It’s okay to not be okay

I was listening to podcasts on my way into work this morning, and came across a recent interview on the Tubridy show on 2fm which caught my interest. Normally I don’t get much of a chance to listen to Ryan Tubridy but I do tend to enjoy the interviews on there so try to catch the podcasts regularly enough. This interview was with Maia Dunphy, tv presenter and producer who recently caused a media frenzy by announcing her pregnancy on Twitter with a photoshopped ultrasound image. As expected, the interview was predominantly made up of excited flurry (mostly on the part of Tubridy) regarding babies, and could have been written off as just one of those “new mum to be” interviews until Maia stated that she had “gotten her head around it now”.

She admitted that at first she wasn’t sure. To me, this was fantastic – not that she would feel that way, but that she felt able to admit it, on air, to the listening public. Since it’s not exactly the done thing.

It’s not the done thing to admit that upon peeing on that plastic stick and seeing it turn blue that the first emotion you feel isn’t delight. Or that it may have taken a few weeks for the news to sink in, particularly if, in her case as she said, she “wasn’t exactly pregnant at 21”. When you’re an adult, in a committed relationship, who has your life together and a good career, it seems to be expected of you to be thrilled straight away at the idea of bringing new life into the world. Nobody quite allows for the fact that initially it may be panic, distress, worry.

At the very beginning, I was Maia. Despite being in a good job, living on my own, a committed relationship and having a degree under my belt, I didn’t exactly exit the bathroom in a chorus of “Oh what a beautiful morning” to regale my partner with the news. I was panicked, worried, and very confused about my options. This wasn’t something I’d signed up for, it wasn’t in the plan right then. Unlike her, I was indeed “pregnant at 21”, but I honestly don’t think age plays a role in it; for all intents and purposes, life-wise I had my shit together and this was still a rocket plummeting towards me that I wasn’t prepared for, there was no prepared plan, and I was utterly stuck. I was worried about what my partner would think, what my parents would think, my friends, my co-workers. I had never so much as changed a nappy, my sum total of experience with babies was holding them until they started crying and I got to hand them back, and even that was in short supply. Kids I could do, but babies were an all new ball game. And I was a lady who liked her space and her sleep, two things which I’ve learned since kids have not much room for in their agenda.

Telling my parents felt like I was sixteen and coming home pregnant, there was a layer of panic about their reaction (stupidly, since both of them were thrilled once they knew I was okay with it). And I was okay with it. Mostly. By that stage, I’d already had a scan, with a tiny blur that if I squinted and held my head at odd angles still didn’t resemble a baby to me, but according to the sonographer was a baby shaped blur. Seeing the heartbeat at nine weeks had an impact though, that tiny indistinguishable squiggle became less of a grenade about to implode and shatter my life as I knew it, and became something to be excited about. I started to bond with it, despite not being able to physically feel any kicks, I felt this baby in me and it was something to feel good about. I started to get it, even if I was a bit behind the times.  That’s not to say it was the last wobble, that whole exit policy which seemed to involve pain and gore wasn’t sitting so well with me, and the incarceration in the Maternity Hospital had its own difficulties but for the most part, I was excited to meet my little person, excited to begin this new life.

We have to be allowed to admit we’re scared, it makes us human. We seem to intrinsically as Irish people have this attitude of “put up and shut up”, of internalizing the panic, of pretending everything is okay and putting a smile on while internally screaming “How did I get here?”. During my pregnancy when I had those thoughts the next thought that popped into my head was critical of those thoughts, I worried that I wouldn’t love my baby enough, that this made me a bad mother, that a proper mother should be, would be, more excited. I was wrong. My son was born ten months ago and I can honestly say that I have never known such a strong love in my life as what I feel for him, and such a level of protectiveness which I didn’t realize was possible. Not saying all of my worries were unfounded, some of those nappies and sleepless nights are the things of Alfred Hitchcock movies, but everything is okay. The world didn’t implode, it just expanded and changed in a way that is mostly positive. But right then, in that moment, as much as I needed to be told it was going to be okay, and I was going to be fine (which I was), I also needed to be told that it was okay to be freaking out, that it was okay to worry this wasn’t what was planned or what I wanted at that particular time.

