Thursday, December 12, 2013

Motherly Love

By Anna Dunham

This weekend we reached 33 weeks! As we get closer to full-term, thinking about delivery is definitely starting to outweigh thinking about simply being pregnant. And there are a lot of possibilities to consider: I may be able to have our baby without any intervention or surgery. I may need to have a c-section, if the doctor is unable to remove my cerclage. Things may get more complicated if the baby comes especially early. The doctor explained this many months ago, and as a type-A firstborn who likes to know and plan as much as possible, I've appreciated having time to think about the various scenarios. 

One aspect of being pregnant that I've loved is the support I've immediately gotten from the mothers in my life. I feel lucky that this first-hand support has been so positive, especially since as soon as you move from your friend-circle to the internet-circle, support seems to be squashed by competition. I've been struck by the fact that people can in the same breath admit that each baby and situation is unique, and then assert that one method or technique is universally superior. Epidurals, induction, breastfeeding, seems like every aspect of parenting is open to criticism and censure. 

I bet that they're aggressively comparing birth stories, don't you?

This touches a bit of a sore spot with me. I don't understand why women would turn something that should engender compassion and comradeship with each other into an opportunity to emphasize differences. One phrase that particularly frustrates me (which I should just let go - there's no way to replace it) is "natural birth" opposed to the thousands of scenarios where some sort of assistance or intervention is needed. Someone else recently expressed my thoughts succinctly: "All birth is natural." It'd be unnatural if the baby stayed put forever! I think each birth is a miracle, but it's also what our bodies were made to do, and therefore natural. And more importantly, I think we need to remember that there are some women who would do anything to have an emergency c-section or a baby living on formula. To be at the point where those are the decisions to make is to have already received a great gift.

I don't mean to be preachy or negative. I don't think there's any reason to be, because there seems to be a simple solution. Blame it on the pregnancy hormones if you want, but this article made me tear up. And to all of you who are trying to love and take care of your children the best you can (or if you've been doing that for the last 20 years): you are a good mama.

Anna Dunham is a Research Associate at the Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship. An English and Politics major at Hillsdale College, she now lives in the D.C. area with her husband, Will, with a daughter on the way. Her personal blog is Anna-bird, where she vacillates between thoughts about puppies and nail polish, and slightly more substantial topics. This article is re-posted with permission from the author.

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