Pregnancy and Childbirth: A Note about Doomsday Predictions
Sweet Little Baby ... It's ok!
Pardon the stock-photo. My little one is still marinating.
I already love my baby.
He seems to like bananas the best. Bananas and rice pudding.
Negative comments seem to come when the recipient is at a low point.
I can not help but be amazed ... at the liberties some people take when they make dire predictions about the lifestyle changes that starting a family brings about --- especially when they know that an expectant mother or father's health is less than optimal. More than fathers though, mothers seem to be in people's crosshairs.
Some people seem to feel the need to remind expectant parents about demanding and unpleasant aspects of newborn, infant and toddler care. Why so negative? Why generalize? Baby's not even born yet!
In my own experience, the harshest "realities" are articulated to me, and the least helpful commentary comes about when this pregnancy has weakened my resistance. By this, I mean, when symptoms like restless leg, the constant need to urinate, and baby dancing his disco moves kept me up until 9 am, or when acid reflux puts what can be compared to a "line of burn" between my solar plexus and throat.
This stuff is part of pregnancy and if nature takes its course, it is something that a sizable majority of women go through at one point or another.
I also have a preexisting medical condition, fibromyalgia, which can have the effect of augmenting pain, and can mimic pain symptomatic of other conditions. I often don't know if they are pregnancy symptoms or fibromyalgia, which can make it a bit more challenging to cope with.
So when "helpful people" see a grimace on my face, they decide that I need an "attitude adjustment" or a "reality check" and then come what I call "doomsday predictions" about how difficult, inconvenient and thankless it is, to be a mother of a small child.
At this point, I am catching on to a trend, and I can fantasize about such a comeback:
"Yeah, so I don't have that gorgeous "glow." Therefore since I seem vulnerable, please, by all means ... take a minute or two out of your life to tell me something that will further darken my day. Feel free ... I am happy to help you feel better about your own poorly-managed life and demanding kids."
But seriously ... I mean ... We all know that babies bring about lifestyle changes. But why all the hate? Go ahead and hate me ... fine. View my human frailty with all the disdain that you can muster up!
But persist in making negative comments about newborn care and how demanding and frustrating it is, long before my baby has ever breathed his first breath or seen the light of day ... continue this and witness the equivalent of a lioness defending a cub.
This article highlights some of the more typical "doomsday predictions" that I am fairly certain, other people have heard ad nauseum, even those folks without any apparent weaknesses ...
I sure hope that I am not the only one who hears this kind of garbage!
Well actually I do hope that I am the only person who hears such bologna because it is not particularly uplifting for the spirit. But I do not hope that I am the only one who notices it, for fear of indulging in self-pity or hysterical histrionics.
Please feel free to respond to some of the polls that I am putting out, and by all means, use the comment section if there is any "comment" that I have forgotten!
Every problem has a solution.
A long time ago, I was upset about something stupid. You know ... silly young women can act in over-dramatic and silly ways.
And my boyfriend at the time said "Anne ... the only problem in this life, that can not be solved, is death."
I stopped and thought about it and I said ... "you know ... you are correct."
Pretty much everything else has a solution, even if it is adjusting your circumstances, expectations, lifestyle ... sometimes the solution is in you. No, you might not be able to restore a relationship or a condition to what it was at an earlier point in time, but if we are creative about our solutions, we can work through our challenges, and even thrive!
So with that being said, I find "doomsday predictions" about childrearing to be somewhat counterproductive. Sure, there are some bumps in the road, but I strongly suggest that people check their motivations before they express negative views on this to people who had physical and/or emotional setbacks before embarking on their journey into parenthood.
Misery loves company!
Has a doctor ever told you that you just need to cope better?
People feel free to express their lack of faith in me!
I just figured something out ...
If somebody asks "how are you doing?" or "how are you feeling?"
... Tell him or her that you are doing awesome and that you have never felt better.
Even if it is your own obstetrician or general practitioner.
Even if it feels like you are have spent the last three nights in a gibbet, swinging over the river Thames!
Because I have met few doctors who actually WANT to hear about symptoms that they can't easily resolve. They simply don't have the patience for endless human suffering, that we are simply supposed to overcome.
It is like ... come back when you have cancer or something!
So I have a new policy: when in doubt, everything is Hunky Dorey!
