Friday, August 8, 2008

Thank You For All The Discouragement. No, really.

Within 30 seconds of our telling people I was pregnant, I started getting unsolicited advice as well as unsolicited discouragement.

I think I can safely say that every single person I talked to had something to say to me about how I should feel, how I will feel, how I should act, what I will want and what I won't want.

Nothing on earth annoys me more than people telling me how I feel. Nothing. Most days I can barely describe it, so how in the world do you think you can? At the same time it's annoying, it also makes me feel empowered because -- with the exception of a few select people (Geoff, Kim, Erik) -- everyone is always wrong.

This blog is dedicated to everyone who got it wrong.

I wanted to have kids for a long time. I think I started realizing it when I was about 24 or so after reading What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us. My logical solution? Start dating someone who said he never wanted to get married or have kids. Ever. And then proceed to try and change him for 2 years of my child-bearing life and feel my uterus skip a beat (thankyouLeanne) every time I saw a baby or heard about someone I hated having one.

The problem is you can't just come out and tell a man you've just met "Hi, I'd like to be a stay at home mom someday and by 'someday', what I really mean is 'as soon as possible', so how's your calendar looking and please can I get a sperm count?"

So when I started dating Geoff and he asked me about my career goals I told him I wanted to be a mom. And, I mean, let's face it - I was a college graduate working small-minded jobs off and on, culminating in my working for Frank again, which meant I essentially had the same job I had since I was 15 - I was working for a lawyer. And I didn't - and never did - have career goals. I just wasn't ever honest about it with people I dated because that's telling a man "Actually, my career goals are to have you support me for the rest of my life and you haven't even gotten to 2nd base yet, how does that make you feel?"

You know, doesn't go over so well on the first date.

I could have gone to law school (which is what everyone who thought they knew me always asked) except, well, most lawyers I know hate it. I started graduate school and it sucked and it was in LA and I hate LA and didn't want to move and I was okay with my life in Bakersfield. I was comfortable with "mediocrity" as one (lawyer who hates his life) friend said to me.

Geoff's reaction when I told him I wanted to be a mom was:

"That is the most important job in the world."

See I had been praying for a long time to meet a husband. I knew that under no circumstances did I want to be one of those weird 40something women at the sperm bank who want a child but don't think they need a "partner". Screw that. I'm evidence enough that a person clearly needs a father in their lives (or a few father-figures at the minimum) so I wasn't going to go about bringing on the apocalypse by having a baby all on my own. So I had to start with the basics.

And Geoff and I, well, were clearly brought together by God. From the minute we started talking we had so many things in common -- things were easy. That's the best I could describe it. Everything just made sense.

And then he made me wait a year and a half before proposing. And then he didn't want the wedding to be "too soon". And then I got pregnant on our honeymoon -- not because we were trying, but because we weren't NOT trying and we didn't think it'd be that easy.

I like to think my getting pregnant so quickly was God laughing at Geoff for making me wait to get married.

I prayed to have babies for a long time. I never bothered Geoff about it -- he knew what I wanted -- but constantly prayed and prayed. It clearly worked.

So through this long road I always knew I wanted to stay at home -- it's a dream job, for me. I am on my own schedule (well, sorta) and I get to take care of Phoebe. It's the best job I've ever had.

I need to say all this because it's important to understand why the discouragement is -- now at least -- laughable.

Because I wanted to be a mom, I started reading about childbirth when I was about 24 or so. They do NOT teach you about that when they pull the girls aside in school. In fact -- nobody teaches you about it. It's all shrouded in secrecy and nobody talks about it. I'd talk about it all day long if someone let me. (Seriously, if you have questions please ask me because -- in addition to recently going through it -- I've read a lot of books and have studied it for a long time now).

So when I found out I was pregnant I already had in mind I wanted a natural childbirth, preferably at home.

This is where I'm going to pause to say thank you to everyone who laughed when I told them this and asked me "why?" and said "You don't have to be a hero." and said "Pfft, yeah, we'll see what happens when you get in the delivery room."

Oh and also thank you for everyone who laughed when I told them I wanted a home birth. I would have had one if it weren't for my stupid heart problem and Geoff's fear of something going sour with me.

