Most of the opposition I've been faced with has come from within, some of it being self doubt but the majority of it being imposed by inner refusal to conform to the surrounding culture of what motherhood is, verses what I want it to be for me.
I recently read a blog post about having babies in a culture that isn't as baby friendly as it used to be. Things are definitely changing in our society and it's effecting us all in different ways; from the way we think or perceive childbirth and motherhood, down to the way we beat ourselves up as mother's for not being as amazing as Mrs. So-And-So Jones.
The writer of this blog quoted a friend's facebook status which read:
"How is it that 9 out of 10 people who talk to me about my pregnancy have negative things to say?? The comments are endless and quite creative in their effort to convince me that I should not be as thrilled as I am. It is usually prefaced by “JUST WAIT……(insert: miserable experience/undesirable life change)” Although they have me well prepared for “impending doom,” for now I will continue to be convinced that this is the most beautiful experience of my life thus far!
And now I will bask in all the flip-flopping glory that is happening inside my tummy right now. You can kick this mama all night long sweet little one :)"
I totally relate to this woman! The 'just wait' has been the most common thread of un-requested "advice" (if you'd like to call it that) that I've experienced even before I got pregnant. They've all sounded along the lines of;...just wait until you have your own kids and you can't do what you want anymore.
...just wait until they're born and you loose all that sleep.
...just wait until you're bigger and more uncomfortable.
Or in the moment I look at birth in a positive way there's a 'just wait...' look on people's faces or a 'just wait...' type of deafening-silence accompanied by a change of subject.
I know I haven't yet personally given birth to a baby yet but in part of my preparation for childbirth I've been surrounding myself with only positive birth experiences and viewing and reading about people who have a positive and in many cases a pain-free birth even without an epidural. Yes, really people have pain-free birth's! And there are many factors as to why, not just because they are one of those luck people. In my studies I've felt empowered about birth and yet my belief and enthusiasm has been met with a swarm of negativity and disbelief. Though there are more and more women choosing to birth in this way, in my close circle of family and friends I am the first or nearly the only who's done it this way and I'm not scared and I have no reason to be so. My enthusiasm and desire to talk about it, though still there has been muffled because I realize I don't want others to feel threatened or like I'm imposing my beliefs on them, making it appear as though I believe this is the ONLY way to give birth. I know it's not. I know every situation is different. Yet, I have become aware of many things that can make birthing easier for anyone, and I know that filling your mind with negativity and fear will only be a factor that can effect the birthing experience in a negative way, even if I haven't done it yet myself.
One thing I've questioned though is why is it that once people go through their childbirth or parenting experiences all they have to share with me and first-time mom's like me, are the negative aspects of what it is they went through or are still going through? Maybe because I haven't experienced it yet I can't relate to it, or frankly just don't want to. I feel completely overwhelmed when a vent session pursues and mothers begin to expel frustration about pre and post-natal misery, horrible birthing experiences, and all the awful things their kids do and how their kids drive them completely berserk. I suppose for now I'd simply like to bask in ignorance, if you don't mind me, and just enjoy where I am even if my tailbone hurts or my fingers are swollen because I'm not really all that miserable and feel no need to complain about it.
I'm not trying to point out anyone in particular because I think we all do it from time to time but I would like to point out these negativities so that if you find yourself doing them to ask yourself: Wouldn't you have liked to enjoy your pre-baby bliss untainted by other people's negative experiences? Or rather how would you like to enjoy what you have, when you have it, despite what your circumstances are? It may turn out to be something that you miss. Don't you remember the time when you were so excited for that first little one to join your family? The time where you decided that it was worth it enough to have another baby, and another? Or can't you see that there are many women who haven't experienced it yet (and some who won't in this life) and would would find nothing more than to experience what you have?
I suppose this is an aspect that is part of our culture that has been fed to our subconscious for so long that it has become our way of living. I don't blame anyone for getting caught up in the negativity, it's easy to do. It's simply something I have become hyper sensitive to being faced with it so unexpectedly frequently. I've noticed if one doesn't have kids they'll sit and criticize those who do and how they go about raising them. If one does have kids they look back longingly at the days they didn't, wishing these darn kids wouldn't have made such a disruption on their lifestyle or wouldn't be such disobedient little turds sometimes. There is opposition in all things, there's no doubt about it, but dwelling on negativity only breeds negativity and once one opens the window to vent frustration, especially around women, it lets in a flood.
This past week I received some incredibly valuable advice on the contrary. Advice that though "un-asked for" none-the-less wonderful and positive given by my sister-in-law sweetly prefaced what she said with, "not that you asked for my advice but..." She continued, "my advice is to live in the moment. That is something I wished I would have done with my twin boys. I wished I would have taken just 3 minutes every single day to simply enjoy the moment and to stop worrying." She expressed how she very much dis-liked the new-born stage with her two premature babies who spent over a month in the NICU, which uh, yeah, not many people would enjoy that... but how if she had only taken 3 minutes every day to sit down and breath she would have enjoyed that time more and could look back at that time with more fondness, instead of kicking herself now for not having taken the time to be still and at peace with the situation she'd been handed.
I believe we are in more control of our lives than we think we are and we are given more power than we allow ourselves to use. I had an incredibly powerful experience in the temple last week following a week of doubts and all the negativity getting me down, an experience which reminded me that I have been given power not only for myself but for my posterity as well. I believe that with a positive outlook and a remembrance of God, we can do all that he requires of us even if it's hard.
I don't know exactly how my birth is going to pan-out, what kind of mother I will be, or what my kids will be like. What I do know is that my little boy's birth will be a sacred experience, that I will be the best mother I know how and that whatever challenging personalities my kids have that my goal is simple; I want to spend every single day loving them more than I love myself. If I can just do that one thing then all of the 'just wait's' won't matter because it really isn't about how much sleep I miss out on, how uncomfortable I get in these next few weeks or how much work birthing this babe will be, I know I'm made to do this and that no matter what popular culture wants to feed my subconscious, that I'm trying my hardest to unearth and weed out, God has given me more power than I can fathom. I just need to trust him and the promises he has made me. Maybe trusting God and living in the moment is something we all need to do a little more in order to beat the negative culture we are building for first time moms and more importantly for our children.