Motherhood. What is the first thing you think of when you think of that word? The big one, obviously, is having a child/children. From there the thoughts spread out to a various number of things. For new moms it may be thoughts of those precious times holding an infant. The sweet baby coo’s and smells. For moms of toddlers, the daily adventure of watching their child discover the world around them. For mom’s of young children, the joy of watching their child(ren) discover their God given talents and abilities. Then watching in amazement as their children discover how they are going to use their talents to influence the world around them. The mom’s of the young adults, thoughts of joy (yes, a bit of sadness too), as their children take that first step into the big, scary world on their own. Grandmothers, the joy of getting to relive those moments all over again through their grandchildren.
Most of the time when we think of motherhood it is synonymous with good thoughts. And YES it is good! Motherhood is a wonderful thing! However, when we think honestly about the actual process in how we became mothers…it is a bit scary. One could easily say we are insane!
From the time I was a small girl. I mean really, really small; a toddler, I knew I wanted to be a mother. I wanted babies and lots of them. Not just one or two, but six children. (I am halfway there!) In my mind I would grow up, marry and have babies. Three boys and three girls to be specific. And yes, I had their names all picked out. I did not care what my future husband thought of the names, for the only reason I was going to do the marriage part was because I knew a daddy was required to be a mommy. I did not know the details, other than if I wanted to be a mommy and there had to be a daddy involved. Of course over the years much has changed. As I got older I wanted a husband; and not just to be a sperm donor. While I was able to use some of the names I choose, some my husband vetoed. For example, Wolfgang Armond – but I can still hope!
Most of us get excited when we hear that a new baby is on the way. We ooh and aah over all the cute baby items. We can’t wait to meet the new little one. We share our pregnancy stories. All the joy, anticipation and excitement is a good thing. A baby is a wonderful, amazing creation of God. But with the excitement of finding out we are pregnant comes the thought that labor is inevitable and there is going to be pain involved. I naively figured I could handle the pain. I mean after, all we women were created for the purpose of having children. Our bodies were specifically designed to bring life into this world. I got this right! How I wish someone would have sat me down and told me how it was, really was. Not just the birth, but the entire pregnancy. So here it is…the cold hard facts.
The first trimester. The joy of finding out a life is growing inside you is such an amazing experience. Unfortunately, it is also just about that time, or not long after, that you start to feel the symptoms of being pregnant. Tired all the time. You wake up in the morning feeling rested, but within thirty minutes you want go back to bed. The act of getting dressed and ready for the day will wipe out all your energy. A nap is a must, at least once during the day. With the first baby this is not too big of a challenge, unless you work outside the home. However, with toddlers or other young children in the house, this makes the nap a bit more challenging! Besides that, the reality is no matter how much sleep you do manage, you are tired all the time!
Then there is the morning sickness. And who by the way named it morning sickness…a man??? Someone who never has experienced a pregnancy first hand? Because there is nothing ‘morning’ about it. While all women are different, I have talked to many, who like me suffered from horrible ‘morning sickness’ that really lasts all day. ALL DAY! You have to plan your days around easy access to a toilet. And the nausea. Yes, there are medications that help. That make it possible to keep your food and drink down 80% of the time, however you are still nauseous ALL DAY! And the medicines, they sure have their fun side effects. Like constipation. So as your body is spewing things out the top end, your bottom end no longer wants to function as it should. Now you add fiber, prune juice and laxatives to your already upset stomach.
And as if it could not get any worse…the smells. You develop a super human ability to smell. You think you want superpowers? Nope, you don’t want this one. You quickly learn the art of holding your breathe in crowds of people, around trash dumpsters and cans, in bathrooms and always, always around food. Let’s talk about food. The sudden cravings for foods you might never have eaten or preferred in the past, while things you normally would have eaten you will not touch. Even if someone offered you a million dollars you will not dare put it in your mouth. Some foods are so bad that just seeing them, or the thought of them can send you running to the bathroom to empty the contents of your stomach.
The second trimester, known as the honey moon period. Yes, out of all three trimesters this is the one where most women feel their best. But he only thing ‘honey moon’ about this trimester is the thousands off dollars you are going to spend on a maternity wardrobe and items for the baby. I am thankful that our maternity clothes are stylish nowadays compared to past generations. It is the only time in our lives we are trying to show off our bellies not hide them! Paying about a thousand dollars for a new wardrobe that you only wear for a few months is crazy! OK, so you can save the clothes for the future pregnancies, buy really nice used baby gear that you can also pass down. Still, you will spend hundreds initially.
The good news is you have a bit more energy and the morning sickness and nausea are mostly gone. The bad new is you trade those symptoms in for a lot of new ones. Super strong cravings. Now that you have an appetite again, your body can crave some crazy stuff. However, its not so much what you are craving, but the overwhelming control these craving can have. You cannot ignore these cravings, they will not go away with time. You have to have it and have it now! And woe to whomever gets your order wrong, your husband and or the wait staff at the restaurant! Your pregnancy hormones are crazy at this point. You may get angry or you might cry; your emotions are all over the place. And it is not just food that will make you cry. I was watching a Pampers commercial once and began to cry. I also found myself on several occasions crying for no other reason than I felt like crying. So the need for extra tissues around the house is a must. Not just for the crying mind you.
