I went to see a friend yesterday who is halfway through her pregnancy. I hadn’t seen her since I have had Bubs and so this was the first chance I had got to introduce her to Bubs and to chat about things to her. I also have a few other friends who are pregnant and with whom I am meeting up with in the coming weeks. These are all first time Mums. My friend asked me a question, it was: How bad is it?
Now. What do you reply to that? Do you tell them the stark, harsh, black and white truth? Or do you sugar coat it a bit, not wanting to upset them?
Now personally, I am a very straight talking person. I can tell white lies and I can sugar coat things but I feel a bit of a fraud doing it. Can I say that it wasn’t bad? Can I say it was easy? Can I make my terrified friend feel a bit better? A hundred thoughts rushed through my mind. And I do think it depends when you are asked this question. At the start, everything seemed so awful and terrifying, and yet so lovely all at the same time. Now, 3 months later, things are calmer, more relaxed, and I can enjoy things a lot more.
It got me thinking that when people ask you that question, it is so subjective. The old stereotype of women talking about their horror births, well, to each of us, I bet there was one part of the whole baby making and giving birth process that was a bit horrific. For me, being Induced was awful, as was the first few weeks when I struggled to breastfeed. How can I tell someone else what it is like, when the issues I was concerned about were so unique to my situation?
When I was pregnant, all I thought about was the birth. I never thought beyond that because it just blew my mind a bit at the time. I was terrified of going into labour, and the pain. Not knowing what this pain which I was told was awful, felt like, was anxiety inducing.
In the end I told my friend that birth isn’t that bad, but that the first few weeks are tough, and just get through them day by day. Because for me, actually giving birth was OK, the process to which I got to the point of being able to give birth, was not OK. But that was just my experience. I told her it will really annoy her as everyone will tell her it gets easier, which will really really piss you off, but then one day, you look around and realise that it is easier. Because it does get easier. And really that’s probably the only one consistent piece of information anyone can give any new parent. I also suggested a few books I wish I’d read before the baby was born, which would probably be more informative and unbiased than myself.
If she has any issues once the baby is born, I can perhaps signpost her onto some of the support I had, or tell her how to avoid things going so badly the way they did for me. When you’re six months pregnant, do you really need to hear the ins and outs of it?
When my non-pregnant friend asked me this same question, I admit I think I let my mouth talk before my brain went into gear. I told her not to do it, and that she should enjoy her life and be at least 40 before she even thinks about it, because it is exhausting, tiring, you don’t sleep and your whole life is upside down and all you think about is this little person. It was only about 8 weeks after having Bubs and I was still a little raw from it all. I think she’ll probably need counselling if she gets pregnant after my little rant. I think because she wasn’t imminently going to do it, I felt more able to explain to her how I felt at the time, and to start going down the ‘horror story’ route.
I think really I just need to shut up, smile and nod, and just order another cappuccino next time.
What do you tell your first time preggers friends, or your friends who are yet to have babies, when they ask you what birth and parenthood is like? Do you tell the truth?