This is a guest post from Carly, who blogs at The Blossoming Bump.
So, several months ago I had my first child, a son (aka the most ludicrous, stressful, baffling version of fun I’ve ever experienced) who we affectionally refer to as ‘Jabby ‘ around the house. Oh boy.
He was born healthy and alert on a brisk October morning after less than five hours of labor (you can read my full birth story here) – not bad for a first timer, eh? – and life has been a whirlwind of attempting (and failing at) routines, trying to outwit an infant and general overflowing emotions.
Honestly, I sort of had it easy in labor. Yes, it hurt like the dickens and at times took some serious self-restraint not to grab the WAY TOO CALM nurse by her scrub’s collar and beg for any form of pain relief that could be squirted into my IV within 10 seconds.
I managed it though; medication free and with an exceptionally calm and controlled exterior, in comparison to what I was experiencing inside my own head. Credit where credit’s due, I was seriously blessed with the birth of my dreams – my birth plan was pretty much followed to the letter and I achieved all the goals I’d set for myself before little dude was speedily thrust into this world.
Seriously, how cool is that?
Afterwards though, I got to thinking. What would I have done if my birth experience hadn’t gone to plan? How would I have treated myself if I couldn’t ‘mind over matter’ the pain after all? What if I’d gone overdue and my midwife had told me that I really needed to be induced for the health of little dude, even against my own wishes?
What if, against all my hopes, I’d needed serious medical intervention to get my son out safely?
It occurred to me that, actually, I hadn’t at all mentally prepared for those eventualities. Yes, part of the reason for that was a steady faith that all would happen as it should and in many ways my decision to just ‘go with the flow’ helped a lot in keeping my labor low key and the pain manageable.
I know myself though and if I’d needed to go against all my instincts (not to mention all the research I’d all but drowned myself in for the last nine months) and accepted the help of medicalized pain management, and had that led to a further complication down the road, I would’ve been so mad at myself because I suffer from a startlingly common disorder. The dreaded ‘Mommy Guilt’.
As universal as postpartum hormone fluctuations, sleep deprivation and that rather inconvenient involuntary reflex to cry every time the new baby so much as sneezes, ‘Mommy Guilt’ is often epitomized by a nagging voice inside your head, reminding you that you could have done better (check out my own postpartum anxiety experience here).
Perhaps you’ve accidentally bumped your shiny new offspring’s head into the door frame. Or perhaps you struggled with breastfeeding to the point that you just couldn’t bear it any longer, meaning you switched to formula despite the fact you always swore you wouldn’t.
Maybe, like me, you unintentionally gave your new addition a bath in water that might as well have been -20, for the way it made them squeal (unintentional due to the fact that it’s taken you, new parent that you are, far longer than you predicted to battle baby into a state of undress, sans diaper and plonked into the bathtub).
You see, we Moms are all part of the same club now, a club that should be devoid of guilt or condemnation. After all, it takes a while to develop that special brand of dexterity that allows you to wash the dishes, feed the dog and nurse the baby all at the same time. Surely nobody is born with these skills!
My suggestion is this; we Moms (new and otherwise) all learn to give ourselves a break. Each and every day we successfully do things that would make non-Moms shudder and shake (read more about my ‘mommy morph’ here).
We are glorious, bringing life and love to a whole new being and for the most part (at least while under outside scrutiny) can be caught sighing with so much contentment, it makes us afraid we might actually want to do this again one day. Whoa.
Carly is a writer & brand new, proud as can be, Mom. Originally from the UK, Carly currently resides in East Tennessee with her beyond fantastic husband, their little man Jasper and 3 barmy rescue dogs. Visit www.theblossomingbump.com for more tales of pregnancy, the madness of motherhood and everything in between!