As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Sunday, April 28, 2013

It's not so bad

Lately, I've come across a few blogs talking about the havoc that pregnancy and childbirth wreaks on a poor Mom's body.  I get it - I've been there a few times.  I know these women are not entirely serious, that they're exaggerating for comedic effect.  And we fellow Moms, we have a good laugh and eat it all up, because we've been there and we know what it's like.  I'm certain some of my favorite bloggers have written posts like this.

That little fact notwithstanding, I'm sensitive to them.  I feel like glorifying the horror stories does such a disservice to what motherhood really is.  To give an example, shortly after my daughter was born I read a celebrity blogger talking about how since her baby's been born she walks around in a haze, in sweatpants all the time, and only takes a shower once a week.  I didn't even finish reading it, I swear it was 2,000 words of "this-is-so-horrible-but-at-least-I-have-a-cute-baby-but-still-I'm-going-to-die".  I remember thinking, "Why don't you just take a shower?"  It struck me because I remember someone telling me that when I was pregnant for the first time, and it stuck with me that no matter what, I was going to make it a priority to shower regularly after the baby was born.  I get that sometimes Moms are busy, and I even get that some Moms would rather spend their time with their baby and leave the shower until the next day, and that's cool too. But why whine about it, if that's what you've chosen?

More recently I've read two separate accounts of women talking about their bodies post-baby, and describing things I've never seen on any woman ever, and it made me wonder, where are these Frankenstein Moms?  Because after six babies, I've never experienced any of that.  And I don't know anyone who has.  Sure there are changes that happen, undesirable ones even. I just don't get how putting those on a pedestal is a good thing, especially for people who don't have children yet - what kind of an image are we giving them?  That motherhood is the same as throwing yourself in front of a bus?

All I have to offer to this debate is my own experience, and so - here it is.  I would say that having babies for me was a 20/80 thing, 20% not cool stuff, 80% awesome.  I'll start with the unpleasant stuff to get it out of the way first.  I didn't have varicose veins, and I didn't get stretch marks (in fact, I got more stretch marks when I was going through puberty than I did during all of my pregnancies).  My stomach, stretched out as many times as it has been, has gone back to its rightful place on my body (with the help of a girdle postpartum).  The most obvious mark that childbirth, or rather child rearing, has left on my body (obvious that is, to me and my husband) is on my breasts.  During pregnancy and nursing it's great, but once the babies are weaned they are a little deflated. But that's a problem that's easy to fix with a good bra (and subsequent pregnancy!), so I don't loose too much sleep over it.  Oh, and in my last pregnancy I developed a small umbilical hernia, which will need to be surgically repaired (though it can be done in day surgery while I am awake, with local anesthetic.)

I think that's probably it for the bad stuff, now let me get to the good.  Having babies made me love my body.  And not just the way that it looks, although that's part of it.  But what it can do.  I don't know any new mother (especially a first-time mother) who isn't eager to share her labor and delivery story as soon as she's given birth.  I'm always so excited to ask new moms what it was like, because I can never wait to tell everyone my own story after childbirth.  There is something so incredible about growing a human being inside your body, and getting him out.  And nursing takes that even one step further.  I remember so many times turning to my husband when our baby wasn't on solids yet and saying, "all she needs is me - everything she needs to sustain her physical life is inside of me."  It really is incredible.

But then, there is the physical as well.  To that, I say that almost everyone I know who has had babies looks as good or better post-baby than they did before.  Having babies gave me a woman's body.  Before that I had a teenage-girl shape, kind of girly but still kiddy.  Now I have curves, and a much more feminine shape. When I got married I was in the best physical shape of my life, I worked out several times a week (I was marathon training).  I cut my training short to have my first baby and ran a half instead of a full marathon, and have not been able to stick to a regular workout routine (unless you consider keeping up with six kids to be a workout routine, which I guess it could be) since then - and yet I'm in as good shape now as I was then.  And I feel like having babies is the fountain of youth - think of the women you know who are still having babies in their thirties or older, and look at the way they're living, the things they're doing, the kids they're keeping up with!  Look at the smiles on their faces, the light in their eyes - everything the world covets and holds up as beautiful is brought to fulfillment in motherhood, not destroyed by it.

I'm not saying not to be honest.  I know so many people who say, "I wish someone would have told me insert-pregnancy-childbirth-horror-story-here".  But please, just keep it in perspective.  It's not good enough to write ten paragraphs grossly exaggerating your poor mangled body (which of course, is neither poor nor mangled) and then to end it with "but little Susie is such a delight and I would do it all again."  Moms who've been there, we get that.  But people who've never had babies might decide that little Susie just isn't worth it to begin with.  And just like that we'll send a whole generation of girls running away from the most beautiful thing in the world, which I know is never the intention of the writers of such posts.  There is so much pressure on women to look a certain way - let's show them that motherhood is beautiful.  And maybe treat ourselves to a day at the spa, to help unwind and see how beautiful we still are (or maybe even, how much more beautiful we have become.)

Not a Frankenstein Mom

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