After sharing it with a friend of mine, she wrote, “In conversations with friends that have children, it seems that mixed feelings (and I’m not talking about hormonal effects) are a common, though not easily talked about, phenomenon. My impression is there is a lot of pressure for women to be ‘happy’ in an uncomplicated way both before and after the birth—but ambivalence and fear are surely part of the package for many.”
Amid my own feelings of ambivalence and—predominantly—fear, I certainly felt that pressure to put on a happy face. Much of it self-induced. In so many books, on so many websites and even from so many women, I’ve found there to be too much judgment around pregnancy, childbirth and mothering. As if there is a right and wrong way to do all of it: doctor or midwife; epidural or natural; breastfeeding or formula; etc.
For me, that type of judgment can, at times, breed guilt. But the truth is that while becoming and being a mother has afforded unimaginable joy, it’s also at times been a real bear.
And I do believe that those parts of the experience—the challenges that have required me to summon inner strength and/or a good sense of humor—also deserve a chance to breathe, judgment and guilt be damned.
I know I’ve read some awesome poems and essays that touch on themes like this. I’ll post them as I come across them. Please feel free to do the same.