But to return to the topic of pregnancy and childbirth . . .
Instead of hearing:
"Wow Anne, I know that this is a tough symptom to deal with but you seem to be growing stronger as you experience it."
"Wow Anne, once the baby is born you will be so stressed out that you will probably become even more dysfunctional than you already are."
Basically it is people expressing their little faith in my ability to cope.
It is also irritating to receive such commentary when I am at a bona-fide low point, and from people who aren't exactly busting down the door, with open hearts, ears and minds, eager to get to know me or my husband. Yes ... I am talking about family.
But hey ... I am figuring something else out.
Most of what people relate is simply a case of "projection." If they found their own kids to be difficult, demanding and obnoxious, surely that is because ALL KIDS are difficult, demanding and obnoxious. It certainly can not be due to their own particular situation ... right?
Maybe these folks have positive intentions, which is to help "toughen me up" for when the baby comes. That would be the other side of it. They are helping to 'prepare' me.
I do understand, but in all seriousness, they might consider the fact that a person who has coped with preexisting medical conditions might look really 'ugly' sometimes to people on the outside, but the fact that she is still alive and her life has some sort of meaning is a testament to survival, and not to perennial loserdom.
Anyway, at this point I am beginning to think that the best way of coping with such inane and sadistic commentary is to:
- Laugh about it.
- Resolve to not perpetuate such negativity.
- Write about it on Hubpages.
- Fish for feedback from readers like you, to see what you experienced in my situation.
Were you in a situation similar to mine?
Did you have to take prescription medication while pregnant?
Fact: if you don't wean yourself off of your medication long before you get pregnant, you will have a "crack baby."
Yes ... fascinating how these "facts" come from people with no medical training, whatsoever.
I guess I forgot to mention, I have had ADHD for years and in order to function, I take stimulant medications. The stimulant medications also seem to help with my fibromyalgia symptoms. Not sure how but they seem to "lighten them up." It probably has to do with the fact that these medications have an effect of "pushing dopamine along" in the brain, which might do something to elevate my mood and pain response, etc. Perhaps my pain has to do with lower seratonin and dopamine, or a poor regulation or reuptake of them, etc.
Anyhoo, talk to a doctor about this, not me.
But seriously ... I have been told by nobody less than friends and family, that I need to be off my meds for a year before I conceive, or that I need to stop taking them once I conceive, and that if I don't it can have some "ominous effect" and seriously one individual used the term "crack baby."
But when asked about how they came to such conclusions, it is typically just "a feeling they get" or "what they think is right."
And by the way, I take Adderall in a therapeutic dose. I have a legal prescription, and the third person to find out about my pregnancy was my psychiatrist. A gentleman, by the way, who specializes in child psychiatry. He told me that if he were concerned about prenatal amphetamine exposure, he would not write the script.
It is a Category C drug, meaning that there is no definite data about "harmlessness" to the fetus, but as of now, no clear indication that it harms. Category C means should be taken only if the benefits to the mother clearly outweigh the risks to the fetus. Yes, I feel guilty about it. Yes, I feel guilty about it every time I open my mouth and swallow a capsule.
But look at it from this angle: the best analogy I can think of, is like putting on glasses. If I don't take them, I have a very hard time processing information. I am not even talking about quadratic equations. I am talking about remembering appointments, organizing a drawer, driving a car and looking both ways when I turn, etc.
I can't realistically prepare an environment for this baby, if I am dopey 24/7. What am I going to do? Carry him over the threshold, and trip on 13 boxes and 15 bags of trash?
Basically I am writing this down hoping that other women who are in a situation like mine, won't be too demoralized by ignorant comments and come to accept, without internalizing the prejudices of others, that sometimes the best they can do still might not be optimal.
You need to deal with your preexisting medical condition just like X did. After all, her situation is identical to yours. Cope!
Um yeah ... overcome it or else!
Next time my bones feel like they are ice surrounded by hot coals, my head aches, my ears are ringing and my stomach is in knots, I will just remind myself that there must be an arthritic, legally blind, diabetic and autistic hunchback out there who still manages to hold down a job, owns a home and takes care of two small children.
But until I meet that person, I can come to the conclusion that life deals everybody a different set of cards, and we need to decide which ones we are going to play, and which ones we will hold onto for dear life!
