Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The guilt starts here...

I posted this one on Insta last week while I was away on hols.

I chose my words carefully as I am wont to do. I worry about being misunderstood, or upsetting one of the women I love for whom pregnancy isn't an option, or all sorts of other things.

I am spectacularly good at self censorship.

This week in an online due-in group I am a part of, a woman asked if she was alone in her feelings of unhappiness in her changing body.

She isn't, but I noticed that everyone including me was very quick to temper their responses with comments around it all being worth it, it's a short time for a huge reward etc. Just like I've done up there really.

And it feels like the underlying, unspoken feeling is one of fear and guilt... Fear that someone will assume a resentment of the baby, guilt for having these feelings about our bodies when we should instead be entirely thankful for the miracle of life no matter what the perceived personal sacrifice.

Because that's what motherhood is, and it starts from conception right? A sacrifice of self for the child. Martyrhood is what we should be aspiring too, and if we dare voice disappointment or sadness or discomfort we are being selfish and so the mother-guilt begins.

From the moment the world becomes aware of your pregnancy everyone else knows better than you what you should be doing. You should not be having a glass of wine. You should be buying all the right things. You should not eat ham/cheese/ice cream. You should exercise for 30 minutes three times per week. You should not put on too much weight. You should put on more weight than you have.

It is exhausting. At a time when you are already at your most exhausted.

I would like to believe that the majority of women are not stupid. That they make educated, measured decisions for their bodies and their babies without the need to be lectured or patronised. That they listen to their care providers and make good choices for THEMSELVES even when those choices may not be the ones their mother-in-laws, friends or possibly even partners would make.

And I think it is okay to say that pregnancy sucks, because for many of us it does.

For me personally, pregnancy means a likelihood of antenatal depression and anxiety. These things suck.

It also means that the body I worked incredibly hard for over the past few years and had come to love for its abilities has been lost in a roadmap of stretch marks, diminished muscle mass and an inability to do the things that I love so much - run and lift.

I think it is okay for me to mourn those losses. I can do that with zero resentment for the daughter I am carrying. She rolls around and wakes me up at night already and I feel like I know her and I love her so much. She is a blessing, felt even more keenly as the due dates for the babies we lost have passed by over the last few months.

I know what is coming. I can't wait to see her face and to hold her.

But I feel heavy and tired. My face gets puffy and my fingers swell up. I get itchy. My skin is blotchy and the legs that ran 42kms a couple of years ago feel like lead by the early afternoon.

I'm a mother, but I am a person as well. It took me years and years to find a peace between the two when I had my older children, and to be perfectly honest I think I made sacrifices in the name of being a 'good mum' that not only didn't particularly benefit my children but actively damaged my self esteem and my relationships. Hindsight is a fine thing.

I love my children. I am a great Mum. Our new baby is lucky to be joining our family and will be so intensely loved and adored. But I don't enjoy 90% of what pregnancy entails and that is okay. Wanting to maintain a relationship with my partner beyond that of co-parenting isn't selfish - it's crucial. Putting myself first is important, and my kids are the ones who benefit when I stop trying to be some sort of supermum and go back to just being Kate. Kate is enough.

I've been a parent for 13 years. I get a whole lot of things wrong all the time.

I'm doing fine.

You are too.

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