We need it to be okay to not be okay. Pregnancy is a hormonal journey enough without bringing that level of guilt about the internal panic into it. So for her honesty in interview, I’m thankful that it can become a new normal.




  1. Great post, I was 21 too and terrified, I was just as scared on my second at 23! If it happened now at nearly 29 I wouldn’t know what to think honestly there’s so many other things to take into consideration now with the 2 girls. Good to know not everyone is instantly over the moon, I think it’s normal xx

    1. Glad to see you’re one of us 😛 it’s the great taboo, just remains unsaid as you nod and smile and say everything’s great and people say how lucky you are! Having lived through it I have a feeling I would be more scared on the second one – the memory of newborn days is still fresh!!

  2. Such a great, honest post. It wasn’t my own experience but I think there’s a huge amount of women out there who have had those feelings, way more than people think. You’re right, it’s so important to talk about it so that women don’t feel alone. Thank you for sharing.

  3. What a great post Lisa! I think you’re right. No one ever talks about this – but they should. I really like your line “We need it to be okay not to be okay.” That goes for so much of parenting.

  4. Great post Lisa! It’s as if you were in my head too when I found out I was expecting Luke. I wasn’t comfortable with my whole pregnancy, its not something I enjoyed and honestly I don’t think I’ll be in a position where I could ‘plan’ to do it again, I’m very comfortable with having a one child family. It needs to be normalised to speak about these feelings as much as it is to speak about the positive feelings that come with pregnancy. I remember relaying these feelings to my mother but to nobody else because of their reaction but I have no problem talking about it now.

    1. Thanks for reading! I think the attitude of “how lucky you are” is a hard one to reckon with when you’re not comfortable with the idea. Definitely something nobody talks about out loud though!

  5. Yes to all of this!I freaked out when I discovered I was pregnant and felt like a teenager letting my parents know-I was 29 at the time!!They say that’s the reason we ‘re pregnant for 9 months-to give your brain time to process the magnitude of what two blue lines on a stick actually signifies!

    1. Glad I wasn’t the only one feeling like a teenager! The whole of the nine months is definitely necessary, I imagine for those people who don’t realise until the last minute that its an absolute mindfuck to get your head around! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  6. It’s amazing how many taboos still surround pregnancy and birth. Even when it’s planned and very wanted it’s still scary!

    1. Definitely! And the things that can scare you are the things you feel most odd asking a professional about! Hopefully this will change in future! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  7. Really good post. I totally agree that people sometimes seem to gloss over the struggles of parenting (but parents themselves and broadcasters). In a way, it’s similar to mental health. You’re asked ‘How are you?’ and the expected answer is ‘Grand’. If someone answers, ‘I’m not doing so great’ it comes as a total shock and it can be difficult to respond. Maia handled herself so well in that interview, and it took courage to break the taboo and admit that it takes a lot of adjustment and getting used to! x

  8. Thank you for being so honest about your experiences as a mother. We live in a world where everything is manipulated to appear as a perfect dream when the reality is far different. I applaud your representation of the real world!

    1. Thank you – I just hit a point where I needed to be honest about how it was going because if I wasn’t my entire life was becoming a facade. It’s a relief to let it out!

  9. Lovely post! Yes I so agree, of course it is okay not to be okay sometimes but people tend to worry so much what others think they don’t admit how they are really feeling. I also had my daughter at 21. All under very different circumstances, yes I was overjoyed but also was scared and nervous. But I managed to sweep that all away and tried to enjoy the whole journey in a positive way rather then letting the worry get to me. x

  10. great post and very honest. I think we are sometimes told how we should be feeling as if it is all perfect like in the movies. Unfortunately thats not always the case

  11. Lvoely post Lisa – ha ha I was the same telling my parents the first time I was pregnant as it was a bit of a surprise! It is a crazy journey, I sometimes wonder about my own mind for hte first few months after my first but thankfully I survived to tell the tale!

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