Let me quickly start this by saying that regardless of why it is hard, it really just is HARD TO ASK FOR HELP.
There is some unwritten and unspoken rule of motherhood; if you are fertile enough to get pregnant, or have chosen to adopt, you are capable — no — wired to be able to parent successfully. Intuitively. Independently.
But some smart woman finally admitted that pregnancy, and parenting, wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. It isn’t easy, and often times it is less than intuitive. Not to mention who can do it alone?
You’ve heard all of the pregnancy myths, right? That pregnancy is supposed to be magical, amazing, and beautiful and you should “feel” like a mom. Who had that? I felt tired, sick, worried about miscarriage (I did miscarry before Nick’s pregnancy, but that is an entirely different post), hormonal as hell (had to take progesterone to avoid miscarriage) and downright uncomfortable.
What about the myths about husbands? Like the myth that your husband is supposed to be straight out of a movie, where he is serving you hand over fist to make sure you don’t lift anything too heavy or aren’t allowed to drive too far for fear of early delivery on the road. Oh! Or that he is going to be hand feeding you scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream at all hours of the night and graciously smile through every hormonal up and down. Yeah. Right.
What really happens is that your husband is just as confused as you are because all of those hormones have changed your personality completely (and not for the better), and all he can hope for is that at some point it changes back. Otherwise, this blessed event will be a catalyst for a divorce. And let me assure you, there was no spoon-fed-cookie-dough-ice-cream at my house. *sigh*
And no one actually explains to you that men are not particularly attached to the baby until it is born. Sure they love the idea that they are becoming a dad (some do at least!), but they are not experiencing the grand “magical” baby feelings we are (no hormones or feeling the baby move). Some men are super attached, sure, but speaking for our family – my black-and-white thinking husband didn’t have the magical daddy feelings until our children were born. And I think that is more common than we know.
There are also the trips to the doctor, over and over again, where they tell you for the umpteenth time, to strip from the waist down, and lay in the stirrups—a ritual so “natural and intuitive” that each time we do it, we hide our underwear beneath our perfectly folded jeans, which we have neatly arranged on the only chair in the room. Who can explain that? Are we trying to trick our OB/GYN into believing we don’t wear underwear? Really? And our bra, that could be used to power a sailboat for a small child, we fold that up into a tiny little package and neatly place it with our underwear. Again, in the hopes, apparently, that our doctor will think we don’t need a bra. That’s super intuitive.
Then we are supposed to feel natural about the “vaginal ultrasound” (I am so not even going into this one…), which, at least, has the benefit of allowing us to hear the wondrous sound of our baby (which truly is awesome). And when we hear that sound for the first time, we have a moment where we do feel like this is natural and intuitive—or at least we feel totally emotionally connected. Perhaps we confuse them to be the same.
Fast forward to baby delivery, mine via C-section, and I will skip most of the details, because if I get started on my stark naked, ginormous and fully sedated pregnant body being lifted onto a table which I watched happen live via the OVERHEAD mirror in the operating room, I may just have a panic attack.
Once the puking is over, and the knock-out medications are leaving my body, I am in a beautiful room in a gorgeous hospital nursing my apparently starving baby with no milk in yet. But damn that kid was hungry, so I tried.
People come in and out of the room; nurses, assistant nurses, lactation consultants, doctors, and more. Almost all of them takes a turn grabbing breast(s) and shoving them into my son’s mouth. One even follows me into the bathroom to check on me (seriously?). This is lovely, but not intuitive. Yet no one is phased; everyone seems to think this is the way it goes and within a few short days, we are headed home. Who am I to argue?
Maybe, to some extent, that is true. But you also have places like Babies R Us, your neighbors and your mom who can give you tons of (mostly) unsolicited advice on what to do, what to buy, where to go, and how to do it all. Don’t tell me you didn’t have people telling which brand of wipes to buy! That happened to me, and I am happy to pass along that tid bit of info to anyone who is interested. But that’s not the hard part, is it?
What happens when intuitively, there is something different about your child?
I thought in honor of Father’s Day, I would give all of the special needs fathers our there a gift. I am giving their wives some advice they could NEVER get away with saying themselves – a