The Secret Life of Mothers

Carla: A friend of mine just had her first baby. Her pregnancy, labor, and delivery didn’t go at all the way she had hoped–plenty of sickness and a hard labor that ended with a c-section. Like so many women, she has found herself grieving the birth experience she didn’t get to have. And we could spend a whole post talking about that subject alone–the mythology around childbirth and the intense pressure to have some kind of perfect delivery, as if we have control over it.

But her experience has me thinking about all of the unspoken secrets of motherhood–from the hemorrhoids and mesh underwear of childbirth, to the probing home visits and painful adjustments of adoption, to the complete lack of privacy and the TMI conversations of infertility.

So let’s hear it friends. What are the secrets you wish someone had told you before you had children? What maternal mysteries have you uncovered? And how can we help each other deal with the disappointments, the surprises, and the sometimes-stunning realities of motherhood?

Caryn: Ah, the mesh underwear. I have you, Carla, to thank for alerting me to those. (One of the many conversations held in the hallowed halls of Christianity Today International, where some dared to suggest we weren’t actually working!) But I did NOT realize that the nurses would fill a newborn-size Pamper with ice and include that bit of numbing loveliness with the mesh underwear. Though to be fair this may be the sole domain of those of us who deliver giant babies who leave us needing a few stitches (as long as I’m TMI’ing here, I’ll quote my OB, “Geez It woulda been fewer stitches if she’d had a c-section.” Now my nurse: “If this would’ve been 100 years ago, sweetie, you’d have bled to death.”)

My other favorite secret-spoiler was my mom who told me not to feel bad if I didn’t feel the “rush” of instant love so many women talk about when they first hold their babies. I’m forever grateful to her for sparing me that bit of guilt. Because I didn’t feel that instant-rush love (see above paragraph if you want to know why).

And that’s just the beginning of the surprises–as you say. Who knew children could be so hard to wean? Or so hard to get to sleep? Or so difficult to keep in a time-out? Or be so strong when they flail about in the midst of a tantrum (something I just wondered five seconds ago with my youngest!).

But wow does it feel good when we realize we’re not crazy or alone. So back to Carla’s questions, Revolutionaries: “What are the secrets you wish someone had told you before you had children? What maternal mysteries have you uncovered? And how can we help each other deal with the disappointments, the surprises, and the sometimes-stunning realities of motherhood?”

Carla: I’m glad you didn’t bleed to death. And I’m glad I got to be the one to tell you about the mesh underwear. That might be my favorite mom secret of all. Okay friends, hit us with your best stuff!

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