What to Expect – 9 Myths of Motherhood: Guest Post by Looking For Mama Me
Before I fell pregnant, I had these visions in my head about pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
Everyone had some pearls of wisdom of what I should expect. Then there where the endless parenting books, forums, and iPhone apps. TV shows and movies had instilled almost glamorous notions of pregnancy. The reality was very different.
Here are the top myths that motherhood truly squashed for me.
Myth 1. Pregnant women glow.
Maybe some do, but I didn’t! Contrary to popular belief my skin was not radiant and glowing, my hair was not full and lush but the complete opposite. In fact my skin broke out and my hair seemed to shed more than usual. I bloated and felt like I had the flu (probably looked like it too). I had bags under my eyes I was so tired. For the first 3 months if I shut my eyes even for a second at my work desk I all but feel asleep.
Pregnancy is uncomfortable, painful and for some, but luckily not me, messy.
Myth 2. There are on average 30/31 days in a month.
This is in fact not true during the last month of pregnancy. I’m sure many mothers have seen the e-card to that effect floating around. It is true, every month has on average 30/31 days. The last month of pregnancy, however, has around 2 gazillion days! I felt like the month was never going to end! I was off work due to complications and stuck at home just waiting for baby to arrive. No driving, no exercise. Increasing pain previewing the impending torturous labour pains. It. Was. Torture.
Longest month ever!
Myth 3. Women give birth on their backs, with great make up and babies come out clean and pink.
I was under the illusion (thank you TV) that your water broke, labour started, you went to the hospital and had a baby. You also lay on your back and pushed out a perfect pink clean baby. Wow! Naive much!
For me, some of that myth was true. My water broke at home at 8pm (but this only happens about 5% of the time), but no contractions. I went to the hospital and spent the night waiting for labour (while my water continued to break all night – another thing they don’t tell you). Morning came, yep, still no contractions. So I was induced a few hours later. Baby was out in under 3 hours.
In most cases though, first time mum can have contractions for days before it is even considered active labour. Seriously if you told a woman she would have days of painful contractions every 10 minutes and not be in full labour, she might rethink the whole pregnancy thing.
The ‘lying on your back the whole time’ thing, I couldn’t think of anything worse. I was walking and moving the whole time! Lying on your back is the most unnatural way to have a baby!
Finally, labour is messy. So so so messy. They never show all the blood on TV. Now I know why!
Myth 4. Being a mother will come naturally.
Well, simply, no! I had never even seen a newborn baby let alone held one before I had one! The only babies I had any interaction with was my hubbies best mates daughters who I saw a few times a year as we live interstate, and when ladies at work brought their babies in for a visit.
I was TERRIFIED to hold my baby. Every time I had to pick her up, I panicked thinking I might accidentally drop her. I had no idea about bedtime, routines, sleep, settling, feeding, solids, nappy changing! Seriously, nothing came naturally!
I spent the first month sitting on baby forums or calling my mother for advice. Even after 4 months I have no idea what I’m doing. I just muddle my way through every day in hopes that my baby will grow up unaffected by all my ‘mistakes’.
Myth 5. You can do it all. And you can do it all well.
I don’t know about you, but when you have a baby some area of your life is going to slip in priority. I can not even imagine how its possible to have a high flying career while taking your kids to soccer practice, clarinet lessons, play dates baking cupcakes for the bake sale and so on. Let alone keeping the spice in your marriage and the house spotless. It’s hard enough to do this without children!
Hats off to all the ladies who have at least found that great balance between work and family. It is something I can only strive towards, but I am convinced every mother who has found a good balance will tell you she wishes she could dedicate more time to her career or kids or even herself!
Myth 6. Cleaning up after a baby is disgusting
Before I had a baby, I thought changing a babies nappy, wiping their nose, cleaning food mess off their hands and face and everywhere in touching distance was absolutely disgusting. When I got pregnant I always thought, ‘how am I going to do this?’
For some reason though, when its your baby, its actually not so bad. Especially in those first few months. Baby poo doesn’t smell too bad until they start solids. All the drooling is actually kind of endearing. And cleaning the food off my babies face, hands and everything she touched when she recently started solids didn’t bother me. I so excited to be starting her on solids that I barely cared about the mess at all!
Myth 7. Being a mother will complete you
When I had my baby, I lost my job, my independence, my freedom to do what I wanted and some of my friends. I felt lost as to what to do with my life. I felt like I was starting almost from scratch. I needed to make new friends. Find a new job or even a new career! Four months in an I am definitely no where near complete. I am trying to start new friendships but I haven’t even the foggiest idea what I want to do with my life.
I love my baby to the heavens and back! I wouldn’t be complete without her. But having her meant I lost other parts of my life, and I still need to find these.
Myth 8. Child raising is women’s work.
I’m sure we can all agree that in this 21st Century, this one is no longer true! Yes, my husband works Monday to Friday while I am home with Elena, but he is very much an involved dad. Every evening he changes her nappy and put her into her night time gear and reads her bedtime book. He loves it!
I am sure if his work gave men parental leave, he would be onto that quick smart.
Myth 9. Babies sleep through from six weeks.
HAHAHAHAHA! Really? Who coined that one? When I was pregnant I was often told that I would have lots of sleepless nights for the first six weeks but then they start sleeping through. Oh boy, I wish!
The last week my baby has averaged four wakes a night. Last night we scored with only two! I’m still waiting for this mythical ‘sleep-through’.
What myths has motherhood squashed for you?
About Lu from Looking For Mama Me
Lu is the face behind Looking For Mama Me. A wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister and so much more. Recently moving across the country with her family, she is a new mum to her 11 month old baby, she is learning to navigate life as a mother in a new city. Having left her job writing policy as a public servant when becoming a mother, Lu is pursuing her passions in art, history and culture while writing about motherhood and the things that inspire her. Not afraid to talk about tough issues, Lu blogs about family, home, and life as a mother while trying to discover what’s next for her.