A note from Haven Life: Julie Fagan is the blogger behind Peanut Butter Fingers, a health and lifestyle blog our team follows. Because Julie is expecting her first child, we reached out and asked her to share how planning for motherhood has gone and what has been the most surprising part of her pregnancy. This glimpse into the last 37+ weeks captures her experience.
My name is Julie Fagan and I am currently 37 weeks pregnant. My husband and I are expecting a baby boy this August and as first-time parents, we had no idea what to expect going into this new and exciting stage in our lives. Though the journey has been filled with immense joy, I’ve also experienced more stress and anxiety than I anticipated.
When I first learned I was pregnant, I was filled with a combination of emotions. I was shocked, excited, nervous and so incredibly happy. My husband and I couldn’t really wrap our heads around the positive pregnancy tests (and, yes, I took multiple because two pregnancy tests that boast 99 percent accuracy rates apparently weren’t enough…) and as we started to talk about everything in more depth, I started to feel overwhelmed.
There were a few things that surprised me about my pregnancy. I always assumed that the minute I found out I was pregnant, I’d be hit with an overwhelming feeling of connection to my baby. With the onset of the plus sign on a positive pregnancy test, I assumed I’d instantly feel like a mother.
This true feeling of connection and love for our baby set in much later in my pregnancy than I expected and this terrified me for a while. I was worried that there was something wrong with me because I didn’t feel an instant bond to the baby in my belly. It made me doubt my abilities as a mom moving forward.
During our prenatal appointments, I’d hear our baby’s heartbeat and feel so much excitement, but I kept waiting to feel that sense of connection. When I would feel our baby move, there was truly nothing better. However, I still craved that feeling of attachment between a mother and her baby. When would it come? Would I ever feel it?
And then one day it happened.
A couple of weeks into my second trimester, I began to experience some serious cramping that wouldn’t dissipate. I tried to relax and go about my normal work day. I went to bed at night, aware of the cramping, but I assumed it would pass and I’d wake up feeling like myself again.
When this didn’t happen, I started to get more and more nervous. I consulted Dr. Google (never a good idea!) and the anxiety began to set in. I called my mom (she’s a nurse) and she talked to me about the way I was feeling and encouraged me to call my doctor.
In the end, everything ended up being okay, and I found myself filled with an overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude that quickly morphed into that intense feeling of love and devotion I was so terribly missing. It took feeling scared and incredibly concerned for our baby’s safety for me to realize just how much I already cared for our little one. I already loved our baby so much. I already felt so protective over him. I already thought of him as a member of our family. Our son.
When I try to look for the silver lining in some of the more anxiety-ridden moments of pregnancy (and there have been a handful since the first!), I cannot help but realize that these scarier moments are the moments that made me so acutely aware of the deep love I have for our baby. They’re the moments that made me realize just how intense my feelings are for our little one. Feelings that are bigger than I ever could have imagined. And I cannot wait for these feelings to intensify with every minute that passes after we meet our baby boy and hold him in our arms for the very first time.
I know this is just the beginning of our journey and understand that once our baby boy is here, I’ll constantly have to adjust my expectations as I learn how to be the best mother I can be. I am sure the romanticized images I have in my mind about what life with a newborn will be like, or the fun I’ll have with an energetic toddler, will require constant adjustment as reality sets in. But, I’m excited for the future, even if it isn’t as picture-perfect as I may have originally envisioned… and even if I cannot help but question my feelings and abilities along the way.
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When during pregnancy did you feel connected to your baby? Share your story with Julie on Twitter using #PregnancyConnection.