Hey Parents! Stop Terrorizing Pregnant Women

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The first time a woman falls pregnant is pretty special. You pee on that stick, and wait for the excruciatingly g-r-a-d-u-a-l result to emerge: positive. And even though this new life was planned, and no matter how (very) much wanted – it is still a shock of substantial magnitude. Suffice to say I felt the blood drain from my face.  Keeping my teeny tiny baby company in my tummy was an enigmatic cocktail of hormones and emotions.

My husband and I had planned to wait a few days before taking the test together; but early one morning I woke up with a vague feeling that I may be pregnant. And I couldn’t wait. I told myself I was being silly, but it was no good – I wasn’t going back to sleep until I’d seen the result. Mind made up, I snuck out of the bedroom. I was fully expecting to casually mention my folly to hubby over breakfast later. Only when I checked the test after three loooong minutes – it was positive.

Overwhelming Wonder
So there I was, sitting on the bed in the spare room at silly o’clock in the morning, holding a pee-covered stick, with an amalgam of micro entities enjoying a shindig in my abdomen. There was really only one option…

Of course I marched into our bedroom and switched the overhead bedroom light on, eliciting such protests as ‘What in the name of all that’s holy… That’s brighter than the sun!’ etcetera. News imparted, we proceeded to partake in the only reasonable response to such information received in such circumstances: we both turned white and took a reverent moment of silence. And then with hands held and glistening eyes, we jumped up and down on the bed and squealed a lot.

At which point we decided to grow up and go and buy a book to explain just exactly what we were letting ourselves in for…

Reality Sets In
Over the proceeding few months, we encountered many and varied a reaction to our news. But some frequent responses, which left us somewhat flummoxed, went something along these lines:

‘It’s SO hard.’
‘You’re mad.’
‘Just you wait.’
‘I hope you know what you’re doing.’

Not exactly supportive, huh? Particularly when delivered in an arguably menacing tone.

It was getting me down to such a degree that my default opening in most conversations was to vocalize my growing irritation, thereby thwarting any opportunity to panic me further. I let it be known that since it was too late to change our minds(!), I needed to be reminded of the reasons that we had made this life-altering decision.

Because frankly – I was becoming bloody terrified.

Terrorizing Pregnant Women
New parents are basically doing to mums-to-be the equivalent of telling small children Santa isn’t real. Essentially, in anticipation of early motherhood being difficult, they are sullying parenthood and tarnishing the transcendent experience of pregnancy. Which achieves precisely nothing – apart from the opportunity for a good moan, of course.

I recently bumped into a pal who told me that she now makes sure to let her pregnant friends know just how tough it is. She explained her noble intention of disabusing them of their misconceptions; yet went on to say that NOTHING can prepare you for the laborious undertaking of nurturing a baby. I didn’t want to appear provocative, so I simply smiled benignly. Because I do get it. Of course I do – I’ve done it; I’m doing it.

But I quietly noted the contradiction in her words. And since this is the only thing I can do in support of any naive innocent women, I felt compelled to write this post.

Redressing the Balance
So, pregnant and terrified ladies, amidst all the unhelpful prattle, here is what you actually need to be reminded of at this vulnerable time:

  • That baby smell. It’s like nothing else. Even their mustard poos smell divine.
  • The feelings elicited by their tiny fist curled around your finger.
  • The wisdom in their eyes as they bore into your soul.
  • The way in which the whisper of a puff escaping from their peachy little bottom makes your breath catch.
  • ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ has never been truer: take half of you and half of the man you love, put them together and you create…one tiny miracle.
  • No matter how many times you hold that little body, you will never quite comprehend the magic of your body having grown another human being.
  • The overwhelming, all-consuming love that has lain dormant your whole life, just waiting for the moment that you become a mother.
  • The strength of character you don’t yet know is within you. That which will see you through childbirth, sleep-deprivation, the tedium of nursery rhymes, the humiliation of supermarket meltdowns.
  • The capacity they hold within one smile to thaw your frustrations and soothe your soul.
  • The fact that you would kill for them or die for them, in a heartbeat. You won’t truly believe the extent of this truth until you experience it. (Or the feelings evoked, hopefully not actual murder or death.)
  • The way in which seeing your partner and baby having a precious moment can spontaneously bring you to tears.

These are just some of the reasons that becoming a mother is totally worth everything else that goes along with the most important job you will ever do. The instantaneous support network that springs up around new mums is pretty awesome too. A friend best described it as akin to a secret club to which you suddenly gain access. ‘Tis true.

And remember – many of these women go on to have more babies. So it can’t be that awful, after all.

An Appeal
I implore my fellow new parents to join me in refraining from distressing the naïve. The rest can wait to be bestowed in the form of that support network I mentioned – after the baby has arrived. Besides which, unless mums-to-be have been living under a rock, I dare say they have some vague notion of it not all being hearts and flowers, and glamorous mornings filled with coffee and cake. (Though in my experience, there are A LOT of unglamorous coffee and cake mornings. And afternoons. And lunches. Essentially, when you’re breastfeeding, cake is acceptable at any and all times of the day, yes? No?)

So I say: Let the unsuspecting retain their naivety while they can! I shan’t lie to those who ask, but I shall endeavor not to burden those who don’t. Blissful ignorance is a gift to be treasured for as long as possible.  It’s one of the loveliest and most magical aspects of the entire process of having your first baby: those virtuous hopes and dreams you have for the future.

Have you encountered this inadvertent but insidious lack of consideration?  Or have you experienced more thoughtful reactions to your happy news?  Please share your stories.

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