Even though I’ve only completed 34 weeks, I’m supposed to say that I’m in my 35th week. And 36 weeks would actually be 9 months of pregnancy according to the lunar calendar, because pregnancy is actually 10 months, not 9. Of course, this confuses a lot of people, so it’s easier to say that I have 6 weeks left. Of course, that requires some simple math of counting backwards from 40, and if you can’t do that, I can’t be bothered to talk to you anymore.
I’ve been getting asked if I’m excited yet. And I’m not sure how to answer that. Is it wrong to not be excited? Is it wrong to just feel content that everything is going ok so far? Babies are hard work. We didn’t plan this because we wanted babies, but you need to get pregnant to have babies, that turn into kids, so you can have a family. It’s a change of lifestyle that we’re willing to make to have a family. We didn’t get pregnant because we wanted babies, and I guess that sounds like a horrible thing to say. Babies are not always full of rainbows and bunnies and unicorns. Sometimes they will be, when you first see them smile, learn to crawl, laugh, sit up, smash pureed peas all over their face because they can’t find their mouths, walk, say their first word, or poop in a toilet. But most of the time, you’ll be changing diapers, sometimes 10-12 times a day, breastfeeding every 2-3 hours throughout the night every night for months, cleaning explosive diarrhea off your clothes, try to stop them from crying, or figuring out why they’re crying, worrying when they get sick, if they don’t put on enough weight, if they’re reaching all their milestones on time.
It also doesn’t mean we’re not going to like having a baby either (since it will be our baby). But I don’t have to love babies in general to love my own baby. Which is why I don’t listen to people anymore when they say to me, “No offense, but I can’t imagine you being a mother.” Which I’ve heard more times than I cared to. Am I going to be a bad mom because I don’t go gaga over other people’s babies or children? Because I don’t like changing diapers? Of course not. First of all, I don’t think anyone enjoys changing poopy diapers. And if they say they do, they are delusional. Secondly, why do you HAVE to like other people’s babies/children? I mean, I like some of them, and I don’t like others. Just like grown-ups, I like some and dislike others.
I just read a great comment from a reader replying to my last pregnancy post. She was talking about what she calls the ‘Pregnancy One-Upmanship’, where women seem to compare how much more awful their pregnancy was compared to yours. Even if you haven’t experienced pregnancy, you probably experience the one-upmanship in your everyday lives. “Oh, you only got 4 hours of sleep last night? Well, I only got 2 1/2, so beat that!” “Um…ok, I guess you win….?”
Along with the Pregnancy One-Upmanship, there’s the infamous ‘Labor & Delivery One-Upmanship’. Which can go both ways depending on how the game is played by the two opponents. Women can compare how awful and painful and hellish their L&Ds were (“I was in labor for 36 hours.” “Oh yea? I was in labor for 40 hours!”), or they exclaim how easy and stress-free and painless it was (“My labor only lasted 4 hours, and it was so easy, the baby just slid out of my body!” “Well, I was 10 cm dilated and didn’t even notice.”).
Last but not least, there is the ‘Motherhood One-Upmanship’ game. This will probably last your entire life if you bother to play it (which I don’t). Mothers are pressured to show the world how perfectly effortless motherhood is for them. There are the Stay at Home Moms vs. Working Moms, breast-feeding moms vs. formula moms, cloth diaper moms vs. disposable moms, vaccinating vs. non-vaccinating, feeding on a schedule vs. feeding on demand, and so on, and so on. Why do women feel the need to top each other? It doesn’t prove whether they’re a good mom or not. All it proves is that these women compare themselves to other women in order to justify what they believe they’re doing is right. In the end, who cares? Push aside all the unnecessary drama and do what you think is best for your children. That’s what a good mother would do. Sometimes I think this competitiveness is used to fill in all the gaps from the shock of acclimating to a new (sometimes boring, or redundant) lifestyle. Or because we’ve been going through life competitively because that’s what we’re raised to do. We start early in school; rather than getting an education, sadly we get trained for jobs. Therefore, we treat motherhood as a competitive job rather than a rewarding life experience.
It did bother me that so many people had the gall to tell me they didn’t think I’d be a good mother, or that they couldn’t imagine me being a mother. Of course, this is from people who aren’t parents either, so I know not to take it too seriously. But I asked my husband if he thought I’d be a good mother. Obviously, he thought I would, since he married me. But he did make a good point. Since my usual disposition is content, or neutral…indifferent even, I tend to look at things in more of a realistic rather than idealistic way, even before pregnancy. That doesn’t make me cynical though. So he thinks the transition will be smoother for me more so than, say, someone who expects certain things from motherhood but gets something overwhelmingly different, or maybe even disappointing. I expect to get very little sleep, to be utterly exhausted, to break from stress, to ask – ‘what did I get myself into?’, to be overwhelmed with cooking, cleaning, getting groceries, performing the once simple tasks that now take 10x as much time with a newborn, to cancel plans with people because things just aren’t working out at home, to look like a slob, to not shower as much as I’d like, to stop wearing makeup, etc. Hopefully, it won’t be like THAT all the time, but I do plan for it. Being a good mom doesn’t mean you need to be ecstatically joyous and happy 24/7. It doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes.
And that’s ok.