Thursday, 1 March 2012

The whole truth

Last weekend we spent a lovely couple of days staying with some of The Friends on the Norfolk Coast.  One of the couples are expecting their first baby in three months time.  We were there with The (seven month old) Baby and The Eight Year Old and another couple with their son who is 15 months.  As you would imagine, there was more than a little talk of pregnancy and parenting and it got me thinking about the stories us parents like to share - and the bits we choose not too.

Parenting stories, more often than not, fall into one of two categories.  Horror stories or 'perfect world' accounts of family life.  It starts with pregnancy and childbirth.  Have you ever noticed how it seems to be human nature to compete with each other when sharing stories of illness or injuries we've encountered?  There seems to be nothing we like more than to provide all the graphic details of our suffering.  Well, pregnancy and childbirth can take this competition and sharing to a whole new level.  I'm guilty of it myself as times...wearing the birth of The Eight Year Old and The Baby like a badge of honour.  On saying that, I would like to think I at least attempt to give an honest and balanced account when asked about these experiences, along the lines of....

Pregnancy - Yes, it's a magical, wonderful thing.  Yes, it's a little bit weird to have a whole another person growing right there inside of you, taking over your body.  No, it's not an illness but if you suffer any, or all, of the common pregnancy ailments then it can feel worse than any illness you've known before - anyone who's suffered with the constant nausea of so called morning sickness will know that there's nothing 'natural' about feeling like that. Yes, it feels a bit like you have lost control over your own body.  Yes, the miraculous fact that you are able to 'grow' an actual mini-human being in there is simply amazing and this alone, makes all pregnant ladies amazing.  Feeling your baby move around is both lovely and a little bit odd, until they are getting ready to come out and then it's like having someone in their practising their boxing moves against your ribs.  I have nothing positive to say about the nine months of not drinking and avoiding some of the foods you may love.

Childbirth - Yes, it is intense.  Yes it is hard work (the clue is in the label - 'labour').  Yes it is painful.  Yes, it can unpredictable (both times for me, each in very different ways).  Yes, it can be an incredible bonding experience between you and your  partner.  Yes, it is amazing to meet your baby's knowing you have protected them whilst they grew until they were ready to face the world. And in retrospect, I found it was empowering - although I'm no 'earth mother' who felt empowered at the time let me tell you that for nothing right now!

One thing is for sure though, each pregnancy and labour is different for each person each time.  And so whilst it can be helpful to hear the stories of others in preparing ourselves for our own personal experience, it's important to not build expectations based on the things others tell us.  One of The Friends tried to make me feel better about the pending birth of The (now) Eight Year Old when she told me that thinking back to the birth of her daughter she'd 'had worse visits to the dentist'.  To this day I still ask her about what sort of b****y dentist she must go to!!!

Speaking, as we were earlier,  of that mighty fine thing we call retrospect I would add that looking back at the pregnancies and births of my two boys, they were relatively short lived in exchange for the little people they produced.  And it's true what they say (whoever 'they' are), the pain and discomfort is soon forgotten.  Mind you, it may just be that once your baby arrives you're simply too tired to remember anything much at all....but more about that tomorrow.


  1. I think so far the worst moment for Ann has been someone at work saying "are you pregnant then? I thought you always looked like that!"

    1. It's funny how being pregnant seems to make certain other people think they have permission to freely comment on your appearance. And suddenly everyone is an expert of bump size. Not to mention the strangers who think it's acceptable to stare at and even touch a persons rounded stomach...don't get me started on that one, it's enough to make me want to head butt people!!