And, finally, thank you for everyone who laughed when I told them I planned to not have iv fluids, and that I intended to eat and drink in labor, get in a birthing tub and to squat to give birth. I did all of the above. In fact, I gave birth with absolutely no needles going into my body at all -- be it for blood testing, drugs or iv fluids. I did not have an episiotomy, there was no vacuum or forceps, I was not told to "push push" and hold my breath for 10 seconds and I was not bedridden and locked up to a fetal monitor the entire time (they are required to monitor 15 minutes of every hour, but that was it).

I also did not once wear a hospital gown.

During all 37 hours of my unmedicated labor (okay 5 of those 37 were in an Ambien-induced sleep, but I was still in labor and Ambien really isn't a traditional labor-aid) I thought about all the people who doubted me and laughed when I told them my plans. And I knew I wanted to be able to look them in the eyes and say "See? I told you so."

That is more satisfying than any epidural, I assure you. So thank you for giving me the discouragement.

I'm eagerly awaiting my birth story from my doula so I can use her notes (because I was in labor-land and had no idea what was happening aside from the contractions) to write the birth story of Phoebe -- so stay tuned, readers, because it's coming.

Since Phoebe has been home, I have been in heaven. Sure sometimes she drives me crazy, but she's so cute and irresistible I just want to eat her up. Obviously, I mean, I can't stop taking pictures of her ...

But I want to say another "Thank you" to everyone who told me I would get bored and lonely at home and want more "meaning" in my life (and other variations of the same general theme).

Nope. I'm happy as a clam in our condo taking care of our baby. This is what gives life meaning.

I wish every day could be spent the way they are now and I know it's going to be over all-too-soon and she'll start hating me when she's a teenager (I keep telling myself that if I admit it and talk about it openly now that it's not really going to happen when she gets older ... :crossing fingers:)

I'd also like to give a quick shout-out to those who told me I was going to get "tired" of being pregnant and "beg" the doctor to just "get the baby out." No. I did not. In fact I was worried I was going to have to fight the doctor to not induce me if I went too far past my due date. Luckily Phoebe was born 8 days after her due date (which is, statistically, the average number of days after her due date a pregnant-for-the-first-time white woman gives birth -- that is correct -- you say "late" and I say "average")

And another shout-out to everyone who said "You're going to miss being pregnant - it's so special." Sure. It is. But nowadays I'm not peeing every 5 minutes. I'm not constipated. I can eat what I want without throwing up or getting heartburn (or getting criticized in the case of soft cheeses and sushi). Sure I liked feeling Phoebe moving around in my belly, and I did like that I could cull favor from strangers by nature of being pregnant ("Can I get the kids' meal, please? I can't eat much because of my heartburn?" worked like a charm)

But I prefer seeing Phoebe and getting to know her. I like each day that passes more than the others. And I don't "miss" being pregnant. It was a phase of life that has now passed, as much as I enjoyed it at the time.

But thank you for being discouraging to me -- because it just reminded me realize how much I appreciate the now.

I could have done it without you, but all that negativity only made me continue to focus on the positive.

So thank you.

Please do not expect a card.


Candice Lynn said...

Lady, I cannot wait to be a stay at home mom. Whenever I want to kill myself because I'm talking about supply and demand for the fifth time in one day, I have to dream about the near future when I'll be at home with the little ones. Who needs fancy cars and clothes when you can not work and hang with your Pheobe? Your post was disgustingly beautiful, and big ups (I'm suddenly black) to you for the tub/squatting birth. I saw it on "A Baby Story" and almost died. Bravo you, Earth Mama! And if you're still pondering the rockablly bangs, do it! You always could pull off different looks with the hair. Okay, I'm done kissing your butt now...

Poodle said...


I am finishing up dyeing my own hair (again, but with the "good stuff" so it won't be orange) and yes, we are POOR. Well, not poor (Geoff gets mad when I say that) but we have zero expendable income. But it doesn't matter -- it really doesn't. I mean, what am I going to buy?

Besides, Geoff told me if we ever reach the point that we can't afford $5 Barefoot wine, I can divorce him.

Not that I ever would.

Melissa said...

This made me get a little teary! Beautiful.