"How To Love A Child You Didn't Plan To Have": Young Mother Splits Social Media With Her Controversial Experience
November 15, 2018 16:44 By Fabiosa
Not all children are planned. Many young women face their pregnancy completely unprepared for the reality of their situation. According to The Shriver Report, 50% of pregnancies in the US are unplanned, and 43% end in abortion.
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But not all mothers are ready to disrupt their pregnancy, especially if they're living with a committed partner. However, even when you're in a supportive relationship, how do you accept the child you weren't planning to have, and, most importantly, learn how to love it?
Unprepared mother shares her story
Olivyah Bowens was 21 when she found out about her first pregnancy. At the time, she was with her boyfriend of 10 years, Toddrick, and although the couple always talked about wanting to have children, this wasn't the right time for them. Olivyah was a college student and not ready to sacrifice her ambitions to raise a child.
DAY TWO: #motherhoodnofilter My body doesn’t belong to me any more. Those were the words echoing in my head as I cringed in pain while breastfeeding. The act of birthing my baby (naturally) made me feel incredibly strong, but just days later my confidence was shot. Dark and deflated belly Bags under my eyes Engorged breasts The person looking back at me in the mirror was one I had never met before. The combination of feeling just plain ugly and breastfeeding on demand made me feel sexually void. I didn’t want to be touched let alone looked at without baggy clothes to disguise my “mom bod”. Although my snapback was fairly fast I was still holding the uncomfortable angst of not feeling sexy anymore. It was more than just my figure that was impacting my perception it was the act of feeding my child. Suddenly, my breasts went from being a place of sensuality to place of discomfort and awkwardness. I didn’t know how to relate to my breasts in a way that wasn’t sexual and so I hit the extreme opposite, cold. Navigating the nurturing feelings of motherhood and the familiar emotions of romance was weird in this new body. No one had prepared me for this. … The insult to injury was my lack of breastfeeding education. I went for weeks not knowing what a deep latch was and because of that I was in constant PAIN. I also was being encouraged to pump so other people could feed the baby but I ended up in a mad cycle of being engorged EVERY SINGLE DAY for weeks, because I was demanding my body to over produce milk. Looking back, I can only wonder why my midwife had not prepared me for this. Thankfully, I found some youtube videos that helped me tremendously. … After having another baby, becoming a doula and doing some DEEP personal work I’ve been successfully breastfeeding for nine months and enjoying it! It took time to get to know this new womban, it took time to heal. ... MANTRA: I AM DIVINE I HARNESS THE POWER TO CREATE I AM SACRED MEDITATION: What has hindered you from feeling womanly/feminine? Has childbearing impacted your sensual energy? Look back at what pain or fear is resting in your woman. Take time to process why it is there and what needs to happen to release
Despite her fears, Bowens decided to keep the baby and shortly after gave birth to beautiful baby girl Ozara.
DAY ONE: MOTHERHOOD NO FILTER CHALLENGE. Having a child tests your sense of security. Are you financially secure? Are you secure in your identity? Do you feel safe? For many of us, those nine months are spent scrambling to figure out how we will take care of this new baby. Instead of having the space to enjoy the subtle energy that is cultivating within our womb we are bogged down with fear and worry of not being ready. Weather this stress comes from financial lack or a total threat to our identity it puts us in a place of survival mode. Every time we stress about how we will move into this new space of mothering we trigger our body to go into fight or flight mode. Once the body has received the message that danger is near, even if the danger is intangible, it is almost impossible to move into our heart space and feel joy about our new child. Once this cycle of trepidation and angst carries on month after month, we enter into the arena of birth biochemically more prepared for depression then we are elation over our child. … I know it sounds harsh. But our bodies don’t care about cultural taboo. Our bodies don’t react to us wanting to be happy, they react to what we are actually thinking and feeling. If the weight of fear, trepidation, and stress daily outweighs peace then we create a body that releases more chemicals of stress than chemicals of joy. More adrenaline and cortisol then dopamine and serotonin. … The very energetic space that prompts us to procreate is the same place that is so easily triggered when we become pregnant. 🔴The Root Chakra🔴The place that deals with feeling safe and secure. When we are stuck in the space of not having continuous inner-peace we forget what makes us happy, we forget that we can give ourselves permission to be happy. … Children need unconditional love that comes from a place of selflessness, but when we are living by the emotions of fight or flight our mind is wired to conserve all energy for survival making it that much harder to limitlessly give to our baby. … Make space to release the thoughts that are causing stress, and make room for emotions that bring peace and abundance. … MANTRA:. I AM SAFE. I AM PROVIDED F
After dealing with her complicated feelings about unplanned motherhood and welcoming her second daughter with Toddrick, Olivyah wanted to share her experience, hoping it could help another young woman in a similar situation. Bowens posted her thoughts on her personal Instagram account, starting with the beginning of her journey:
No one teaches you how to love a child you didn't plan to have. No one shows you how to traverse the emotional complexity of loving a child you weren't happy about being pregnant with. It's even more difficult at those times when they're having tantrums and pushing you to a point of emotional exhaustion.
