Honest Mama

For the From Left to Write Book Club, I read Exploiting My Baby by Teresa Strasser, a refreshingly honest memoir of pregnancy and childbirth. This post was inspired by that book.

During my first pregnancy I sometimes thought there was something wrong with me, like maybe I was missing a mom gene. I never got the warm fuzzies when thinking about myself being pregnant. I didn't cradle my belly or hold conversations with my mid-section. In pre-natal yoga, I internally (and possibly externally) rolled my eyes when the teacher asked us to put one hand on our heart and the other on our baby and thank ourselves for blah, blah, blah. I was more likely to refer to the baby as "the situation" (long before Jersey Shore, mind you). To me, being pregnant was a job. Nothing to feel warm and fuzzy about. Nine months of incubation then an infant. That's the situation, right?

I'm just not warm and fuzzy about stuff like that. I'm too literal. And, now that I'm pregnant again, I've gotta admit, not much has changed. I still kind of feel like a vessel. I just have a better idea of the pay off and the overwhelming sense of love I'll feel when the baby is actually born. But, it hasn't changed how I'm dealing with pregnancy since the first time.

Other moms look at me like I'm crazy when I admit this kind of stuff. But, why would I lie about it? I'm not the only mom who feels this way, right? Right?

After I first had W I was determined to dispel the "everything is perfect" mommy myth. I told everyone who would listen that pregnancy was nine months of constipation, adult onset acne, and people being really nice to you. And, no, you won't glow or feel sexy, but you will be the focus of everyone's attention, if you're into that sort of thing. And then when you have a baby... It will be isolating and scary and you'll have moments of never wanting to leave the house, but it gets better - Especially if you don't pay attention to those Facebook updates of the Super Moms who popped out a baby, ran ten miles, jumped back into their pre-pregnancy jeans, and baked muffins for their new mom group all while being well groomed and trying to convince themselves that moms can have it all.

So, yeah, when I read a memoir like this, I feel a teensy bit justified. Or at least not quite so alone. More moms should be honest with each other. We should admit to each other that it can be hard, it can be scary, you may not shower for days on end, you will start crying from lack of sleep and breastfeeding frustration, but millions of idiots have managed to do this Mom job. If they can do it, so can you. Maybe it isn't the best pep talk, but it's the one I give. It's never a good idea to make another mom feel like there's something wrong with her or that she isn't living up to the mom role.

Sure, I have my moments of getting all mushy about my crazy adorable, sweet little guy. I don't often admit it, but like most moms I also have the moments of paralyzing fear that something might happen to him or me, that someone might be mean to him one day. I can say that being a mom has become my most important role in life and keep a straight face. (OK, I might kind of smirk or laugh when I admit it.) Regardless of how mushy I get, that's not what makes me a good mom or not. I grew into a pretty good mom on my own terms (if I do say so myself). But, I had to do it my way.

This post was inspired by the book "Exploiting My Baby," by Teresa Strasser, which I received complimentary as a part of the From Right to Left Book Club. See how other bloggers were inspired by this book here.


Lara Kercinik said...

One of my favorites. Really well said. And, no, you are not alone. A pregnant friend recently said, "you know, I'll be happy when this baby reaches 6 months old. Til then, it's just a lot of exhaustion."

Cindy Fey said...

You're pregnant! Congrats - how lovely! So happy for you and the family.

I prefer funny books about the new mom experience, like Exploiting My Baby, to the lyrical ones. Funny is harder to write and it helps keep the whole ordeal in perspective.

JennieB said...

My new mom pep talk is very similar to yours. So important to find other moms who willbe honest with you.

Michelle said...

Yeah, I never did the belly holding and rubbing thing. I didn't have the headphones to pour music into his developing brain, etc. It just ... wasn't me. But am I a good mom now? Most days, yeah, I think I am. And really, that's pretty darn important! And yay for another baby!

Emily said...

Really liked your post. I did have a great pregnancy, mostly, so I think if you feel great you are going to have a different view and experience.

Once my son popped out...Yep, most times during those early months, especially w/ PP issues, it was a living Hell and you're right, we SHOULDN'T be afraid to say it can be like that.

Really loved the book too and think Teresa is a brave woman!

April said...

I totally agree! While I enjoyed pregnancy more than I thought I would, I can't handle listening to moms who insist that their siblings never fight.

Amy H said...

I was probably somewhere in the middle with how I felt/feel about my pregnancies, but have definitely found my own motherhood challenges and try to be honest, but keep my sense of humor. Because, you're right. We're all good moms...in our own way. And we might as well laugh our way through the hard times with people who can relate!