The Expectations in Motherhood

I’m battling a cold.  Pregnancy.  They never tell you that pregnancy makes you more susceptible to viruses.  People feel inclined to touch you.  (I was guilty of this until I became pregnant and apologized profusely to my friends.)  The horrors of pregnancy aren’t given.  Now granted, not every woman struggles with pregnancy.  Labor, on the other hand, is portrayed as painful and urgent.  Let me shed some light on what I’ve experienced.

The lies:

1.)  The second trimester is the best.

Nope.  Wrong.  While this pregnancy was easier in the second than my pregnancy with Willow in the 2nd trimester, it wasn’t the best or easiest.  Now mind you, I don’t like any trimester.  My best time is usually week 26-week 28, yup just two weeks.  However, I can’t recall not being sick for most of my pregnancy.  I take my prenatals, I increase my Vit.D and C, I take Elderberry.  Without fail, I always wind up with head colds, sinus infections, or bronchitis when pregnant.  My immune system was crappy to begin with and it is just worse in pregnancy.

2.) It is so much fun when they kick.

Um, sure bruised ribs and the constant urge to pee is paradise.  Some people enjoy the kicking because it makes them realize something is inside of them.  For me, while the weirdness of the movement is definitely fun to watch, it isn’t fun and is highly uncomfortable.  I don’t like it.  I’m pretty sure every pregnant woman will now scorn me.

3.) Stretch marks are awful.

I actually haven’t minded the stretch marks.  The stretch marks are a reminder of the life I tarried for, the 9 long months of stress my body endured to grow these children.  It is just skin and in fact, I think that reminder is somewhat beautiful.  To me, it is somewhat empowering.  I’m daily reminded about my body stretching to accommodate this being.

4.)  Morning Sickness

The very name is a misnomer.  Nausea can happen at all times of day at any stage of pregnancy.  Nausea is miserable and I’m pretty sure I’ve had it all day and want to cry.

5.)  You positively glow.

If by glowing we mean that perspiration glistens in the sun.  Have I mentioned I’m pregnant? In summer? In NJ?  Yeah, I dislike heat to begin with and I’m having this baby in August.  My behavior isn’t pleasant either.  I’m cranky, irritable, and downright frustrated most of the time.  I can’t sleep because I can’t get comfortable.  I feel bloated and huge.  Which reminds me, everyone else likes to remind me how huge I’m getting too—“baby is getting big, you’re almost at the end.”; “you might need a new shirt/lab coat” (at work…when my belly is completely covered.  gah!);  “you aren’t fat, you are beautiful”-my husband trying to be helpful, but sadly in this instance, unlike every other time, he fails.  (This means that about 95% of the time he is helpful and I am always grateful for him.)

 

Labor is extremely painful.

Actually, yes.  It was, but it was manageable.  I changed positions.  I walked.  It lasted about 13 hours.  (For some women it is faster and for others it is slower.)  I don’t know how long this one will last.  I didn’t require an epidural.  (Women should not be faulted for choosing this if they have been properly educated about the risks involved.  Sadly, many are not and are simply told how inadequate we as women are to handle this pain.  It isn’t outright said necessarily, but implied through the use of particular words and insinuations.

Pregnancy and Labor aren’t what I expected.  They certainly weren’t what the media portrays or what my sphere of influence discussed.

Motherhood isn’t what I expected it to be either.  I laugh at myself for the “promises” I made to myself about how I would parent.

Things I swore:  I would not co-sleep, I would solely use cloth diapers when we had a washer and dryer of our own, I wouldn’t even think of using formula, I would limit TV time, and I would never have a picky eater.

Then I became a parent and all my theories were damned.

The first night we brought Willow home, she wouldn’t sleep.  In a sleep deprived desperation, I brought her into bed with us.  Frank became a peaceful non-violent sleeper.  Remind me why I didn’t try putting people in our bed to prevent his flailing beforehand?

I do use cloth diapers, just not nearly as much as I anticipated.  However, I also use disposable.  We have a washer and dryer. Frank is away 1 weekend a month.  My sitters request disposable.  Willow sleeps like crap at night (sleeping through the night is another issue in itself and I’ve blogged about this in other threads) and sleeps better (i.e. wakes less frequently) in a disposable diaper at night.

Breastfeeding was/is hard.  I haven’t used formula, but I have definitely thought about it.  When Willow was first born, she was so little that she didn’t latch initially.  I would express milk and give it to her via syringe.  In those first  couple of weeks, I wanted to give her formula so badly.  Since I am stubborn, I pushed past without it, but it definitely weighed heavily on my mind.  Then I got pregnant when Willow was around 9 months old.  I was/am exhausted.  I seriously contemplated formula.  I managed to get by with a friend’s milk donation.  I am deeply indebted to her.

Willow watches far more TV than I would like.  She is watched by my in-laws and a friend from church.  Both of these families watch a significant amount of TV.  (I don’t recall going over when the TV wasn’t on.)  Willow even watches TV at home.  I got pregnant and then I continuously get sick.  Some days, all I have energy for is to turn on the TV and let it entertain me and occasionally her (she doesn’t focus on it a lot, but her attentiveness to it is increasing, especially if it has a dog, to my chagrin).

Thankfully, I don’t currently have a picky eater.  At least I have one win, right?  However, she will get older and the comments of others and what I choose to feed her will influence her.  She’ll also decide she wants more control and food is a good venue for that choice.  I’m sure there will be a day when I will just celebrate that she ate a bagel, despite its minimal caloric and nutritional value.  She already gets way more sugar than I ever wanted.  Her sitters give her carbs, A LOT.  I used to care, but then figured that she isn’t dying and so I can relax.

If your kid lives to see another day, you’ve done a decent job.*  I’m learning to give myself, and subsequently others, more grace when it comes to parenting.  You can have all the theories you want, but the only thing that works is prayer and a lot of “fly by the seat of your pants” type decision making.  Give yourself room to make mistakes, to learn, and to laugh.  I’m slowly learning this too and hope you’ll grant me the same grace.

 

*Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, accidents happen and you find yourself sobbing as you mourn the loss of a child.  I’m not a counselor.  I do know that we are too hard on ourselves.  If you earnestly love/loved your kid, you are doing/did well.  Only God knows the days appointed to us.  We are merely entrusted with his gifts until he calls them home.  If you have lost a child, my heart is deeply grieved for your loss and I pray you will see God’s great love and provision amidst the struggle, sorrow, and mourning.

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2 Replies to “The Expectations in Motherhood”

  1. I’m glad you’re giving yourself some grace! We all have expectations of ourselves and then when we’re actually in a situation, things definitely change! It’s not just parenting…

  2. “Remind me why I didn’t try putting people in our bed to prevent his flailing beforehand?”
    Because we have a closed, monogamous relationship.

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