The Mommy Cultures

The Pre “Baby Fever” Woman:

Before I ever considered having a child, I knew I wanted 5 children, a 2 story house, and the white picket fence, obviously. I loved how chunky a baby could get and how good they could smell. I had names picked out before the husband and knew how many years my kids would be apart. It was so easy then. To dream and plan a future so far in the distance is nothing but innocent fun. I never thought once about any one of the most common touchy-topics I, as a mother have faced and deal with today. The things I thought about were light and fun, and I think that’s just how it should be when you’re no where near considering having a child. So for you women who do NOT have babies on the brain, keep dreaming, because in the end, that’s what it all really is, a dream, NOT reality. Just focus on NOT having a baby and you can keep that dream alive.

The Mother to be:

When I first learned I was pregnant with my first child, it was a feeling like no other. Scared shit-less. My computer is telling me that “shit-less” is not a word. I don’t care, it’s a feeling, a VERY strong feeling, so I will continue on and leave it there when what my laptop would be happiest with is if I said shit-less. Just doesn’t have the same effect. Anyway, I tried very hard for my first child. Like, VERY hard, so you couldn’t have told me that I would feel so undoubtedly afraid, and that after I smiled at my husbands face after telling him that we finally got what we’d been hoping for, I closed the door and cried in the shower tears of pure fear.

After getting over the shock of it all, I accepted the happy news and found all things joyous about it and went with that feeling instead. So for the first 3 weeks that I was able to enjoy actually knowing I was pregnant, I walked around smiling and day dreaming of my perfect baby, perfect family I was going to have and how FUN it would be.

Week 6 hit and I wanted to crawl under a rock until the 24-hour hangover feeling went away. And anyone who knows me knows I am the hangover queen. I wasn’t handling it well to say the least. After I came out of my nauseous fog at 14 weeks, I began Googling everything. Ugh, now my computer is telling me that “Googling” is not a word either. How is that not a word by now? It’s practically a verb that is so conducive in today’s society, many of us would either be dead if we didn’t do it, or many of us would be a lot happier. Regardless, you get what I’m saying. So I figured a few things out by taking important key words to Google.com.

Words and questions like: When does morning sickness go away?, constipation, iron deficiency, what CAN I eat while pregnant?, what do I take when I am sick?, sleeplessness, muscle spasms, mucous plug, sex during pregnancy, baby names, hormones, husbands who don’t understand what you’re going through, epidurals, perineum, birthing plan, natural birth, etc.

The list could go on and on.

All the internet did was scare me shitless once again and cause me to shut down and go back into my cave called denial. I read the book “What to Expect When Expecting” and that was pretty standard and tame so for most of the pregnancy, I stuck with that. At this stage of “Motherhood,” to be honest, I was more concerned about how the pregnancy would be affecting me while my little monkey was happily taking over my body, than I was about what kind of reality would hit me when he swung off the tree and into my arms. I was doubting my word of choice with denial a little earlier, but it’s sounding more and more perfect, the longer this post gets.

In late pregnancy I joined this club…or group…or cult called Facebook. Have you guys heard of it? I thought so. Once I joined Facebook, I found out that I was actually not a very good pregnant woman or a very good mother-to-be. I realized I hadn’t put any thought into whether I would or would NOT vaccinate, circumcise or feed my son organic food. I was basically told indirectly and passive aggressively that I was doing my child a HUGE disservice by NOT considering to NOT do or DO any of these things. I mean I was told these things by a highly opinionated, uneducated former high school classmate of mine. Like, I should definitely take her approach and information for all things to do with my child and run with it. This was a moment when I realized that I would never stop being judged as a mother and woman from this point on. I was no longer looked at as someone who could make her own decisions about my child, but I was an opportunity for someone to preach to me about something they know more about, because they had a baby 6 months before me.

I was scared shitless, still.

