This morning in my chiropractic practice, I had a new mom come in for an adjustment. Her comment was “I feel like I’m falling apart,” followed by “No one told me how hard having a baby was going to be on me after the birth.”
After years in practice, I have to wonder: What is it that leads women to think that the hardest part of becoming a mom is going through childbirth? Is it just the fact that it can hurt? Or that we have images from the media that are often horrible depictions of this miraculous process? But yet, once you’ve “crossed that hurdle” and baby is in your arms, it’s all smooth sailing…
I mean, THINK about it – it takes ten months for your body to co-ordinate the process that transforms two cells into a whole human being. I personally believe that as women, we need those ten months to grapple with all of the changes about to take place in our lives, let alone the changes happening in our bodies. The reality is that from the time conception occurs, and even moreso with the birth of your child, your whole UNIVERSE shifts – FOREVER. Add into the mix the layers of physical, mental and emotional challenges of mommy-hood, a few years of poor sleep and out-of-whack hormones, and it’s no wonder we go through the mommy-roller-coaster of ups and downs, aches and pains, and tears and laughter. And all the while expecting ourselves to be supermoms.
I think the reasons no one tells expectant parents some of the challenges they may face are varied:
Firstly – most people don’t speak up to volunteer the areas where we feel we are inadequate. You never hear someone start a conversation with “Hey, you know what I’m really BAD at…?!” So for the most part, we put up a strong front (and makeup to cover the bags under the eyes) and act as if everything is just fine. (and to keep up with the act, we don’t ask for help when we most need it)
Secondly, in nature’s wise programming, we conveniently FORGET those great challenges once a little time has passed. Otherwise, the thought of going through subsequent births, life with a newborn or years of sleep deprivation might cause some parents to opt-out of having more kids. Hence, we forget, and keep on going.
But thirdly, (and fortunately) those relatively short-lived, poignant moments of pregnancy, birth and life with babies tend to overshadow any of the downfalls. We effectively edit our memory banks to focus on what felt good. And that’s a beautiful thing – selective memory at its best.
And so I am left, once again, marveling at nature’s wisdom. Does giving birth hurt? Sure. But that is quickly superseded by the most exhilarating, head-over-heels-in-love sense of euphoria and contentment from the first moment you hold your child.
I personally believe that life prepares us for what is yet to come. Birth is challenging, there is no doubt. But so is parenthood. I often have told my son (my first-born) that when he was born, I was born, too… as a mother. I didn’t always know what I was doing (I still don’t…) but I am committed to doing my best: loving my children, keeping them safe, and keeping them healthy. I admit to them that I make mistakes, and that I don’t have all the answers. It leaves me free to laugh, cry, be silly, dance, be sad, be mad, and ultimately be me. A mom doing her best.
So do I tell women in my practice that being a mom is all fun and games, that birth is painless, or that everything will just “come to them”? No, not at all. But I do remind them that no one loves their children like they do, that they are doing the best they can, and that they are ALL super mamas in my mind.