It’s a journey that most of us go on as an introduction to motherhood. It turns out that growing a tiny human who you’ll be responsible for is not the only important element of the experience. There is much to be learnt.
- Your body is no longer your own. From the bouncing on your bladder to the examinations and the uninvited bump patting, inside and out, you are fair game. And so it continues into motherhood- breastfeeding being the obvious, but as time goes on, so many other bodily invasions. Your toddler’s desire to force feed you their food, or to put their hands in your mouth (“Mummy I want to give you my spit”). You must abandon normal physical boundaries and accept you’re up for grabs (literally).
- Talking of boundaries… Bowel movements as public knowledge. Pregnancy and antenatal education may be the first time many of us venture into the world of poo chat. Opening up about our constipation and/or piles (damn iron tablets) to near strangers. Considering that we may well pop one out as the baby descends. Learning about the similarities between passing a stool and a human (optimal posture, hydration and perceived safety all important, FYI). Of course this is mirrored in many ways in motherhood. First comes the preoccupation with the first post birth poo (*please let my organs remain in my body*). Then the fascination with baby’s nappy contents, often discussed with other mums, our family, and occasionally photographed and whatsapp’d to our partners at work (GUILTY). Poo in motherhood is big news. Come to terms with it now.
- Judgement of your choices. This is a big one- anything other than a mainstream path can be considered fair game for criticism and/ or ridicule. For me and my choices- no flu jab, home birth, hypnobirthing, the analysis, and discouragement was constant. And from people I barely knew. And so it followed through into co-sleeping, responding to his every whimper and a refusal to hand him over to just about anyone- all repeatedly picked over and commented upon. The world and his wife have a view on the way you choose to parent and they aren’t shy about letting you know- pregnancy is just the warm up.
- Which is perhaps how our constant second guessing and THE GUILT is cultivated. Is this the right choice? The best choice? Am I being overly cautious? What is everyone else doing? What does google say? WHAT IF I’M DOING IT WRONG?! What does my baby need? What do I need? Is it ok to think about what I need? Why does everyone else seem to have their sh*t together when I have no clue what’s going on?! It begins at conception, and as far as I can tell, lasts a lifetime.
- Actually growing a human. Because whatever else is going on, however much we doubt ourselves- we made this little person. The capabilities we demonstrated in pregnancy, however much or little help we needed along the way, should tell us that we are pretty awesome. With a minor contribution of a teeny tiny sperm, we have presented to the world a new being. Organs, limbs, tiny toes, a complex brain and personality of their own. Wondrous and unique, brimming with potential. We’ve made that happen. We would do well to remember this when we query our competence. I’m thinking this is the lesson we should focus on the most.
So Mamas- take heed of the induction, and remember, we’ve got this.