Opinions

Motherhood's no cakewalk

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Imagine building a soul inside of you. Slowly creating fingers and toes, a life that will last decades. While you sit reading the paper or stand in line at the grocery store, you are making a person, a little being that will grow and smile and laugh and hate and cry and be in the world because of you.

From the first day you realize the news with a rush of elation and fear and anxiety, to five months in when you can't fit into your clothes and feel as though you've become a tiny god, harboring life within you. As the final day approaches, you feel as though you're going to burst with nervousness. The large expanse of what used to be your flat belly stretches out before you like some interminable sentence without punctuation. As you're waking up one morning and struggling to your feet you suddenly feel it, like something's losing its grip and being released.

After nine months and all the morning sickness and dreaming and the paranoid way you protected your belly from the touch of strangers, the day has come and it's time for you to meet the creature you've been building all these months. It wasn't easy to get to this point, it wasn't easy losing your hard-earned figure and giving up sleeping with your back to the sky. It wasn't easy to give up those glasses of wine, or enduring the pounding in your head rather than risk taking an Advil.

Why, then, after all this time and effort spent creating this perfect little entity, after the exact precision with which your body constructed each tiny feature and thought, would you put that little life and your own in danger simply because you worry the pain might be too great to bear? Why, at the finish line, would you risk everything and opt to be cut open for convenience?

It's happening more and more these days--there's even a cute little title attributed to those who voluntarily choose to have a c-section, "too posh to push." In spite of increased blood loss, higher maternal mortality rates and increased risk of damage to the infant, more and more women are opting for voluntary caesarean sections simply because they are anxious about the pain natural childbirth may bring.

It doesn't make sense, it seems like a miserable cop out--like getting the shiny trophy without the desperate fight to earn it. The hours of gritting your teeth and gripping the offered hands until they turn white, the times you think you're not going to make it, and you're sure the pain will last forever. Doesn't it then seem like a cheat to hold that baby in your arms and not feel exhausted, as though you'd earned it?

Being a mother is hard work, it's exhausting for the mind, body and soul. From the moment they place that child in your arms, you will do anything to protect it. It's hard accepting that someone is dependant on you for everything, it's hard giving up your freedom and simple things like showering every once in a while, or going to the bathroom with the door closed.

The difficulties of being a mother do not stop after the birth but they do start there. If it's too much at the beginning, and you cop out deciding it's too much pain and struggle, just too much to do alone, it makes me wonder how the next 18 years will develop. Perhaps it will be too much effort to baby-proof the house, too hard to schedule doctors appointments, too hard even raise the child yourself.

From the moment the pregnancy test delivers the results, your life can no longer be yours. There isn't any "you" there is only "we," reminiscent of Zen philosophy. Whatever you do has an immediate and direct effect on another life and that is something too great to ignore. If you haven't already digested that concept after carrying the child for nine months and you can't sacrifice your comfort for theirs at the beginning of life, I would seriously question the commitment to motherhood and the qualifications of the doctor willing to take such a drastic step.

Pregnancy isn't a disease that needs to be cured, it's not a "condition" or something that "afflicts" a certain number of women a year. It isn't something to "get over with" in the least amount of time and effort. It is a process, it is the delicate undertaking of bringing a life into the world--healthy and happy.

Giving birth is the culmination of months of anticipation, talking to a person inside of you and finally getting to meet them. Isn't it worth the extra effort, the pain, the fear and the worry?

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Comments

How true - the struggle of labour rarely lasts more than 24 hours - how small a time frame that is in comparison to the risks involved in scheduling your delivery between the manicure and the bridge game. This was common in the '50s - designer deliveries.
Opt for the natural - we do so little thatis natural these days - surely giving birth should be tops on the list.

I can't help but wonder if the author is a mother herself. While a valid point is made here, if the author has not given birth herself, it seems questionable to describe the process and the months leading up to do the day of birth.
After all, writers are told to "write what they know". I hope that's the case here, or else this article may trivialize the experiences of "real mothers"

Wondering- No I'm not a mother myself, a bit too young for that yet, however I am the oldest girl in a family of six children and over the course of my life have definitely experienced the process of pregnancy and giving birth, many times, as well as years of raising children - though admittedly in the position of sister rather than mother. I have seen my mum make countless sacrifices for her children and put their needs before theirs every single day. I think motherhood needs to be taken more seriously and appreciated far more than it currently is. It is a job, a very hard one - and I think its time that people began recognizing it. I don't think you need to be a mother yourself to understand and support that.

I seriously doubt that a woman who chooses to have a C-section will be less of a mother or a woman for it. If a C-section helps the mother's peace of mind for whatever reason she should be entitled to one without judgment. Why is there a belief that being a mother involves losing your identity and becoming part of a "we"? It's an archaic notion that a mother is defined by her kids. She is first and foremost a woman.

I read this article and I was struck the seemingly intimate knowlege of motherhood the author implied to possess. Then I read her comment that she herself is not a mother. This article now strikes me as bad writing. Every description in this article pertaining to the emotions of motherhood seems like it was lifted off a Hallmark card and they are bluntly cliche. What's worse is the author does not give the reader a reason for her diatribe or explain why this is a relevant issue for herself or her readers. It seems like Miss Somerville was looking for something to write about so she just spit out a thousand words to meet her deadline. One lingering question remains for me: if you've never had the experience yourself, who the hell are you to pass judgement on someone else's experience? Miss Somerville tried to fake credibility with this piece and has failed miserably.

Natural child birth in my opinion should be a choice made by the mother, not a something that she is forced to do. Child birth is a stressful time for both the mother and the baby, and after nine months of acid reflux, back pain, and discomfort who is to say that having the baby shouldnít have a comfort factorÖyes I know the risks of c-section and that both mother and child are put at a higher risk, but with the advances in modern technology, the risks are minimal (much less than it used to be). Iím not too sure what the statistics are on the topic, but Iím sure both have their risks. My sister was given the option to have a c-section due to her curved spine and knowing the risks, she chose a natural birthÖthere were complications and because of her choice and she took a huge riskÖit hurt a lot more than it should have and took considerably more time, she put the baby and herself in dangerÖbut once you pass the threshold there is no turning back.

I was born in an emergency c-section due to complications in the womb, my mother was never given the choice, and I know she wanted a natural birth, but that wasnít her choice, my safety was questionable.

People make choices in everything they do thatís what makes this a free country. Who is to say they canít make this one. There are risks in any choice we make. I could choose to drive to work and risk getting in a car accident, or I could take less of a risk and walk to work where I could be hit by someone while walking across the street.

I guess I should say this too, because I know it would come up. I know that it is not the babyís choice, but the reality of the situation is that ìmomî is going to be making all the choices till they are old enough to make their ownÖunless you are me(24) and am still being told what to do. :)