On tiny humans and big love

I was terrified when I found out I was going to have a baby. My Mexican heritage and traditional upbringing meant my mom stayed home with my brother and me, my dad worked 12-hour days and that was considered honorable. Women stayed home, men went to work.

My mother gave birth to me when she was 16. In order to avoid a similar outcome, my parents filled my life with anti-sex, anti-boyfriend, anti-prom, anti-any-situation-where-a-daughter-could-get-pregnant limitations. I graduated high school with honors in Bakersfield and eventually moved to Sacramento where I attended college to chase my journalism dream. All the while, I aimed to never live up to the stereotype ingrained by my parents.

But then there I was, 29 years old, and finding the courage to face the ultimate, life-changing “Yes, you’re definitely pregnant,” results from my over-the-counter pregnancy test. I felt scared. What would my family say? Would this let them down? Would I be viewed as less? A failure, even? Then, new waves of anxiety arose as I pondered the potential loss of friends and the nightlife I’d most certainly walk away from.

But, as I reread the test results and wrapped my brain around the possibilities of what being a mom to someone could be, an internal switch flipped. Instead of staying out until sunrise, I would keep track of my baby’s growth in my tummy with an app that would tell me when he was the size of a grapefruit or small pumpkin. Suddenly, I was reading every blog, website and book that I could about motherhood, pondering the best decisions.

One year, hundreds of diapers and dozens of Instagram snapshots of progress later, I have adjusted my life completely. I’ve lost some “friends,” but I ended up with stronger bonds. My partner and I choose our outings sparingly, and with that, the nights we do venture out to live music or a quiet dinner at a new restaurant feel more meaningful. I used to be very vocal about never wanting a child because I was living an empty party lifestyle. Now, the choices I make are night-and-day and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Will I instill the anti-sex, anti-girlfriend, or boyfriend, propaganda with my own child? No. Instead, we’ll have conversations and I plan to be open to his ideas. I don’t want my son to fear the results of a test, but embrace the responsibility and see what love and memories it will inspire.

After all the new life adjustments and weird food cravings, my son Elliot is now 1 year old. He is intelligent. He has my killer eyebrows. He smells flowers and says, “Ooo, good!” All of these attributes make being a new mom completely valuable. Sure, I’ve lost touch. I’ve missed events. But, I’ve gained so much more: a human being who likes kale and loves bananas, a tiny person who says “wee” when he goes down the slide at McClatchy Park and calls cats “meow meows.”

And, yes, sometimes it’s scary and hard and frustrating, but what new experience isn’t?