Lately i haven't been responding to comments under my posts. I've been slow to reply to emails. I've been avoiding my DMs. I've been asking myself why have I cut so much work out for myself? Why am I so passionate about breaking myths and spreading truth? Why can't I just chill out... As I move through these shifts I realize that spreading myself too thin is of service to no one. So if I don't respond to your comment, DM, or email in a timely manner it's because I've been taking a serious look at my level of self-care. If I can't take care of me I can't take care of my seeds. I don't ever want to look back and think, I should have been more present with my children then worried about my social media presence. ... I'm not quitting. I'm not giving up. But I am reprioritizing. If you have a urgent message send an email. Otherwise, I'll be taking a step back from responding immediately. Also, be on the look out for videos that answer your questions. I'll be using the questions that people DM me as inspiration for YouTube videos. ... Happy eclipse🌙 stay growing.
Through ups and downs, Olivyah dealt with her role as a mother. But she had no idea she would learn a new truth about herself through this experience. Bowens revealed it's hard on her to this day, but she appreciates the lessons her little girl taught her:
The reality is I don't want to be a mother everyday. I don't want to feel held back from chasing my dreams and goals. I don't want to be exhausted. But I KNOW this little girl has brought me face to face with things that would have otherwise been ignored in my bubble of childless freedom.
Bowens finished her story with a message to women facing unexpected pregnancy and offered them words of solace and inspiration:
Dear mama, who is going through an unplanned pregnancy, don't feel guilty, don't feel afraid, don't feel ashamed. That baby chose YOU to be it's mothers at the perfect time. Surrender to the journey of unpredictability and let this new being show you a whole new part of yourself you didn't know was there. 🦋
No one teaches you how to love a child you didn't plan to have. No one shows you how to traverse the emotional complexity of loving a child you weren't happy about being pregnant with. It's even more difficult at those times when they're having tantrums and pushing you to a point of emotional exhaustion. ... It's confusing. When the same people who told you that you pretty much ruined your life are smiling ear to ear at your baby shower a few months later. It's hard.. Looking at a beautiful baby and being bogged down by the thoughts of how you will take care of them and how much life will change. It's so easy.. To project the pain of your wounded inner child onto your baby. It is the lethal cycle of undealth with trauma. ... This stage of motherhood has forced me to look at my reflection in my daughter's eyes and realize that no I don't enjoy being a mother all the time, but this child has been the catalyst for major growth. She is the mirror that allows me to look into my past and see the fears still controlling me now. ... When we heal our deepest pains we are speaking to our ancestors across the space time illusion and holding a cross-generational conversation within our dna that heals old wounds and rectifies long lost problems. Motherhood hasn't just healed me it's healed the mother's that came before me. ... The reality is I don't want to be a mother everyday. I don't want to feel held back from chasing my dreams and goals. I don't want to be exhausted. But I KNOW this little girl has brought me face to face with things that would have otherwise been ignored in my bubble of childless freedom. ... Dear mama, who is going through an unplanned pregnancy, don't feel guilty, don't feel afraid, don't feel ashamed. That baby chose YOU to be it's mothers at the perfect time. Surrender to the journey of unpredictability and let this new being show you a whole new part of yourself you didn't know was there. 🦋#takebackpostpartum #thefourthtrimester #motherhoodunplugged #birthofamama #blackmomsblog #milenialmom
It came as a surprise to Olivyah when her post went viral. The response to her story overwhelmed the young mother, but, as she told PEOPLE, she wanted to help others by sharing her experience, so her goal was somewhat achieved:
I really thought, ‘Maybe this will help somebody’. I didn’t know what I was going through back when I had my first child. I didn’t know how to express it. So, I thought maybe there’s another mother who is experiencing this and she doesn’t know what it is.
Unfortunately, not all feedback was positive. Many people criticized Olivyah for unwillingly becoming a mother, as it can hurt her child in the future. Some mistook her for a single mother, despite Olivyah and Toddrick raising their two girls together. But Bowens stands by her words:
I was not expecting the amount of negative comments, … It wasn’t shocking because of what I said. It’s my truth.
At the end of the day, Olivyah accepts negativity and hopes there are people who can benefit from her experience:
I’m glad I went against my fear and posted it. I’ve learned that a message is gonna reach exactly who it needs to reach. When you’re putting something out on the Internet, everybody may not love it, or understand it. But even if it reaches one or two people, that’s still important. It’s helping those people.
Just wanted to say thank you for all of your PATIENCE 🙏🏾 I've stepped back to move forward in a better way. I'm always so flattered by how many women come to me with questions regarding their pregnancy, birth and babies. I'm honored. But I'm also human and need breaks to recalibrate. I'll be going thru DMs today. I plan to answer them every Friday so I don't get so behind. Enjoy your day✌🏽🌙
What people said
Here are some comments left by social media users on Bowens' post, both negative and positive:
Despite Olivyah's initial complicated feelings, we admire her for battling her doubts and stepping up to learn how to be a good mother to her daughter. We all know parenthood is hard, so is it worth it, criticizing people who try their hardest?