Imagine this: You are a capable adult human being who has recently found out that you will be ushering another human being into the world sometime within the next nine months. It’s amazing, and extraordinary, and now is the time to figure out everything that you will experience during the process.
Whether you’re super excited, or intellectually fascinated, or you just want to be prepared, when you start looking at all of the things that you may have to deal with (or definitely will have to deal with), it can be a bit disconcerting – to say the least. You were expecting the morning sickness, the emotional breakdowns over chocolate pudding and the stretch marks, but somehow, no one seems to have clued you in to an awful lot of things that you’re now reading about (or dealing with personally).
I don’t need to go into the gory details. If you don’t already know them, simply google “what no one tells you about pregnancy” and you’ll get the whole list in spades. If you are experiencing these, you may have just had various symptoms crop up and only realized after a web search for “carpal tunnel pregnancy” did you discover that this is totally normal for pregnant women. My personal banes were the 24/7 eight month nausea (first month I was fine – go figure), heartburn, lactose-intolerance, sciatica, Charlie horses, and the aforementioned carpal tunnel.
I didn’t know about most of these before becoming pregnant, and like many women, I wondered why no one had ever told me about all the things that aren’t morning sickness that come along with being pregnant. Did everyone forget about all the horrors immediately upon giving birth? Was it all a conspiracy to make sure that other people didn’t balk at becoming parents too? Did people consider it a right of passage to find out all this info once they were already too far in to get out?
As it turns out, now that I’m on the other end I have a different theory about the lack of information sharing regarding the negative sides of pregnancy (and infants, for that matter). While the lovely dose of hormones that I was treated to upon bonding with my son certainly made me feel better about the process overall, I remember the negatives just fine. But while I would spout the frustrations of my pregnancy to anyone and everyone when I was pregnant, now I find it hard to get the words out.
First off, pregnancy problems aren’t the most interesting thing to talk about anymore. When I tell you about the amazing things my son has done instead of how horrible my pregnancy was, it’s not to deceive you into thinking that you should do this whole pregnancy and parenting thing too. Since I’m not going through that right now, it’s just not a very relevant topic. If you ask, I’d be happy to supply you with the less than fun details of my pregnancy, but I’m not likely to bring it up.
Second, after talking to many mothers, I realize that my issues are so unlikely to be the exact set of issues you’ll go through during pregnancy that it’s almost not worth mentioning them. Since every women is different (and every pregnancy, I hear), it seems a little pointless to bring up my past issues –even if they are all exactly the same, our pregnancies are likely to be wildly different. It also seems a little narcissistic to be talking about my pregnancy when you’re the one who’s currently (or soon to be) pregnant.
Lastly, any time that I could bring up pregnancy problems that I had, I’m not sure how to end the discussion. No matter how much I went through, I feel the need to add a “but” onto the end of it. If I was a Hallmark card, it would go something like this: “But it’s totally worth it.” However, I am not a Hallmark card and that leaves me with very little to say. I am a person who loves logic, science, reasoning, and measurable quantities. But there are just no words that can encompass all the reasons that I have for knowing that this was the best thing I could have done. There’s no metric for how seeing a smile, or hearing a laugh, or watching a sleeping baby can make you feel.
If I list all of the crappy things you might go through during pregnancy, it’s pretty easy to see how much they suck. If I list all the things that are amazing about having a child, you might be able to logically process why those seem nice, but you’ll never be able to feel them the way you can as a parent. And it’s the feeling that makes it all come together.
So in the end, I don’t think parents are trying to hoodwink other people into becoming parents – they just don’t know how to tell you what you’re in for.