30x185 spacer

No one says it will be easy

Friday, 19 January 2018. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

No one says it will be easy
Shootin’ the Breeze writer Georgia Dale has a bun in the oven and shares her thoughts on becoming a first-time parent.

No one says it will be easy

By Georgia Dale

Everyone has their two cents to share when it comes to stories about pregnancy and childbirth. And some simply can’t resist sharing their most gruesome and traumatic birthing stories with this first-time mom.

While I don’t have any great illusions about my birthing day, and would like my baby’s debut to be as blissful, stress-free and painless as possible, I’ve heard enough to know it could be the opposite.

I repeat, I’ve heard enough! From the footling breech baby popping out a foot on a 100-mile-an-hour drive to Lethbridge, to the audible chop of the episiotomy scissors; people, specifically moms, haven’t spared me the gory details.

I’ve heard it all this last eight months: from third-degree tears, hernias exploding and excruciating brow presentations to cruel doctors and thoughtless nurses.

Believe it or not, none of these unsolicited horror stories are helping me. I’m just trying to enjoy the last bit of selfish relaxation that I’ll have for the next, oh, 20 years or so.

It sounds like parenting will be a raft of anxieties, and undertaking a birth will be the first of many. But thinking about birth, strangely enough, doesn’t make me that nervous. I wonder if it’s a biological imperative, or if I have a screw loose.

Or, perhaps it’s the miraculous gang of confident and optimistic women around me counteracting the unwitting fearmongers, some with stories that have them glowing and teary some 35 years after the birth itself.

Maybe the nerves will strike when my child starts to walk, or run, or use the Internet. Or maybe not. Maybe this model for nervous, hyper-vigilant motherhood is just a form of control; continuous policing to make sure moms keep babies in their place, insulated and secure forever.   

Aren’t our bodies built for this? I believe thousands of years of evolution and generations of practical medicine are going to give me and my baby a darn good chance of surviving this wild endeavour. And I don’t want to spend my life from here on paralyzed with worry. Because if it’s not birth, it’s babyhood, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and on and on forever. I refuse to think that entering parent life means the end of my formerly “carefree” existence.   

Stress is a killer, so I am going to try to banish needless nervousness and worry from my experience as a parent. Actually, this all started when I saw the second little strip of dye on the pregnancy test. I realized that I could no longer hold space for all of the worry and doubt that I carried with me while we were trying to conceive. I’d had enough of that for a lifetime.

I know, all you professional mothers out there are laughing your heads off at me. But I’m serious! I’m done stressing.

The literature that they feed us pregnant women is full of precautions to take, signs to look for, and behaviours, emotions and habits to avoid completely. Well, when I finally got pregnant, I decided that it would better serve me and the baby to let it all go and, for once, relax. It’s working, and I want to hold on to that feeling.  

Does this mean I kept tossing back the booze and took up a pack-a-day habit? Absolutely not. But it does mean that I enjoyed my morning coffee, kept having my yolks soft and ate a couple of pieces of sashimi and a fair bit of unpasteurized cheese. (Think French pregos forgo le fromage? I think not.)

I kept riding my horses until I physically couldn’t get up in the saddle anymore. I kept watching horror movies (to my husband’s dismay), working three jobs and eating ... did I already mention eating?

During my first two trimesters, I was too hungry to care how much nutrition, refined sugar or carbohydrates were in my food. I just needed the damn food. Besides, what better time is there to let it go and enjoy the generous shape of my new body? (Ask me this again in bikini season ’18).

Does banishing worry mean that I will take reckless chances with my precious baby? Again, no. I’m not about to thumb my nose at conventional medicine, but it does mean that I will be taking modern wisdom with a healthy pinch of salt and that I will try, very hard, not to sweat the small stuff.

Part of that means honouring the generations of women who came before me and managed to perpetuate the race in spite of poverty, heavy and physical workloads and limited diets.

While becoming pregnant necessarily elevates a person’s status in any culture, I’m not sure if it should disempower them by putting the needs of the unborn baby ahead of their own and piling them with a bunch of extra stress. After all, what’s good for the goose must be good for the gosling!   

Footnote to this story: I just had the wonderful opportunity of photographing the area’s first baby of the year. Even though she was already a week old, and perfectly average in newborn size … wow, she is tiny! And alarmingly, adorably delicate.

The thought that in six short weeks I’ll be bringing home a baby similar to her size and shape (if I could be so lucky) has changed my mind: I’m actually nervous as hell and will probably be worried about her from now on until the day I die.