There is a young woman who works with me who is expecting her first child in the coming weeks. I couldn't help but notice that the twinkle of anticipation in her eyes seemed to be fading a bit as her belly grew heavier and her sleep became more sporadic. As she had been on my mind for a few weeks, I decided to shoot her a note in the middle of a boring meeting (I know, so bad...). Her response was one that only a mother could understand. Filled with hormone-fueled apprehension and insomnia-filled angst. I immediately blocked off some time later in the afternoon for a mommy-to-mommy tea.
The look in her eyes was so familiar that I almost wanted to cry. The late days of my first pregnancy were so, well, pregnant with emotions that I felt no one could possibly understand and forbidden thoughts that I dared not share with a soul, lest I be judged unworthy of the gift growing inside my ever-expanding belly.
Over the course of more than an hour, we talked and cried and shared the truths that only mothers can share. As I reflect on our conversation, I can't help but wish that someone had been kind enough - no, brave enough - to share with me the things that new mothers never talk about.
Since The BadAssMama is never afraid to tell it like it is, here is my top 10 list of things no one tells you about pregnancy and early motherhood. Consider it an early Mother's Day gift from me to you...
1) Pregnancy SUCKS. Yes, I know that your mother and all those sappy Lifetime movies and Hallmark cards promised you that it would be a golden time unlike any other, filled with hope for the future and in-utero bonding. Forget all that. You're fat, tired and cranky for roughly 8 of your 10 months of gestation. True, there are moments of pure bliss but by and large they are outweighed by the ever-expanding width of your ass, acid reflux in your throat and pain in your back and unmentionables.
2) Pregnancy is NOT a 9 month deal (40 weeks - you do the math), yet no one seems to figure that out until you hit the 9th month and wonder WHEN THE HELL is this kid going to come out?
3) There will be times during your pregnancy when you can't help but wonder, "What the hell was I thinking?" You will panic at the thought of never being able to fit into your pre-baby clothes (heads up - only celebrities fit into their pre-baby clothes within 2 months. You will likely get at least one "I thought you already HAD the baby?" post-maternity leave). You will wonder how your life will every work with this tiny being attached to your hip/breast/insert-body-part-here. You will wonder if you will ever have a night life/love life/sleep life again. You will get over these thoughts, but they WILL happen, and there is NOTHING to be ashamed of. It has happened to EVERY PREGNANT WOMAN IN THE WORLD, whether she admits it or not.
4) There is a big difference between realizing that you are pregnant and the realization that at the end of this process there will actually BE a baby (and that it will have to come out of the unmentionables that are aching at an ever-increasing rate).
5) There is no need to be afraid of a C-section. Yes, I know that all the books and birthing classes put the fear of God into you about the perils of cesaeran birth. I'm here to tell you, there is one universal truth to childbirth - either way, it's going to hurt. You'll either hurt high, or hurt low...
6) You may not fall in love with your baby the first moment your eyes meet. Most babies look like a cross between a Smurf and Dan Akroyd in "The Coneheads" in their first moments. You may even wonder what the hell the doctor is showing you this alien for and where did they hide your baby, until you realize that, oh shit - that thing IS my baby. All kidding aside, the bonds of motherhood are not always automatic, and that's OK. Even though this tiny being has been growing inside of you (or inside of another woman) for months, love takes time sometimes. You are not a bad mother. You are not alone.
7) There will be times that you love your baby, but don't particularly LIKE them. For me, those moments usually took place between 2 and 4 am...
8) Pregnancy hormones are intense. You can be ecstatic one moment, cursing like a sailor the next then a blubbering wad of goo within 5 minutes. Just roll with it. I promise you it does not last forever. Oh - and those hormones do NOT go away with child birth. Give it a few months and apologize to your spouse/partner/closest friends in advance. It will make it easier than apologizing on a daily basis.
9) After your baby is born, you will not feel like yourself. That's mainly because the you that you once knew is gone. This is not a bad thing. You have undergone a life-changing experience. You are now responsible for a life - you are a mother. No one can go through that experience and come through the other side the same. Take time to mourn the loss of your old self and celebrate the new you, the post-baby you, that you are becoming.
10) It is completely acceptable to demand that a man (or young woman, or equally-aged non-pregnant woman) give you their seat on the subway/bus/light rail because your ankles are the size of small oak trees and there are daggers shooting up your back. At 8 months, I once asked a man on the LIRR to give me his seat after he looked at my massively pregnant belly and proceeded to look back down at his newspaper. When he asked "Why should I?", I immediately replied "Because I'm pregnant, and you're being an asshole"
The train broke into applause...