The Rise of the Anti-Mommy

After my sadfest over Diastasis Recti, I decide to reach out to a friend who is also new mom and fellow runner. If anyone would understand mourning the loss of control and muscle mass, it would be her.

My email went something like this:

Something gross happened this weekend. My abdominal muscles separated.

Pregnancy is disgusting.

In worst parenting move of the century, I actually cried yesterday and proclaimed “I hate this baby.” Not true, of course, but it better turn out really cute and love the crap out of me. Right now it is just kicking my diaphragm, which is hard to find adorable.

Honestly, that’s how I feel sometimes. Pregnancy is disgusting. Conceptually, I understand why I’m going through all these changes. In an abstract way, it is downright fascinating– I am building a human. That’s some science-fiction level shit.

In reality, that’s some science-fiction level shit… and it is happening TO ME. When it is my body being occupied, when my boobs are massive, when my butt has expanded to the size of my baby bump, my organs are rearranging and I can’t breathe…all for this person who I don’t even really know yet? During my lowest moments over the past few days, I’ve actually worried that this child won’t care about me at all, and I will have literally turned my insides out for no reason. Cue the crying and hating of the baby.

Her response:

Unfortunately, there’s yet many times you can decide to temporarily despise the baby and be the worst mommy ever. But there are more times that balance it, I promise.

Like so many things in our culture right now, the media images of pregnancy/motherhood are filtered and airbrushed. It’s more layered, complicated, and messy. And more interesting, I think.

I was tempted to type that it gets better, but it’s more that it changes. And the variety is what makes it interesting.

Ah, now there is the truth, isn’t it?

Nope. Not how I feel at all.

Nope. Not how I feel at all.

I have struggled with my own feelings about this pregnancy. For many, many reasons, but specifically because I always think I should be “happier” about it. Some of this stems from the fact that I’m navigating a lot of emotional stuff right now.  (For those just catching up, my mom died in January, my father lost his marbles for a bit, and Mr. O’s dad is still not speaking to us for no discernible reason.) But alongside that epic maelstrom of crap, I’m berating myself that I can’t override my own complicated feelings and just be some glowing, happy earth-mother who doesn’t wear shoes and blissfully allows her body to be taken over by her cherubic baby.

Maybe I am the worst mommy ever. Cue the crying and hating of myself.

I have had more than one person insist that they had a connection with their baby whilst in utero. They “knew” things about their child. I know nothing, except that Chick is alive, well, and currently punching my right side which it prefers over the left. I do not have a psychic connection with Chick. And I will admit I felt bad when I couldn’t respond to these comments with “Oh, yes… I know Chick already has a flair for international diplomacy because of blah, blah, blah.”

Another person insisted that I must “know” what the gender of my baby is. I explained (for the BILLIONTH time) I’m not finding out– to which they responded “But you must know! You must have some gut feeling if it is a boy or a girl.” Look, I have a hard time telling if Chick is moving or if I’m just having gas. How in the name of all that is holy would I be able to tell the difference between a penis and a vagina?

This is, I think, compounded by being infertile. (Yes, I still own that title. A post for another day, perhaps.) Because Mr. O and I tried so so hard, I know what it is like to feel as though the very act of pregnancy is out of reach. I should be happy to go through all this pain because I know what it took to get this far. I know people who will never be able to have children. It seems wrong and selfish not to think this is a delightful miracle accompanied by unicorns and rainbows.

Medea, the ultimate

Medea, the ultimate “Bad Mommy”

It isn’t that easy. I can’t airbrush the very real fact that my feelings about pregnancy are complex. They don’t fit into a neatpink/blue box, which means at times I feel as though these feelings don’t fit. Period.

There is no room for women to feel ambivalent about pregnancy and motherhood. If you express anything other than bliss and joy, you’re labeled unwomanly, a bad mommy, a Medea who is clearly about to murder her young.

Why can’t our feelings be messy when all of us know that every aspect of life is messy? It is, as my friend points out, what makes it interesting.

