Waiting on a Train: A Love Story, by Tristian LaFollette

I’m always honored when first-time mom friends ask for my advice. I’m a big fan of being open about my life because I want others to know they aren’t alone. This is always my go-to speech:

I never believed in love at first sight.

When the doctor told me I was pregnant, I cried. Sensing these were not tears of joy, he placed a reassuring hand on my knee and said, “I was a surprise baby. My mother cried when she found out. Look at me now though; I’m a doctor, and my parents are very proud of me.”

I waited seven long months to buy anything for my unborn baby. People gave me items that I piled up in an unused room until I had the energy to do something about it.

The first thing I actually bought for the baby was a tiny cat hat that lived on the gearshift of my car. I used to sit and think about how someone once told me there was only a 25% chance that any pregnancy would result in a healthy, living child. Sometimes I would lay in bed and wonder what portion of the statistic we would end up in.

Part of me wanted to stay pregnant forever because I was terrified of being responsible for another person. Everyone kept telling me that I would feel differently when he was born, that it would be love at first sight.

It was not.

I felt like the worst person in the world.

Our first night home together, I looked at his tiny, screaming face and wondered what the hell I was supposed to do with him. In that instant, he stopped crying and looked at me with what I truly felt was the same thought about me. “What the hell am I supposed to do with her?”

I would have died for him. I fed, bathed, and clothed him. I tried to soothe him when he cried, but I was worried he could sense my uncertainty. We existed in the same world day in and day out together, and I thought that was what motherhood was.

I resigned myself to a life lived in service of someone else.

I felt this way until one day when he was about five weeks old. I got out of the car and opened the backseat door to get him out, and he unexpectedly smiled at me. I carefully shut the door, then reopened it. The smile returned the moment his wandering eyes caught my face.

That’s when it hit me.

It might not have been love at first sight, but it was that hit-by-a-train love that changes your life forever.

I had convinced myself that I was broken, or a bad mother, because I didn’t feel the way everyone told me I would. I’ve got three kids now, and when my friends ask me for parenting advice, the first thing I tell them is that it’s absolutely okay to be disappointed when things aren’t the way you had hoped they would be. It doesn’t make you a bad person (or mom). I’ve made it my mission to try and normalize those awkward feelings people don’t talk about.

One pregnant friend at a time.

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