Monday, 9 April 2012

I Think Women Are Amazing

I think women are amazing and yet too often, we don't recognize this.  Specifically, I think mothers are amazing.  We downplay our strengths, our achievements and our iron determination saying it's just what anyone would do, or its really not that big of a deal or, when we're struggling through a particularly difficult time and we want to shout, scream or cry, we use that absolute kicker and say, "it's just hormones..."

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.
Funnily enough, out of the few hundred images I skimmed through, I didn't see any of a woman bent over the toilet vomiting her guts up.  I didn't see any of a woman in such agonizing pain from SPD that she was using walking sticks or a wheelchair to get around.  I didn't see any of a woman enduring a miscarriage, a premature birth, an ill baby, a disabled baby or anything other than glowing reports of how wonderful this experience is.  You are creating life!  You WILL enjoy it!

Yah.  Right.

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:


  1. What a fabulous post.

    I hated pregnancy, every single day of it. Everyone who knew me said "oh you've lost your sparkle" I didn't look like myself, I didn't feel like myself.

    When my baby was born at 27 weeks I felt a huge relief like a weight had been lifted. And along with this was an immense sense of guilt, that my baby was better off in an incubator than inside me.

    Pregnancy and motherhood are, you are right, darn hard work. It's not a time for sitting under an oak tree, quietly glowing, with your hands on your belly, its hard slog.

    Doesn't mean it isn't worth it though.

    Mothers are powerful, and a force to be reckoned with.

  2. Ooooooh that's a good one! "You've lost your sparkle!" As if you're not only supposed to be creating life but SPARKLING while doing so! Heaven forbid you should look an inch less that your perfectly normal self!

    I think that's an incredibly powerful statement you made Kylie about the birth of your baby - that you felt a weight had been lifted while also being filled with guilt over his early birth. How many of us (if we're honest!) feel that giving birth is the lifting of a weight? Literally and metaphorically! We just can't easily admit it.

    I think we need to celebrate us a little more often, we take ourselves for granted!

  3. I can't think of anything to add but "here, here!"
    A very powerful post to celebrate a powerful sex. Why is there only one mother's day-it should be monthly!
    The responsibility of a life, let alone to conform to expectations is huge, so much so these powerful women often become sidelined.
    Of course it is worth it, but Google is fibbing.

  4. Google is definitely fibbing!!!! And to think it wasn't that long ago that women were referred to as "The Weaker Sex" *indignant splutter*!

  5. Fabulous post Charlotte! I'm reading about antenatal and post natal care at the mo, you know it was the 195os before there was anything official in place in Britain. Before that it was deemed to be a waste of recourses, talk about it being 'a man's world'.
    Yes we do and amazing job but lets not forget our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers who did it too, in much different circumstances!
    The weaker sex! Pa'h!

  6. I know how it feels to be told that you are suppose to be happy and excited when you are name is Paulette ( and I personally went through 7 miscarriages that came with the guilt and anger of what the hell is wrong with me? Every time I felt more emotional pain as I wondered if I was going to make it for the whole time... I would cry constantly with no one around because I couldnt break my mothers heart another time telling her that I lost yet another grandchild of hers....anger and depression is a horrible ting to feel when you are told that you should be happy and smiling and excited that you are bringing a life into the world.

    At the age of 33 I found out again I was expecting... I didnt tell anyone until I was close to the 3rd month....I refused to go and buy anything at all...I did not want to go through having to give away all of the baby items that I couldnt stand looking at anymore.... My husband was so scared for me... we were told that I would have to be very careful and ensure that I followed the doctors instructions about pressure!!!

    I made it pass 5 months when I told my mother that I was pregnant...she started to cry, not with happiness but with fear...I told her it was ok that I was past the 5 months. My mother's reply was "I will be happy for you when I see you deliver that baby."

    well I followed what I was told to do, I ate so carefully that I was losing weight while being pregnant...
    then it finally happened.. I had my first child, a perfect sweet little man of 5pds 1oz, and I named him Aaron.

    Funny thing is that after all this feelings of defeat and sorrow, my body finally clicked in and got it figured out that it was ok to carry a child full term because 13 months later my wonderful son Ryan came to us. he was a whole 5pds 7oz... both were full term and healthy...

    I personally think that having such scary and nervous pregnancies make me appreciate my child so much more than some mothers would. I am so proud of my sons and they have shown me how much love I am capable of... I am now a foster mother of 5 other children...

  7. Wow Pauline, thank you for sharing such an emotive story - you are an incredibly brave woman and I have the greatest admiration for you, to have gone through so much tragedy and still have the courage to try again is amazing. You are clearly a woman of strength!


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