(first published on NPR's Baby Project)
Before I got pregnant, I would wake up at night, and stress and stress and stress about money and the future. Now, when I wake up, it's almost always with the awareness that I'm not alone — either a nudge or blip, or full-fledged kick from the baby, and all those fears just sort of fade away.
Not that I'm still not worried about the fact that we have no retirement accounts, we just moved back to a place where we're pretty much guaranteed blue-collar jobs, and we still don't own property.
I am, and probably will always be, worried about that stuff. But I think, if anything else, the tiny taste of motherhood that I've had so far has proven to me that there are things that are so much more important than material possessions.
Now, when I wake up, I worry about doing the right thing. I worry about how to parent — how to teach my child right from wrong, and how to tell the difference.
I want my child to grow up believing that it's possible to make a difference, and that it's important to have an open mind. I want my child to believe in him or herself and in others, to fight for the rights of the less fortunate or the oppressed. I want my child to believe in equality and to question authority, to have a critical mind as well as a compassionate one.
I want all these things, but then I look at myself and wonder what I want to be when I grow up, and worry that I am completely and utterly unqualified to do this job.
I know I should be worried about the birth, about the health of the baby, about the fact that there is no doctor on this island, and the mainland is a boat or airplane ride away, but those are the things I can't worry about. I have to believe in myself, in my birth team, in my partner, and in the generations of women who have gone before me.
I know that I can give birth to my child, and I know that staying at home, where I can go for a walk with my dog during labor and lean on my husband during contractions, is where I need to be.
More than anything, though, I want a healthy baby. I want 10 fingers and 10 toes. I want to look into a pair of eyes that aren't quite mine and aren't quite Chad's, and know that we're all embarking on this new adventure together, and that no matter where it leads, it was all worth it.