It’s been some time since I’ve posted a blog, whether interesting or not and I’ve just had a good giggle going through the search terms that have made you land upon Up a Mammoth’s Nostril.
Things have changed significantly since the last time we touched base. Firstly, I moved to the UK for (god forbid) a man and it proved to be a wonderful decision. Secondly, I found the balls to enter a profession I actually love: working with children. I’m now an EYE, looking after children under three years old. My life was about as happy as it could be and then, wham, I fell pregnant.
Having waited my entire life for this moment (and having almost planned it – read: having planned it to happen in 6 months and well overestimating my fertility issues), I was and still am, ecstatic.
There shouldn’t be an ‘however’ after that statement, but sadly there is. I’ve since had quite a large culture shock. In South Africa, pregnant women are treated like royalty. Everyone is happy for them, everyone is excited about it on your behalf and almost everyone asks questions constantly. Here, however, you’re lucky if you get the obligatory ‘congratulations’ from most. If you are lucky enough to be congratulated, it’s almost always followed by a long lecture on how you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing.
Whilst I appreciate the gesture behind the lectures – I realise it’s not malicious and merely an attempt to help and educate – I’m finding it increasingly difficult to deal with. So, I thought I’d post this blog to help future mums (and remind myself in the future) to deliver advice in a slightly easier way.
Fifty years ago, delivering advice that leant upon the idea that pregnant women think they know what they’re about to experience was acceptable. We didn’t have the resources we have now and women, perhaps, had actual expectations from motherhood. However, we now find ourselves in the 21st century and this is no longer relevant.
We have the internet, forums, reality TV and lots and lots of books and the only common denominator they all have is publicising the fact that, no matter what we think, we’ll never have an idea of what pregnancy, child birth and motherhood are really like.
Show me an expectant first-time mum who claims she knows what motherhood is like and I’ll show you someone whose synapses are failing to fire. We are doused in quotes, such as ‘wait until you see what’s it’s really like,’ ‘you have no idea what to expect’ and my personal favourite, ‘you don’t know, you’re not a mum’ well before we even start trying to conceive.
I’m pretty sure that none of us assume we have the foggiest idea how our lives are about to change. I know that pregnancy holds unknown challenges, experiences and horrors. I’m refusing to even think about childbirth because of the endless barrage of women who tell the expectant population that we’ll never be ready, so why prepare so early on. I’ll leave the horror until later, thank you.
And, I most definitely do not assume I have that magical connection with my child yet. I am over the moon with my pregnancy and love my unborn child as much as possible at present, but I have no doubt that this will seem insignificant after it’s born.
While advice almost always comes from a happy and good place, please remember that as an expectant mum, we have already been inundated with lectures and information. We appreciate the advice and the sentiment, but what would be absolutely wonderful would be if you could stop for a minute and listen. I have yet to finish a sentence about my pregnancy without someone interrupting to tell me that ‘well, it’s just going to get worse’ (even when I’m not complaining), ‘ohhh…you just wait and see’ or ‘that’s nothing, wait until….’
If I’m not feeling well, it’s not necessarily to do my pregnancy. It could be that I’m actually not well. It’s not a polite time to tell me how bad pregnancy gets or act like I’m being a hypochondriac. Alternatively, it could be due to my morning sickness, which so many people manage to avoid, but sadly I did not. I hate to tell you, but no amount of knowledge or advice is going to make my hugging the toilet bowl (whilst my 2 year old charge asks me if ‘Sawah need a wee wee’) any better. If you haven’t spent weeks of vomiting 5 times a day, then twice a week and now blissfully down to once a week, then please don’t tell me it will get worse. That’s not something I need to hear.
You had your first pregnancy. You learnt through your own experiences. Please let me have mine. It’s hard to enjoy your pregnancy when you’re unable to talk of it without having opinions (often literally) shouted at you. If your advice is relevant and helpful (ginger biscuit suggesters….thank you!) then I will happily listen, but if your intention is just to remind me that I have no idea what I’m doing or what I’m getting into – please don’t bother. I’m already well aware of it.