The Battle for New Motherhood
Well readers, after many months of infrequent updates and poor accountability, here I am.
Oh yes, and I’m pregnant.
Oh yes, and I’m due on Friday.
For those of you just joining us now, I apologize for this mind blowing announcement. What kind of blogger posts about breakfast sandwiches but then neglects to tell her readers that she’s expecting a baby?
Frankly, it’s the work of a girl spoiled and corrupted by social networks. I fear I have very little readership outside of my personal relationships, so naturally I just assume you all know what’s going on in my life and don’t want to overwhelm you with details from too many sources.
This is horribly closed-minded and selfish of me. Even when you feel alone, it’s necessary to embrace outside readership and write to an audience who you could reach, not just the audience you’re sure you’re reaching. How can you ever expand your horizons when you’re focused on the line on your dashboard?
With that said, I hope that any readers who don’t know me and may never meet me will enjoy my work, participate in my life and accept my apology for inadvertently closing them out.
Onto my original post ;
Anticipating mommy-hood is scary. Less than five years ago, I was starting college. I had just “graduated” from being a kid living at home to being a semi-child off in the world trying to figure out what kind of adult she would be. I made mistakes, came home for the summer and got reintegrated into my family’s routine.
Less than a year and a half ago, I was a naive new bride preparing for married life. Still living at home, still eating meals with her parents, still borrowing a room in their house that was temporarily my own. That start of adulthood I’d begun in college was still blossoming. I was heading out into the great wide world with a husband and responsibilities of our own.
Suddenly, out of what feels like nowhere, I’m about to become a mom.
I’m thrilled at all the possibilities. We decided not to find out our baby’s gender, so this upcoming surprise of new life is made even more exciting by unknowing. Each day moves closer to our introduction of this new member of our family, and we have been preparing for so long. We are as ready as we think we can be and simultaneously totally in the dark. We’ve never done this before. We’re going to have to learn how.
The most difficult thing I’ve faced thus far was not any aspect of the pregnancy. Without intending to boast, I must praise the fact that I’ve been blessed with a very easy pregnancy. With the excepting of a few weeks of morning sickness, some carpal tunnel (which is buzzing my hand as I type), and sore feet, I have not suffered much with physical symptoms.
No no, my greatest adversity has been being a new mom in an old-mommy world.
I am choosing (with my fabulous husband’s support, I might add) to cloth diaper our child. Between saving money on disposables, saving space in our landfills and saving my baby’s body from the harsh chemicals and fillers of modern disposables, I am thrilled at the opportunity to continue a tradition moms have stuck to for years.
Unfortunately, many veteran mothers are close-minded and deeply rooted in cynicism. Many of the wonderful ladies I work with have openly told me I’m crazy for wanting to do anything other than the “easy” way. One woman in particular got caught up in a conversation about laundering diapers and how I was deliberating over which detergent to buy since I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something that might not work for us.
“Oh my gosh! Just pick a friggin’ detergent. You’re freaking neurotic! Your kid is going to be neurotic!”
And God bless the gentle encouragement of near strangers.
Does wanting to make good decisions for my wallet and my baby make me neurotic? To a stranger to the concept of sustainable living and a desire to do the best one can, I could maybe start to see her point. But why do we spend so much time driving the ambitious away from ambition? Especially in parenting, every one will learn in their own way. No one knows what kind of child their kid will be until they start to raise them. Yes, women have learned the same lessons over and over, but if all that offhanded and blunt advice that is shelled out by every mother EVER was taken to heart by half the women with children out there, we wouldn’t have horrid parents and horrible kids. Everyone would be the same. There are ideals to strive for, but not everything works for everyone.
I’m also going to do everything I can to have an un-medicated delivery. I feel it’s important for my own reasons, one of which being that I really do want to experience birth for all it is. It’s not some naive earth-mother philosophy. It’s just the plain fact that God designed my body to do this, and if I can get through it without needing medication, I want to accomplish that feat. I don’t need drugs to make me succeed. I have no shame in accepting or asking for them, but I want to do my best without.
“No you won’t. You’ll ask for the drugs. Everyone does. It’s hell. Get over it.”
What is so wrong about letting me do this myself? Tell me a big, fat “I told you so” afterwards, but encourage me in my ambition. I’m not striving for complete impossible odds. I don’t want to deliver my baby while skydiving or teach my kid to change it’s own diaper. I just want to try.
All those horror stories people share are just because they’re a good story. For example, two elderly women came into work at the same time to pick up medications. One woman was impressed I was still working and commented about how I would be just fine in delivery – her labor lasted only an hour or so, and she spent most of it at a diner down the street nursing a cup of coffee.
The woman next to her gaped incredulously. After guessing that she had a completely different experience to share, she expressed her tremendous jealously and proceeded to share about her earth-shattering and horrendously long twenty or so hours of painful back labor. Side by side, these two women gave me perspectives from both camps: pure martyrdom vs easy-breezy delivery.
“She don’t mind. She’s short and skinny, but she’s strong. Her first baby come out sideways. She didn’t scream or nothing.” -Planes, Trains and Automobiles
There’s nothing wrong with telling me your worst tales of blinding pain, breached babies and last-minute c-sections. But especially from the perspective of someone who has never done this before, there is nothing worse and more discouraging than to be told that this event that I can’t prevent, that I have been anticipating and doing my own worrying about for nine long months, will be the worst hours of my life.
You’re not saving me. You’re only making things worse for everyone around you. You’ve taken the miracle of birth and put it on an episode of Jerry Springer. Let’s include some hair pulling, shall we?
As for cloth diapering and making my own baby food and carrying my baby and breastfeeding and any other “alternative, new-age” (traditional, people) methods of parenting, let me make my own decisions. Yelling at me about my apparent neuroses will do nothing to change my mind. You think that in those few minutes of you shoving your experiences from previous children down my throat that I’ll suddenly change my mind and do it your way? That the hours I’ve spent every day thinking about my baby and our budget and our beliefs will be suddenly cast aside by one person telling me I’m nuts?
While this isn’t the bouncy baby announcement I’d hoped to write, it’s something that I’ve been battling this entire pregnancy and has been on my mind as we near the close of this particular stage of life. Rather than try and tell new moms how it should be done, wait to offer advice until asked for. Just like reaching out and touching a pregnant woman’s stomach, hold back your way of doing things until the opportunity arises to assist a helpless new mom in adjusting her ways to better suit her needs and her family. Use more grace, and win more followers to your opinions.
Before you all get the wrong idea, I have been greatly blessed by the support of many veteran moms and new moms alike. My own mother has been a great cheerleader and encourager this entire pregnancy, especially in trying to support my offbeat endeavors. New moms have been some of my best friends because they’re still going through what I will be and have the fresh knowledge and experience and are able to share what works for them. I am a strong enough woman that the negativity camp will not shut me down. They can look at me later and say what they like about my successes and failures, but I will take heart in the fact that they were MY successes and MY failures, not some other mom’s.
We are winding so close to the end of this pregnancy. While I hope to share more thoughts (and particularly on a more positive note) before this little person greets the world, there is a chance I may not get around to it. If that is the case and this is the last you hear of me until after my baby is eighteen and out of the house (just kidding), I hope old moms will take it to heart and that new moms might have a hearty “amen” in response.
Otherwise, let’s plan on more words soon, shall we? We may be due on Friday, but that doesn’t mean baby is quite ready to say hello.
Pregnancy has been a fantastic and life-changing adventure, and the best is yet to come. I’ve embraced it!
From one terrified, thrilled mommy-to-be to the world,
we’re almost there!