What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here.  Today’s guest post is by Allison. 

I just had the 18 week sonogram two days ago and found out we’re having a boy, and from the looks of it healthy and not missing any important bits.

It’s been two days and 18 weeks and I’ve yet to be happy about being pregnant.

Sure, there was the initial “Hooray! Positive! I can make babies like the other pregnant women I know!” but that was compounded by the fact I’d miscarried both the month before, April, and in the previous November, the same month my father passed away. This year began with more grief than I’d ever experienced in my life.

I feel like that grief is still holding me back from being happy about being pregnant, about adding to our family of two. I like my life now. I’m a full-time lab tech and student working on my PhD and my husband can’t wait to be a full-time dad. He’s more excited to have a son than I am, so is my mom at the prospect of having a grandson, as an only child I’m the only possible grandkid-maker. It seems like everyone is more excited about the human growing in my uterus than I am.

At first I thought it was normal first-trimester blues. I had the “24/7 constant nausea” version of morning sickness. I tried to convince myself that the second trimester would be better, everyone told me the second trimester would be better, I looked forward to the glow and smiles and happiness that would SURELY happen at some point.

The 14th week came and went. The nausea had subsided, but no joy came in its place. I can fake it like a champ at this point, especially around family. My pregnant friends love to talk about how much they love their unborn child, how they feel a connection, a bond. How can I love something I’ve never seen, or met? That up until this point has only caused me pain and discomfort? I tell myself I’ll fall in love later, when I get to hold him in my arms, or while I’m feeding him, but a deep dark, part of me wonders if that is wishful thinking. 

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My current lie to myself is that I’ll be happier when he has a name. Like somehow slapping a call sign on this bump will make the fear go away. I don’t hate him, no, I’m afraid of him. What he will do to my marriage – will my husband and I get stronger or will we be torn apart? What about my career and hopes and aspirations and goals? I wish I could order a pair of rose-tinted glasses and pretend everything’s going to be wonderful. Unfortunately I am unable to delude myself about just how difficult it will be, and it’s so hard to find the good in anything these days. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression since puberty and I know it’s coming back in full force. 

I see a therapist who helped me with the grief and is helping me with the fear as well. But it’s a slow process when the fear and stress are constant, and knowing that being scared and stressed is harming the baby makes it worse. “Don’t be afraid” is just about the dumbest thing anyone has ever said. Instead, try “It’s ok to be afraid.” Realizing that I can’t control it, that I just have to accept that I AM AFRAID, is one of the hardest things I have ever done.

But I persist. I watch Ajahn Brahm’s teachings as much as possible, especially his talks on fear and positivity. The only things that bring me peace are the words of a gentle Buddhist monk in Australia and my husband’s voice. 

Even if I can’t love my child yet, I can change my attitude. Instead of fear, I can place compassion between myself and this tiny creature inside me, and I can feel protective of that which I am the sole guardian. It’s not love, but it’s a start. 

All I ask is that you withhold judgment, that the first thing you say when I mention I’m not doing well isn’t “Oh, but you should be so happy!” “Aren’t you excited?”. Every time someone tells me how wonderful I should feel it hurts a little more inside. Not all judgments are negative ones, but they are judgments none the less. 

So please, don’t tell me it’ll get better, or offer any spiritual or religious solutions. I just wanted to speak for the women who feel ashamed or guilty for how they feel while carrying a new life – you’re not alone. It’s ok to be afraid of the unknown, you’ll face it in your way and in your own time.