Moms, Can We Do Better?

I am super excited because I am going to be a new grandma in less than a month! It has been so much fun being on this journey with my daughter, Becky! I love seeing all the pictures of her growing belly. I love seeing all the fun baby things she’s getting. I love the glow she has!

But here’s what I don’t love: the calls and texts I get from her when she’s panicked and scared about giving birth and being a new mom.

So, first things first, to all of us (and I include myself in all of this) moms: let’s openly admit that none of us knew how to be a mom when we had our first baby. Maybe some of us had siblings we helped care for, or we babysat, or we had jobs where we worked with kids, but none of that prepared us for what it is really like to be a mom. So I have had to explain to Becky that being scared about being a new mom is completely normal because we all were that way. I’ve told her not to put so much stock in what she sees on social media. All the cute pictures are the result of planning, preparation, and posing. Behind those scenes, there were plenty of crying jags, diaper blowouts, clothes with spitup on them, and moms and dads snipping at each other.

Moms, can we do better? Can we normalize being unsure? Can we avoid saying things that make motherhood sound awful? Things people have said to Becky: Oh you’re tired now? Get used to it. You’re going to be exhausted all the time. Get used to never sleeping through the night. Hope you don’t mind getting puked on/peed on/pooped on because you’ll have that on you all the time! I’ve explained to her that, yes, being a new parent is exhausting. Yes, it can frustrating when you’ve done everything you know to do and the baby is still crying. Yes, it’s exasperating when you finally get the baby to sleep and the moment his cheek touches the crib, he wakes right up again. Yes, you will be peed, pukes, and pooped on. But I told her that for every “negative” thing about having a baby, there are 5 good things, like how good they smell, how they look like you, how sweet they look when they sleep, how their laugh sounds, how soft their skin is, how their little fingers feel when they wrap around yours, how they laugh when you play peekaboo, how your heart leaps the first time they say, “Mama,” how they feel when they fall asleep on you, and the excitement you feel when they roll over, crawl, pull themselves up, stand, and walk on their own. So maybe instead of responding to a pregnant woman’s mention of how tired she is with, “Just wait, you’re going to be tired all the time!”, we respond with, “You’ll still be tired after the baby is born, but wait until they fall asleep on your chest for a nap — nothing feels as good as that!”

Another thing I’ve had to help Becky with is managing the scary birth stories. I cannot for the life of me figure out why, when talking to a pregnant woman, anyone feels the need to share things that are negative. What’s the purpose of telling her that she better not get an epidural because it could cause problems, or telling her she needs to get an epidural because the pain is just too horrible to bear? Why tell her about how you tore because you had a big baby and she better be ready for it?

Moms, can we do better? Instead of sharing the horror stories, how about we share truths? Why can’t you say, “I tore when delivering because I had such a big baby, but that doesn’t happen to everyone.” Why not say, “I actually had a pretty good labor and didn’t need an epidural, but lots of women have them.” Why not say, “I had a complication with my epidural, but they’re not too common. Your doctor will be able to tell you what the risks might be.”

Pregnancy, labor, delivery, and parenting are not contests to see who’s the best, who’s the worst, who had it easiest, who had it hardest. They are all personal and situational. So Moms, can we do better? Rather than pointing out all the hard things about being pregnant and being a mom, can we share the good things, and when we share the hard things, also share how we got through it and offer a hand, ear, or shoulder?

About renbog

I have opinions and I have passions and I like to write.
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