a very good post yesterday that I saw on many friend's pages, fluttering around the internet, about an expecting mom and the negative comments she's gotten about her first pregnancy. It begins by talking about how 9 out of 10 people who approach the happily pregnant mom have something negative to say. As I read the post by Courtney, at Women Living Well, I found myself reflecting on my experience over the course of my four pregnancies, both the experiences while pregnant and while braving the supermarket and streets with little ones in tow.
To be honest, I don't remember getting negative comments when I was expecting Sadie. Sure I was ready to be done hearing "you're about to pop!" when I was around six months along, but it was just before the recession and the economy was still booming along on those creaky, about to collapse sub-prime mortgages, so the tone of society in general seemed a bit more optimistic back then. Besides, I was living in a place where 26 wasn't young to be pregnant, although when we visited the city to do some shopping before Christmas, I realized that I basically looked like a teenager when my age was compared with the average ages of the stylish pregnant women I ran into at the stores.
The really odious comments started when I was pregnant with Christian. We had passed the socially acceptable "two child" mark. Three was apparently distasteful. I was asked if my husband would get snipped in the grocery line by someone I'd never spoken to before. People wished me luck on having that boy so that we could "finally" stop "trying." They inquired as to whether we would "try again" if this was another little girl.
When we lost Christian in the second trimester all those comments continued to ring bitterly in my ears. They, along with the ever so common "well it was probably for the best... there was probably something wrong with the baby..." comments seemed to swirl around in my thoughts at random times, mixed in with the sadness and sickness of those days, which were already difficult to bear.
And yet lately I've found my reaction changing in a way that surprises me at times.
It began near the end of my pregnancy with Patrick. It was after I'd spent those four days at the end of my pregnancy at the hospital, and so Nani was out visiting and for the first time in over a year I found myself out occasionally by myself or with Paul, unaccompanied by the princesses while we ran quick errands.
This time I did experience the negativity apparently directed at first time moms. People would gleefully tell me in the check out line about the horrors of baby-hood that I was about to experience. I would find myself smiling though as they spoke of the long sleepless months ahead, until they'd say: "this is you first, isn't it?" and I would say those shocking words: "Oh no, I have two at home who are two and four" which to me didn't seem all that mind blowing at all, but which, from the reactions I received, apparently was (sometimes I'd throw in "yup, my hands are full!" just for good measure). "We've been lucky though." I'd say. "Our girls go in their rooms at bedtime and sleep all night. I used to have to wake up our second to eat when she was a newborn. But who knows if this one will be a good sleeper or not. We'll have to wait and see."
This response seemed to shock and astound. It was followed by silence. I was supposed to be horrified and dreading sleepless nights. Often times people even seemed a little disappointed.
When I went into the doctors office for Patrick's appointments once he arrived, I found myself greeted with disbelief. "Having a new baby is hard." They would tell me. "Oh he's an easy baby." I would say and eyes would widen in disbelief. "He sleeps and eats and hardly ever cries. He's just as snuggly as can be." No one really seemed to believe me. "My first was hard." I would assure them. They'd look at me as if watching for signs that I was about to crack and burst into tears.
I've wondered myself if Patrick and Mae's baby-hood was easy because they were easy babies or because I was a much more relaxed as a mother. I have no idea what the answer is (Sadie had reflux... and reflux was not easy... although it would have been much easier I imagine if we'd figured out what it was much earlier...). Sometimes I imagine it's a little of both.
For me at least, there's been a learning curve to motherhood. Putting someone else first all the time wasn't an easy adjustment. I'd never changed a diaper before I had Sadie. I hadn't held a baby for more than a minute or so. I'd read a lot of books but that was pretty much it. If the doctor had said "having a baby is hard" when Sadie was six months old I would have nodded with sleep blurred eyes in agreement as if it were the set in stone truth for every single baby.
Maybe someday we will be blessed with another baby who needs to nurse every hour, never sleeps, and screams like a banshee with colic for no apparent reason. It happens. We lived through it once and it was so incredibly worth it for our beautiful laughing girl. However I would be much more proactive since I now know that isn't just "how all babies are" at trying to find out why our little one is so uncomfortable. After all, Patrick is that baby if I have anything dairy.
As for the comments? They're trickling off. In part because I'm not pregnant and maybe in part because Mae Bae has a sort of feral look to her, with her perpetually disheveled hair and wild laughing eyes, and so people give us a wide berth even when she's quiet and still.
And to all you mom's enduring those comments in the supermarket check out line or at the bank tellers window at the bank... hang in there. Whatever the world tells you I can promise you this: It's worth it. It's so, so worth it. It isn't what the world calls "easy." But most things worth having aren't.