The upcoming election has me thinking about options. We are so fortunate in this society to have so many options surrounding where we live, what we eat, the clothes we buy, who we vote for, and even how we choose to watch our favorite television series. Having children will drastically change one’s life and we are so fortunate that individuals here are able to make that decision for themselves.
As a doula, I know a lot about birth and babies. I also know a lot about pregnancy and the amazing toll it can take on a woman’s body. Women have to sacrifice comfort, eating choices, and sometimes health to grow a baby. There is so much joy and wondersurrounding new life and everything involved in creating it. But for every positive, there is often something about the mom or her partner that needs to be forsaken or at least put on hold.
Each step of a child’s development has its own set of challenges. We need to function on very little sleep accompanied by nagging self-doubt with a newborn. Breastfeeding can bring pain and struggle, while formula may bring guilt. The toddler years turn the most patient people into screamers and preschoolers are the best negotiators in the world. Need I even write about tweens and teenagers?
But all the superficial struggles aside, likely the hardest part about parenting is what we end up losing. There is little flexibility in life once children enter the picture. Not only do we need to account for children’s schedules, but we also need to make sure that someone can be with them at all times. It is nearly impossible to fully commit oneself to work when having to make sure there is backup care in the event of running overtime. Doulas know this struggle well!
We also need to schedule in self-care as children suck up negativity and stress like sponges. Any disruption in our personal equilibriums can sabotage an entire day. If I don’t sleep well, I need to load up on caffeine and positive affirmations so I don’t get a tiny bit agitated, thus creating a downward spiral of behavior – his and mine.
I love my son more than anything and am so grateful that I was blessed with him. I also had to put a lot of what I love on hold. There are many things that used to strongly be a part of who I was that may be gone forever. I have chosen to raise my son in a way that puts him in the forefront of my life. I am fortunate that I was able to make that choice, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t mourn for my pre-child life from time to time.
Raising a child takes a lot of work. Everyone who has done it or is doing it knows that. It is a lot of work and there is rarely any acknowledgment that you are doing it “right.” None of us want to raise jerks and we’re all trying our darnedest to make sure we’re making as few mistakes as possible.
I love seeing the creation of a family at birth. New life is precious.
But it is not for everyone, and I firmly believe in giving people options.
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