If you follow me on Instagram, then you might have seen (via my random Stories) that I’m pregnant. With child. Expecting. Preggo. Preggers. Harboring a fugitive. Eating for two. Baking a bun in my oven.
As you can imagine, my husband Ben and I are thrilled. This will be our first child (not including our new giant schnauzer puppy, Zelda – photo below), so understandably our excitement is mixed with a fair amount of nervousness, uncertainty, and to be honest, fear.
I mean, keeping an infant alive is a major responsibility. Making sure his (and ours is a “he” – yay!) every need is met, from feeding and burping, to swaddling and bathing…and that’s just the first few months of his existence. (Just thinking about things like him taking his first steps, or heading off to his first day of kindergarten, or getting his driver’s license, or graduating high school, etc. makes my maternal heart ache!) From here on out, from the day our son’s born till the day we die, Ben and I are parents, which means we’ll never be completely free from the constant undercurrent of worry and fear that accompanies unconditional love for another person.
Since finding out I was pregnant back in July, I’ve come to discover that growing a human isn’t too dissimilar from birthing a book – although the latter, hopefully, doesn’t involve nasty symptoms like nausea, vomiting, ferocious breakouts, chronic fatigue, and inexplicably off-the-wall cravings. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing a list of the similarities I’ve identified so far. (If you know of any more, shoot them my way via Twitter @dandersontyler!)
Let’s dive into similarity #1…
“Ummm… Can I Really Do This??” (Self-Doubt)
I realize women become mothers every day, just as I know that average Janes and Joes like me publish books and get literary agents every day. But even so, I find myself wondering if I actually have the emotional, mental, and spiritual chops to raise a child.
I think about things like homework and school projects and wonder if I’ll be able to help him as my parents helped me. What if he fails an assignment because I stink (this is a fact) at simple arts-and-crafts activities like making shoebox dioramas? What if he fails an algebra exam because math gives me migraines? (Hopefully Ben will be available for math and science duty!)
I think about stuff like sports and doctor appointments and music lessons and various other weekend and after-school activities that I’ll have to take him to and help him with. I’m an introvert, people! How will I survive all the small talk with other moms and all that time away from my reading chair and writing desk!? How will I tolerate applying makeup, styling my hair, and donning adult-looking outfits on a regular basis? I’m going to miss my pajamas and yoga pants, y’all. And I’m really going to miss not wearing bras…
I think about early wake-up times. This night owl is accustomed to reading till the wee hours of the morning and toddling off to bed when I’m good and ready. Babies and children have little regard for mommies’ and daddies’ sleeping preferences and favorite hobbies. My schedule will be dictated by his circadian rhythm and appetite, which, if he’s anything like his parents, will be insatiable! Will I be able to adjust my me-time without morphing into a bitter, virulent harpy? Will I really have the amount of selflessness necessary to place his needs before my own?
I remember having worries much like these when I wrote my first book, a nonfiction fitness book for young women. At just 18 years old at the time I started it, I felt like a complete impostor. Who was I to talk to teenaged girls and young women about the importance of working out, eating healthily, and not letting themselves make idols of their physical appearance? I felt I needed to have much more than personal experience to help others, like a few college degrees and lots more time on this earth.
I thought about what publishing a book would entail, from hooking an agent, to getting a publisher interested, to seeing if the thing actually sold. At the time, self-publishing was completely different than it is now, and much more expensive. Naturally, I wanted to get an agent, but the thought of researching different ones and querying them all individually made my head spin. After months of receiving rejection after rejection (“great concept, but you have no platform” was the general consensus), I looked into self-publishing and found a company that was gung-ho about my idea. (Little did I know they’d require me to buy enough copies of my own book to fill a Jacuzzi…)
But getting a publisher was just the beginning. They required that I hire a photographer for the fitness photos, and do a full edit of the book myself, after which they would provide a thorough proofread. Blech! Editing!? I hate it almost as much as I hate waking up early. Why couldn’t I just write and leave the nitty-gritty revision part to an actual editor? And they wanted me to be in the fitness photos? Why couldn’t they get a real live fitness model to do the job?
Oh, and then I got an email with a list of all the radio and TV spots the publisher had booked for me.
I mentioned earlier that I’m an introvert, so you can imagine how thrilled I was about this.
“I’m a writer. Not a speaker!” I thought. But, as I quickly learned, introverted nonfiction authors do a great disservice to themselves if they stay cooped up in their cozy reclusive shells, refusing to do media interviews with perfectly nice people who only want to help get the word out about their book.
However, knowing this and accepting this were two very different things to me, and I struggled to psych up for things like a 700 Club story and at least a dozen radio interviews. To this day, public speaking makes me anxious as a cat in a swimming pool, but once I get started, I slowly feel myself relax and fall into a comfortable rhythm. After a few minutes, I actually begin to have fun!
I know having a baby will be no bed of roses. In fact, it’ll probably be a bed of lots of poop, pee, and spit-up. But if I make up my mind to take things one step at a time, just as I do with every book project I work on, then I know I’ll make it through. I know that if I just keep showing up, doing my best, and giving my all even on the dreary, drained, and discouraging days, our son will be strong, healthy, and happy.
And most importantly, he’ll feel loved.
In my opinion, love is what this life is about. Loving our Creator, the giver of all good gifts (James 1:17). Loving the people in our lives. Loving what we do. Loving the beauty around and within us. Writing a book and carrying a baby are both teeming with daunting obstacles and difficult hurdles, but if we let it, love will carry us through.
I have this quote from Virgil tattooed on my bicep as a constant reminder:
Amor vincit omnia – love conquers all.
Whatever burden you’re carrying, whatever mountain you’re facing, whatever giant you’re fearing, remember that.