And finally ... the people who have been my harshest judges and critics don't have chronic pain, first off. And secondly, my situation has been compared to others, but they DON'T have identical conditions, in the least. They have stuff like rheumatoid arthritis, which is actually a far grimmer prognosis than fibromyalgia. BUT, their condition responds to pain meds, and anti-inflammatories and a whole cocktail of drugs that do nothing to relieve fibro.
What was your experience with this?
When were your kids basically done with night feeding?
Really? Newborn babies wake us up at night?
This one is particularly impressive, especially when a "well intentioned" person tells it to me, after I was up all night from twitchy legs, acid reflux or just nerves.
Or you might add fibromyalgia, which can be very painful to face in the morning, if somebody is making a lot of noise and you haven't had a good night's sleep.
I have been told by nobody less than my brother-in-law, that I need to be able to function on two hours of sleep.
Sure ... I will thrive just like he and all of the other martyrs do.
Truth be told, as a bearer of two Master's degrees, I have definitely faced more than a day's work, on even less sleep.
Yet I will admit that it made me sick.
My obstetrician is also very "concerned" about this waking up at night issue.
Obviously newborn babies wake us up at night. That is because they are newborn babies. They are transitioning from a fetal state, in which they got all of their needs met through the umbilical cord, to a non-fetal state, in which they need to breathe air, and digest breast milk, turn a solid into ca-ca, etc. They also need to eat a lot around the clock, because their systems are undeveloped. They can't store nutrients and sugars like the rest of us can. Not yet, anyway.
I am not a scientist but damn, this stuff should be regarded as common sense.
Anyway, what am I supposed to do about the fact that the baby will need to be fed every couple of hours, for his first three months?
- Throw in the towel and commit suicide. That is an effective permanent solution.
- Fire-station drop off a.k.a. "safe surrender" because being woken up in the middle of the night is a BIG DEAL.
- Drink myself into a stupor every night and sleep through it.
- Hire a 24 hour nurse. Catch is, it will take a LOT OF HUBPAGES AD CLICKS to pay for that.
- Whine, rant, moan and complain, and once the baby is born and is all puffed out and cute looking and sleeping through the night ... find some exhausted pregnant woman who is trying to make sense of her symptoms, and LECTURE HER on how this is "nothing" compared to once the baby is born.
Truth be told, the very best thing to do, in my opinion, is to inform ourselves about this issue. First of all, get proper instructions on how to nurse, when and why, and then if you are really curious, get the biological theories on the mechanisms that make newborn babies, infants and toddlers act the way the do. Basically if you are having trouble getting your toddler to bed, it is because s/he finds the world interesting and fun to explore, and sleeping is boring.
Like ... duh.
Truth be told, I have been living with chronic pain for years and what difference does it make, if I get one or two more triggers in my life? It is just like ... you learn to accept the fact that your life sucks. Most of my goals and dreams have already gone down the flusher, so if I can have one beautiful child to look at and love and bring up, at least that is something to look forward to.
To be honest, all this negativity got me down so much, that I finally asked another doctor, if there is ANYTHING positive about babies. He told me that he loves his three kids and he wouldn't have it any other way. He said "sure, it is work, but you love the kids and it is fun work and you just do it and move on."
I said "thank you. You just made my day."
What I would really like to ask of my brother-in-law, is why his kids are/were still waking them up in the middle of the night for bottles, well into the toddler phase.
But that ... of course ... would be out of bounds, right?
Do the kids really need to be in between the parents?
What is your take on this issue?
Is sleeping with infants and toddlers something that you feel comfortable with?
Yeah ... for the first 10 years, the baby is going to probably sleep in your bed anyway ...
Um ... no. That is NOT in the cards.
As fond as I am of the idea of attachment parenting, when I think of "attachment" I think of barnacles, parasites and leaches, none of which is appealing.
Among the symptoms of fibromyalgia are poor sleep quality, constant fatigue and random aches and pains. I realize that people aren't singling me out when they make it sound inevitable that the baby will be in our bed until HE feels like sleeping on his own . . . this is the kind of stuff that people say to each other and it is ok. But one point to note is that if you do have to manage a medical condition that is impacted by, or impacts your quality of sleep, having a baby in the bed can be unsafe for the baby (logistically speaking) and unsafe for both of you if you are dazed and accident prone, or on edge to the point of losing your temper.
