(Before everyone freaks out who knows my mother, this post is not what y’all are thinking. I am not going to make public the lies my mother has gifted me with over the years, but rather the collective lies that we discover as we become mothers. Maybe I will open that other Pandoras box on another day, but probably not, since I value the peace I have in my life.)
I have terrible pregnancies. I have big, healthy babies, but the pregnancies? Oh, good Lord help me. I start throwing up around 7 weeks along, and I continue to do so until I am done pushing and the baby is on my tummy instead of in it. Yes, really, that much. (I will grace over the fact that I am due to begin the barf-o-rama any day now… ) So, morning sickness? Big lie. It is not in the morning, it does not end at 3 months, and it cannot be controlled with saltine crackers, ginger tea, licorice, lollypops, gum, or anything else made my man. Big lie.
Birth plans. Ok, so you read all the books, and you have very definite ideas of the kind of birth you want. You carefully write it up, have your OB sign off on it (how she does this without laughing is a mystery to me!) and figure you have all your bases covered. You will now have the birth you dream of. HA! Good luck sister. All I can say is when labor really hits, you are not the woman you once were. Something you quickly learn when you are becoming a mother, and the sooner you learn this the better: YOU are not in charge anymore. The earlier you get this, the better off you will be. When you have been in labor for 18…24..30 hours, you no longer care about the “gentle lighting…warm water bath…soft voices and pulsing cord” and if your husband counts to ten another time, you are going to rip his ears off and stuff them in his mouth, just get the baby OUT! Oh, and seriously, epidurals are gifts from God.
After the birth: So now you have just been through the most traumatic thing your body has ever experienced. You just pushed a human being out a very small opening, after hours of hard work, and you are literally torn and exhausted. Any other time in life, after such a difficult thing, you would be coddled and tenderly cared for, you would be the center of attention. But, it’s not about you anymore. You are now second banana, and you exist to care for, tend and feed the new baby. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t slept in 48 hours and you just went through major body trauma. It doesn’t matter that you have stitches up you backside or that you haven’t kept anything in you stomach for 39 weeks and are starving. They also have this method of torturing new mothers, where the nurse comes in every few hours, usually after you have just fallen asleep, and she rubs and kneads your distended and tender belly. Hard. And you cramp and it hurts like a s.o.b., but she smiles while she does it. Fun.
Ah, now for breastfeeding. The books make it sound like the most natural and foolproof method for feeding you baby. You know it is the perfect food, and it is tailor-made for your child, and you want very much for the baby to have it. Just pop out your boob and let the baby go to town, right? Well, maybe for 1 or 2% of mothers that actually works, and I envy those of you who have had an easy B.F. experience, but the rest of us, get ready for the most frustrating and painful experience you have ever had. Yes, possibley even worse than labor, because their was help for that. If you have perfect nipples and your baby has a perfect mouth, you may be lucky, and after the abdominal cramping stops, you may enjoy breastfeeding. (when you nurse your baby, it triggers your uterus to contract; think of the worst cramps you have ever had, then double them- every time you nurse for the fist two weeks or so) If you have flat nipples, a baby with a short tongue, or heaven help you, both, forget it. I saw three lactation nurses with my first, two with my second, and ended up pumping everything my boys ate for 6 months. Yes, they got my milk, but only by heroic means. I deserve a medal, and so does any woman who overcomes the difficulties of breastfeeding!
Coming soon, part 2, including postpartum care and learning that your mother really did have favorites!