“College-birth”

I feel like I have given birth.

Not to a newborn baby but to a college-bound senior.

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This whole college thing is finally over.  For those who endured the full waiting period, it has been a 9 month slog from August to April.  It occurred to me that there are many similarities to be drawn between pregnancy and that expectant time waiting for college acceptance.

I remember the pregnancy bible that was dog-eared, highlighted, underlined, and adhered to back when Katie was in my womb:

What to Expect When Expecting

Well, I’d like to present the late childhood sequel:

What to Expect Before Accepting

During the first trimester of pregnancy, you are told to expect frequent nausea, growing discomfort, occasional bloating, annoying constipation, and overall exhaustion.  In addition, you learn that this is the period during which the pregnancy is most vulnerable.  All of these physical and mental changes occur during the first three months of the college process.  I challenge anyone not to feel either bloated or constipated after one week on the road touring college campuses.  Stomachs churn after endless hours of inactivity in the car gorging on fast food or the pizza, subs, and smoothies that dominate every restaurant in a college town.  Enduring a three hour standardized test, not once but likely several times, is indeed nauseating.  Exhaustion and acute stress accumulate as students aim to write, review, and endlessly edit the perfect heartfelt essay which will be at once distinguishable and desirable.  This is the time when you feel most vulnerable, trying to juggle the essays, applications, recommendations, grades, and test scores and fearful that the whole enterprise will come undone.

During the second trimester of pregnancy, you are told to expect high energy as the hormones and prenatal vitamins flood the system.  There is a sense of joyful relief as the baby is now firmly rooted and the tenuous first trimester is complete.  You “glow” as you caress the adorable baby bump that holds your future. Likewise, once the applications are sent, there is a tremendous sense of relief followed by a surge of energy as you realize the worst is behind you.   There is nothing to do now but bask in the fact that you never have to take the SAT again. There is the afterglow of accomplishment still tempered by uncertainty and anticipation.  All you can do is wait.

During the last trimester of pregnancy you begin to feel weighed down literally and figuratively.  You are swollen and uncomfortable most of the time.  You find it hard to sleep.  You get kicked in the gut a lot!  You experience the frazzled mental state known as “baby brain”, leaving your disoriented and forgetful.  You are at once excited and terrified of the change that is coming with the arrival of the baby.  Exactly the same thing happens during the last harrowing months of the college process.  You are weighed down by the anxiety leading up to the decision, and you are sick of waiting.  “I want to know already!”  The mental toll of the long slog begins to slow you down, affecting your sleep and overall attitude.  You are weary in every sense of the word.  You feel muddled and fretful as you second-guess yourself.  “Did I do absolutely everything I could?” As decisions start to trickle in, the Denials feel like a kick in the gut.  You are excited and hopeful but also nervous and scared of the outcome.   You have pushed and pushed and pushed yourself to get this far…

And then, the miracle happens.  Acceptance!

Just like childbirth, once it is over you forget the whole darn messy thing and only glow in excitement for the bright future.

I survived childbirth and “college-birth”!

To all those former babies who are now college-bound:

CONGRATULATIONS!!

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