Becoming a mother was the single most challenging, self-altering, life-hijacking metamorphosis of my life.
I’m not saying it hasn’t been worth it. My daughter has. My daughter is.
I am saying to the empty-nest women who sell motherhood from conception as a life-fulfilling, a cure all for sad days to bite me. You are not doing anyone any favours, especially expectant and new mothers. Let’s get real and give each other a break. Honestly, it’s the only feminist thing to do.
1. Pregnancy isn’t that much fun
The Glow. I actually had a colleague tell me I was blossoming. I had my boss tell me that I looked incredibly peaceful and relaxed. People are full of shit. In fact, I was struggling to stay conscious. I felt hungover for 6 and a half weeks, except the night before wasn’t much fun and McDonald’s didn’t help.
And I keep not being able to do the things I want to do (ie. eat raw salmon, play roller derby, see friends, drink a large glass of sav on a Friday). Anything after 8pm is a bust (who am I kidding? 4pm). I have become dull.
A friend of mine said recently said, “It’s hard to connect with something that makes you feel tired and ill, right?”
After being a super independent kind of person, being hijacked by a fig-size human for the first time was a rude limitation on my life. MY life. (Of course, now I’m pretty happy to have created one of my favourite human beings to hang out with and force her to do things I like to do with me.)
“A woman becomes a mother when she becomes pregnant. A man becomes a father when he first holds his child.” -Anonymous
The Upside: To be honest, I needed that full 40 weeks (or 34 that I knew) to make peace and complete the 5 stages of grieving for my old life – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Pregnancy, I found, was like a really long, strict training schedule. It’s tiring and uncomfortable for like a year but it changed how I felt about my body for the better. Healthier. Look at what I can do! Look at what I made!
2. Childbirth. Nuff said
The most natural thing a woman can do… Really?! It wasn’t for me. And when the time comes for me to do it again, I’m going to do whatever is in my power to get ALL THE DRUGS ready for my arrival.
The Upside: It’s only a day. Or two. Seriously, not worth stressing about.
3. Feeding your baby is a fulltime job that doesn’t pay very well
Sitting on your ass for hours and hours a day. Get some boxset DVDs. And a bottle of water. If you’re breastfeeding, this means you literally have a being suckling at your body (YOUR body) for hours a day. Breast or bottle, your arms will get tired (buy a pillow).
The Upside: I kept a human being alive. That’s pretty cool. Then she smiled at me.
4. As it turns out, not every mother is really a baby person
I wasn’t. This shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did. I like conversation. Babies don’t talk much. I like sleep. Babies don’t respect adult sleep patterns much.
The Upside: Babies aren’t babies for long. Babies turn into interesting, bossy little two year olds with opinions about food, what they should wear and the weather. And while they are babies, you can pretty much strap them in/on and go anywhere.
5. Hormones + Being put in charge of a human life + Forever = Stressful
Emotionally wrecked (which is an important distinction from being an emotional wreck). I, before my first pregnancy, prided myself on being a rational and intelligent being (I have since managed to reclaim some but not all of this former sense). The following quote pretty much sums the emotional journey up:
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ~Elizabeth Stone
The Upside: If my heart is walking around, then I am EVERYWHERE! I always wanted to be everywhere! This new vulnerability means I’m also a much less judgemental, less selfish, less restless person. Peaceful, even? No. Well, maybe for a moment after the kids are in bed.
6. Change is hard.
Pregnancy, babies and children are a moveable feast. Anytime I feel I’ve nailed a routine or understand a phase…there’s it goes.
The Upside: Life is a moveable feast. Better to have more guests at the table.