What a world you’re plunged into when you get pregnant. People start acting like you’re public property, you get stroked and groped (yes, groped – had one lady miss the belly stroke and start at my boob – I jumped quite spectacularly!). And you are suddenly surrounded by women judging each other and getting all riled up over whether we should hold our children every moment of the day, or let them cry themselves to sleep, whether the $1200 pram is better than the $1500 pram (god help you if you believe a $400 pram is sufficient, like I do!). It’s insane.
People warn you that you’re going to feel inferior because you’ll be bombarded with images and descriptions of perfect mothers. To be honest, I’ve found the opposite is true these days. It seems like every mummy blogger and mum-on-Facebook is in a battle to one-up each other on how terrible they are at parenting, how exhausted, depressed, overwhelmed or horny they are. I think if I see one more post about how hard parenting is, how it changes (read: ruins) your life, how you’ll never sleep again but of course, how much you will love your child (always tacked on like an apologetic wave to the knowledge they chose to be parents), I will scream like a newborn just appearing out of the vag. Which, by the way, we can apparently all expect to have ripped to smithereens, so that sex is never pleasurable again, but that’s ok because our partners can’t bear to venture near the horror that remains where our pert bodies once lay. It’s remarkable anyone goes back for seconds if this is all the truth!
Now, I’m sure parenting is going to be hard. I’m not oblivious or living in denial. I know how terrible I am at dealing with life when I’m sleep deprived. I know there will come a day when I will burst into tears because I dropped the lid to the Vegemite jar or can’t find my other shoe. But I also think a lot of the misery comes from focusing on the tough stuff. Why drill your brain full of the hardships and draining parts of parenting, especially for those of us that haven’t even pushed our bubs out of our enormous bellies? I’ve not enjoyed pregnancy so far, and did feel guilty about that for a while, because it is an amazing thing to be able to go through. But just because I’m not enjoying the aching hips, the uncomfortable lung squishing and getting kicked in the bladder or the backbone, doesn’t mean I’m writing the whole thing off as a horror story. I’m trying to focus on how cool it is knowing I’ve got a little person in there, marvelling at my body knowing what to do even though I haven’t got a clue what’s going to happen next, and looking forward to the moment he’s out of me and can kick around in the air rather than in my innards. I’m not perfect, but I don’t expect to be, and I don’t want to compete with others in either direction – perfect or hopeless mummy are both bad ‘roles’ to cast yourself in!
Another interesting thing I’ve noticed is that non-parents start unloading their own fears and insecurities on you. I’m a first time mum, and making the decision to start trying was both terrifying and exciting for Simon and I. So I get people being scared about having kids. I’ve started finding out how many are though, as they feel the need to tell me (because apparently sharing fears with someone already fully committed and stuck in the situation you’re about to fantasise horrific things about is a good idea). I’m not sure if they feel like they have to justify why they’re not pregnant, because I am, or what it is – perhaps having my belly jutting out between us just puts it at the front of their mind. I’ve found out recently that one is terrified at the thought of giving birth to a socialist, another can’t handle the physical limitations of pregnancy as she’s a gym junkie, and another has the standard childbirth fears (don’t we all?). Oh, and my physio kindly informed me of a statistic she’d read about the rate of women who are cheated on, who are also pregnant, because their partner doesn’t find them attractive anymore, can’t handle the mood swings and the fact their pregnant partner’s sex drive may have gone down. Thanks, that’s what all women need to hear when they’re already dealing with their body rapidly changing. I’m glad I’m secure in my relationship and could see it was more about her insecurities, as she’s terrified she’ll pack on the pounds when she’s pregnant and her partner is a stick (her words).
It’s just fascinating to me how pregnancy opens up a whole new layer of communication. Some healthy, some not so much. As someone who loves delving into the depths of people, it’s like having a large, bulbous key growing on the front of me!