After a few weeks of caring for her first-born baby, my friend Fig declared:
“Motherhood is blood, sweat, and tears. Rinse and repeat.”
We’ve had a “blood, sweat, and tears” kind of month here at our house, so Fig’s words have been on my mind. I wouldn’t want any other job in the world, and I love my children deeply, but some days I have to apologize once or twice to my kids about my less-than-ideal mood/behavior and tell them, “Sometimes it’s hard being a mom.” Sometimes it’s really, really hard.
But I can do hard things. We can do hard things.
Awhile back, a first-time pregnant woman I love told me she’s pretty sure she’ll get an epidural ’cause she’s (these were her exact words) “such a pansy.” I couldn’t help myself. I rushed toward her, grasped her face in my hands, and said, “No! You’re not!” This woman endured excruciating menstrual cramps every month before pregnancy followed by miserable morning sickness and painful cramping all through her pregnancy… and she thinks she’s a “pansy.”
I focus so much on the intense physical challenge of labor (some, including me, call it “pain”) that I sometimes neglect to give attention to other physical pains associated with bearing and nurturing children. For example…
* The cramping associated with ovulation and/or menstruation is painful for some women.
* PMS can cause painful bloating, headaches, etc.
* Love-making is painful for some women.
* Some women experience round-ligament twinges and/or cramping in early pregnancy.
* Morning sickness can range from mildly bothersome to excruciatingly miserable.
* Some pregnant women suffer with back pain, sciatic nerve pain, joint pain, etc.
* Preterm labor pains keep some women on bed rest for weeks or months.
* Then there are the after-pains (I think they get worse with each birth… wowza!).
* Some women endure general perineal tenderness, pain from perineal tears/episiotomies, or cesarean section wounds.
* Sometimes breastfeeding hurts like the (toe-curling) dickens in the beginning, being compounded initially by breast engorgement, intense milk let-down, and after-pains due to the uterine contractions produced by suckling.
* The muscle strain from carrying around a 5 to 11 lb newborn can lead to sore arms and/or sore backs, especially with a first child.
* Once an infant has teeth that introduces a whole new kind of potential pain during breastfeeding.
* Back pain can continue and intensify from carrying increasingly hefty babies and toddlers.
* Rinse and repeat.
(And that’s not even getting into the emotional pains we endure.)
We are women. We are strong. We can push ourselves to our absolute limit and somehow find the strength to push some more. And then rinse and repeat.
Don’t you dare call yourself a pansy.