Celine on starting parenting alone: “I thought to myself, ‘How do other people do this with other people?’” Photograph by Joseph Pascual
Culture Spotlight

Motherhood by Myself: Dispatches from a pregnancy gone rogue

Celine Lopez had a different picture of herself pregnant: wearing silk jumpsuits, her skin glistening in belly oil. Instead, she wakes up with skin vampire pale and feeling like she’s had a drinking binge from the night prior  
Celine Lopez | Aug 18 2019

I didn’t plan my pregnancy to be like this.

I was supposed to be this amazing Wonder Woman that slayed during the day, wearing amazing silk jumpsuits that danced around the belly. I did it all: power breakfasts, power lunches, power meetings, power coffee breaks, power workouts and power walks. I envisioned a modern and glossy mom-to-be drowning in superfoods and belly oil.

Not.  This.

The past four months I’ve woken up to my truer self. I’m a lazy and exhausted mother-to-be who drools in her sleep while garbed in cotton pajamas. I’d wake up at 1pm already hating myself for missing half the day. It’s an absolute miracle if I could even run a brush through my hair without losing my breath. My skin is vampire pale. The only thing energetic about me is my appetite for carbs.

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I thought to myself, “How do other people do this with other people?” 

Empirically, relationships and I are frenemies. The most troublesome ones happened in my 30s. This age bracket carrying the most fragile of people can be an emotional circus. I loved dating in my 20s because it could mean everything and nothing at the same time. It was easy in and easy out. Dating in your 30s has added pressure. There’s talk about children, the future, careers, and health concerns. Everyone in this age bracket is already somewhat damaged by life.

Dating in your 30s has added pressure. There’s talk about children, the future, careers, and health concerns. Everyone in this age bracket is already somewhat damaged by life.

I’m in a permanent state where even just brushing my teeth can become an existential crisis—“Do I really have to? It’s going to fall off anyway. I’m gonna die anyway.” I barely have time to answer the questions in my head, much less accommodate another human with separate needs into the fray.  

I realized this early on during my first trimester. My pregnancy has gone rogue. With the silk jumpsuits gathering dust in my cabinet, my first three months were epic in another way. Each day I woke up to the most potent hangover, as if I had been  drinking the night before. It was that or the alternating feeling of having food poisoning. Just the sight of a flight of stairs echoed the pains of Everest. Friends and mommy friends comforted me by saying this was just temporary. Once the second trimester hits, I’ll be a ball of energy. I summoned the days to move faster so I could be my silken jumpsuited future self.

“I guess all this alone time is in preparation for my son’s arrival.” Photo from Freepik

Second trimester hit and indeed the haunting of my first trimester body had ceased. I could walk. Visits to the ceramic god were less frequent. And I could brush my teeth and hair without losing my breath. My nausea came in surfer waves instead: Big and strong followed by an ebb and calm.

I’ve become a steadfast solitary human being.

I started cancelling on dinners or meetings with other people. I was too dizzy to feel guilty. I eventually weeded out people who gave me shit for feeling sick. Weeks stretched out with me being alone with my dogs. I ate at odd hours because I could and watched bad TV because no one else was getting hurt. The nausea gave way to something more powerful: self-love.

In the past I was in love with being in love. I moved mountains for my relationships and sometimes gave more than I should. I exhausted myself so much so that I would abruptly end it leaving my beau scratching his head, wondering what just happened. I was not very good in being in a relationship. I fell hard, loved hard, and left. This pathological behavior left very little to the health of my relationship with myself.

I ate at odd hours because I could and watched bad TV because no one else was getting hurt. The nausea gave way to something more powerful: self-love.

When I fell pregnant I suddenly put myself as a priority. I had no choice. I only had myself. It also meant the end of dating anyone for now. I made a simple rule: If I feel like crap the world will cease to exist. No dragging my feet to a dinner I don’t want to be in. I listened to my body and fed it. I  suddenly enjoyed my binge-watching sessions immersing on vintage Kardashian episodes. I re-read my favorite books in bed with my toes buried under one of my dogs. I moisturized my skin with butters and oils twice a day. I learned to take everything slow.

I guess all this alone time is in preparation for my son’s arrival. After that I’ll never truly have alone time. My life will cease to be mine. I’m forever going to have to answer to him. That’s a given.

The secret relief I felt being alone with my nausea and exhaustion came as a surprise. When I decided to go about motherhood by myself it wasn’t because I have given up on love. I simply prioritized having a child and respecting my body. To feel strong to do it alone is amazing. To feel relieved was unexpected.

Having my son has taught me many things. The lesson on loving myself while carrying him is just one of his many gifts. I was so busy preparing for the worst things doing it alone, I got blindsided by the unexpected rewards along the way.

 

Celine's photograph by Joseph Pascual

Makeup and hair by Jinx Aggabao