There’s Nothing More Boring Than a Baby
There is a lot of excitement that builds up to having a baby. Nine months – really 40 weeks which is actually 10ish months but who’s counting except the bloated Jabba the Hutt 40 weeks preggers woman – to countdown days until baby’s birth. It’s a lot of anticipation. I remember washing and folding baby clothes still unable to reconcile the bump in my belly with a real live baby soon to be living in my home. It was out of body. Until that baby came out of my body.
Some pretty dramatic things happen when you have a baby. Usually, births are pretty dramatic. I don’t care how that baby comes out, the fact that you are pushing a tiny human – or having it removed from your body surgically – is pretty dramatic. Did I ever tell you about the time I googled “natural births” just so that I could watch babies exiting vaginas because at the very last minute, I didn’t think it was humanly possible. Unfortunately these women on YouTube having babies in peaceful streams and while standing in their living rooms made it look easy and did not prepare me in the slightest. In the end you have a baby, because it’s coming out one way or another.
So then people want to see it and you and you are still trying to figure out what the hell just happened. You felt prepared until the moment they laid that baby on your chest and she became this reality, complete with the sting of a cold shower and the surprise of a pants-ing all at once. IT LIVES!!! you think to yourself. And if some sort of mild panic or discomfort doesn’t settle in at this point, then you are still high on the drugs I asked for but was denied by my well-meaning midwife.
Babies are simultaneously SO MUCH WORK after this point and so completely routine and boring, that is, until nighttime when they become the spawn of Satan and cry at the top of their lungs, holding you hostage from sleep until you are willing to do just about anything to just close your eyes and be horizontal. People act like everything is normal but you are in this fog for the first little while that last about two months and you think you’ll never be able to think again. You will. And it will feel like the first breath of fresh air you’ve tasted in a while.
Your body will be raw and a little hit-by-a-truck-ish. If you’re like me, the experience of giving birth out of a relatively fit 36 year-old body was more traumatic than expected. My daughter got stuck on some kind of lip in my pelvis and well, labour was long and painful and transformative not in the way I’d dreamed. I wanted it to be transcendent, but not in a way that did: making me feel like a freight train was having difficulty leaving my body.
This is not to scare anyone, but to be truthful about all the ways that I dreamed things would be, only to have the reality taste like failure in my mouth. Trust me new Mam, you haven’t failed; things just won’t always go your way. Actually, they’ll never go your way once you have children and that is a tricky and oblong pill to swallow if you are like me and lived in this grown-up adolescence where I only did everything I wanted – and only when I wanted – deep into the middle of my thirties. People act like having children changes your life, and it does, but it also profoundly changes who you are, and that can be the most terrifying thing of all.
Some people revel in the beauty of a baby and all the love that pours out of them but I just felt terrified and incompetent and like I’d lost everything I’d ever known to be good and true in the world. Some babies lives start out with mothers who fear they will never love their babies. Some mothers start out being mothers with the sheer terror that they will only ever meet their baby’s needs and never love them the way they know they should. These mothers will be haunted by the deep belief that they have made a mistake because they don’t feel the “right” way out their babies and therefore they shouldn’t have had them. They will believe, for a long, long time, that this is what other people, even those closest to them, believe about their motherhood. That they are dysfunctional women. Not quite “right.” Too ambitious or not nurturing enough or just plain “bad mothers.”
Some people ask me if I can remember what life was even like before I had my daughter. The reality is, I remember it clear as day. “Before” is as clear in my memory as what I ate for breakfast this morning. I’ve struggled through infanthood and I try to remind myself that toddlerhood doesn’t last forever. I have only recently come to accept that motherhood will always be hard (a lump forms in my throat as I admit that).
I won’t put anyone’s mind at ease by stating the obviousness that I love my daughter. Instead I will stand in the truth of my motherhood which I have accepted is very different from both the motherhood I see depicted in popular culture and the kind I hear about from peers and strangers. I am different. But I am not alone.
There are other mothers out there that find babies boring and lament the losses of their lost life.
Don’t dismay if you are one of these mamas.
And our stories are as legitimate as any other.