Parenting: The Twists, Turns, and Masochism
Words by Thera Thibeault
After trying for two years to get pregnant and having no luck, I wasn’t expecting anything but a big, fat negative when I tested the morning before heading down state to celebrate my birthday. I wanted to test “just in case” since I had a feeling a beautiful, blue bottle of Riesling would be in my very near future. And then, with an empty uterus, I would uncork the last year of my twenties, having high hopes for the next year in which we’d hopefully end up pregnant before thirty.
That’s a thing, right? Pregnant before thirty. So much weight gets put onto that number. Like, as soon as you turn thirty, the years start squeezing in on your baby-maker like a torture device from an Indiana Jones movie.
I capped the pee-soaked stick, like so many times before, and laid it on the bathroom counter, beneath where my husband’s ties hung, and waited until I could confirm what that pink dye always indicated before.
After my husband got out of the Marine Corps, our lives found their way back up to Michigan from North Carolina. It wasn’t unlike the flighty, meandering our relationship had always done. The boy I’d crushed on since we were 13 years old asked me, without warning, to move down to coastal North Carolina with him. We’d only been dating for a few months and, being in my mid-twenties, I thought, “If I do this, I’m absolutely crazy, right?”
Apparently the answer was yes. And apparently the answer will always be yes. Through a naughty chocolate Lab puppy, buying a house and closing on aforementioned house the day after he left for a year-long deployment, getting engaged on Topsail Island, winning our wedding two months later and having to plan it in 61 days, rescuing a homely-looking hound, separating from the Marines, moving to a tiny town and working 130 hours between the two of us at a foundry, and literally, one day, deciding to pick our lives up and take them back to Michigan.
As I was getting ready to step into the shower, I glanced at the test, reflecting one of the neckties, ruefully making the test look like a plus sign. Shit, wait. Is that really a plus sign?
I’m not totally sure how long I stood there, bare-ass naked, shower running, staring at that positive test. I quickly stuffed it into a box where I knew my husband wouldn’t look and got under the running water. My mind felt like it was filled with fireworks.
Fast forward into my third trimester and it still felt that way except the mortar shells had detonated into anxiety, to-do lists, and waning time.
Our lives until now were nothing short of circuitous, but it was just us before. My physique wasn’t perfect, but it was bikini-passable. Now, my swelling stomach was only outdone by my ankles and feet. My grandparents’ old house was nowhere near an ideal environment for a budding family and the nursery, so far, was only a gifted airplane propeller on the wall, a haphazard paint job, and a half-hatched idea for an aviation theme.
I rattled my ever-growing list of wrongs off to my mom, commanding the tears welling up in my eyes to stay put. “We’re just not ready. Everything is wrong. There’s so much that’s not done.” My mom, shoved into motherhood at the tender age of 17, looked at me the way only she could. She wrapped her arms around me as I mentally kissed the little feet kicking my ribs.
I reflected, for a moment, on the way her pregnancy must have gone. The way we moved around as kids, were pretty much always poor, how young our parents were when they suddenly had tiny mouths to feed and small feet to shoe. How unprepared and how scared they must have been. And how none of it mattered.
“Honey, it’s going to be okay,” she said with a little laugh. “Parenting is hard and it doesn’t get easier. It just transitions into a different kind of difficult.” And I, unwavering and immediately, believed her. I believed in her as much as I believed I was crazy to move for a boy, as much as I love every hair that Labrador sheds, as much as I knew the little person inside me would be more than okay. I knew that the reasons we love and live like a flame giving rise to a burst of light is because of every time it fell outside of the straight line I imagined.
For everything I thought would be perfect and clear and plain as day, I know now may appear as a challenge, a mess, or a detour and will give way to an understanding, a new callus, and sometimes, a new pain.
And why would I, the girl who’s more than dipped her toes into the waters of wild ideas by moving across the country…twice, buying dogs and houses days before a year-long deployment, winning and planning a wedding in two months, and every other off-the-map spiraling step one’s life can possibly take, expect anything except fireworks I can’t see until they burst and light up the night?
It’s a horrible, beautiful, wretched, awe-inspiring, painful and lovely thing – this parenting. So we must be masochists as we love every single second of it.
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Thera Thibeault is a freelance writer, blogger, and Batman Enthusiast. She's the founder and owner of Thera Writes and has lofty plans for world domination. While not writing, you can find her wiping drool from various surfaces, left by her hound (Dyna-Mo) or her chocolate Labrador (Harley Hendrix), wiping drool off her squishy daughter's face or wiping her own drool off her face because she's crazy about her handsome, Marine husband, Sam. Either way...drool.