Melissa recently asked “What is one thing you learned from your pregnancy/birth experience(s)?”
I learned so much from the experience but the two that resonate the most is humility and empathy.
Over my lifetime, I’ve heard different people’s anecdotes about pregnancy and being a parent. I thought I had a good understanding of their situations and their feelings, but it was only after finally experiencing pregnancy and motherhood myself, that I got a mom’s perspective that I never had before.
Gaining this new perspective was earth shattering for me because I’ve always considered myself fairly open minded and emphatic but it turned out I had unintentionally made a lot of assumptions about pregnancy, being a mom and parenting.
Scarfing Down Big Fat Humble Pies
For example, I was so proud of myself when I took a shower and washed my hair at the hospital (almost immediately after giving birth when the nurse had my baby for tests). I even put on makeup and thought, “see, you can easily find time to shower after having a baby.” Ha! HA! HAAAA!!! Biggest joke on myself ever.
After a blissful two weeks of thinking that, my baby started to cry all the time when I wasn’t holding her. And she was much louder than running water. A two minute shower meant I was cringing for a full two minutes, and my mouth was constantly filled with shampoo because I kept opening it to try to say reassuring words to calm her. The floor got sopping wet as I reached out frequently to bounce her. All pointless. I even considered ordering a baby sling to take her into the shower with me. It took a few weeks but I finally understood why people say it can be hard to shower after a baby is born.
That was just the beginning too.
After another two more weeks, my baby started to cry for hours, even when I held her.
I did everything I can think of under the sun but nothing seemed to work. Then I started doing something I had thought I would never do, buy every pillow, chair or swing with good reviews with the hope that one might soothe her. I only succeeded in amassing a room full of stuff. I had assumed if I tried hard enough, I can stop my baby’s crying. Nope.
A Little Bit More Empathy (from Me to You)
Now, when I hear someone else’s baby cry, my heart goes out to both baby and parents and I no longer think, “please do something to get the baby to stop crying”.
My daughter is now 3 and no longer cries with her little tears when I’m taking a shower, but she is still sticking her little fingers under the door and “cries” with her little voice. That is if the Mister was able to distract her long enough for me to slip inside and shut the door, otherwise, she would be right next to the tub playing with the shower curtain, asking if I’m done yet, if I’m done yet, if I’m done yet…
Life is slowly shifting back to “normal”, but I am no longer the me from before. Can’t go back. Don’t want to go back. I miss being her with her freedoms and her self indulgent life, and extended 30 minute showers, but I love being this exhausted and sometimes greasy mommy too.
My water bill is lower for one. A two minute shower really is sufficient/ all that I can deal with.
A Lesson in Humility
The lesson of humility from experiencing some basic things I didn’t even know I didn’t know was profound. The realization that there is so much that I don’t know, won’t understand, and may never experience makes me a happier and more receptive person. I apologize for my old self. There is still plenty I need to apologize for my current self, but it’s a start. I’m plenty full on humble pie right now, but I’ll make room for more.
While I choose to be and prepared to be a parent, it isn’t always easy and without hardships, so I now have more empathy and respect for other people because I don’t know what they are dealing with. They might not be sharing their challenges but that doesn’t mean they aren’t just trying to keep it together too.
And finally, the purpose and contentment I feel when my daughter repeatedly calls “mamee”, not to annoy me as I had exasperatedly concluded before, but because my presence makes her feel secure, comforted and happy, is absolutely priceless. I love you to the moon and back my baby.