A friend of mine just became a mother for the second time. Another friend is waiting to be induced. Another is to-ing and fro-ing about whether to go for it before it’s “too late.” And me? Daydreaming.
From the Nelson Mail.
I’m not a mother, and until recently I had an unquestioned, idyllic view of pregnancy, childbirth, and babies.
I wouldn’t exactly call it blissful ignorance. I knew the facts. But in my mind, I would have a small bump whose presence never causes me to lose my breakfast, and that “glow” people always talk about. I would have a quick, easy labour that I forget immediately in the presence of my beautiful, quiet progeny. Said progeny would settle into a routine of pain-free breast feeding and 8-hour sleeps immediately.
I can hear all you mothers out there laughing. Stop it, it’s not nice.
I’m 28. I come from a family of five. I never wanted a big family myself. But I always thought “one day, I’ll have one.”
It’s a funny assumption to make. To assume that I’d be physically able to make a small human when I choose to. To assume that it’d be when I wanted it to happen, when I’d planned it, when I had a partner who wanted it too, when we were financially secure and emotionally able.
Let’s be honest. I don’t have any of those things. I have autoimmune arthritis, I’m on a sickness benefit, and my idea of a balanced meal is a supermarket pizza with some bagged spinach chucked on it. Babies can’t eat pizza.
As girls growing up, we have a set of life goals forced on us at every opportunity. It’s a constant tick list, with a literal “tick” because you’re always aware of time running out. 27 year old me swore the “biological clock” wasn’t real. 28 year old me knows better.
Where do these goals come from? From Disney movies, from books, from Sweet Valley High and Mills and Boon. From advertisements for washing powder, from jewellery stores, from anyone who’s ever joked about when you’ll “settle down,” or “it’s your turn next!”
It’s all the same idea. You’ll grow up, find an exceptionally good looking man who you will “tie down” with marriage, buy a house in the suburbs, and immediately and easily have two children. A boy first so he can look after his younger sister. Both will have blonde bowl cuts that inexplicably no one will make fun of.
Again: compare this with my reality. With most women’s reality. Spot the difference?
My friend who has recently given birth has been kind enough to relieve me of some of my misguided beliefs about those ten (yes, it is ten. How did the nine myth even start?) months of growing a baby, pushing it out of you, and then trying to keep it alive and happy in all its weensy fragile glory.
She kept us informed during her labour, which was long and difficult. It was three days from when things first started to happen, until her son actually arrived. I never had any idea it could take that long, or that a woman could endure that much pain for that amount of time.
The baby came home and promptly decided her breasts were the enemy and he never wanted to see them again. Her first son still does not sleep, unless he is directly on top of her or taking up most of the bed. Her husband stays wisely quiet.
In her sleep-deprived state, she sat down to write about the joys of parenthood. What transpired was brilliant, honest, and has been a hit with parents everywhere.
“Mama Said” (www.boganette.me) describes how my friend felt when, in the middle of the night after breastfeeding, she attempted to return to sleep, only to find her son sprawled across the bed. She posted a picture on Facebook, and received a comment suggesting she should be “grateful for this time. They’ll be adults before you know it.”
The blog she wrote in response has had over two thousand replies, including line such as; “This. Is. The. One. The ONE article that makes me want to sing the halleigh effing luyah chorus and then cry because every word is true,” “Perfect brilliance! It is SO refreshing when people are real about parenthood,” and “I feel like I wrote this in my brain, and it mysteriously showed up on the internet.”
So, no. I’m unlikely to be a floating beachball of pregnant bliss, at least not any time soon – maybe not ever. According to my friend and the many, many parents who wrote to her, I’m not going to look like a Gucci model while carrying my perfect, clean, silent child into kindergarten. I’ll be lucky if I even make it out the gate.
I am definitely not interested in giving up my breasts, my bed, or my breakfast anytime soon.
Let the clock tick a little bit longer.