I mentioned in my last post that we went to a baby shower this past weekend. This is actually the first of several baby showers that I have to attend over the course of the next month.
In order to mentally prepare myself for this baby shower, I did what any normal person would do: I put blue streaks in my hair. I thought that this would make me feel punk-rock, like I was someone who was capable of kicking ass and taking names. Instead, it made me feel sort of mermaid-ish, or else like a devotee of the Drowned God – not necessarily bad things, but also not really what I was going for.
I find baby showers, and many things baby and pregnancy related to be fairly nerve-wracking. My reasons for this are twofold:
1. It brings back all the old whoa I am such a shitty mom feelings from Theo’s early days. I look at pregnant women and I think, I bet she is better at being pregnant than me. I bet she is one of those people who did all those fancy scientific things like figuring out when she was ovulating and how long her luteal phase is, and totally planned her pregnancy based on what astrological sign she wanted her kid to be. She probably did not go in a hot tub or sauna while totally unaware of her pregnancy, and I bet she didn’t do crazy things like rock climbing and hiking in the Rockies. She probably carefully counted the days from the time she had sex until she could take a pregnancy test, and then wrapped up the pee stick in a fancy bow and gave it to her husband and then they cried tears of joy while holding each other in the moonlight.
2. I am really, really, really fucking jealous of anyone who can take the occasional moment to sit back and enjoy their pregnancy, rather than wondering if the alcohol content of the de-alcoholized wine they used to make the stew they are having for dinner will have serious adverse effects on their baby. I am so jealous of women whose main concerns are how swollen their feet are, or if the nursery will be ready in time. I’m sorry, I know it’s petty, and it’s something I’m working on, but still: it’s there, it sucks, and I want to acknowledge it.
There is something in my brain that switches into bonkers PPD mode whenever people talk about things they’ve given up during their pregnancy, like caffeine, or sweets, or anything fun that I didn’t give up. I think, oh shit, I didn’t sacrifice enough. I am not a good enough mother.
A few months ago, I went into a full-on tearful rant at someone after they talked about choosing not to have ultrasounds because they think that they’re bad news for fetuses. What’s especially funny about that is that while pregnant I was already aware of the concerns some people have about prenatal scans, and I actually did a fair amount of research on it. In the end, I felt well-educated on the issue, and drew the conclusion that I would prefer to have ultrasounds. But when she started talking about the choice she’d made, it was like the logical part of my brain just shut down. It was like, sure, look at Theo, he is fine and healthy! But what if not having ultrasounds could have meant that he was even more fine and healthy?
So much of my PPD has been about what if?
So much of it has been dangerous lines of thinking, like, if only I can stop making mistakes and just do everything perfectly, I will stop feeling this way. It is my fault that I feel this way, because I can’t stop fucking up.
When people talk about these choices that they’ve made, what they are really trying to do is communicate to me how they feel about their pregnancy, and maybe have a dialogue about what it’s like to be a pregnant woman in an era where we are faced with so many (often confusing) choices. But somehow all I hear is, you’ve failed as a mother.
So what’s the solution? I could do what I ended up doing this weekend, namely pleading a headache midway through the shower and escaping to my room to cry. Or I could just try to avoid anything baby or pregnancy related (hah). Or I could grit my teeth and smile, and then later feverishly google things like “possible effects of c-section on baby’s future cognitive development”. None of those things seem like particularly good options, though.
I guess the thing is that I have no idea what to do, other than keep on keeping on, taking one day at a time, and all those other trite clichés. It’s possible that I need to learn to ask for help more frequently, or else try to explain myself better to the people around me. Perhaps I should get this shirt, in hopes that it will deter people from telling me any pregnancy/baby stories that might set me off.
Maybe one lesson that I can take from this is that a lot of parenting is going to come with this feeling of, I have no idea what I’m doing, or, even more accurately, I feel totally unable to handle this but, somehow, I have to.
Anyway, any tips, advice or commiseration are truly appreciated.
Oh, and feel free to compliment my awesome hair:
It may not be very punk, but it still looks pretty rad, no?