You’ve probably read at least one of the “What to Expect” books. What to Expect When You’re Expecting, What to Expect the First Year, What to Expect During Labour, etc. Do these books prepare us for the joys and challenges of motherhood? Or do they just give us a false sense of preparedness for a journey one can’t possibly be prepared for?
Take my wonderful (sarcasm) birthing experience, for starters. Did I have a birth plan? Not really. I knew I was going to have to play this sucker by ear. I just had one request – drugs, and lots of ‘em. Seriously. I was THIS close to making a t-shirt that read “Stick that epi in my dural,” for my arrival at the hospital. Just so they were 100% clear on where I stood.
Things couldn’t have gone more tits up. I got induced, and when the Sauce of Satan (oxytocin) kicked in, things went from 0 to 60 faster than you can say episiotomy. Just a couple hours into it and I’m begging for narcotics. In comes the anesthesiologist – my handsome knight in shining scrubs. Thank you, baby Jesus. But my world is suddenly shattered with the sound of Nurse Ratched’s voice. “Sorry, hun, you’re fully dilated. No drugs for you.” Like a horror scene in slow motion, I watched the anesthesiologist wheel away his wares. That ugly, stingy bastard.
Long story short, I gave birth without so much as an aspirin. I felt everything. EV-REE-THING. As the doctor stitched me up, I kept kicking him out of sheer reflex. Yeah, my birth plan was really working out. Give birth like it’s 1865 – check! Roundhouse kick the doctor in the throat – check! So far, so good.
I thought I was prepared to bring baby Max home. To my husband’s horror, I had all the gear. All of it. Max hated the swing, the sling, and his 800-dollar crib. I’m selling the works of it, and the next kid is going in the sock drawer, Benjamin Button style.
I was prepared for the sleepness nights, but I had no idea how difficult it was going to be to sleep train a ginger. In the dark of night, I could see his orange wig glowing like the fires of Hades as he howled for hours on end. As soon as he started sleeping through the night, or so I thought, he’d cut a tooth or discover a third lung and resume his vociferous battle with slumber once again. At first, when people asked me if he was sleeping through the night, I’d say yes and knock on wood. Now I (yawn) just pretend (yawn) I don’t hear them.
Nobody prepared me for the Great Boob Catastrophe either. Sure, I knew breastfeeding was going to be draining. But I thought the extra boobage would last, like an eternal token of gratitude from Mother Nature for suckling her latest creation. She is an Indian giver, clearly. Why didn’t anyone tell me my boobs would wind up looking like golf balls in tube socks? WHY??? I went from a D cup while breastfeeding, to an A. I haven’t worn an A cup since grade 8. Not cool. I need at least a B to achieve equilibrium with my ass.
So, does reading everything under the sun tell us what to expect? Sure. It gives us some insight into this scary, unknown world called motherhood. But alas, we must remember – nothing in life works out exactly the way we plan. We are in control – to a point. We have to just go with it. Roll with the punches. Tuck our boobs into our socks and embrace the unexpected.