There’s this phrase that gets thrown at expectant mothers so nonchalantly that I don’t think many people realize how hurtful it can be. I know I’ve probably said it in the most well-meaning way – but that doesn’t take away the sting it can leave on an already vulnerable and hormonal mama.
Sidenote: when I say the word “hormonal”, I am not meaning it in the way it can so often be implied as though it is synonymous with “irrational” or “crazy” - but in the most understanding way possible. I use the word hormonal to emphasize the changes going on with mama – mentally, physically, and emotionally – that are all thanks to the fluctuating hormones to help baby grow and thrive. The way it leaves mama anxious over every single detail; overwhelmed with never-ending information overload from the internet; unprepared for the season of changes she is going through and the life-changing transition around the corner; inadequate because, regardless of if baby was strategically planned or a pleasant surprise, she wants to give baby the world but there is only so much she can control.
The moment that little stick reads two lines, she feels the world shift beneath her feet. I know I did – right there in Colton’s Steakhouse when I just couldn’t wait the two-hour drive home from visiting family. Surprise! Baby Hefley is on the way! I was in shock because I didn’t know what emotion to feel first. After a few days of processing and getting to tell our families, my husband and I slowly started unpacking how I truly felt – the good and the bad.
As someone who has been in therapy for well over a year now, I had learned enough emotional-regulating skills to be able to productively sort through my “spaghetti-mind” as I like to call it – when too many thoughts and feelings are intertwined around one situation at once. After a couple of weeks, I was able to pinpoint that one of my biggest fears in having a baby was losing my sense of self; that I no longer mattered anymore. And I began to realize that when I would hear the phrase, “It’s not about you anymore.”
Of course this phrase was never ill-intended. I get what they were trying to say. But in that moment, when I was struggling with my own fears and worries, I heard “You don’t matter.” I heard “Because you are a human incubator, that baby in your uterus is all that matters now. Your feelings, your dreams, your plans don’t matter.” I began thinking of myself very negatively for having these NATURAL thoughts and feelings. “Ashley, you are being so selfish for being concerned with your own goals and aspirations. You are not going to make a good mom. You don’t matter anymore.”
I am a very fortunate woman to have a therapist who is so awesome. Truly. Without her, I probably would’ve been stuck in that yucky mindset for a lot longer. Because together, we called bullshit. I am not selfish for not wanting to give up on my goals, I am a hard-working, determined mama-to-be. I am not stupid for not quite knowing what my calling is before having babies, but I continue to pursue knowledge and growth, keeping the faith that God will lead me where He needs me. I WILL be a good mama because I will continue to persevere through the curve-balls of life, kicking ass and taking names. And I DO matter, because my baby needs ME – but baby won’t be my only accomplishment in life, just maybe one of my favorites.
So yeah, I’m not gonna be saying “it’s not about you anymore” to any mamas or mamas-to-be. To the powerful mamas out there raising babes and dreaming big, I raise my (sparkling) wine glass to you. Take care of yourself, too.