Wellness Wednesday – Eighteen Years

My oldest son turns 17 today (happy birthday, Morrigan!), which means that I’ve spent nearly 18 years as a mother (including pregnancy time). You learn a lot about yourself and about motherhood in that number of years. Here are a few that have been personally on my mind a lot lately.

Fat-shaming is common and accepted during pregnancy, even from medical professionals.
When I got pregnant with Morrigan, I weighed around 135 lbs – a perfectly normal, healthy weight for my height. I seemed to gain at the ideal rate throughout my first two trimesters, then suddenly began gaining tons of weight in the third. I wasn’t eating more or anything, just gaining more. One week, I gained six lbs or so between visits, and the nurse who weighed me then raised an eyebrow at me and said, “Been hitting the Ben & Jerry’s this week?” This is just one of many instances of other people commenting on my body – often in the negative – during this time. I can’t even enumerate how many other comments came my way over the course of my three pregnancies. It’s like having a baby in your uterus opens the floodgates to people saying whatever the hell they want to you.

Every body deals with pregnancy and the post-natal time differently.
As I said, I gained vast amounts of weight in my third trimester. Because of all the various medical professionals telling me that this was my own fault, I decided I had to “do better” in my second pregnancy. I once again gained ideally in the first two trimesters, only to gain massive weight in the third. By the time I got to my third pregnancy, I ignored all the advice. I didn’t gain a pound during the first two trimesters, so when I gained tons in the third, I actually had an ideal gain for the pregnancy. The same rules applied to labor and delivery (No, you don’t want me to wait until my contractions are five minutes apart because they’re four minutes long each and will never get that close) and post-natal weight issues (doesn’t matter how much I diet and exercise after birth, my body will not budge up or down until I hit some magical marker around 10 months post-delivery).

Not everyone enjoys being pregnant.
I hated every second of all three pregnancies. There was not one positive thing. And other than sciatica, I had relatively easy pregnancies – no morning sickness, no anemia, no major swelling, etc. And still, I hated every second. I hated trying to nurse my kids afterwards and gave that up fairly quickly, too. The sooner I could get back my body’s autonomy, the happier I was. I’m just not the pregnancy-loving type. And that’s okay.

Not everyone enjoys being a parent.
No, I don’t particularly enjoy being a parent. Sure, there are good times, and I’ve gotten a lot of joy out of my kids. I love them to pieces and treasure the memories we’ve created over the years. Not enjoying parenthood has nothing to do with whether or not you love your kids. This is something that our culture frowns upon. We don’t talk about it. People assume that if you don’t like parenthood, it means that you don’t like your kids or that you neglect your kids or that in some way you’re doing your parenting job wrong. Not true. For further discussion of this, I redirect you to Jennifer Senior’s All Joy and No Fun, which explains far better than I could the paradox here.

Not everyone wants to be a parent, including those who have chosen not to have kids and those who had kids anyway.
I love kids. Kids of all ages. I enjoy spending time with them. And I like giving them back to their parents afterwards. This is something I didn’t understand about myself when I got married and began having kids at age 20. Back then, I just knew I loved kids, and having spent a giant chunk of time essentially acting as a parent for my three younger siblings, I also figured I had a leg up on the parenting thing. But I was wrong on all accounts, and have since discovered that I’m one of those people who would have preferred lots of nieces and nephews rather than children of my own. (Ironically, my husband wasn’t sure he wanted kids, and then discovered that he loved being a parent…) Again, this doesn’t make me a bad parent – I love and nurture my kids, and do the best I can for them – and this is another taboo that I’d love to address in our culture.

Anyway. Those are some thoughts on this 17th birthday of Morrigan’s. Would I have done things differently, had I known myself better? Probably. Does it matter? No. I love and celebrate my son anyway.

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
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3 Responses to Wellness Wednesday – Eighteen Years

  1. Roof Beam Reader says:

    Happy birthday, Morrigan! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on pregnancy/parenthood and some of its related issues. I’ll obviously never have the experience of motherhood, so I always appreciate learning more about it vicariously through others. I did always want to have kids, but Jesse has always been determinedly against it… has been tough on me at times, although when I really think about it, there are so many reasons why it was/is probably a good thing that we didn’t have children. Still, I imagine this will be one of those things that I always think about with some regret and sadness. I think I would’ve been a pretty good father.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michelle says:

    “It’s like having a baby in your uterus opens the floodgates to people saying whatever the hell they want to you.” I have said this to everyone I know who becomes pregnant. It is the oddest experience one will ever have. I have never understood how people who normally cannot say the word vagina or uterus in their own home have no problems discussing a pregnant person’s cervix, tearing, and nipple tenderness in a public setting. I didn’t understand it when I was pregnant. I will never understand why being pregnant means all rules of polite society go out the window.

    “I don’t particularly enjoy being a parent.” OMG! This is me! I adore my children and give them all that I am capable of giving, but I will never be one of those parents who wants to spend every walking moment with them. I taught them the value of independence at an early age not because it is important (which it is) but because I just cannot be a full-time mother. I need that break. Parenting frankly sucks. You lose sleep. You shell out endless amounts of money. And you have to deal with being yelled at, blamed, and sometimes even hated for trying to teach your children to be a well-adjusted, functioning adult. It is one of the most thankless jobs you will ever have. I love my children, and I know they love me. We have a great relationship (most of the time). And yet, there is a part of me that wonders just how different my life would be if we had decided not to have kids.

    Happy, happy birthday Morrigan!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy birthday, Morrigan!

    I love this and agree with so much of it. As mothers, we feel forced to center our entire lives around our children. We are shamed if we say anything bad about it. The truth is though, parenthood is so damn hard and exhausting and really crappy at times. I’ve never been one of those natural moms who threw my whole self into motherhood. I love Caleb, more than anything, and will always do my best for him. I don’t regret having him because he brings me so much happiness. But frankly, yep, I don’t always love being a parent.

    Liked by 1 person

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