This mom’s words on the complexities of motherhood after an unplanned pregnancy are a must-read
One mom is sharing an emotionally raw post about what it’s like to love and raise a baby you didn’t plan to become pregnant with — but all mothers can find something in her words to relate to.
Olivyah Bowens, 23, is a mother of two and a Puerto Rico-based doula. She shared an Instagram photo on Sunday of herself and her 2-year-old daughter, Ozara, while she was having a very toddler-esque meltdown. “No one teaches you how to love a child you didn’t plan to have,” she writes. “No one shows you how to traverse the emotional complexity of loving a child you weren’t happy about being pregnant with. It’s even more difficult at those times when they’re having tantrums and pushing you to a point of emotional exhaustion.”
This post is so valuable for so many mothers because we all have those moments where we aren’t the best versions of ourselves and our thoughts are anything but motherly. But mothers who experience an unplanned pregnancy have an added layer to these feelings.
“It’s confusing,” Bowens writes. “When the same people who told you that you pretty much ruined your life are smiling ear to ear at your baby shower a few months later. It’s hard. Looking at a beautiful baby and being bogged down by the thoughts of how you will take care of them and how much life will change.”
I was an unplanned pregnancy to two teenage parents. My mother didn’t even tell most of her family about me until she was too far along to conceal it any longer — out of the same shame and guilt that plagues young mothers, I’m sure. Her own mother didn’t really speak to her until her baby shower, according to stories I’ve heard from multiple family members. Things changed radically once I was born (for awhile, anyway) and seeing the same people seem so happy about my existence when just months earlier they were cursing it had to be incredibly difficult to process.
Bowen writes about that, too — projecting your childhood pain onto your baby. Because it’s pretty much unavoidable. “This stage of motherhood has forced me to look at my reflection in my daughter’s eyes and realize that no I don’t enjoy being a mother all the time, but this child has been the catalyst for major growth,” she says.
And they really are. When raising our kids, the pain we experienced as children becomes almost tangible. The feelings intensify, and we recognize the mistakes we don’t want to repeat and the cycles we desperately wish to break. But knowing those things doesn’t make raising children any easier.
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The truth is there are a range of complexities that come with having two young children. One aspect is that there are many times when I want to just play with Zara but Oni is crying, or I'm just too tired. That can bring on a lot of guilt and a lot of self-pity. But those emotions don't serve me unless I can convert them into energy to fuel action. This journey has been beautiful and yet hard. It's forced me to tap into creative solutions. … Current mantra: Stay present. Breathe. Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
“The reality is I don’t want to be a mother every day,” Bowen rights. “I don’t want to feel held back from chasing my dreams and goals. I don’t want to be exhausted.” But she says having her daughter made her able to face certain things she would have ignored, had she remained childless — and isn’t that the truth for us all? How many life lessons and self-realizations would have just sat, stagnant, otherwise?
“Dear mama, who is going through an unplanned pregnancy, don’t feel guilty, don’t feel afraid, don’t feel ashamed,” Bowen concludes her post. “That baby chose YOU to be it’s mothers at the perfect time. Surrender to the journey of unpredictability and let this new being show you a whole new part of yourself you didn’t know was there.”