Monday, August 10, 2009

The Part About How I've Never Been Happier

Update: The next part of the labor story is on its way, I promise!

I am grateful for the comments my last post elicited, because I had no idea what kind of impression I was giving. I thank everyone for being supportive, but I really did a bad job of expressing myself.

That post really wasn't about Dooce and it REALLY wasn't about how I am confessing that I don't feel a bond with my newborn or anything like that. Not at all.

What I meant to convey was that I, just like every new mother with an internet connection, am always searching to figure out what the hell I'm supposed to be doing.

How DO you raise a child, exactly? Is THIS normal? What about THIS? TELL ME, INTERNETS: AM I DOING IT RIGHT!?!?!?

And so the moment I find a post from a source I trust (a medical website or a blogger like Dooce, for example) and I read about someone or something being different from my own experience, it's hard not to compare.

Ummm....But....Can my way be right, also?

That's a hard question for a new mom to answer. Contrary to how I've portrayed myself here, I DO have confidence in my parenting skills (really, I do), but still. When my way is different from someone else's way, it's hard not to feel conflicted, or wrong, or not as good. Or at least to wonder.

So. What I tried to illustrate in my last post was that my way, my labor story, is different from anyone who would describe their experience as transcendent (and there are LOTS of them; Dooce just happened to write about hers a couple days ago). My way is different from women who declare that they are "in love" with their newborn baby. And my labor story doesn't have any fireworks or freight trains or sparkles or moments where I feel One With The Universe.

Is my way still okay, then? Yes, of course. But it's still juxtaposed against other ways. And while I know that that doesn't make my experience lesser or not as good -- my way is great! -- it can still catch me off guard.

And that's what happened. I got caught off guard. As a result, here is what I meant to say:

My experience wasn't like any that I've otherwise read. There weren't bells and whistles, exactly, and if I meditated at all it was only to keep myself from punching my nurse. I don't think it's fair for me to use frilly language or to try and describe my experience as something too deep for words. But that doesn't mean my experience was anything less important. It wasn't anything less amazing to me. I don't love my daughter less than anyone else loves theirs. My drug-addled, unfrilly hospital stay was unremarkable in many ways, but oh my god was I ever happy.

I still am.

So when someone uses words like transcendent I get defensive. Because I don't think you have to have that in order to have it be the best, most memorable, greatest thing ever. For me? I am crazy about my daughter, I love being her mother, I feel like everything has fallen into place and my life makes sense and that this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

AND I know that there are other ways, still. Some of you out there hated having a newborn. Hated labor, hated the newborn insanity, did not feel "built" for parenting at all...and yet also still found your child/parenting to be the best thing you've ever done.

One cannot help but get the impression from the internet that giving birth and having a baby is supposed to be mind-blowing and mind-altering and instantly life-changing and flowery and unicorn-filled. And all I want to add to the chorus is that Nope. It doesn't have to be that way, or any which way at all, to still be completely, totally awesome.

13 comments:

  1. Something else to consider is that one person's transcendent meditative experience might feel like a day spent lounging on the beach with celebrity mags to someone else. Just because it is described as incredible bliss or whatever by someone doesn't mean that it feels like EVERYONE's definition of what incredible bliss should feel like. You know? Like one color shade can look red to some people and pink to others. Maybe your experience would have been what others describe as "transcendent".

    There is a philosopher that I read in college, I forget what his name is, who wrote this whole thing on experiencing It. He determined that humans experience It if they are truly seeing or feeling something for the very first time, without the qualifying opinions of others. You know people go on vacations and take pictures, then bring them home and make awful slideshows to force their relatives and friends to sit through, and say things like "Oh and here we are at the Grand Canyon. Isn't it beautiful?" Like we need approval and confirmation that, yes, it IS in fact beautiful. This is not experiencing It, this is experiencing something through the qualification of others. In his opinion, the first person ever to see the Grand Canyon truly experienced It, as s/he had no outside opinions to influence perceptions upon stumbling on this gigantic crack in the ground. I kind of think this is a load of bollocks, as you can still see the wonder of something regardless of how many other people have seen and experienced it, but whatever.

    No, childbirth isn't unique to you, but YOUR EXPERIENCE was. You don't need qualifications or justifications or any other sort of 'ations from anyone. You felt what you felt, and that is okay.

    But seriously, it doesn't matter anyway. You are you, they are them, and the only thing that makes any difference in the end are happy and healthy babies and parents.

    So, in conclusion: hugs all around, and I'm glad you are embracing your individual mommyhood. :)

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  2. Are there baby pictures to see? If so, I can't find where to see them! I saw the first couple and she is gorgeous!

