Prior to even getting pregnant I had many thoughts and expectations of myself being a mum. When it took us nearly to years to conceive, I had plenty of thinking space as I was constantly wishing I was pregnant, then thinking about what pregnancy would be like and how I would be during.
Before getting pregnant I was eating healthier, trying to cut back on smoking (stopping a few times and failing to give in completely), I didn't drink as much alcohol and was regularly taking pre-natal vitamins and folic acid. I thought I was healthy and young and that we'd have no problem conceiving. As time went on and I started becoming a little concerned about the lack of pregnancy and after a year I started getting a little more neurotic and began plotting my cycles using an app on my iPod. I even went as far as taking my temperature every morning at the same time (5am!) and plotting that on the graph too. This was all in desperation to get pregnant and be a good mother during the gestation process. This continued for a few months and in July 2011, we made a huge change in our lives and moved to a different part of the country. Obviously, trying to conceive was put on the back burner while we unpacked and settled into our new home and new jobs. Soon after moving we got lucky and in November 2011 I found out I was pregnant with IQ. I had stopped worrying about what I should and shouldn't be doing, it just happened naturally albeit taking a little longer that we'd both expected.
During my pregnancy I stopped smoking and drinking, but to be honest, if cigarette smoke didn't make me heave I really doubt I would have been able to give up completely. I know that's awful but I found it so hard, even to the point of smoking and retching for days before giving up for good. I had expected myself to quit the minute I had that blue line and was so disappointed in myself when I found it so hard to do so. As a lot of first time pregnant mothers I also studied the "what not to eat" lists over and over again, most of the stuff like veiny cheese and shellfish I didn't eat anyway but things like uncured meats (chorizo and pepperamis) were tough to give up. I did follow all those rules for a while, even to the point of discarding the stalks off mushrooms because they may have dirt on them. This is what I expected myself to do.
It didn't last long. I never ate or drank anything that would put my unborn baby in danger but I don't see how a bit of chorizo cooked in sauce could have done me (or her) any harm. Once I'd stopped worrying about these things, I had a much easier pregnancy and I felt a lot more relaxed and chilled out. So my point again is that when I stopped doing what I had expected myself to do, things got better and easier and more relaxed.
Fast forward nine months and the baby is due to be born. Throughout my pregnancy I had expectations about how I wanted my labour and birth to go (naively I thought I could control when and where). I wanted a nice relaxed labour with lots of movement and laughing, I expected myself to be the relaxed hippy momma that I had read about. I had even packed massage and aromatherapy oils in my labour bag, along with sweet smelling shower gel (for the first bath I expected to take in the hospital after the birth). I thought I'd be dancing around the room or bouncing on a birthing ball until I needed to push, then taking up whatever stance took my fancy to deliver IQ into this world. I expected to do this with just gas and air. The actual birth couldn't have been further from those expectations, I was induced at 12 days overdue, I had my waters artificially broken, I didn't move from the hospital bed and was under constant monitoring. I also asked for Diamorphine (had two lots!), shouted and cried when pushing and IQ ended up being Vontouse'd into this world.
Not the birth I had EXPECTED huh? But that's the problem, I had put so much pressure on myself to have this lovely natural birth. When I went past my due date with no sign of natural labour I lost control and felt so overwhelmed and scared. I thought that because I knew what was going to happen at each stage of labour that I'd be relaxed and would glide through them easily. Not the case at all. But, once I had admitted to myself that IQ was not going to be delivered they way I had expected all along, I had to roll with it. Looking back, I wouldn't change the birth experience for the world. It gave me my beautiful IQ, brought me closer to my husband and gave me the family I'd always dreamed of.
Now that's what I expected to happen. :-)
So my point is this - today, many people have an overwhelming pressure to adhere to the 'rules' and what's expected of them. Sometimes these expectations force people to break through barriers and become something greater than they were before. Those are the best kind of expectations, when they're achievable. But, for me and many other new, young mums, we have expectations of ourselves that just aren't achievable. To put this much pressure on ourselves to be these magic mommas isn't fair. The fact that we've conceived, carried a child and delivered them into this world (regardless of how they were delivered) makes us incredible. It makes YOU incredible. So please, new mommas, old mommas, soon to be mommas and wishing to be mommas, don't pigeonhole yourself with expectations, have aspirations and dreams but be prepared to chop and change, and most importantly to adapt because life doesn't go the way we EXPECT, just the way it's naturally meant to go.
(hippy morning ramble over - thanks for reading!)