I have this friend who I love dearly – she really is one of my best friends.
There is about a 7 year age difference between us – she is younger than me. We get on like a house on fire, and she makes me laugh so much that it makes my soul smile. She is one of the most beautiful and vibrant people I know.
She got married about four years ago and had a baby recently.
I recall chatting to her when she was pregnant. There were several moments where I really wanted to “bring her down” and discuss the “someone should tell you the reality of pregnancy, birth and the thereafter…” but I felt she was so happy and optimistic, and maybe it would be different for her …. maybe.
I decided to leave it, and only tell her something if she asked specifically.
She knew I chatted on forums and she knew I wrote a blog because I found all things motherhood a challenge. For me it was lonely and I did not really have someone who was telling me the “real stuff” or again maybe I was not listening.
At the time my biggest lament was “why did no one tell me that it was going to be like this….”
But that being said, I was not going to be a downer on someone else’s rather happy parade.
If they are all excited and optimistic about it, and prefer not to hear, then I am quite happy to smile pleasantly and let them remain happy.
She kept saying “I know it will be hard but thousands of women do it and I will be fine…”
And though I really felt I wanted to put my hand up and go “I really need to tell you what you are letting yourself in for ..” I resisted and instead opted to take the high road and say little or nothing.
<I really had to chew the inside of my cheek, as saying nothing is not part of my natural makeup.>
She had a natural birth that included screaming, tearing, baby getting stuck at the shoulder, baby being suctioned, OBGYN screaming (screaming) I NEED HELP HERE, OGBYN doing purl-plain-purl-plain to put her back together again, and and and …. (listen, I think she is a super hero for making it through, really, I might have stood up and said “Okay that is about as far as I am going here – someone give me gas or general anasthetic, and someone get this frikkn baby out …. because I am done!!”)
When I visited her later on “birth day” she had that far-away look like when someone sees something horrific. It was as if she had survived something huge, but had seen the dark side and was now had a haunted look about her.
But we laughed and I patted her hand, and listened to her talk about her going home and how that was going to be …and I patted her hand a bit more, because she did not appear to be worried.
Again I felt an overriding urge to go “er…….” but I didn’t. She seemed happy, she seemed confident, and that was enough to keep me quiet, and for hells sake she had just been through Hades.
She got home and unfortunately that is really where the fun started.
Baby is struggling to latch, she is stressed and upset and clearly not sleeping, and is making nearly daily trips to the clinic – I really really feel sorry for her. When I speak to her I can feel her pain, and I want to cry with her.
Why can I feel her pain? Because I was there.
And so were most (if not all) first time mothers.
We have lived that hell of arriving home with your new born. You are about 5km from that Linus blanket that is the nurses red button, and suddenly that sleepy little fresh smelling baby is screaming and you do not have a clue how to cope. You are hormonally overloaded, your body is exhausted and nothing is working like it says it will in the books.
She is trying to breastfeed and its fkn difficult and it is not working. But she has all this pressure that she must and she is weeping and wondering if it makes her a bad mother if she does not breastfeed!
Oh my heavens, my heart bleeds for her. I wish I could tell her that it will be better tomorrow, but we all know that first 6 – 8 weeks is like a slow ride to Danté’s hell without coins to pay the ferryman to get out of it.
And then she says: “Why did no one tell me that it was going to be like this…?” with a sort of hysterical note in her voice.
I love this girl – I really do!!
The short answer is, no one tells you because no one listens.
Everyone thinks that they are going to have this miracle pregnancy and this “soft light and roses” birth, followed by the new little family skipping off into the sunset. It is all going to be heaven and soft milky baby burps from here on in.
As sorry as I do feel for her – and I do – part of me smiles – not because I am a mean person – and quite possibly because I am - but because sh&t we all go through this, and I remember it, not fondly, I just remember it.
<but I do hope for her that this 6 weeks passes quickly, she regains her sanity and that this is a small bump on her road with her new baby …. I really do>
Gawd help you if you try to tell a pregnant first time mom about the “big bad world” because she will raise her perfectly plucked eyebrow and place her left hand – so you can see the glint of her wedding ring – gently onto her perfect bump, and tell you in no uncertain terms that you are sorely mistaken, she has this under control.
And that is why when I see a really happy pregnant first time mom, I smile, take a really large sip of my Chenin Blanc, lean over and go: “So how’s it all going?” with a slightly evil glint in my eye.