Pregnancy seems to be viewed as this glorious time when we're creating life. It's all about having a beautiful (small and perfectly formed) bump, decorating the nursery and hanging out in a happy haze as we wait for the birth of our children. I did a quick Google image search for pregnancy and out of a selection of very similar images, these are the ones that really stood out to me:
|Ahhh relaxing with a large flower - just what we all do!|
|And of course the beautiful blonde first child kissing our fabulous belly|
|Or better still - it's perfectly safe to exercise in pregnancy!|
Honestly, I couldn't get into that position at any time, never mind while pregnant.
Ok, it is amazing to see that little blue line on the stick, it is amazing to see the scans (when our baby is healthy), it is amazing to feel the baby move and it's certainly amazing to hold our baby for the first time...well so long as we're conscious and not recovering from a haemorrhage of course.
You know what? Let's explode this myth that pregnancy is a faaaaaabulous time full of wonder, joy and peaceful times hanging out with flowers. And let's start celebrating the incredible strength of women who go through absolute hell during pregnancy and all the challenges that can come with it and yet still manage to get out of bed in the morning, still manage to take care of other children who don't stop and won't wait because Mummy is pregnant and feels horrible. Let's celebrate women who still manage to take care of households or spouses; let's celebrate single mothers who cope without the help of a spouse or partner. Let's celebrate women who still manage to go to work and paste a smile on their face because they have a job to do even though they'd much rather be in bed.
And let's STOP saying that pregnancy is a wonderful time. Let's stop saying that we (even women who have been pregnant) know exactly what they are going through - because every woman's experience is different. Let's stop saying, "oh it's just hormones" when she bursts into tears or needs to have a shout. Instead, let's pass the tissues, the decaf coffee, stop and take time to listen without judgement, without comparisons and without telling that because we all go through it, that her experience is normal. Let's pass the fuzzy slippers, the loose and comfortable t-shirt (and give her permission to get out of that silly maternity business suit!) and let's be kind to women who are going through hell to create life and will then continue to go through hell to raise their children while absolutely adoring them so much they would sacrifice their own lives to keep them safe.
Because I know some amazing, incredible, powerful, brave and determined women.
I know a woman who endured the miscarriage and stillbirth of four children before being able to hold one in her arms.
I know a woman who endured hyperemesis gravidarium - which means she dealt with horrific nausea and vomiting for all nine months - through all three of her pregnancies and ended up in hospital a number of times as she grew weaker and weaker.
I know a woman who is enduring both hyperemesis gravidarium and SPD so that in addition to dealing with constant nausea is also in incredible pain and yet she is still working.
I know a woman who had a healthy child, then a child who died of a GBS infection, before having a third child whom she protected with antibiotics and who now campaigns for other women to know about GBS before it's too late.
I know a woman who gave birth to a premature baby and then endured more than ten weeks sitting by her baby's incubator in neonatal intensive care while that baby was ventilated, fed intravenously and monitored by an entire team of medical staff who tried to encourage that baby to grow strong.
I know a woman who gave birth to her second healthy child only to watch that beautiful child become infected with Krabbe Leukodystrophy and who cared for that child with passionate commitment, joy and tears as she went blind, lost her motor functions and eventually was released from this life shortly after the age of two. She now does everything she can to help other mothers dealing with similar situations.
I know women who are strong, incredibly brave, devoted and yet somehow cannot see how amazing they are. I know women who dismiss pregnancy and motherhood as normal events without seeing that every single pregnancy and every single child is a miracle brought to life by an incredibly strong and determined woman who often forgets that it's ok to say they feel weak...who forgets that it's ok to say they need help...who forgets that it's ok to say THIS SUCKS. This is NOT bliss! This is incredibly hard work and I don't know if I can make it.
If you know a woman like this, whether it's your spouse, your sister, your friend, your coworker or even one who you might just have walked by not realizing just how strong she is, stop and take the time to listen to her. Don't tell her that you know exactly what she's going through; just listen. Don't tell her that her tears are just hormones because she's entitled to cry. Don't tell her that her anger is also just hormones because she's entitled to shout. Take the time to love her, to tell her how special, how amazing and how brave she is. Listen to her story and be amazed.
Then remember that whatever the Google images tell you, motherhood is a bit more like this: