There are so many things that I absolutely love about being pregnant.
Similarly, there are things that I absolutely hate about being pregnant.
In my last pregnancy update, I talked about all of the changes that have come with the third trimester of my pregnancy. I could add a few more to that list- as a lot can change in two weeks of pregnancy.
I did mention, however, that there was one change I wanted to save to talk about in a post all its own.
It sort of ties into another thing I have mentioned about myself and pregnancy- that I literally can’t deal with the massive amount of opinions from each and every person regarding every detail of pregnancy and parenting.
That change I keep referring to?
A massive influx of negativity wrapped up in each of those opinions.
It seems the closer you get to your due date, the more people like to ask you all sorts of questions about your pregnancy, your goals, your plans, your hopes, and your fears.
And the more people like to tell you of the ways in which you are doomed.
I call it new mom negativity.
The saddest part about it is that it most often comes from other moms- the very people you would expect to be the most encouraging and uplifting in your journey.
It can come in any number of ways, but here are a few I have experienced:
Me: How am I feeling? Man, I am so exhausted the last two weeks.
Negative Nancy: You think you’re exhausted now?! Get used to it, it’s only going to get worse.
Me: I am planning on going as natural as possible while giving birth.
Negative Nancy: *sarcastically* Yea, good luck with that. You’ll be thankful when you give in to the epidural.
Me: No, I am not planning on co-sleeping with my baby.
Negative Nancy: Ha! Just wait. I’ll give it two nights before you give in and can’t take it.
Me: Yes, I do plan on breastfeeding.
Negative Nancy: Well, just make sure you stock up on formula for when it doesn’t work.
Me: Yes, I do plan on still cooking for my family.
Negative Nancy: Ha!! You’ll see… you won’t be able to be a perfect housewife when your baby comes.
Me: iPad? No, we probably won’t do much screen time with our baby before she’s a little older.
Negative Nancy: You’ll get tired of entertaining your kid soon enough and just give in.
Me: Uhm, yea, I think my husband will be super helpful when the baby comes.
Negative Nancy: *rolls eyes* Everyone thinks that- but they never are.
And that’s seriously just a few censored examples of some of things I have experienced in conversation with other moms. I don’t quite understand it, but moms just love to tell you all of the ways that your life is doomed to be a living nightmare when your sweet bundle of joy arrives.
Although I literally cannot understand this need, I think one reason that many women have for this is that they perhaps think you are living in complete bliss, fully unaware of the difficulties of raising a child, and fully unaware of all the things about pregnancy and childbirth that are, in fact, terrifying.
Although this might be true for many women, I can say with certainty that it is not true for me.
First of all, if we want to get real here, and I am sure we do, I am absolutely terrified of giving birth, completely aware of far more complications than I wish I even knew about, and absolutely terrified that breastfeeding won’t go well for me.
So for me, when I share a “plan” I have for my childbirth- with a smile on my face- I am sharing it in faith, trying to speak out on top of my own fears, and believe the very best about the upcoming delivery of my baby girl.
And the last thing I need is to be reminded of all the fears I am trying to not give in to.
And about babies and raising children and all the little decisions to be made?
I know there are plenty of women who give birth to a baby with zero experience regarding caring for that baby. I, on the other hand, have cared for babies since I was sixteen years old. My experience has ranged from babysitting for date nights, to nannying as a full time day job, to working as a live-in nanny with a family. I have cared for babies starting at six weeks (and followed them through their toddler years), and I have cared for eight, ten, and twelve year olds and everything in between just the same.
And it is for that reason that I am terrified. I am not blissfully unaware of how hard it is to take care of children day in and day out, but rather, I am fully aware that it can be so challenging at times that you want to pull your hair out. And that is what makes me afraid.
So, again, when I share a plan I might have for raising my child, I don’t need to be reminded of all the ways it can go wrong. Because I am trying to not go there, and just be willing to take it one day at a time, adjusting plans as necessary in order to survive.
And about caring for my husband, or even my husband helping me- every family is different, and that is not limited to seasons in which babies are involved.
We all have our beliefs and our priorities, and we all have standards within our own home that are not meant to be judged by those on the outside looking in.
I think sometimes we are quick to shut others down because we don’t want to accept that another person can do something that we wanted to do, but simply couldn’t.
Instead, we should rejoice in one another’s victories, encourage one another in our goals, and help one another along when we fall.
And learn from each other in the process.
What new moms need is not negativity, but loads of encouragement and people responding to them with a smile on their face, saying “you can do this.”
“I’ll support you however I can, just let me know.”
“Just remember to not be hard on yourself.”
If you see a pregnant mama, especially a first time mom, remember that negativity is not the answer.
She probably already cried three times that day as she worried about all of the uncertainties of her life, and her victory for the day was sharing with you her goals and plans with a smile on her face.
Don’t crush her.