After birth, the lies continue

Now I get why older generations didn’t talk sex and pregnancy with their children. Pretty sure it was because they wanted grandchildren and we all know that knowledge is power. As a mother in the 21st century and a public servant, I feel it is my civic duty to expose the lies associated with the postpartum life.

1. Pregnancy is 9 months long.
Untrue. Pregnancy is 40 weeks long and if we discount the errant five-week month or two, anyone with basic math skills can see that 40 weeks means 10 months. During a time in which every day matters, it’s misleading to measure pregnancy in units as large as months. One day makes the difference between pre-term and full-term. We discern a baby’s appropriate development based on how many weeks s/he has been cooking away. An ultrasound has the weeks and days of gestation printed across the top, not the nearest whole month. Would you round up or down? No one can answer that because pregnancy is 40 weeks, not 9 months. And then for some people, it’s 40 weeks. and. three. days. #%$%^&@%$

2. Dipping into your husband’s closet is a cost-effective way to expand your pregnancy and postpartum wardrobe.
False. Dipping into your husband’s wardrobe is a cost-effective way to make you feel like a sea cow dressed in men’s clothing.

Wearing your husband’s clothes while pregnant is a terrible, horrible no-good, very bad idea for two main reasons. One, if your husband is larger enough than you that his clothes fit you during pregnancy, see above. Two, if you and your husband are about the same size, by 25 weeks (see Lie #1) his clothes won’t fit you and by 32 weeks you’ll outweigh him and your last shreds of self-confidence and dignity will be trampled beneath your swollen, sea cow cankles. There are two small caveats to these guidelines. One, if your husband is slightly taller and broader than you, his t-shirts can hug in all the flattering places before 20 weeks, lending you that sporty, glowy*, newly pregnant look. Two, after delivery his casual oxford shirts can button nicely over your much-larger-now bosom and skim your much-larger-now hips. That is, if the shirt buttons can reach their holes all the way down. And they probably won’t, so you will cry a little. And as you cry you will look down at the ground which you can now see. And there you will see your sea cow cankles and bread loaf feet and you will weep anew. And you will long for the day when your old fat pants no longer fit you like jeggings. And you will wipe your tears on the sleeve of your husband’s shirt. And a little bit of your snot, too, because he’s a wonderful, patient man who lost weight during your pregnancy and he deserves some snot on the shirt sleeve for that.

3. The pregnancy glow.

The pregnancy glow lasts about 15 minutes. Then, as you realize what you’re in for and your girth expands exponentially and you have less energy to put on make up…and shower…and do laundry…what people mistake for a glow is actually the sheen of oil on your face because you don’t even care not even a little bit about what people think or if you have mascara on or not. In fact, it’s quite likely that if you had mascara on two days ago, it’s still on because you were too tired to wash it off, which means now you have the smoky eye look going on and combined with the oil slick on your face, I could see how some would conclude that you’re “glowing.” But really, there’s no glow. There are breakouts and you’re supposed to stay out of the sun so you get white and puffy all at the same time and then you feel awesome, the same kind of awesome you felt as a high school freshman, which we all know was everyone’s best time.

4. Back is best!
For mom, sure, it kind of is. It’s lovely to be able to stretch out and lie flat on your back like you haven’t been able to do for months. The sleep is divine. Then during your lovely back-sleeping you wake up short of breath and realize the baby is on track to sleep through the night and you’re about to be crushed under the weight of your own boobs. I digress. The ‘back is best’ mantra of course references the current pediatrician-endorsed way to lay your baby down to sleep. Funny thing about APA guidelines is that babies don’t read or follow them so when your baby falls asleep on her side and she wakes up and wails when you lay her dutifully on her back in her crib with no bumpers, tight-fitting sheets, no toys and no blankets, do yourself a favor and tilt her back on to her side, prop her up with a blanket, and offer a prayer of thanksgiving that you found a way to help your baby sleep soundly. Then every time you go to the pediatrician’s office and have to fill out the yes-or-no survey, cross your fingers under the clipboard when you answer “do you ever lay your baby on his/her side or stomach to sleep?” I even drew the quotes around no once. “No” I “never” do that.

4. Baby wash cloths.
Pfffffft. They neither wash nor are they cloth. Baby wash cloths are the biggest waste of space and money in the entire universe of things a baby could possibly have. Pack of 12 baby wash cloths? Oh, you mean pack of 12 crappy, cheap little strips of junky material that curl up in the wash, roll up when you try to use them, and attract like a magnet the hair of every creature who lives in or has visited your home? Ever? And when wet they have the audacity to wilt like the house-brand paper towel in a side-by-side comparison commercial. Baby wash cloths are the fabric equivalent of a booger you can’t get off your finger.

5. Babies don’t need shoes.
Sure they do. Because baby shoes are cute and since none of yours are going to fit when all is said and done, someone in the house may as well have kicky little rides. This is the first and one of the only times it is acceptable to live vicariously through your child and her hot pink Mary Janes with the flowers on the toes.

6. Trust your body.
Yes and no. For example, your body will want to sneeze after you get home from the hospital. Your uterus will ask it not to. This is a time when you should not trust your body. Deny the sneeze at all costs. Here’s another example: When it is time to get up from lying down, your body will want to sit up. Do not allow your body to sit up. Ask someone to sit your body up for you. This is another time when you should not trust your body. On the other end hand, your body will want to eliminate waste again. You should trust it to do so when it is ready but you should also be popping stool softeners like they’re candy and probably washing them down with something sugary that will give you the runs. Don’t be a hero.

7. This is the best time of your life.

I’ll be real, I am seriously enjoying motherhood and parenting and expanding our family. But to say this is the best time of my life is like saying the Carter years were a high point in American history. It just ain’t so. It’s dangerous and completely unhelpful to let new parents think they should be having a blast with the first few weeks of postpartum life. The serious indignities of labor and delivery (and these indignities multiply tenfold if it’s a c-section–who knew?) extend, albeit temporarily, into your new life. Things you thought would go away immediately don’t. Things you thought would look normal again haven’t yet. This isn’t the best time of your life and don’t pretend like it is. The best time of your life will happen later but watch the champagne because good times+the bubbly is how some of us got here in the first place.

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3 thoughts on “After birth, the lies continue

  1. “you have less energy to put on make up…and shower…and do laundry…what people mistake for a glow is actually the sheen of oil on your face because you don’t even care not even a little bit about what people think or if you have mascara on or not. In fact, it’s quite likely that if you had mascara on two days ago, it’s still on because you were too tired to wash it off, which means now you have the smoky eye look going on and combined with the oil slick on your face”

    — You just described my “everyday” look. :-/

  2. Here’s a truism: nine months up and nine months down in the weight department, perhaps more for moms who are nursing since after all the factory depends heavily (ho ho, sorry) on fat cells. Also, “normal” may not ever look like it did before… a new equilibrium will arrive, but it may not ever be configured just like it was pre-baby… either physically or logistically or a million other ways in your new enhanced, amplified life. And that’s ok. It really, truly is, and you’ll get there and see that.

    p.s. Postpartum is not ANYBODY’S best time. I don’t know who lied to you about that. My maternity clothes/gym clothes hung around *much* longer than I wished they would’ve! But the light at the end of the 3-month/maybe-6-month-tunnel is not a train, so just keep shuffling. And on the bad days, crack open the baby book and smile at all the accomplishments and milestones and cuddly memories already made that you *do* have to be glad about. 🙂 I’ve seen text pics and met that little oyster… I know. 😀

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