There are many things people don’t tell you about when you are going to have a child. You can read as many websites, books, blogs, etc. but its not the same as real life advice. I have heard a multitude of beautiful descriptors, but very few realistic words. Very few raw, truthful and realistic words.
Noone told me that I would go through waves of hating my body while I was pregnant, or to expect a bit of pee to come out every time I sneeze, cough, laugh or jump. Noone told me that it would be a “treat” to really be able to do my hair, or that some days you would try really hard to look; sexy, professional, fun, hip, etc… only to look in the mirror and feel nothing more than, “missed the mark mediocre”. Noone talks about discharge, how you might dread having sex one day and then feel like a pornstar the next, leaving your partner confused and distraught at what their next move should be. Noone told me I would cry when I would see images of fit, pregnant women talking about how they only gained 15 pounds… when I felt so tired I could barely get out of bed.
Noone told me that one day I would second guess every look, every syllable, every question- reading in too deeply and taking things to heart, while the next I couldn’t care less what anyone thought about anything. I didn’t know I would be more sensitive, more frustrated, more on verge of tears that I have ever been.
Any time I have read about these sentiments from the “expert” websites, it is usually veiled with clichés like, “but it is all worth it” or “seeing a healthy baby will make you forget” type of things. These closing words does a disservice to everyone- mothers, partners, husbands, wives, family and friends. It makes us feel as though we aren’t allowed to feel these things- or that we should hide what is really happening with our bodies and our minds. The reality is- most of us do!
When my daughter was born, the first time I looked at her, I was overwhelmed, I was tired, I was scared, and I felt inadequate. Inadequate because there were no fireworks, no rainbows, and no explosive tears of joy. I didn’t have this crazy moving experience looking into her eyes. Yes, I loved her. Yes, I had a new sense of responsibility, but it wasn’t the same as the world had led me to believe I would feel. I felt like a disappointment.
Noone told me that once the baby was born I would have irrational thoughts of things that could happen to my baby- that every terrible story I heard about SIDS, choking, car accidents would come into my mind at any moment. Noone told me that for the first 36 naps I would hover wondering if she was still breathing, and not be able to “nap when the baby naps” like everyone told me to do. Noone told me that still now, even though she is almost 3- if she has a sound sleep through the night that I can’t even truly enjoy it because I am scared that something is wrong.
It is true that there are so many wonderful pieces about being a mama- about having someone who only you can console, about seeing milestones, landmarks, and accomplishments of your little ones. The feeling of a sick kid getting better, watching them make friends and develop bonds in many different places, or slowly become the person you had hoped. These are all great. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to speak of the real pieces, to speak about how we really feel, and hide what the real experience of parenting is for us.
I am hopeful that every mama has at least one- hopefully more- beautiful friends who won’t shy away from the truth of their feelings and experiences. Of the few I have- when I do open up and share what is actually going on with my body and my mind- they often feel the same way. So why are we still scared to speak freely?
My ask of you, any mama, any friend to a mama, any partner to a mama, any family to a mama- is simple. Next time you ask a mama how she is- let us be real- let us share openly-let us do these things without having to be told we should be grateful. Please be open, not grossed out, not quick to tell us to think positively. We are grateful, we are happy, we are aware of others challenges, hardships, etc- but for just a few minutes every once in a while it will feel great to be real.