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  3. Thanks for being honest. There is way too much pressure on women to be EVERYTHING already. We don't need that unrealistic pressure as well. Reality is just as beautiful.

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  4. Yes, baby pictures if you feel like sharing, would be great. Also, the end of the labor story after the water broke. See you thought you could distract us with the wordy stuff and dooce, but we want your details, because nobody tells a story better then you!

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  5. I totally knew what you meant the first time around, and I appreciate your clarification all the same. It's awesome in so many different ways. Amen hallelujah, pass me a drink.

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  6. I know it's your blog and you can write what you want when you want. Mmm hmm. You can have it your way, with fries, or extra crispy, or with whipped cream pooting out of the rear.
    But for the love of all that is holy, woman!
    I obsessively check to see if the end of The Labor Story is online yet.
    Now?
    Now?
    Now?
    You can't imagine the minor freak out that has occurred now, not once, but twice, to see that Kristy. Has. Added. A. NEW. POST!!!!
    Only to discover that it's a preamble to the Constitution of the United States of Oh-My-God-I-Need-to-Know-How-That-Baby-Came-Out.

    Is it there Now?

    I'm glad that you're not Dooce. I'm glad that you're glad that you're not Dooce.

    Now can you tell the end of the story, please?

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  7. I was just talking to my grandma the other day about her labors. With her first baby, she was 19 years old and had her in the sanitarium. They made her lay in bed for 9 days, and on the 9th day she got to sit up. Then on the 10th she got to go home. She said she didn't know any better and did just what the doctors and nurses told her. I asked if it was the same with my mom, who was born 15 years later and her 5th child. She laughed and said, "No, I did what I thought was best by then."

    My point is that new moms will always be concerned that what they're doing is wrong, will listen to others instead of following their intuition. I'm sure I'll do the same when I have my first child. But then, along the way, people figure out that they're doing exactly what they need to do and that there are many ways to parent.

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  8. Thank you, thank you for your honesty! My baby girl is 9 mos.I felt alot like you when she was born.(actually in someways our labor was a bit similar too)
    I was happy she was here, and healthy. But was I instantly in love and all those things you hear new moms say? Not at all. In fact my whole hospital stay 5 days in all, I felt like I was in a complete fog. My brain just was overwhelmed by exhaustion and the hormones and etc. I can't even blame it on drugs. Even though I had a c-section, I didn't use the morphine at all. Didn't even get the script filled. I've read so many birth stories where the mom cried with joy and I just never related.

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  9. This made me giggle a bit. As a mother of older children, living in another culture, I've got to say it: There will ALWAYS be someone telling you that YER DOING IT WRONG.

    Hogwash.

    The kid has no idea if you're doing it wrong (they are new to this business of life thing too).

    Do what's right for you and everything will sort itself. Everything.

    So.

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  10. Bravo! After I had Thing 2, I was astounded to note that I felt 'differently' about the wee lad than I did about Thing 1. It troubled me then, because aren't we supposed to be INLOVE with our babies?

    Yes, but love shows itself in multiple ways. His was quieter, more contemplative, while Thing 1s was a bursting firework. Both are good.

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  11. I applaud and respect your honesty about those first days with your new daughter. (Forgive me my new puppy analogy, but that's all I got.) The first few weeks with a new puppy are fairly awful, no matter how much you love dogs, no matter how much you think puppies are freaking adorable, no matter what all the new puppy books taught you, no matter how much you wanted and waited for that puppy. In between the moments of cute are 24hrs a day of sleep-deprived vigilance over the howling, the pooping and peeing on the carpet, and the destruction. But when you have had a moment to get your new puppy act together, THEN you fall head over heels in love. (Later you feel guilty for those few times you sort of considered taking him back to the rescue.) Now I know this about myself. Now I know to be ready for those conflicted feelings the next time I get a new puppy. Now I know that my first thought of "Oh my god what have I done?" is normal. And I love him THAT MUCH MORE because I was uncertain I was worthy of him, or even up to him, in the beginning. I would die for that dog. And that bond is worth far more than any unicorns and clown smiles I didn't feel right away. Many blessings have already been bestowed upon Eve for having such real and honest parents.

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  12. I totally agree with you AND understood what you were saying the first time. What makes me defensive when I read a Glorious Birth Experience is that I think the implication is usually that the person received a GBE because they did it right. Whereas everyone else obviously did it wrong or else they would have had the same GBE. Which I think is crap.

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  13. I thought I'd posted about this before, but don't see it.

    Having a baby is different for everyone. Like I didn't suffer any morning sickness. Thank You, God. Probably because I hate to be neauseated. Your doin' it rite, Kristy, meaning you are doing it your way.

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