Almost every mother I know (including myself) remembers exactly how they wanted their pregnancy, labor and delivery method, and parenting philosophy to go down before they experienced it. They envisioned a flawless labor of their choice, streamlined breastfeeding, smiling babies, a doting husband, a full night’s sleep at 4 weeks, good behavior in the grocery store, and back in their size 6 jeans in two months sans stretch-marks (or some other idyllic variation). This is what I’d like to call Pregnancy Delusions of Grandeur.
Like a moth to a flame, women fall for it every time (typically in the 2nd trimester when we are particularly cocky). And this innocent air of presumption is often accompanied by the universally judgmental thought, “that will never happen to me” OR “my child would never cry like a wild banshee during a flight” OR “I can’t believe she is using formula–I will NEVER do that.” This, my friends, is known as a steaming pile of horse shit.
Okay, let’s concede that there are some mamas out there with such strong convictions that their follow-through is as impressive as that net catching a floater in their home water-birthing bath. Everything works perfectly for them. Nothing ever goes wrong. And they fart glitter clouds of cinnamon and sunshine. KUDOS, you dedicated lovely ladies!
*HOWEVER* For the rest of us hot messes, these delusions of grandeur get a cold splash of reality when we fall short of our expectations. And this happens often. I remember one of my friends being so convinced she was going to breast feed for 24+ months, come to find out her boob reduction was also a boob juice reduction and after 2 weeks she mom-guilted her way over to the formula tub, God love her. Another had the ultimate confidence that she would birth her baby naturally. And she naturally begged for an epidural after 26 hours of labor.
I myself was shocked to learn I couldn’t get pregnant the very month we decided to go for it. Or when I finally did become pregnant four years later, I was floored that I would be forced into labor 10 days early with a pre-eclampsia scare. I was stunned to discover that breastfeeding would be extremely painful for a solid 2 months. Or that I would get depressed when I stopped (no one tells you this!). Or that my sweet husband wasn’t getting up with me at night (thanks, honey). I could go on. But the point is: reality bites the big one. And the faster you can adapt, the slower the wrinkles may come.
Look. I’m not suggesting to not prepare. SURE! Do your research. Hell yeah, try to make informed decisions, whatever you decide to do. Home vs. Hospital. Vaginal vs. C-section. Natural vs. Epidural vs. um, Orgasmic? Free-range vs. Attachment vs. Helicopter vs. Authoritative vs. Slow Parenting. It doesn’t matter.
Figure out what you think you like and what is best for your family. And then just know that undoubtedly those plans and decisions will be thwarted at some point. Your “experience” will be tainted (yes, I said taint). Your philosophies will be tried and found wanting. And your mom-guilt over this supposed failure will smack you down every time.
BECAUSE YOUR BEST LAID PLANS WILL FAIL YOU FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Just sayin’.
Depressed yet? More like FREED, hot messes! Because this is actually not failure. I’ve since realized it’s all part of the humility and humanity of parenthood. The submission of your strength, will, and beliefs to the best-known, most humbling parenting philosophy there is: SURVIVAL.
So beware. Be aware. Adapt. Try to release that white-knuckled grip. And let go of some of that mom-guilt (and judgment). Your crow’s feet will thank you for it.