October marks two months since the birth of my daughter. October also marks one full year since I got sober and embarked on the road to motherhood.
This same time last year, I had spent the better part of a decade drinking wine on my couch every night after school or work and on the weekends, watching mindless YouTube videos, and listening to the same songs on loop while feeling increasingly angry and depressed, an overall sense of purposelessness creeping in with each glass.
My husband and I had maintained a childfree attitude for the majority of our relationship, which influenced my everyday drinking decisions. Being responsible for no one except myself, I felt no shame over my 10pm trips to the liquor store and prided myself on being able to keep up with the guys in the room when out at pubs and parties – or so I liked to tell myself.
I prided myself on being able to keep up with the guys at pubs and parties – or so I liked to tell myself.
“Keeping up with the guys,” however, was actually me not being able to stop after a glass or two, and after countless incidents of drunkenly forgetting my purse at the bar, losing my phone, and several embarrassing exchanges that still cause me to cringe, I was forced, at the very least, to acknowledge that my behavior when drinking was neither normal nor classy.
The Office Wino
By my late 20s, I was working a 9-to-5 office job, and without giving too much away, spent every Monday through Friday finalizing documents for a multinational firm. The work was monotonous, with each report only serving to take time away from more fruitful and creative undertakings — hours I could otherwise have spent carving out a semblance of meaning for myself. The praises I received from coworkers and management for the “fantastic deliverables” I regularly produced rang hollow, particularly given the robotic ease with which I completed tasks forwarded to me.
My nightly rendezvous with the bottle was now as mundane as my work.
Nearly 10 years since I began drinking, my nightly rendezvous with the bottle was now as mundane as my work, yet I still turned to it in my attempt at escaping the monotony of the daily office grind.
A Sober Glimpse into the Future
At this point, I was 28 with two university degrees, a rescue cat, 35K in student loans nearly paid off, and had taken my first trip outside North America the year before. It was on this trip abroad that I was first able to experience a taste of the life I would soon find myself pining after; staying with our good friends and their then one-year-old, I witnessed the profound and unconditional love our friends possessed for their daughter, and for the first time since starting my undergrad, I was wholly content to spend every day enjoying conversation, sightseeing, and sharing meals free from the presence of alcohol.
My body felt clean, and my heart felt pure.
Life Between Glasses
When initially back from our trip, I maintained these alcohol-free evenings for a week or so, but eventually, the daily glasses of wine crept back into my nightly routine.
Around this time, my YouTube viewing habits shifted towards pregnancy and labor, fertility, and family-focused content, and I began to seriously question my own maternal timeline as a woman nearing her 30s in the next year.
Was I infertile and just didn’t know it? If I were to get pregnant, how many cycles would it take? Would I plan for a hospital or a home birth? I would stare at my side profile in the bathroom mirror every day at work, imagining what I would look like pregnant.
I would stare at my side profile in the mirror every day, imagining what I would look like pregnant.
During this newfound fixation on reproduction and trying to conceive, I learned about the Fertility Awareness Method, and despite not having yet told my husband about wanting to start trying to get pregnant, downloaded a period tracking app and began logging my menstrual cycles and daily observations.
Setting Down the Glass for Good
My daily commutes also became fully consumed by motherhood and birth story podcasts and videos, and even though I was still drinking every night for most of 2019, the wine only amplified the heaviness I felt in my heart – a nightly reminder of the missing piece to mine and my husband’s lives that would never be found at the bottom of a green glass bottle.
If motherhood was consuming all of my thoughts, what was I achieving drinking wine every night?
While watching a video about pregnancy and nutrition one evening with a glass of wine in hand, my eyes welled up with tears and I cried silently to myself. If embarking on the road to motherhood was consuming all of my thoughts, what was I achieving drinking wine every night? That night marked the last time I would drink before trying to conceive, and two months later I learned I was pregnant.
Now one month postpartum, I’m humbled every day when staring into my daughter’s eyes, watching her tiny chest rise and fall with each breath as she sleeps in my arms and her crooked newborn smile as she nurses at my breast. Not only did pregnancy and labor physically change me, but the decision to replace alcohol with motherhood has also gifted my soul with pureness in the purest sense — a purpose greater than myself.
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