Oh no, your mucus membranes are overproducing while you are pregnant so you are a blubbering, slobbering fool. And when I say mucus…it is not just your nose! You might not be getting your monthly period anymore, but you will still need those pads! And is that all…NO, NOT EVEN CLOSE. As the trimester goes on you can add heartburn. Thanks to the heartburn you add more over the counter medications to your daily intake. Hemorrhoids can develop (thanks to all the constipation and weight gain). Welcome stretch marks, back pain, aching feet, muscle spasms. Various skin conditions that range from a blush tone to acne, (though for some the skin will actually be clear). Gas, yes I said that, gas! Lots of gas. Plus frequent runs to the bath room as your bladder is getting squeezed. And there can even be more lovely surprises. With my first pregnancy I woke up one morning to find my gums on the bottom row of teeth had peeled back. This totally freaked me out. So of course I get an emergency appointment with my dentist. Come to find out that my pregnancy hormones were the cause of my gums pulling back. It would stop doing so and go back to normal once my pregnancy ended. I also found out this condition was not that uncommon. Not uncommon??? I had never heard of such a strange thing before. And the list goes on and on. The idea of a pregnant glow? I don’t know where that came from. Maybe to make us feel better perhaps? For I am not sure I would say that a big, blubbering, snot nosed, constipated, aching, moody, gassy woman is ‘glowing’.
The third trimester. Unfortunately during this trimester you don’t ‘loose’ any side effects of being pregnant, but you do gain a few more. Plus the side effects you already have now get magnified as the pregnancy continues on. The tiredness that you felt during the first trimester returns. You will be tired all the time. Only now you are so big that sleep is almost impossible. You can buy all the expensive fancy pregnancy pillows you wish or try sleeping more upright in a comfy chair. But no matter what you do, you will not be able to get comfortable for long. And if you do manage to get into a temporary comfortable position, it is not long lived. You will have to pee. You will be running to the bathroom all the time. You will begin to plan your outings around bathrooms as you did during the first trimester. Worse, you might even have to wear incontinence pads. (Save any extras for after baby is born, because you’ll need them!) You have no more room for your bladder as the baby is taking up a lot of room now. Laughing, sneezing, coughing or even trying to hold your bladder may cause you to leak. Coughing and sneezing at this stage often causes you to see stars…yes, just like in the old cartoons. Breathing also becomes more difficult. You easily fall out of breath. You feel like you have just run a marathon walking from one room to another. Heart burn gets worse (though once baby drops you do get a bit of relief there). However, when that baby drops, you know you are getting near the end so apprehension of your current condition can start to mess with your mind.
At the end of my second pregnancy I began to recall what labor was like and decided to change my mind; I was done. I was not going to do it. (LOL…like we have a choice.) That baby is coming whether we like it or not! The constipation that was with us most of the pregnancy goes away only to be replaced by diarrhea. (The bodies way of preparing for birth.) The vomiting and nausea that we experienced during the first trimester can return. Not nearly as bad, but still not pleasant!
And then the big moment arrives. The labor. While different for each woman and with each pregnancy, its still labor. And the pain??? OH NO! No, no, no! I have heard it described as a ‘bit worse’ than period cramps. LIE’S, ALL LIES! At first labor is not bad…but just wait. If I were not having a baby, I would have thought I was dying! You also hear, ‘oh you forget about the pain’. MORE LIES! You don’t, at least I didn’t and I doubt I ever will. When my teen daughter, who witnessed both my labors (and the birth of my second), asked me how bad the pain was. I told her its the worse pain you can ever imagine. EVER! Like truly, your body feels like it is going to explode, rip open (which it does in certain areas). However, in that same statement I also told her it was the most wonderful experience I had and that I would do it over and over and over again.
I am now only three months out from my last delivery and already I am looking forward to being pregnant again. Crazy??? Maybe. We Mother’s go through all this and more each time we bring a sweet little one into this world. (And its just the beginning of parenthood.) Yes, one could say we are definitely insane, crazy as we willingly put ourselves through this process over and over again. However, despite all the crazy, horrible, difficult things that our bodies go though during a pregnancy, it is so worth it! That moment when you get to meet and hold the baby you have been carrying inside for all those months; it is indescribable. Words cannot explain the miracle of birth and do it justice.
To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children;… Genesis 3:16
While we do have lots of sorrows, the blessings of motherhood truly outweigh them. So happy Mother’s Day to mother’s everywhere! Whether you physically gave birth to your children, or opened your home and heart in the adoption prices (which is no less amazing, and painful at times!), what an amazing role we have! We might just be a little crazy, but at the end of the day, nothing beats the snuggles, hugs, and kisses of our precious little ones!