Monday, February 09, 2009

Pregnancy reality check

Someone (childless) asked me this weekend what the best thing was about being pregnant. I couldn't think of one thing. Allegedly there exist women who enjoy pregnancy (for example, surrogates). If you are one of these women - please let me know the secret! But at best, I find pregnancy tolerable. My sacrum is killing me, tying my shoes is a great physical feat, my belly button feels as though it might burst open at any moment, my ankles are stiff and puffy, I can't exercise normally, Baby Y doesn't fit into my lap, my clothes don't fit, fat is accumulating under my chin (which I find especially annoying), and at school I have to endure at least one comment a day on how "enormous!" I am. Thanks. (Folks, the old "if you don't have anything nice to say, shut up!" statement is never more true than in the case of pregnant women.) Obviously, I could be dealing with real problems such as gestational diabetes or hypernausea or preeclampsia instead, so I shouldn't complain.

There are quite a few pregnant women at Booth this year, I know of at least 5 besides myself, not including the 2 or 3 who have already given birth. So at least I'm not entirely alone. But being around all this pregnancy and childbirth has made quite an impression in terms of seeing how radically different women experience this whole process. A friend recently delivered her first baby in 1/4 the time that it took me. And then I've had more than a few friends who've endured days of on-off labor, 5 hours of pushing ending in a C-section, etc. I met an alum this summer who is still in a great deal of pain 18 months after her daughter's birth. While being healthy and having a good attitude is helpful, unfortunately it just isn't enough. Mother Nature is fickle and unfair and yet it seems hard for most of us not compare our fate/fortunes to that of others, even when our rational mind knows better. (Even more so when our peers are forever comparing us to one another.)

Baby Y's birth was on the extremely hard but doable end. I was so relieved to make it through and then found out the pain had only begun. Breastfeeding was/is the most painful thing I've ever endured in my life. All the consultants and doc's and La Leche League advice couldn't help me. Ultimately, I nursed for 15 months and the pain evolved from excruciating (2mos) to manageable (maybe 3mos) to occasional (the rest). And now I know why so many women give up on breastfeeding. I used to think they just didn't want to. While that is true for many, for many more, it comes at a far greater physical price than they can bear. If I wasn't such a masochist I would have quit after 2 weeks of the 24-7 misery.

In my birth class for Baby Y, the teacher chastised me for not making a birth plan. I said that my plan was to not have a plan. I'm a busy woman! I don't have time to make plans for the unplannable. But mostly, trying to plan birth and motherhood seems like an exercise in disappointment. While we can't help but try to learn from others' experiences - your pregnancy/birth/motherhood experience is unlikely to be like your mom's or your best friend's or your neighbor's. If there is one thing I learned during the first go-round it is to give up my expectations and just hope for the best.

1 comment:

HairTwirler said...

They should have special birth classes for MBA Moms where there is no judgment for being busy... I see a small business opportunity. :)