Bump Out of the Closet

Learning Opinion Relationships

I’m pregnant. Take a moment and let that sink in, I would understand it if it takes you a while, it took me a few months to fully absorb this reality. Now, unlike most 30 year olds, this was not planned (which explains my rather slow processing). The two red lines on the home pregnancy test made certain that my drop in energy levels, excessive sleep, and brain fog was indeed biological and not psychological. Honestly, you would think 33 year olds would be sensible enough to practice “safe sex” but lust, love and other such things… can make the most responsible of us a little irresponsible (6 months in, and I can safely assure you I have no regrets!)

An unplanned pregnancy triggers a lot of questions, reevaluation and a rollercoaster of emotions. The process of acceptance almost seems futile, because you are either pregnant or not. The suddenness associated with unplanned pregnancy is like lights being switched on - there is no working towards it - you simply receive the result. 

There is no time to fall in love, accept, or come to terms with being pregnant. It’s unlike any other life-altering change. You know you are pregnant - the tests confirm it. But you literally go from knowing you’re not pregnant one fine day and to knowing you are pregnant the very next. There is no gradual growth. Unlike dating someone before you marry them, you spend years getting to know them - gradually introducing them to your friends, family, colleagues and life  - before you sign over that dotted line. 

There is no time to get used to the idea of being pregnant. Like I said, it’s a switch - you’re pregnant or not pregnant and the outcome of it is permanent - there are no take backsies. 

My decision to continue with my pregnancy was a layered process; I live in a world where I understand my rights - my body,  my decision (I acknowledge and am grateful for this privilege). This decision was both mine and my husband’s to make (but we all know that it was mostly mine). His decision, on the other hand, does not rest in whether I should or (should not) terminate the pregnancy but more in his decision on whether he wants to be a co-parent, a father, and most importantly, take on some responsibility for the child and support me through the 9 months. 

Like I mentioned before, this was unplanned. I had no desire to convert a room in my home to a nursery, sign up for term insurance and discuss stem cell banking over the next 9 months. I wanted to spend 2022 getting over 2021 with a new sense of liberation, dive deep into my work and travel like I had every visa on my passport. Needless to say, I had a lot of confusing emotions. 

So I thought. I thought long and hard before I made any decision. As women, we have options; we should know we can exercise them and don’t need anyone's approval. So I thought about it as an independent person. 

There’s no denying that my professional experience layered my decision and coloured my emotions. As a therapist, clients come in too often with guilt, anger and an overwhelming sense of responsibility for their parents. (Naturally, I want to try my best to ensure my child experiences none of these. Nonetheless, I’m certain they will have their own emotional struggles.)

Clients have often expressed that their ‘mothers’ remained in unhealthy relationships and abusive marriages for their children. Just as my relationship changed with my marital status, I knew my relationship would change with a child. I knew I wanted to be in a marriage that is fulfilling, healthy and nurturing. I spent weeks reflecting on the future of my relationship - while I have no crystal ball to gaze into, I recognise the fragility and uncertainty of relationships and was certain that if things do not work out I needed to know I would have the strength to walk away. The strength to make these decisions come from many things, and for me, the top two - as mirrored by a lot of women I have spoken to - were emotional strength and financial independence. 

Instead, what I did reflect on was my support system, one without my partner, and the importance of growing it manifold. While it is great to be an emotionally independent strong person, any transition for all of us is tough ( even if it is needed), and having a strong support system during these times makes this journey less bumpy. I also promised myself continued financial independence, which is a big one for me. Most individuals hang back in relationships because they fear they will have nowhere to go and have no financial backing. While it’s great to make promises, I also followed this up with conversations with friends who understand financial planning and I am continuing to actively work towards securing myself independently.

Pregnancy is marked by emotional waves (not like our lives aren’t a rollercoaster of emotions anyway), It was important for me not to act impulsively and make decisions only when I did not experience any heightened emotions - no rash decisions, but ones I had thought through, because now I was at the cusp of bringing about a massive change in my life. 

Now, I have read and reread the previous 2 paragraphs a few times, and it makes me sound controlled and grounded but the decision making few months was a whirlwind of emotions. It was confusing, and my emotions ranged from happiness to intense fear all in the same day. The only time I knew I was certain was when I made the call to my family and told them - it was 3 months of picking up the phone with the intention to tell them and changing topics 30 seconds into the call.

The scariest part for me is knowing that in a few months my world will be different, and no amount of planning would make up for the unpredictability that is about to come - trying to plan will only make me neurotic and take away any joy of being there in the moment. Till today, I wake up in the middle of the night with thoughts of ‘how am I going to do this?’ - the truth is that I do not know and I am working towards being comfortable with the idea of not knowing.

It’s cliche to say this, but all I have is now. While I may make this sound like a death sentence, I know it’s not. It is definitely going to be a huge pivoting point in my life. Till now, the word pivot was associated with career moves and not personal shifts - my priorities are going to be reevaluated. This pivot point is going to impact every area of my life, even the way I socialise. I have a few months to live it up cause sleepless nights and mommy brain is heading my way.

Not having a plan has been extremely unsettling for me, till date, I have no plan or vision for what my life is going to be like once August kicks in (that’s around when Baby V pops out). There is no checklist of things for then - all I have is now - now is the only time I have to scratch things off my list and achieve whatever I want just for me

My yearly vision stops in August 2022. 

It feels like blankness - I guess this is what genuine ‘no expectations’ means.

So, for the first time in my life, I finally live only in the now or maybe it’s a mix of FOMO and living in the moment (I still cannot differentiate between the two). The thought of not knowing what lies ahead has led me to stretch myself and do things I often shied away from. I partied till 6am in Goa and have not declined a single invitation to any gathering this year ( I have followed up to ensure plans materialised). It makes me wonder - what my life would have been if I always lived like this - maybe this pivot could give me a greater sense of liberation and empowerment?

I feel we need to not assume that every married woman is supposed to be overjoyed the second her test results say she is positive. It is normal to feel the many complex emotions and take our time to work through them. The urgency to tell people at 3 months needs to be done away with and women need to be encouraged to share this information only when (and to whom) they are comfortable. For those who decide to continue with their unplanned pregnancy, we need to take our time to embrace it. There are a lot of things we are not prepared to let go of and things we need our time to accept. 

Like they say, you don’t really know when you will have had your last drink, party hard, or have the energy to do a full day of productive work.

Meet The Author

 
Priyanka Varma is a mental health professional who specialises in clinical psychology, counselling and psychotherapy. Along the way she drew towards the concepts of self-awareness and self-acceptance that are now the foundations of her therapeutic framework. She enjoys her work with young adults as they navigate the changing society triggered by technology advancement. In addition, she is also consults at Holy Family Hospital, Global Hospitals.
Priyanka Varma, Psychologist


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