Sibelle’s Story Working into Motherhood
Sibelle’s Story Working into Motherhood
When I was a teenager, my mother had this huge fear of me getting pregnant. I was fourteen years old the first time my mom accused me of being pregnant. I was a “virgin” and still today I do not know why she came up [with] that. It was quite interesting to me that, even though she had the constant worry of me being sexually active and getting pregnant, she never took the initiative to teach me about sex and birth control herself. Two years later this fear was reinforced when a psychologist told her that there are “chains” repeated from generation to generation.
[On] my mom’s side of the family, my great-grandmother was pregnant during her teen years, my grandmother was pregnant [with] my mom at 17, my mother became pregnant [with] me at 18 during her senior year and I was next [in] line. My mother expected me to get pregnant, not with excitement, but with fear. She was so sure I was going to “ruin my life” and yet did nothing to teach me how to prevent it, instead she would accuse me of it and push me away. Her voice still rings in my head saying: “No me vayas a salir con tu domingo siete”. This disappointing expectation encouraged me to take initiative, I taught myself about birth control, sex and to listen to my body.
Growing up, sex had negative stigma, it was never talked about it. My mom’s fear of pregnancy and motherhood little by little started to make me feel like these experiences were the worst thing that happened to her, as if I were a burden to her because I prevented her [from] accomplish[ing] her dreams. She always show[ed] me that she loved me, that I was the best thing that had ever happened to her but her fear of me becoming a young mother told me something different. For this reason, pregnancy and motherhood became something I should not think of because I was too young, and yet something that I had always wish[ed] for. I always questioned myself, “How can something so beautiful be so bad?”. I understood the responsibility it takes to bring life into this world, but I could not understand how it can “ruin your life”.
Today I am 27 years old, weeks away from finishing two majors and a minor at SDSU. Now what I am repeatedly asked is “¿Para cuándo el bebé?”, it is weird to hear that. People expecting me to start my family. When did this happen? I still wonder when this changed [because] two years ago when I talked about planning my family, it still was a crazy idea for others. My mom and my grandmother would jump from their seats, offended, and tell me “Todavía no, estamos muy jóvenes”. This got me to think at the time: I am 25 years old; I am old enough to know what I want, and I do not want, being a mother should not depend on the age of other women but mine. I began to respond back with “Sorry but it is not on me that you guys are young (no offense), I am not 15 anymore. I am a woman accomplishing a lot. It is time for me to make my own decisions over my body and decide when I want my babies.”. A year later, I learned I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a metabolic syndrome that causes infertility. This took a turn for me.
Before I learned about my condition, there was something roaming in my mind. Women work so hard for their career and education. Some decide not to have a family and dedicate their life to their work, others decide to leave their work and dedicate their life to their kids and others dedicate their life to both. How do you find balance? Then, I told my significant other I wanted to start trying to conceive by the time I would be 32 years old. I took into consideration that by then I would be done with my master’s degree, have a stable job and with a decent home. I never thought that [the] first ultrasound would be to see how many cysts I had in both of my ovaries. This experience scared me so much, the thought of infertility always scared me in the past and now it was a possibility. This changed my perspective over when I wanted to become a mother, this also changed my mother’s perspective over me becoming a mother.
This diagnosis opened conversation with my mom, she could see my desire of becoming a mom and the possibility of struggling to become one. I began to take care of myself more, not only for my physical health but also for my mental and emotional health. For the first time, I was “allowed” to express my internal conflicts without being judged, somehow through my motherly instinct I was able to connect with my mom. “Mom, how do you find balance in the career that you love and the desire to have your family?”, I would ask her in tears, “When is the right time? Is it going to make me a bad mom for leaving my kids for work? Should I start trying now or wait until I am done with school?”. Many times, mi sabiduría did not have much value because I did not have kids, “Hasta que tengas hijos vas a saber”, even though I was academically educated my knowledge was not enough. However, this diagnosis sparked a new bond between my mom and I, she listened to me for the first time.
My mom comforts me; she would tell me to take one step at the time. She would tell me, “Mami, first take care of your body while you finish school, ya veras que todo saldrá bien.”, the look in her eyes while she cheers me to keep going with my new eating habits and my hard work at school. It is so weird to hear her say, “cuando tengas a tus babies…”, I am still getting used to hear[ing] her say this, it fills me with warmth and happiness. My mom finally acknowledged my adulthood, as I struggle to find the balance between my passion for my career and my desire to be a mother. She knows how [the] normative timeline has been hard for me, she would calm the storm I create in [my] head for being “behind everyone else”, she reminds [me] that I worked on myself first in order to be in the place that I am now.
Day by day, I am resolving this scholar/mother conflict and finding balance, my view is clearing, and I am grounding my mind. I am learning to be patient again, learning to trust my body, and to trust my knowledge. My mother, grandmother and I are learning from each other’s experiences in life, validating each other’s knowledge. For a long [time], I felt my mother and I could not understand each other. At my age, her life looked so different than mine, but we have learned to empathize and be compassionate with each other. I have learned through Professor Lara’s Women Studies class that there is a community and support to women who are or have been conflicted as me. It gives me peace and hope that there is this kind of support for young Latinxs who are in the same position as me.
The transition from “you better not get pregnant” to “your biological clock is ticking, when are you getting pregnant?” has been overwhelming. I hope readers who are going through a similar experience find comfort through these words. Let go of social and “normative” pressures or expectations, [do] not let others lead your way. Be comfortable with your body, be comfortable with your decisions. If you want to have a family it is okay to dream for it, if you do not want to have one, that is also perfectly fine too. Just remember to be true to yourself, seek support and [be] open about the things that worry you. You never know when and how you will find the answers that will help you to put your heart [at] ease. There is nothing wrong with putting one thing over the over, whether you chose to live motherhood first or after your career, both are possible. Be patient [with] those who do not understand your heart and mind, just make sure whatever you do is good for you and there is no harm made. For now, as I dream of motherhood, I will work for it through self-care and growing professionally. As long [as] I do not stop learning day to day, no time will be wasted because I know I am leading my way as I want to. Embrace every inch of you, and do not forget to inhale and exhale.