You know the rhyme, right? “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage!”
It’s weird to think that a year ago Mike and I were still just dating and with our one year anniversary right around the corner, it is incredible to think back on everything that has changed in our lives in such a short period of time. Ever since we met (again…since technically we met in college) it has been full-speed ahead; and neither one of us would want it any other way.
David is now just over two weeks old and I think Mike and I are finally getting this parenting thing down. I know, I know, laugh it up. I’m not ignorant to the fact that we’ll constantly be learning and growing as parents; what I mean is, I’m not sobbing uncontrollably on a daily basis anymore. Not that all of my tears were sad tears, many of them were tears of joy or “Oh my gosh I can’t believe he’s one day older” tears.
Anyway, one thing that I keep thinking about over the last two weeks is how unprepared we both were for life after labor. Although Mike didn’t physically experience many of the changes I went through, he did have to deal with Alex the emotional train-wreck for two weeks and a brand new son…yikes!
There are a few things I noticed throughout my pregnancy that I think need to be addressed:
1. Pregnancy may not be as glamorous as people make it out to be.
I’ll be honest, I am not a huge fan of being pregnant. While I recognize it as a gift and a blessing that God allowed Mike and I to become pregnant it doesn’t mean that I enjoyed every minute of it. There were many times where I was literally on the floor moaning in agony because I felt so sick, my body ached, and quite frankly, I wasn’t stoked about the way my body was changing on a daily basis. You read articles that say many women feel empowered while they’re pregnant as their body image insecurities fly out the window and they embrace their new curves-HA-not me. All I thought about was how I was going to take all the pregnancy weight off after baby was born.
In total, I ended up gaining 45 pounds and even my doctor made comments: “You’ve sure gained a lot of weight, but don’t worry, you don’t look like it.” …umm, thank you? Every article you read, all the doctors you speak with say you should gain around 30 pounds so this too weighed heavily on my mind…ha, get it? 🙂 But seriously, you see all of these women in the media looking blissfully content and if you don’t feel the same you begin to question yourself…”Should I feel bad that I’m not enjoying every minute of this?”
Though it is true that there are women out there that gain a minimal amount of weight, have little to no morning sickness, and enjoy every minute of their pregnancy, I’m just not one of them and there’s no shame in feeling this way.
2. Why yes, I would like you to specifically seek me out to share your pregnancy and labor horror stories.
What in the world? This concept is honestly mind-blowing to me. Throughout my pregnancy, women of all shapes, sizes, ages, you name it, sought me out to tell me their birth and pregnancy horror stories. This was interesting to me for two reasons a. I never sought out these conversations. It was as though my bulging tummy was an advertisement to women saying: “Please! I’d love to hear your horrifying birth story, please share it with me.” and b. Why on earth would any pregnant woman want to hear about an extremely negative experience when they’re about to give birth for the first time?
I’m not exactly sure what the purpose of these women telling me their stories was. Did they expect me to “back out?” Too late for that. Or to sympathize with them? “Umm..sorry, haven’t actually ever had a baby before…” Or did they think these stories would comfort me and help to ease my already growing, by the day, anxiety?
One of the worst stories I was told (highly summarized) was this: “If she had had her baby in Blantyre, he would have died”….
Once I realized that this was happening fairly regularly I began to come up with excuses to avoid conversations: “I’m sorry, but I really have to use the restroom, the baby keeps kicking my bladder.” But seriously, stay away from the negativity. Every woman is different and every labor is different.
3. Why does no one talk about life after labor!?
Seriously, I was not prepared for life after labor what-so-ever. I was completely absorbed in mentally preparing for the labor itself and no one really mentioned what happens after. At times, I found myself bawling and feeling inadequate as a mother. I wish that someone had mentioned to me that these feelings are 100% normal and that many women feel the same way. Rather than re-inventing the wheel I highly suggest you read this woman’s blog who sums up some of things you’ll be dealing with as a new mom: 20 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Postpartum.
I mention these things because as women we should be empowering each other rather than perpetuating feelings of extreme anxiety and inadequacy throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. If people seek you out for your opinions and experience in labor then by all means, please share. But, if they don’t, perhaps it’s as Bambi said best: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Last but not least, I highly recommend reading Stand and Deliver by Emma Mahony. This book provides an unbiased account of multiple kinds of labor; everything from emergency c-sections, to natural birth in a standing position. This text strives to empower women by identifying choices we have leading up to and throughout the labor process and is communicated through the accounts of real women. The most important part, they are all positive! Even when a woman had planned on a natural labor and ended up having an emergency c-section she was able to see the “silver lining” and to me, that is the most refreshing aspect of this novel.