You have the same number of hours in a day as Beyonce. I can’t quite pinpoint when that
graphic t-shirt water bottle mug first appeared, but it’s been enjoying a resurgence in popularity as of late. And there’s already been much said about how it’s complete gospel or total garbage. But what we really need to remember is that it doesn’t even matter. Because we don’t have to be Beyonce or anyone else.
I have much love for Queen Bey. She’s a fierce businesswoman with a bananas bank account, and she has more talent in her pinky toe than I do in every fiber of my being. But just because I appreciate her doesn’t mean I have to hold myself to the same standard. Or that I even should.
I know that now, but I didn’t always.
In fact, it was right when my
morning all-day sickness kicked into high gear that I came face to face with the reminder on Instagram that she and I share the same 24 hours. And how apropos with that coming on the heels of her announcing her pregnancy. We were practically the same person now, weren’t we?
Except when I read that tweet, I was laying on the tile in our bathroom floor with a cold rag on my face trying to calm the burst blood vessels under my eyes. As much as I wanted to just crawl under the covers for the next seven months, I had things to do. So I told myself to suck it up because that’s what the world says we should do.
So I teetered along for a while. I hid plastic bags all over my classroom. I kept a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a change of clothes in my desk. And I went on with my life like everything was fine. Because that’s what I was supposed to do.
I made every deadline. I prepped for every tutoring session. I aced my grad classes. I never took a single day off work. And I still felt awful. The nights got so bad that I tried going to sleep earlier and earlier. But I couldn’t shake how I felt.
It wasn’t just a physical thing anymore. It was an emotional thing. I started reminding myself of my favorite books and podcasts. I would leave notes to myself about happiness being a choice. I was determined to be like Beyonce. Because that’s what I was supposed to do.
I battled my way through all the red tape of requesting a maternity leave. I encountered everything from unreturned emails to reminders that “You actually don’t have to take any time off work” and “Some women just start working again right away”. I hit a financial bottom when I realized that we actually couldn’t live off my husband’s income. And the most common advice I was given on Twitter was to earn more or spend less. So I did what any good blogger does. I side hustled even harder. I picked up more tutoring gigs. I sold more of my stuff.
I knew that pushing myself was making me sicker. I knew that every hour of sleep that I traded for 10 or 20 or even 40 dollars was going to make the next day that much harder. But I did it anyway. Because that’s what I was supposed to do.
It was sometime between learning of a friend’s chemical pregnancy and realizing that my freelancing work was coming to an end that I bottomed out. My husband knew, but as far as anyone else was concerned at work and on Twitter, I was fine. A little queasy. But fine.
At my twelve-week doctor visit, they had me fill out a questionnaire about my pregnancy. I was prepared to scrawl “I’m Grrreeat” in my best Tony the Tiger cereal box impersonation. But my husband snatched the clipboard out of my hands and told me I had two choices. I could either answer honestly, or he would fill it out for me.
It turns out, I didn’t need to. The nurse didn’t even get the blood pressure cuff on my arm before the first sob snuck out. By the time I told her that a friend just had her first ultrasound and they couldn’t find any sign of a baby, the nurse had me wrapped in one of the best hugs of my life.
I needed that hug. And I needed the follow-up phone calls. I needed to know that there was a really kind woman who specialized in perinatal depression that would listen to me if I ever needed to talk. I needed to know that it’s fine to not be able to keep going all the time.
It’s fine to sit down and catch your breath.
It’s fine to not be Beyonce.
I know that now, but I didn’t always.
I thought that admitting any of this in a post meant that I was weak. I thought that asking for help or not having all the answers meant I failed motherhood before it even began. I thought that the only way to be successful was to never need help. After all, when we talk about everything Beyonce gets done in 24 hours, we don’t mention anyone who supports her.
Since I’ve realized just how wrong I was–and just how irrelevant Beyonce is to my situation–I’ve never felt better. The physical symptoms are still here, but I’m so much happier and healthier. I’m starting to truly feel like myself again. And it turns out, that’s the only person I was ever meant to be.
In keeping with the spirit of this post, I’m taking a breather for the rest of this week. I’ll be back to blogging with fresh content on Monday. In the meantime, check out the comments section to see some amazing insight from some really, really smart cookies. You all are the best!