessed with a healthy pregnancy and baby. I focused on being the strongest, happiest version of myself I could be for the sake of my daughter, who would one day be looking to me as a role model.
Connect with other moms
I was having a bit of an identity crisis as the things that had once defined me would have to be waylaid for a while. I sold my motorcycle, and I knew the days of swimming at 6:00 a.m. for six days a week were limited. I also realized I had very few mom friends in the area and that became my new mission. I joined moms groups on Facebook, asked moms I worked with to meet me for coffee, and went to La Leche League meetings (a mother-to-mother support group for moms who want to breastfeed).
It was all invaluable, as now I’m surrounded by a strong network of supportive moms who frequently check in on me and my four-month-old daughter, Victoria Grace, and offer to watch her if I ever want to go for a swim or bike ride and reconnect with my prechild self.
Connect with your child
As I got bigger and really felt her moving, it became much more real to me. I read pregnancy books and researched neonatal development, excited to learn that she could hear me talk or sing.
I bought Bellybuds and put them on my belly, playing my favorite music for her. I videotaped her moving inside me and sent them to people who wanted to see. I talked to her even though I felt crazy doing it. I laughed when she flipped around or hiccuped.
I picked out names, started a journal, and posted sonogram pictures in it along with summaries of doctor visits. I presented my mom with a card that had a sonogram picture inside, whether she wanted it or not!
Keep your eye on the end goal
Pregnancy is also tough. I had terrible rib pain in my last trimester, rivaled only by the nauseating acid reflux and intolerance for any soapy scents. There were times I had to go to the break room at work and just lie down to get relief from my discomfort.
Toward the end of my pregnancy, I really wanted it to be over. I wanted someone to rub my feet or paint my toenails. I wanted someone to snuggle and hold me at night and tell me I was beautiful. I didn’t have that, so I became that person for myself, and I found a profound happiness.
The pride a Solo Mom gets from this accomplishment makes us strong in a way that only comes from learning how to be your own source of validation and happiness. With that, you can be joyous about and for the new life that you have miraculously brought into this world.
Because, after all, he or she makes it all worth it.
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