Saturday, 3 June 2017

It's Time We Stop Shaming Parenthood...Here's Why

I'm getting pretty good at these titles, aren't I? The truth is, this is a topic that has been resonating with me since I got pregnant, and even more so, after having my baby.

Our culture seems to fixate on the negative aspects of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting, whilst undermining or completely ignoring the absolutely wonderful parts that come with bringing a child into the world.

A good friend of mine is starting to really consider having a baby of her own, and we've discussed this at length. She is equally discouraged that the narrative surrounding what should be considered miraculous and amazing is littered with so much negativity. Why do we, collectively, focus so much on the hard stuff?!
Why can't we lead by telling women the GOOD THINGS that come with becoming mothers for the first time, instead of terrorizing them with horror stories of the "worst case scenarios"?

I'm not saying that it's always going to be a walk in the park.

Pregnancy, labour and raising a child can be challenging and difficult to adapt to.

You won't always feel great.

You'll sometimes want to moan and groan.

But, it's NOT ALL BAD.

What we need to consider is the language we are using when we discuss the topics of parenthood, with specific sensitivity to young mothers who need support, and those that have no children of their own, yet.

Before getting pregnant, I would say that 75% of the "feedback" I was exposed to (whether by personal accounts, Internet stuff or fables!) was uninspiring and generally negative.

Isn't it time we change this?!

I'm breaking this post down into 3 categories: pregnancy, childbirth and life with a baby/child.
I want to review some of damaging core points that people focus on when they talk about their experiences, and then shed some more positive, unicorn-sprinkled alternative notions that are good to consider.
I'm a first-time new momma, so by no means do I claim to be an expect or any of this stuff, but my experiences have been pretty magical, and I think that's a side of things that needs to be shared!


What We're Told

- "Your body will be destroyed. You will get fat and have stretch marks"

- "You'll never lose the baby weight"

- "You'll be sick as a dog"

-"You'll have to "give up" all the things that you love

What I Experienced

- The ability to stop living my life "selfishly". I was finally able to see past my own needs/desires/bad habits and focus on what was good for my body and my developing baby

-Better sleep and relaxation. I gave up the late nights and booze for baths and reading. I was able to enjoy things that previously seemed "boring" to me. Pampering myself and focusing on better habits totally rejuvenated me!

-A deep sense of gratitude. While I was pregnant, I had so many eye-opening moments. Being able to recognize all of the great things I have in my life, the people that I am blessed to have in my family and circle of friends. I took stock of all of the blessings and was able to enjoy an immense feeling of pride knowing that I have such a wonderful collection of great things and people at my fingertips.

-Feeling More Beautiful Than Ever. I've definitely struggled with body acceptance issues in the past, but I must say, being pregnant made me feel like a total princess warrior, inside and out! Just knowing that my body was growing a tiny human made me feel empowered and beautiful. I embraced the changes that my body was going through, released my fixation on my body weight, and really enjoyed the ways I was changing!

Here's me at 8 months preggo with my sweet pup Milo. I'm pushing 200 pounds but I don't care one bit because I am happy and healthy and can't wait to meet my baby boy


What We're Told

- "It's the worst pain you will ever experience"

-"You will need to get an epidural to get through labour"

-"It is the worst thing ever"

-"Your vagina will never be the same again"

What I Experienced

-An intense but beautiful labour. Not many people use the word "beautiful" to describe their labour, but that is exactly what mine was. Yes, it was challenging. Yes, it hurt. Yes, I had moments where I was biting down on the edge of the bathtub during contractions to try to distract myself from the pain.  But you know what? It's also magical. Going through the intense experience of birthing your baby brings a sense of beauty and joy that is unparalleled by any other experience.

-EMPOWERMENT.  The biggest feeling of womanly empowerment comes with child birth. I have never in my life even flirted with such a feeling of pure, raw, animalistic empowerment as I experienced when I was giving birth to my son. I was pushed to my body's limits, but in a good way.

-Pure Joy.  The old adage clich├ęd comments about having babies is all too true. You really don't know true, pure, absolute joy until you hold your little baby in your arms for the first time. I knew I would love him, but was not prepared for the absolutely life changing, all-consuming happiness that hit me as soon as I held him in my arms for the first time. It's the biggest high you can get in life (naturally, at least, and I don't suggest you try the unnatural alley!)

2 Hours after Theo was born. I barely look like someone who has been through a traumatic event: cause I chose not to see it that way! His birth was miraculous and wonderful. And I look pretty good for 2 hours postnatal. Just sayin'


What We're Told

- "Your life is over"

-"You will never be able to enjoy the things you loved before once you have children"

-"You will desperately miss adult interaction and "going out"

-"You won't be free until he/she turns 18"

-"You will never sleep again"

What I Experienced

So this section comes with a disclaimer, since my baby is only 6 weeks old. As a first time mom, I admittedly cannot speak about experience with a toddler/young child-but I can tell you about my life with a baby, so far! And here have been the best things to come of it.

-The Strongest Desire to Be A Stay At Home Mom. Stay-at-home mom's have long been criticized in the world of parenthood. People either downplay the amount of work it takes to stay home and raise babies, or criticize the parent for being lazy and unmotivated to enter the workforce. I have to say, I am a stay-at-home mommy and I think it is the best job in the world.  Any mom that stays home (and even those that don't) know that motherhood is a full-time commitment. There are no "breaks". You are working round the clock to make sure your little one is fed, bathed, clothed, clean and has taken his or her naps. The hours and minutes pass by so quickly on this schedule. But you know what? I freaking love it. Nothing makes me happier than waking up in the morning, knowing that my day will be filled with nonstop baby servicing. And, on my down time, while he naps, I clean and cook and do laundry. It's all very old-fashioned, but it's what I love to do, and it works for our family.

-I Can Still "Do Stuff".  People seem to think that once you have a baby, the cards are laid, and you can no longer participate in any of the things you enjoyed post-birth. That's simply not true. While it is true that I have different priorities now, it's actually totally doable (and really fun!) to go out for dinner, go for long walks, go shopping, go visit friends...all with baby in tow. You aren't condemned to staying home once baboo is born, you just need to adapt a little bit!

-The Love Never Ends. Having a newborn to cuddle, nourish and play is the best gift you can ever receive. The love I have for this little guy, PLUS the added bonus of loving and appreciating my husband on a whole new level, has really added major significance to my life. Just sitting at home, reading a book to my babe, or seeing him smile when I give him a bath, is the biggest gift I could ever receive. I appreciate every second.

Here we are at 6 weeks postpartum! Theo is sleeping in my arms and I'm chilling and enjoying my stay-at-home life.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not just a "lucky" mom with a "good baby" writing out of my ass. Yes, I've had the 48-hour-crying marathons to deal with. I've gone though 5 days straight without sleep. I've been peed on. I've skipped meals, showers and episodes of my favorite shows. I've waken up every 2-3 hours on a regular basis for the past 50 days. I have struggled with not being able to breastfeed 100%. I have dealt with pushy breastfeeding coaches. I also birthed my baby in a country that I've lived in for less than a year, without the comforts of my mom, sister or best friends close-by. I probably have just as many reasons as anyone to bitch, moan and curse. But, instead, I am being Ariane-glass-always-full, cause that is all I know how to be, and I am already dreaming of Baby #2.

P.S. Am I turning into a Mommy Blogger?!

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