Kisten Chase took the plunge into motherhood via a surprise pregnancy and is a married mom of two children under three. Formerly a college music professor now writer, stay-at-home-parent, and military wife she happily resides in the Philly area.
It wasn't until I held my sweet baby girl in my arms for the first time and she wouldn't stop screaming no matter what I did that I realized I must have missed something at my birth classes. That lecture on "How to Console a Screaming Hungry Child When You're Nipples are Scabbed Over" must have been on the one day I was absent, I told myself as I bounced my tiny baby at 3am. Little did I know that almost everything I was about to endure never even made the class schedule because no class can prepare you for dealing with a small temperamental human.
How I wish they had told me that from the beginning when I was obsessing about how many kegels to do every day. Peeing on myself was the least of my concerns when I had to try to poop without popping my stitches.
I often wondered why no one had cared to share the challenges of motherhood. I understand that blood clots, uterine bleeding, and the poochy belly don't make the best coffee talk, particularly for a blushing new mother who can't decide between roses or daisies for her nursery bedding. Maybe she wouldn't be able to handle the fact that she can only hope her little baby will actually sleep on the bedding for longer than two minutes at a time before she's running in to beg her to go back to sleep for the 14th time.
But from what I had heard, I expected to lose a little sleep and leak a little milk. And that the cute little baby coos, smiles, and dresses would make up for my sore breasts and tired eyes.
And on some days, they did.
But on others, I flipped through my pregnancy books trying to find what I had missed. Was I too blurry eyed to have seen the chapters on the challenges of dealing with an inconsolable and unpredictable infant? I couldn't help but wonder why I had spent so many classes flat on my back learning breathing techniques instead of exploring how frustrated, depressed, and anxious I would be. And I wondered why no one had thought to tell me. If I was going to have to push that baby out, I'm pretty sure I would have been able to handle the truth.
Motherhood is the hardest thing I'll ever have to do. And it's not just the lack of sleep and breastfeeding pain, but it's the resentment of your spouse, the frustration of not being able to communicate with your baby, and every single other emotion that you experience on a daily basis - some of which I'm not even sure have names. Becoming a mother is an all encompassing transition that takes over every inch of your being as a woman - from libido to appearance, from career to emotional state - it cannot be explained by birthing instructor in a dingy hospital classroom.
But maybe they should at least try. Or is it that we should do a better job of passing the torch to our fellow mothers.
I'm not sure what was worse - the shock of motherhood or the shock of not knowing. Trial by fire doesn't seem like the most effective way to initiate mothers into "the club." The one where we smile at each other as our pregnant friend opens the onesies, the diaper cakes, and the bedding - not because we think they're adorable but because we know she'll soon be fighting over who'll be putting that onesie on her little baby and changing that next diaper. And the one where we giggle as that same friend obsesses about pooping on the table - not because we didn't do the same thing but because we know she'll soon be obsessing about her own baby's poop (amount, size, color, smell) more than should be legally allowed.
So perhaps we need to smile and giggle out loud instead of engage in our "secret mommy handshakes." Part of me believes our friends will thank us later, with their poop smeared faces and tired weepy phone calls. And that by breaking the code of silence, we'll see more moms walking confidently in their sweatsuits and mismatched socks - still tired and confused but now aware that they're not alone.
The Mom Club is open to every mom - no special codes or secret passwords. Just celebrating motherhood and all its many facets - the good, the bad, and the chronically unshowered.
Next time I'll be addressing how motherhood wreaks havoc on even the most enviable marriages.
Welcome to The MOM Club ... this is my first article for BabyMeTV and like most writers I love feedback, so please let me know your thoughts. You can add your comment below or visit the Forum to discuss this article or anything else on BabyMeTV. Give us the benefit of your wisdom or just make us laugh - after all this is The Mom Club.
Kristen is also the author of the widely popular weblog Motherhood Uncensored and is co-founder of Cool Mom Picks, a cheeky product and service review blog for discerning moms, which was recently featured in Time Magazine.
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