Sometimes pregnancy, child-birth and post-baby life isn’t all sunshine, sprinkles, roses and rainbows. The more I get into pre and post-partum care, the more I realize that many women live with deep pain or disappointment. Most of society assumes that life with baby is simply splendid and that mothers have nothing but happy thoughts about this new life stage. And then there are the magazines and websites and advertisements that show young, energetic, fashionable moms with perky breasts and glowing skin pushing a gorgeous baby around in a state-of-the art stroller.
It’s this crushing and unrealistic expectation to have it all together. To be “Super-Mom”. Know what I mean? I tried it for a while and failed miserably. Just being real.
Super-Mom is perfect. She has the perfect post-baby body. She has a perfectly clean house all the time. Her kids never misbehave or cry in public. Her hair always looks great when she answers the door. And she has a four course dinner on the table by 5pm when hubby comes home. They, of course, have a perfect relationship.
As I have been learning throughout my experience as a mother, “Super-Mom” is an illusion.
There are lots of moms who have a great overall experience with pregnancy, childbirth and beyond. But then then there many other moms who struggle, who deal with pain or loss, and who are less visible to society because they remain hidden. Or perhaps they are visible, but we see only what we want to see: the happy healthy mama.
Most of my practice is geared towards women who are pre or post-natal. In my line of work, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. It is easier to gloss over the pain or pretend it’s not there. But turning a blind eye doesn’t help anyone, nor does it bring true healing and freedom.
So I really feel that I just need to acknowledge this reality: a lot of us out there are hurting.
When it comes to child-bearing and child-rearing, we really put our hearts on the line, don’t we? Moms, moms to be, and women unable to have a child, can all experience grief, loss, heart-ache, hopelessness, resentment, anxiety, fear…
That reminds me of a story I read the other day. It is the story of a beautiful woman who has been married for 40 years. For 19 years, however, she and her husband were childless because she was unable to carry a pregnancy to term. As you can probably imagine, that was an extremely difficult, exceedingly dark, and unbearably long season of her life. You can read more about her story and how she overcame here. http://www.deeprootsathome.com/now-i-value-life/
Her story is just one among many. We each have a story. As a woman and mother who has worked very closely with other women and mothers, I am aware of their stories and experiences of pain or loss. Their stories include:
- Post-partum depression
- Post-abortion syndrome
- One or multiple miscarriages
- Still-born baby
- Single motherhood
- Trauma during childbirth
- Post-baby body image
- Factors stemming from a history of sexual abuse
- Relational stressors
- Baby born with disability
- Post-partum sexual pain and dysfunction
- Onset of chronic pain post-partum
- Sudden death of an infant
- Pre-mature birth of a baby
- Trials of women waiting to become mothers though adoption
This is life. This is reality…and it matters. It matters because whole health is not just about the physical dimensions. As a health-care professional, I am kidding myself if I believe that it is one-dimensional. Health is very much a physical, spiritual, emotional and mental thing. It is my observation that when women experience some level of emotional pain, their physical health will be impacted, and vice-versa.
I am a physical therapist. That means that I am trained to address what’s physical. However, I don’t and I can’t ignore the mind, soul, or heart. They comprise the core of who we really are. While my job focuses primarily on physical health, I do know some really great people who are trained to help moms with the spiritual or emotional or mental aspects of their health.
If you are hurting, please don’t be afraid to make it known to a trusted person. Come out of hiding. Don’t be afraid to seek out help. It is out there. You are valuable and you are loved. And you don’t need to have it all together. As I have been learning, it a freeing thing to admit to oneself: “I can’t do it” and “I need help”.
Please contact me if you would like to be connected with specific people, practitioners or resources in the city. I would be happy to help you in any way I can. There is no judgement here.
In the meantime, check out these links:
http://loncpc.ca/ – London crisis pregnancy centre
http://pailnetwork.ca/ – loss of pregnancy or of an infant
http://www.helpformom.ca/ – post-partum depression
http://asafepassage.info/ – supporting survivors of abuse
http://www.vaginismus.com – sexual dysfunction post-partum
http://www.iaac.ca/en – infertility network
http://hopeafterabortion.com/ – post-abortion help
If you know of anyone who could use this information, please pass it along! Thank you!
How have you felt the pressures to be “Super-Mom”? If you are on the other side of a painful journey, what is your story and how did find help, hope and healing?