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August 6, 2013

6 Things Bugging Me About Pregnancy and Having a Baby

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Since having Emma, I've been thinking a lot about how the advice I received ahead of and after her birth actually helped me or not. I heard everything from old wives' tales to anecdotes and personal experiences, but did any of these benefit me or did they make the experience more difficult?

Here are a couple of things:

1. You and your baby will become public domain. This was something I was not forewarned about at all, and, come to think of it, it should have been something people should have mentioned to me, considering that I am kind of introverted and unsociable. What I mean by this comment is that, once your baby bump starts showing, people will stare at it, trying to gauge whether it really is a baby or not. When they realise it is, you will be approached by anyone at any time. Some of these people will want to touch your bump. Uninvited. Many of them will offer you advice, and still more will ask you completely inappropriate questions, such as whether or not you're suffering from constipation yet. Eventually, everyone will comment on how huge you are. But it doesn't stop there! After putting up with this attention for about 6 months, taking baby out is an invitation for all and sundry to want to take a 'peek'. Yes, the miracle of procreation is wonderful, but sometimes you'll just want people to leave you alone. You will also be bombarded by old wives' tales (as if you hadn't had enough of those during your pregnancy) about how to keep your baby's soft spot out of the sun or its brain will boil, or how tickling its feet will make it stutter, or how not to let it try to stand because it will grow up to be bow-legged.

2. You will be told that having a baby in the house is a shock to the system. No one will be able to tell you exactly how much of a shock it really is; every family is different, of course, and sometimes you will have people helping you *all* the time, but sometimes, you'll have to do it alone. No one tells you that the hardest part is the first, say, 8 weeks - that's when you really start to feel the sleep deprivation, and you don't recognise baby's cues yet, so you will get frustrated. No matter how much you've prepared, it will be a shock to the system you're not prepared for.

3. No matter how much literature you read telling you that it's okay to feel frustrated, you will still feel guilty that you are. There is nothing wrong with your reactions; you know that, but you will still feel bad about having them. Your emotions will be all over the place as well (that goes for both parents), so you'll be overcome by love one minute, and concerned about your own needs and desires the next. Again, you are told this is normal, but you will still feel bad about it. Just a warning, because I felt bad about it a lot! :)

4. For moms, sometimes the bond is not there at birth, or at least it doesn't feel like it's there at first. I'm going to be very personal here, and say that I didn't feel it when Emma was born. I felt an innate responsibility to look after her, but I didn't know the little person that I'd carried around for 9 months. I didn't feel like she loved me, and was mad with jealousy when she smiled at hubby when he came home one day - a smile I hadn't been honoured with yet. My first week home was also stressful - I was in a lot of pain and felt really debilitated in looking after her. I couldn't sit without pain, my back was killing me because muscles were overcompensating, and I was exhausted, as I had slight insomnia for the last three months of my pregnancy too. I'm not making excuses, but what I'm trying to say is that sometimes circumstances are beyond our control, our feelings are beyond our control, and the bond is also beyond our control. Don't worry - you and baby have the rest of your lives together. It will come.

5. Breastfeeding is a major point for me. In the end, it is your choice. I really don't think it's anyone's business whether I'm breastfeeding or not, so I get quite annoyed that everyone feels they need to find out whether or not I am. I know I'm announcing how I'm feeding my baby to the world now in this blog, but I think it's a very important point. I completely understand that breastfeeding is best for babies. But some mothers simply cannot breastfeed. And even if they could, and they choose formula over breastfeeding, there is nothing wrong with that. It's entirely their choice. I was made to feel incredibly guilty for not breastfeeding my baby in the hospital (the nurse even told Emma in front of me, 'It's your mommy's fault you're hungry'), and I'm one of those mothers who would not be able to have sustained my supply - Emma would have suffered. I hate that this small choice determines the quality of mother you are in our society. I'm saying here and now that if you want to bottle-feed your baby, do it. No one has the right to make you feel guilty about it, especially if your baby is happy, healthy, gaining weight, and growing well. Just make sure you educate yourself properly on bottle-feeding.

6. My final point is a little more current, as I'm going through this right now. I have to return to work this week, and have had to get a nanny to look after Emma while I'm working. This is possibly one of the most difficult things I've had to do. You will feel bad about it. You will feel guilty about leaving her. You will worry that she will feel abandoned. These are all natural, good feelings to have. You will feel this way no matter with whom you are leaving her. I am with her all day - I'm lucky enough to be working from home (but I still have to leave her with someone else) - but some mothers have no choice but to leave their children so they can make an income to continue caring for them. This is the way the world is, and all you can do is make sure that the time you do spend with them is filled with the love you have for them. This article should also make you feel better. :)

To conclude, I just want to wish all mothers and soon-to-be mothers out there good luck with their babies. Just remember that no pregnancy is alike. Also, no baby is alike, and no mother is alike, except in the love they share.

(Image credit: By File photo, Canwest News Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

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