I realize that I am taking liberties here but co-sleeping isn't for everybody and even if I were ideologically on-board with it, I would still have to take a step back and ask myself if this is a safe and healthy option for us.
The other issue with co-sleeping with infants, toddlers and children is the problem with drug and alcohol use. Drug use ... including any medication that makes you drowsy. Critics and fans alike agree that if either of the parents are under the influence, kids should not be in the bed.
Catch is, once you got the baby-toddler-preschooler ... in the bed by habit, it will be very difficult to get him or her OUT of the bed on your terms. There might be some exceptions but in general, whatever you establish with kids needs to be something that you can live with, come rain or shine, sleet or snow.
But in addition to the "I have to manage my own issues" line of reasoning, my qualm with co-sleeping is that I don't find it to be good for either the parents or the kids.
I already love this baby so very much. Trust me, this isn't about love. It is about a line between "healthy attachment" and "unhealthy attachment." A healthy attachment means that he knows that he can rely on us when he can't solve a problem for himself. I want him to be empowered to self-regulate as much as possible because the world that we are preparing him for is full of real-life, flesh and blood monsters in the form of narcissists, bullies and back-stabbers. I am not always going to be there for him, to solve his problems for him.
He will need to be weaned from his parents' bed and from anywhere "near" his parents' bed, because he needs to know that he doesn't need to be physically attached to us, as in "barnacle," in order for him to know that he is not alone in this world. The kids' mindset starts in infancy and toddlerhood, long before they can have mature dialogue about it.
The other side of it is this ... let's just leave the sex thing aside for a minute because that is The Big O ... as in OBVIOUS ... in my opinion parents (or any adults for that matter) need their own time and space in order to recharge their batteries, rethink their values, refresh their relationships with each other and themselves.
Now why wouldn't children have the same needs?
If a child depends on his parents for scaring away the monsters that lurk at night, and for entertaining him and waiting on him at his beck and call around the clock ... when is he going to learn how to solve a problem on his own, or think for himself? When will he recharge his own batteries or privately contemplate the workings of his own world?
Now, to return to what is most important in life, which is SEX.
Well ... I attached a couple of links about the subject: let's just say that unless you have an exhibitionist streak, the adjustments that some of the commentators describe as great, such as having to make love in the garage, the family sedan, the guest room, on the livingroom couch, in the shower, on the kitchen table, around the ceiling fan and behind the dog house, might not really suit your style of intimacy. It seems like a lot of sacrifice, when instead you can move your sweaty infant and sleeping toddler into their own space.
But hey, if you are one of those people, I envy you because you will probably never be bored with sex or stodgy about propriety like well ....
Every day that we have a "family bed" is a day without privacy and intimacy. When the kids feel tired, they should be oriented toward their "own beds."
Because it is so.
OMG! Fact is: it will be pretty much impossible to care for your many pets and a baby!
I have euthanasia doses lined up in my medicine cabinet, just in case Squeaky barks one too many times.
Anyway, if my daily, persistent and consistent dog training does not ever pay off, there is always plan B, which is to scream, fuss, complain and call my mother and cry about it.
You are going to need help. Definitely. For sure. No way around it.
This one seems to come from all angles and I believe them.
But when I ask "what will I need help with, exactly?" nobody can really give me a solid answer.
I guess it is some sort of vague "you will be able to use any help you can get."
OK now I am being serious here: I suppose I won't know until I "get there."
Unfortunately in my case, there are three female family members who actually can give me the kind of help I need, and two of them live out of state and very much have their own lives. They are on my husband's side of the family.
What I don't need is "help" that involves more of the same ... which includes pessimistic and demoralizing comments, overbearing, outdated and just plain abusive parenting advice and nosy involvement in areas where I def-0 do not want ANY help. I am better off doing it myself and that is probably the way it will be.
Where do I need help?
- How to breastfeed
- How to lay the baby down safely
- Recovery from childbirth
- I just want somebody to tell me that he is a beautiful and good baby and that he will be the sunshine of our lives.
The rest is just details.
Can somebody please upgrade this car seat?
Something about car seats . . .
Yeah, some kind of horror story . . .
I don't know.