The Mother of One:

While I was contemplating how I’ve basically wasted 9 months of my pregnancy on NOT considering whether or NOT to DO or NOT do what all of what my fellow mothers were doing on Facebook, I went into labor. Shit, I’d already fucked up my child, because I was still NOT prepared to do something other than what my husband and I had already decided we would do. So do I circumcise my son even though the know-it-all, former classmate wouldn’t approve? And do I give breast feeding my best shot and see how it goes even though that stay at home mom who is still breast feeding her baby at 2 years old told me it’s the ONLY way to give my baby proper nutrition? Obviously doing my best wasn’t going to be good enough. I HAD to do it right? For like, at least a year, right? And while I was recovering from my vaginal birth that my Facebook friend told me to do epidural-free (which I didn’t, shockingly) I was faced with the vaccination opportunity. As the doc was coming in to give my son his first vaccine, I asked about it. He gave me a very thorough run down of the reasons, the risks and so on and then asked me if I was considering not doing it. I told him I had always planned on vaccinating my child, but until recently hadn’t thought about the option not to do it. He asked me what sparked that. I told him, “oh this girl I went to high school with told me it was poison to my baby.” Once he asked me if she was a professional who gave me advice, I told him, “no, she just had her first baby less than a year ago and that’s it.” I listened to myself say those words and that was all I needed to hear. I was doubting MY decision over some opinionated know-it-all who wanted to change the world in many different ways one vulnerable, inexperienced mother at a time. They should make a “NO SOLICITORS” filter for Facebook these days.

Needless to say, I spent the first few years of motherhood getting unsolicited advice from many new mothers who swore their way was the right way because it worked for them. I was inexperienced, and sleep deprived, perfect ingredients in creating an insecure mother.

Questions I would be prepared to answer when having my 2nd son:

Do you plan to circumcise? That’s NONE of your business.

Do you plan to breast-feed? That’s NONE of your business.

If so, for how long? Please refer to my answer above.

Do you plan to feed your baby only organic food? Yes if I win the lottery, absolutely.

Do you plan to vaccinate your children? That’s NONE of your business.

Do you plan to co-sleep? That’s NONE of your business.

The Mother of Two:

I circumcised my second son, just like my first. That is my right, and my choice. A choice that my husband and I came to with careful thought and consideration.

I breastfed my second son for 8 months. I am BEYOND proud of myself and my son for our teamwork during that time. It was NOT easy and I have been very forthright about that from the beginning. The bond we shared will be a wonderful memory. With my first son I gave him breast milk for as long as I could and I am SO proud of him and I as well. We share an amazing bond for other reasons than breast feeding.

I fed my second son pureed organic fruits and veggies until his appetite and food preference expanded. Then I retired my Whole Foods purchases and 2 years later, I am happy when he will eat an apple without sucking the juices out before spitting it all out. My first son ate fruits and veggies from the store bought jars. I am SO happy he survived. Looking back, it seems as though I should have been worried.

I vaccinated both of my children and wouldn’t change that decision. I did much more research the second time around and still came to the same conclusion.

My husband and I never co-slept with either of our children. With both of our sons, I did skin to skin at night for hours as infants. One of my absolute favorite memories. I brought them up to bed with me from their bassinet when they cried or couldn’t sleep because they wanted to be near me. I took naps in my bed with both of them as babies, held them in my arms for countless hours. I snuggle them both to sleep at night, to this day. We comfort them when they have bad dreams. They lay in between my husband and I when they are sick and fevered. I don’t need to explain why we don’t co-sleep and I’ll never have to explain that to my children, because they know that they are never too far from Mommy and Daddy.

This is not me, trying to bash any mothers or fathers who are making different decisions than us or are making some and not all. This is me trying to help other mothers out there, or soon to be mothers, or women who want to become mothers, that there is NO NORMAL. As mothers we are on the internet, on Facebook, talking with our friends and family comparing stories because all we want to feel is accepted and normal. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong with trying to change who we are as women and mothers, just to fit a mold. Just to follow a fad. And believe it or not, so much of motherhood has become a fad these days. Mothers have been breast feeding for thousands of years, we do not need to make mothers who can’t or choose not to, feel any less than an incredible mother. That is not ok. There will always be backlash in any culture where there are opinions and different perspectives, but as women and mothers, we should support one another in the decisions we make. Not try to change them with information that is unwanted and unwarranted. Respect is something we need a lot more of in these Mommy Cultures. To respect someone else’s point of view will not hurt us, but hopefully enlighten us.

I am someone who chooses to be very open about my struggles and triumphs in life, but mostly in motherhood. I am honest and only want to help and encourage other women and mothers to do the same. I try my absolute best to only give my opinion when it’s called upon. I don’t like to shove my view down someone else’s throat, but if you ask, I will tell you with 100% honesty. And when it comes to motherhood, I would be doing any mother a disservice if I sugar-coated an ounce of it.

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