Cold feet. You expect it when dealing with weddings, international moves, job resignations sans back-up plan (all of which I’ve done). But when you’re pregnant? And after going through IVF to get here? Isn’t it a bit too late to be struck with a case of cold feet? Apparently not.
At four months along, we and the nubbins (as the pretzels are now being called – it changes by the week) are getting along just dandy. They’re growing – I’m growing – and The Husband and I are starting to hunt around for the mountain of equipment we’ll need to deal with two mouths, two bums, and two of everything for the next, oh, forever.
Yesterday, it all hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was numb. Maybe I just like the idea of being pregnant, I thought. Maybe I don’t actually want to be a mum. Maybe this is all a massively expensive effort to scratch an itch that would have gone away all by itself with, say, a trip to Paris.
Or maybe not. It’s no great surprise that mums-to-be suffer nerves and jitters, and, yes, cold feet when grappling with the concept of what lies ahead. After probing my puzzling fear, I’ve come to the conclusion that “cold feet” isn’t necessarily a sign that you are doing something wrong. It’s a sign you’re doing something scary. Working out why you think it’s scary can help you then work out whether the path you’re on is the best for you.
If anyone doesn’t think parenthood is knee-shakingly, stomach-churningly daunting, then you are made of stronger stuff than I. Like, maybe, robot steel. As made obvious by my burgeoning stomach, I am not made of anything so sleekly impermeable. I am soft and rounded and human, which means I get scared by the unknown. That doesn’t stop me leaping into it, mind you, but it gives me pause whenever I stand at that brink and peer over the edge.
Take marriage, for example. When I was about to propose to my then-boyfriend back in 2008, I knew I loved him. I had a strong sense that what we had was just crazy and good enough to work out for the next 50-odd years. I was even pretty sure he’d say yes. Yet I was terrified, and hid the proposal-prop (a book) in my bedroom for a couple of months working up the courage to use it. And when I did, I was struck dumb with bone-chilling fear. What if he said yes? What if he didn’t say yes? WHAT THE HELL WAS I DOING?
And then he said yes. And the stars exploded. And our world was remade into something richer and more beautiful than I imagined.
It was similar when I left Australia to go live in a country I’d never seen before. I was a wreck on the plane, hiding my sobs behind the scratchy airline blanket, but beneath them was a wild sense of abandon and adventure. That is the feeling that won out.
So that’s why I don’t fear cold feet right now. My anxiety is not about motherhood. After grappling with the realities of IVF, and our knowledge we could only afford one shot at it, I have faced, and accepted, the chance that motherhood might not be in my future. It was a cold, dusty and empty feeling. So now, being almost half-way to parenthood, I’m not afraid that I’ve done the wrong thing. I’m just grappling with the fear of the unknown. Doesn’t make it any less scary, mind you, but it does mean I can go easy on myself for feeling the fear.
And hey, life would be no fun if we knew what was around every corner, so cold feet, be damned! If you’re feeling them, work out what’s behind it. If it turns out that, deep down, you know you are on the wrong path, do something to change it now. Waiting won’t help – it just delays the inevitable. If you are, like me, just grappling with an unknown future, rest easy. That’s all any of us are doing at any time, pregnant or not.