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12 comments

  1. thebarrenlibrarian · April 30, 2015

    I wrote a post a while back about how I love Charlie, but I don’t feel this magical connection to her in there. A lot of bloggers said they felt the same with theirs and that it wasn’t even necessarily an infertility thing, because they had known fertiles who were the same way. Point is, I get it. Right now I’m dealing with this cold and wishing I could take ANYTHING good for it, not to mention sleep for more than an hour without waking up and needing to pee/shift, and in my darkest moments its hard not to think “Well if I wasn’t pregnant I could…” And it feels like a betrayal of our “clan”, because there are so many that want this. I WANTED THIS. And still do. But I *think* it’s okay to not want it every second that it’s happening. Because it is definitely not perfect.

    • thecommonostrich · April 30, 2015

      You bring up a good point about betraying our “clan.” I hadn’t quite thought of it that way, but that is the word I was looking for. I so wanted this too, but wanting it badly doesn’t make the act of pregnancy any easier.

      • thebarrenlibrarian · April 30, 2015

        Preach it. And my complaints are so much smaller than people who have it worse, so I feel bad. But it’s my body, and when I don’t feel bad im going to let myself be unhappy about that.

  2. My Perfect Breakdown · April 30, 2015

    So, I love that you wrote this! Not because you are struggling, but because you are so incredibly real. I know, we aren’t in the same situation, but for me, pregnancy has been my version of a living hell. And I suspect the same is true for many other women out there.
    I think women should be able to talk about that. And I think it’s a horrible shame that women, particularly pregnant women after infertility, are expected to love pregnancy and be some sort of happy robot the entire time. As you say, your body is no longer what it once was and there are a lot of complex emotions around the changes. You should be able to have those emotions and talk about it without guilt. Talking about it doesn’t mean that you don’t love your child, but it does mean that your body is changing and it’s not all sunshine and roses.
    Anyways, I’m just saying, thanks for being honest and real.

    • thecommonostrich · April 30, 2015

      YES. It is the not talking about it part that bugs me. It sort of reminds me how a few generations ago (and even now) people did not talk about miscarriages. The result was many women ended up carrying this grief by themselves, or blaming themselves for something that really wasn’t their fault.

      I don’t know if I’m making sense, but we so need to stop putting pregnancy up on this mystical pedestal. Everyone’s experience is different, and should be respected.

  3. Tiggy B · April 30, 2015

    Great post! I am coming out of lurkdom to comment. I am so with you on this. I am nearly 29 weeks and don’t really feel any connection to the bubs. From what I understand, that is common with many pregnant women, regardless of fertility (but of course, I think us infertiles/subfertiles feel more guilt), and it can even take a few days or weeks or maybe even longer after the baby is born to really develop that connection. And, I so thought I was having a boy (totally convinced and confident about that), and bubs is a girl. So earth mother intuition blah blah blah load of crap. And pregnancy can be uncomfortable and gross and challenging, not all sunshine and unicorn farts (though definitely lots of farts), and not all women enjoy it at all times (or any time for some). And we shouldn’t feel guilty about it. I agree with you and your friend, messy makes it more interesting!

    • thecommonostrich · April 30, 2015

      Farts and burping. Because I burp like a frat boy now.

      I haven’t quite teased it out yet, but I do think I’m more sensitive to slights around my “maternal” side. In most other areas of my life, I don’t really give a damn. But there is a delightful layer of guilt added to any criticism revolving around my pregnancy.

  4. julieann081 · April 30, 2015

    I appreciate your honesty in this post and can relate to it. Also, who wants to be half naked in a field when they’re pregnant – or not! LOL. That photo of the idealized version of pregnancy is funny. I think with all medical situations, including pregnancy, it is so difficult to lose the semblance of control we had over our bodies. We feel what we feel and we should be able to talk about it without judgment. You are not alone. ❤

    • thecommonostrich · April 30, 2015

      “Who wants to be half naked in a field?” I literally laughed out loud!

      • julieann081 · May 1, 2015

        Glad to help. 🙂

  5. Pingback: VIDEO: The Onion’s Mom Leaderboard | the common ostrich

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