When the sonographer jubilantly announced the gender of our baby at our 20 week morphology scan, I burst into tears. Not happy tears. Chewing her bottom lip, the sonographer looked to my husband, who sat stoically beside my side as I wept. I had a perfectly healthy baby growing inside me, but all I could see was the gender that I didn’t want it to be.
You see, this was the gender I was completely estranged from. The gender that I had always been let down by. The gender who was always vacant in my life. A gender not of my siblings, only of cousins that I barely knew.
Besides my sobbing, the car ride home from our scan was deathly silent. “We’re not telling anyone the gender. I don’t want anyone to know the gender,” I anxiously pleaded. My husband so tenderly respected my wishes. We came to an agreement that we would tell our friends and family that we were keeping the gender a surprise. Selfishly, I stole that moment from my husband. I allowed my inability to deal with trauma ruin his moment to celebrate the gender of his first baby.
As each week passed, I became increasingly detached from the life growing within. I declined a baby shower. I had no enthusiasm to decorate a nursery. I hated all the clothes that were available. This tiny person renting my womb was a complete stranger to me. Erratic thoughts toyed with my mind. My lowest point came when sobbing on my kitchen floor. I called a clinic to discuss my options. I will forever live with the guilt that I dared to consider an off switch. This is etched in the darkest stem of my brain, stored deep between traumatic memories.
At 39 weeks, I nervously went into spontaneous labour. Things were about to get real and I was not ready to meet this baby. We arrived at the hospital at midnight, under the light of a full moon, a day shy of New Years Eve. I walked into the birthing suite with nothing but the PJs on my body and a couple of staple baby onesies in my bag.
Mine was a fast labour. By 2:05 a.m. I was fully dilated and ready to push. Delivering a baby is such an incomparable experience. So primal and so empowering. But as I began pushing, thoughts flooded my mind. Am I going to love this baby? Am I capable of being a good mother to this baby? Do I have any maternal instincts at all? Because, right now, at 10 cm dilated and pushing, the only emotion I felt was fear mixed with the physical pain of a vaginal birth.
It was on my third push that I felt my husband squeeze my hand. Laying in the birthing suite, scared shitless, he showed me undying dedication, encouragement, kindness, and support. He gave me the strength that I needed in perhaps my most vulnerable hour. At 2:17 a.m., I delivered my son. With his full head of dark hair, olive complexion, and full lips, I instantaneously fell in love.
My 39-week journey taught me a valuable lesson. Although our personal attachment style develops as a child, once we reach adulthood and have a better understanding of our formed behavior, we have two options. We can hold onto past trauma and live in a cyclic state of pain and despair, or we can welcome a future without being held by the past. To my husband and my son, thank you.