I have to first thank everyone for the outpouring of support in your emails and Facebook messages in response to my first post. When I decided to start writing about pregnancy and parenthood, I knew I couldn't be anything but honest. It would be impossible for me to pretend everything is rainbows and butterflies, and it wouldn't be fair to moms and moms-to-be who are reading my posts.
There are already so many images presented to us of moms who seem to have it all together, who have managed to strike the perfect balance between working full-time, being a supportive and loving spouse, and providing everything their children need (including breastfeeding), all with a smile on their face. That can make us ask, "What's wrong with me? Why can't I do that?" If that's the expectation we set for ourselves, we are destined to fail.
This is something I've been thinking a lot about and discussing with new moms. The pressure on me feels tremendous. I must work full-time after the twins are born (I LOVE my job, which helps a ton), I don't yet know if they will be healthy when they're born or whether they'll need to spend weeks or even months in the NICU, and then after that, how will I manage to have any time left for myself and my husband? (If you're reading, and you've figured out how to handle all these stresses, please clue me in. Seriously!)
I'm so grateful to those new moms who have shared openly and honestly how hard it can be. What's been disappointing, however, is my first taste of what I like to call "mommy judgment" from others... usually relative strangers, who, with a sharp look or biting comment, can wreck my confidence in what I'm about to do.
Here's a perfect example. So many people ask, without hesitation, about my birthing plan. There seems to be a growing societal pressure these days to have a non-medicated birth. I'm using the term "non-medicated" as opposed to calling it a "natural birth." I hate the terms "natural" and "non-natural" when talking about birthing babies.
Let me say I have nothing but intense respect for women who choose to go with as little medical intervention as possible during delivery. More women are opting for home births under the care of a midwife (which is much more common in other countries than in the U.S.), rather than depending on an OB-GYN at a hospital. I learned a lot about this from Ricki Lake's documentary The Business of Being Born.
I highly recommend watching the film. It's fascinating. But that doesn't make the "non-medicated" route right for every woman. And we shouldn't be made to feel like failures when we choose to have an epidural or when our doctors tell us a C-section might be the safest way to deliver. My ultimate goal is to have two healthy babies, not a gold medal for having the perfect birth experience.
From what I'm hearing, the mommy judgment will only continue well after the twins are born. There's of course the pressure to breastfeed through the first year (yes, the benefits are immeasurable, and I will do my best!) And we all know about the never ending wars between some working and non-working moms.
Why are we as women so focused on tearing each other down? All we can do is make choices we believe are best for ourselves and our families. We need encouragement, not judgment. All of you moms out there, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you encountered mommy judgment? How do you handle it?