I thought the hardest thing I would ever have to do in my early 20s was to graduate college. My world was rocked when I found out in April 2021 that I was pregnant. I struggled so much throughout my pregnancy and almost gave up. I struggled with elevated anxiety and depression. No matter how hard I tried or who I reached out to, nothing seemed to help. I was struggling not only mentally, but also physically.
I had a whole unborn baby that I was having to worry about. I thought about how everything I did affect him. When I cried, when I felt anxious, when I felt depressed, I wondered how it made him feel. I finally got to my breaking point, and then my partner consoled me and told me I could do anything I set my mind to, and I did.
I finished college and thankfully didn’t go into labor while I did it! I was able to have a two-week break of finally enjoying being pregnant and feel love for my unborn baby that I had never felt. On December 27, 2021, I went for a medical induction because of preexisting health conditions. I didn’t sleep for three days before that day and especially the night before. I was feeling all of these overwhelming emotions about what kind of parent I might be.
I went through 18 hours of intense labor, which was the absolute worst pain I have ever experienced. For me, it was all worth it. At 11:42 p.m., Maverick Cade Byrd was born. The moment I heard my sweet boy’s first cry, I was overjoyed. When I held him for the first time, all I did was cry, but at the same time, I didn’t know if I was crying for him or because of the relief I felt to finally not be pregnant anymore.
From the beginning, I never truly felt like he was mine. I just wanted to sleep and to be myself again. When we brought him home it was even worse. I felt like I was failing as a parent because I didn’t connect with him from the beginning. That all started to change when I had to leave him for the first time.
Two days after we brought him home from the hospital, I had to go to the emergency room for chest pains. Having a history of blood clots, I was afraid that the worst was going to happen. Immediately when I left him with my partner and went to the ER with my mom, I cried. I missed him. I missed the baby I thought I didn’t connect with. However, even though I had that feeling, I still struggled hard with postpartum depression and anxiety in silence.
To others, I was gleaming, but on the inside, I was always thinking of the worst scenario. Will my baby just stop breathing? Will I ever be the parent I thought I was supposed to be? I didn’t get to enjoy his first month of life because I was so scared and depressed.
I just wanted to go back to the time before I was pregnant and be that person again. One night, I was sitting alone in the living room, sleep-deprived, holding Maverick in my arms, and I just looked down at him. I told him that I loved him and nothing would ever change that. I wanted to be a good mom and give him the best life. He smiled; this was the first time I had ever seen him smile.
At that moment, I knew all the pain, depression, anxiety and tragic thoughts that I had during my pregnancy didn’t affect him as I thought they did. He was everything I needed and more. I realized that having him doesn’t take away the life I used to have, but he makes it better.
This isn’t the case for everyone, though. Not everyone wants to be a parent, and that’s okay. I chose to become a parent and to have my baby, but it’s okay if someone else doesn’t have those same feelings.
Being pregnant and having a baby showed me a different side of life that not everyone wants to experience. Our society has molded us to believe the ultimate goal in life is to get married and have babies, but that just isn’t always the case. Becoming a parent made me appreciate the little things in life I never thought about.
Maverick is now three months old, and we have had our struggles here and there, but I would never take life for granted anymore. I get to see him enjoy things I didn’t as a kid and see him explore what life has to offer. He is worth everything that I ever experienced, and I would do it all over to just be able to hold him for the first time again.