Car seats save lives, no doubt about it. But interestingly enough, as of August 2014, there are an estimated 318,588,000 residents of the United States. in 2011, 650 children under the age of 12 perished in automobile accidents, and 148,000 were injured.
Here are some stats on car seats.
Yes, we will get a car seat and strap it in properly and strap the baby down properly.
Judging by the statistics, it seems like car-seats and awareness about children's safety in cars, has paid off a lot.
Why we need to continue to act as though an infant's death in an automobile accident is imminent, I don't know.
Ask the magic 8 ball ...
Be realistic: You aren't going to be able to work
Oh really ... ?
Well if you go ahead and loan me that oracle you are consulting, I would like to maybe update it on some basic facts of the contemporary working world.
Fact: Your house will be littered with toys and it will be pretty much impossible to manage.
Yes. I will admit, as a person with ADHD, chronic pain and fatigue, if my house looks as though a tornado blew through TOYS "R" US, it will indeed be impossible for me to manage.
Awesome ... I love to admit weakness! Especially when it gets me out of unnecessary nonsense that seems to bog down everybody else's mortal existence.
The more toys you HAVE around the house, the more mess you will have to pick up. So one approach to this "problem" is avoiding it in the first place by limiting the amount of toys you have available to kids who will simply find it entertaining to scatter them and nothing else.
Don't give kids a huge choice and selection of toys with multiple pieces and parts until they are old enough to ...
- not choke on them
- pick up after themselves
and if they are at an age in which they are capable of cleaning up after themselves and not making a big exhausting fuss or power struggle over it, then they can have some toys with small parts.
Obviously ... when he is developmentally ready for learning this skill. You teach it in tasks.
My policy is this:
We are going to learn how to play "clean up" and if *I* have to clean up, the toys get put away for a very long time.
And yes, he can cry me a river because I am not a maid.
I find some of these predictions that people make to be more symptomatic of their own parenting problems, then of anybody else's.
Really? Toddlers throw tantrums in shopping malls?
Wow ... that is a bit too much for me to handle.
Perhaps ignoring most of the tantrums, or putting them down for a nap or a time-out to cool down might be a solution, but that is just me.
Call me crazy.
Care for a goldfish cracker?
I find it kind of unfortunate ...
how some people project so many of their neuroses and anxieties onto kids .. and onto people who have one on the way.
I also find it to be three steps shy of insane ... the extent to which some folks complicate some of the most basic things in life.
Finally .. I get quite aggravated when my lack of excess energy and excess attention for excess nonsense leads to commentary that puts parenting in a negative light.
This is how a rather typical incident unfolds, in my own circles:
You see kids over there ----> playing in a sandbox, having a good old time, and then on the sidelines there are moms and dads, laden with bags jambed with Tupperware full of goldfish crackers, baby carrots and organic juice packets, etc. They are enjoying about 5 minutes of "adult conversation" when suddenly ... tragedy strikes. I happen to be "company" to a set of parents.
Junior has grabbed a shovel from another kid in the sandbox. The bags go "thud" on the ground and both sets of parents run over, resolving this conflict before it gets too out of hand!
And then the kids get that red-faced crying look, and the parents look so defeated, as they try to cheer them up and fix the boo-boos and erase the trauma. "Daddy Make Better!"
I watch the whole scene unravel and then one of the parents in the party gives me a sympathetic look like "oh the challenges of parenting ... you'll see!" and then another says "try resolving a problem like this, on three hours of sleep."
The kids continue to cry and both sets of parents crack out the picnic blankets and the snacks and try to soothe little Jimmie and Janie by stuffing goldfish crackers and bagged organic juice into their mouthes. They beg them to take at least ONE baby carrot!
And then I am thinking "oh for f*ck's sake ... "
And I suppose that I give off a tired look, that they take as a reaction to their kids strenuous and challenging behavior. Then the various neurotic comments emerge.
But it isn't the case. What has me burnt out is NOT the kids, but rather, the parents' reaction to what is rather typical and unremarkable childish behavior. Apparently we are not allowed to short-circuit childish non-drama by separating the kids and giving the aggressor a 30 second time out?
But then the entire scene gets me cold feet and then I truly wonder what kind of parent *I* will be.
Did I miss anything?
Thank you for your comments.