Sunday, 20 November 2016

One of those women

It starts from the minute you find out you're pregnant:

Congratulations you're pregnant! Don't drink alcohol or too much caffeine. Avoid soft cheese and cured meats. Like your lattes and salami? Too bad, you can't have them for another 9 months or so, you don't want to be one of those women.

Then when you've endured the 9 months of being careful with your body there's the childbirth. They don't call it labour for nothing eh. But it's not good enough just to get the baby out healthily, oh no you should really try to do it naturally. Because even though people deny it, natural is the only way to go. That's what real women do. You know the ones with inner strength. The ones who reeeeally love their babies. They prove their womanhood by doing it with all the pain. Because, you know that's better somehow. And if you didn't manage without pain relief, or worse still you had a C section, don't feel bad because a healthy baby is the main goal, of course except it isn't and you're already a bit of a failure.

Then there's the newborn stage. You better love every minute of the sleep deprived, baby puke on your left shoulder stained second of it. Because you know you're a mother now and my golly gosh as if that isn't the greatest blessing. How many women would die to be in your shoes, you are so lucky! Moment of doubt or fear, don't worry about it, these are the best days of your life don't you know. And you're breast feeding of course because breast is best but you know that. Of course you do. Even if it's hard as hell and you hate it, you know it's best for baby and by jove you don't want to be one of those women. You know the ones who put their own needs first. *Whisper* they're the ones who ate camembert whilst pregnant and probably had an epidural don't you know. No real women breastfeed their babies and if they have to suffer a little in the process, well that only makes them better mothers. Plus, you know, formula is for those women.

NCT classes, baby signing, baby gym, lots of "mum" friends, tea and cake mornings, playdates oh I hope you're doing lots of those. Because you know how important all this social stuff is to new mums. Never mind if you're socially anxious or just plain knackered, you get yourself out there girl! Except not too much because an over stimulated baby is an unhappy baby, make sure you get the balance right, and not too much cake as that won't help you lose that baby weight now will it? Which brings me to your figure. You've got to care enough about yourself to be aware you haven't "got your figure back" yet but not be so desperate like all those celebs to lose your tum in 3 weeks, that's just sad and not appreciating the beautiful journey your body's been on. No you've got to lose the weight at a reasonable rate to show you're honouring your experience but aware no one can get away with that for too long. You don't want to be one of those women, you know the ones that still look about 6 months pregnant when their baby's learning to walk.

And don't forget hubby still has needs. Just because you've got a new love of your life, doesn't mean you can let your first baby's needs go unattended. Even if you feel your hooha might be so gaping your whole husband could get lost up there, you've got to satisfy your man (you can start around 6 weeks post partum which I'm sure you're delighted about don't you know).  In fact, please be a madonna in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom or whatever the phrase is (and only the best home made food for baby, baby led or spoon fed because although both you know, get food in your baby, you don't want to get something so important so wrong!). Real women have a home cooked meal on the table when hubby walks in the door because after all, he's been out at work all day and you've been at home. Which you shouldn't feel bad about because you're raising a baby. Selflessly and all. Except you should really be working a bit soon, you shouldn't lose yourself entirely. You don't want to become one of those women. But not too much mind. Don't focus on your career ahead of your baby, that's just selfish. No, ideally you should earn a decent living working part time in something you always wanted to do, whilst still being around enough to raise your baby and keep a tidy home and ensure no childcare until at least 3 for your little darling. Because that's what a real women would do no? And there's so many of those jobs out there.

And above all else, don't forget yourself you know?  No one likes a bore, a mother who can talk of nothing but baby poo and which pram is best. Whilst you navigate this brave new world called motherhood trying to forge a new identity, understand yourself in this new role and cope with raising something tiny, oh so precious and going around carrying your heart inside it, don't forget yourself. And don't even think about complaining about any of this (you must always be smiling beatifically), or wondering why, since literally millions of women go through this our world doesn't seem well equipped to support the utterly beautiful, exhausting journey you go on once you bring that baby into the world. So you know ride all those crazy feelings you good woman and whilst it might feel like nobody gets it and everyone's doing it better than you they're really not. Because every woman to whom someone calls mama knows it's both so incredibly wonderful yet totally mundane, so magical and yet so unappreciated. So humbling and yet so tedious.  You know we ladies, really are all in this together and whatever you do, you know it's probably wrong, so let's abandon all fear of judgment and have baby wearing co sleeping mothers and formula feeding, schedule loving mothers uniting until the time comes when there is no comparison, no fear of failing somehow and just being mum is enough.

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Maira Gall