As someone who gives parenting advice for a living, it's hard to decide what is necessary and what isn't when it comes to preparing someone for a new baby. Every woman reacts differently to the birth of a child. I had a very hard time after my first was born. I was much happier after I had my second. But when I write about postpartum stuff, I usually talk more about the difficulties I had. Why? Because I feel like women who are feeling the way I was feeling after I had my first child simply need more emotional support than those who are totally over the moon.
I just simply do not connect with parenting essays that are all sappy and sunshine and roses. I think it's fantastic if you do, but those essays can actually be kind of damaging to women who are in a fragile emotional state after the birth of their kids. It's why I choose to focus on commiserating instead of talking about how amazing my baby smells (which by the way, she did smell incredible).
I'm thinking about this today because Tracy Moore from Jezebel wrote a pretty funny rebuttal to one of those super sappy new mom stories. The original story is called "They Should've Warned Me." Moore's rebuttal is called "Very Blessed New Mom Wishes She Had Been Warned More About Blessings." It's worth the look simply for the fantastic GIF of a rainbow shooting out of a mother's neck as she strokes her unicorn baby. Seriously, who made this GIF? It's perfect.
In the original post, a blogger talks about how the majority of the warnings she got about new motherhood had to do how tired she would be, how she would never again have free time with her partner, or how much labor itself was going to hurt. She likens herself to a prisoner on death row, "trying to force [herself] to enjoy some tiny luxury despite [her] size and discomfort."
What she actually says happened after the birth of her child was this:
"They should've warned me that after all those hours of labor (half of which with an epidural, which made things totally bearable), the first time I saw her face my heart would burst out of my chest and shatter onto the floor. They should've warned me that crying because you're happy is actually a thing, and it's a thing you can't control when you're a mommy and you behold the beauty in your arms. So you'd better keep tissues on hand at all times, and stock up on the waterproof eyeliner."
I get it. There is definitely and audience for this. But do you know how damaging this is to a woman who isn't feeling this way? I cried every day for four months after my son was born. Reading stuff like this sent me further into an abyss of "why don't I feel this way?" and "am I a horrible mother?"
I also understand that for a pregnant woman, reading article after article about how much new motherhood can suck is not beneficial - at all. Therein lies the rub. This is why there will always be arguments on posts about parenthood -- because all of our experiences are so different. I am a different writer than this mother whose blog is called "Born To Be A Bride" -- and that's okay. It takes all voices. We are not all the same. Maybe someone is feeling overwhelmed with joy after the birth of their child and really needs to connect with this kind of positivity.
But I'm never going to stop writing about the stuff that sucks, too -- because I see you, new mom. Do you hear me? I see you looking at your baby and not really sure what the fuck you are doing and crying every day. It's just simply more important to me that you know that you are going to be okay.
(photo: weerayut ranmai/ Shutterstock)