One of the things about parenthood is that you’re guaranteed to fail. Most women first feel their dreams of supermumhood falter during labour, when they decide after planning for months (or years) to have a natural birth that what they really want is AN EPIDURAL, NOW. And despite the fact that childbirth involves sensitive, private organs being shredded, many women feel awful about using a very safe and common medical procedure to deal with it.
Then there’s three seconds after birth, when a slippery, pruney gross thing is put into mum’s arms. Shockingly, her reaction is not always one of consummate joy. Particularly not when, three days later, she is still sore and exhausted and her entire chemical makeup drastically alters in one day – while she’s also dealing with relatives, pain, bleeding, more pain in her OTHER sensitive private organs (breasts this time) – and the baby that has taken over her life is doing nothing but scream, poo, and cause pain. It doesn’t even smile yet. Having been blasted with cooing, airbrushed infants for nine months, many mums are shocked to find that they don’t feel high on sheer maternal love.
Again with the guilt.
I’ll stop there, rather than doing a blow-by-blow account of the next twenty (or thirty) years until the job of being a parent is mostly (but actually not at all) done. Suffice to say, none of us get it right, no matter how hard we try.
Personally, I got a head start on practising self-acceptance of parenting failure. Like most mums, I wanted a medication-free pregnancy. Hah!
Here’s some of the medicines I’ve taken (all but the last two on a daily basis):
1. Zofran (which many doctors won’t give to pregnant women because they feel it needs more testing first).
2. Maxolon (also a prescription drug).
3. Gaviscon (for heartburn and reflux – so far I’ve drunk over two litres).
4. Durotuss for dry cough (which keeps my cough mild enough I don’t throw up, but doesn’t actually get rid of it completely).
5. Metamucil (pregnancy, zofran and iron supplements all cause constipation).
6. Vitamin B, C, D, iron, and folic acid.
7. Kenalog (for mouth ulcers).
8. Panadol (pregnancy, zofran, and nausea-induced dehydration all cause headaches).
I don’t blame myself for any of this. It’s just. . . sad.
It’s been a little while since I gave an update on my current physical status, so here are my main issues:
I’m still extremely nauseous, and lately I’ve started losing some of my range of edible foods (now I can’t eat avocado – my one edible green substance – or chicken, and I’m iffy on tomatoes and mince – and, unfortunately, bread), and my sense of smell is starting to cause issues again. Drinking more than 100mL of water in a half hour period generally makes me throw up in my mouth (I regularly fantasise about how nice life would be if I was on a drip), and I’m not able to clean my teeth every day. Lying down now makes me nauseous, so I’m learning to sleep at a 45 degree angle to minimise illness. Louisette’s movements often make me feel sicker, or they hurt. Sheer gravity means that every time I shift position in any way, Louisette pushes against my skin and/or organs, which also hurts.
I have muscle pain in my hip/s or back about 90% of the time. I never walk faster than a zombie shuffle, take forever getting up the stairs, and I wish I had a crane and sling to help me turn over at night.
Some days, I am sore and fatigued as if I have the flu.
Overall, I’m down to an average of two functional hours a day (from three). I have bad days and good days. Luckily, tonight is the last of the two-and-a-half hour birthing classes (which have been exhausting and nauseating, while also interesting) and my three hours of tutoring per week is about to start dropping off as my students get close to the end of the year. I was hoping to be in better shape at this stage of the pregnancy, but if I have to eat nothing but breakfast cereal, and do absolutely nothing but watch TV and sleep for two months – well, CJ and I have been through worse.
Louisette now weighs one and a half kilos. This Friday marks the beginning of the second-last month. Every day that passes is one day less to go. I’m still looking forward to labour (and yep, I’ll be trying for a natural birth. Make of that what you will).
2 thoughts on “Failing as a parent”
Failing as a parent is when you give your infant Coke in the bottle instead of milk, or give it cocaine, or forget to change its nappy for a week. Don’t scoff, all of those things have been done. You won’t fail at anything.
Stace: I can imagine a very tired person doing the first or third of those options. Failing as a parent only happens when you abuse them, or when you give up and leave. Parental mistakes are just part of the journey.