embracing not shaming: coping with the pressures of motherhood

meandering through the internet this weekend i stumbled upon an unyielding number of posts, articles and grams dedicated to “all-natural” childbirth and the granola-of-motherhood lifestyle. don’t get me wrong, i’m granola to the core. i love an organic meal as much as the next granola girl. and i love my yoga pants and exercise and meditating and all the rest of that holistic healthy living stuff.

reflecting on the highs and woes of motherhood and childbirth, i wrote a candid little piece on how things went down when Esme Anna was brought into this world. as i mentioned in the post, i was 22 when i got pregnant with Esme and didn’t have a freaking clue what was coming. i spent the next nine months after taking the positive pregnancy test researching and reading about every possible birth scenario i could. i’m talking about hours and hours of research. i learned about pitocin and episiotomy and stretchmarks and weight gain and everything!!

i drafted a two page birth plan and after much stress and dilemma i took it to my doctor. i told her that i’d thought about it really hard. i’d done my research, and had finally decided that i wanted to have an epidural if time allowed. i was so torn. i wanted to experience everything childbirth had to offer, and i wanted to make the best decision i could for my baby. i was so emotional over the whole thing, that when my doctor responded, “Great!” i met her with question. (is this a trick? some evil trick to get my baby out in a hurry and race away to the bahamas or some black-tie event?) i will never forget what she said to me next:

“Sarah, you could have a tooth pulled without novocaine, but why would you want to?”

that was all i needed to hear. sure, i could endure all of the pain that comes with squeezing a baby the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of a lemon, but why on earth would i want to?! why on earth would anyone want to if they don’t absolutely have to???

so i’m here to tell you that however you manage or have managed to birth your child–with or without medical intervention–is as natural as the life you’re living, and as natural as the little life that you brought into this world. advancements in medical technology save people every day, and you are no less a mother for relying on those technologies to birth your child.

you are no less connected to your child for relying on those technologies, and for anyone to suggest otherwise is shaming.

breastfeeding is another topic that begs some attention. and let me just say that i am so happy for every woman who is able to successfully breastfeed, but unfortunately i was not one of those women. i can’t tell you how emotional it was to be “rejected” by my child when it came to feeding. i tried and tried and cried and cried, she just could not latch on. and boy oh boy did it hurt me, to miss out on that “all-natural” and innate experience. it was hard to cope with. in one of my tearful bouts my father said:

Sarah, breastfeeding is not the difference between harvard and lincoln land [community college].

thank you, dad. that was all i needed to hear to reinforce the logic that formula fed babies grow up to be successful and healthy human beings, too.

i’ll go on with regard to body image, weight gain and shaming.

with both of my pregnancies i gained more than 60 pounds. yes that’s right, 60. not a typo. i’m thin. i’ve always been thin, and pregnancy just took to me in the form of serious weight gain, with swelling in the face and limbs. after Esme i bounced right back (ahh to be 22 again). i was underweight when i got pregnant at 112 pounds for my 5’6″ stature, and within three months of giving birth i was comfortable in a size three. eight months postpartum i had achieved a healthy weight at 118, and would somehow manage to maintain that weight until getting pregnant with my son.

i gained another 60 pounds while i was pregnant with Nathaniel. i’m two years postpartum and i weigh in at a healthy 123. i don’t see myself getting back to 118, much as i’d like to fit into those size zero jeans filling my drawers. well, much as i’d like to be able to zip them up, walk around, breathe, and consume a meal after squeezing into them. it’s just not going to happen. and it’s okay. it’s okay for me and for everyone else out there too.

yes, there are things about my body that i’d like to change, but i feel like everyone feels that way. even super-models, because the images that we’re seeing aren’t “all-natural,” they’re products. photo-shopped and chopped and enhanced to create an ideal that doesn’t exist.

beauty is about how you feel. beauty is about how you treat people. beauty is not defined by your measurements or possessions. i want to provide a link to an adult BMI chart as a resource for anyone wondering what constitutes a healthy weight for their height.

because healthy is beautiful. and you are beautiful.



13 thoughts on “embracing not shaming: coping with the pressures of motherhood

  1. A well-crafted commentary on the pressures of motherhood – since mothers don’t endure enough during those 9 months – and thank you for your honesty. Also, all these photos are terrific, but the last family portrait is super sweet. Esme and Nathaniel and you and Jon are wonderful!

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    1. 😉 Thank you Hailey!! Much in line with our conversation this morning, let us all be authentic!!! Let us rid ourselves of shaming!!! GARRRHHH!!!! (she makes a pirate face as a way to express her anger)

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  2. Agree the photos are all beautiful. I had epidural both times – I don’t care an iota about what anyone thinks of that. I breastfed my first for a year and my second for a couple of months. Whatever – none of these things matter in the grand scheme of things . I love my kids and im doing my best !

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    1. I couldn’t agree more! I think it’s important for women to embrace and support one another. Our culture is so harsh to women, and so shaming. We are so often faced with the damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Knowing how much time and energy I invested in researching childbirth options; how much pressure I put on myself and how much I shamed myself for my weight gain and health choices; I want to share my story with the authenticity that I embody as a person and as a parent. There is no sugar coating here, there is no shaming one way or the other. Thank you so much for reading, and for sharing your story and comment! It’s so refreshing to hear from other parents who share in my crusade to affirm and embrace one another!!!! :)))

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    1. Aww, Brenda that is just about the sweetest thing to say! Thank you so much! 🙂 I certainly have my moments, and I’m (mostly) not afraid to share em!! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!!!

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  3. I beggggged for an epidural but my little guy was on his way out before we got to the birthing room. Ya’ll, that sh*t hurts. I fer sure would not do it on purpose. To each their own and more power to the women who choose to give birth naturally multiple times but there is No Shame in avoiding the pain and trauma of child birth if you have the option.

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  4. Beautifully written, I remember telling a fellow pregnant woman about my choice to get an epidural (when I was still pregnant) and totally getting the look of disapproval. I find absolutely nothing wrong with them or even going without them, everyone has their own preference and we should embrace each others choices with support instead of judgement!

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