This article is part of the series of “Dark Mothering” where we have decided to be brave and talk about the days of mothering that are not bright and sunny. Last post we spoke about Post Partum Depression. And this time I have picked up a topic that has been part of our lives at some point or the other- Feeling alone as a mother even after being surrounded by people!
This is a phenomenon that starts during pregnancy. Even though our husband and family are around us, we feel alone sometimes. This state can escalate to the point where some women have to seek clinical help for their depression or anxiety!
Why is this feeling of “abandonment” so prevalent? Why do most of us go through pregnancy feeling low instead of being alive and happy?
Part of it can be sincerely attributed to hormones. As it is women are hormonally complex. Add 10 times of roller coasting hormones to the mix and you get a pregnant women! So yes the sudden bipolar moods and crying at the tip of a hat is largely our hormones playing poke-HER with us!
What about the rest? There are some genuine family scenarios where unfortunately we are at loggerheads with some members. Something as tiny as whether to swaddle the baby or not can lead to a huge controversy. We as mothers feel completely equipped to make decisions about our baby based on instincts. Those around us share fables of their experiences and declare a certain way as correct. Tempers rise. Words are exchanged. And we just feel lost, alone and almost cheated of motherhood!
What do you do when the family you depend on for support is not behaving in a trophy winning manner? And believe me, I have had enough stories pour into firstname.lastname@example.org urging me to write about how to handle the situation of “difficult” in-laws and husband not taking “my” side esp during pregnancy.
Well, like for most of the times when the going gets tough, my first piece of advice is to take a deep breath, relax and remove yourself from the conflictive situation. Reacting when tempers are high on either side can never be beneficial. You often end up saying mean horrible things yourself which you regret later. So best is to not say anything. Take yourself away from the scenario and think when you are cooled down.
Once you are alone, relaxed and calm from the anger bout you just had, think about your situation. More often than not you will realize that the topic of discussion was certainly mundane and doesn’t require you in your particular sensitive state of pregnancy to be involved in the battle. So my next advice to anyone who feels lack of support from family is “Choose your battles”. During pregnancy, you are in such a state that you don’t need to take more stress than you already have. So you don’t need to reply, react or retaliate to everything. Some things have to be “just let be!”
The next best thing to start off as a habit is meditate or do yoga. There are some good ante-natal classes that teach you some calming breathing techniques and meditation that just make your over-all self more relaxed and calm. Over a few months of regular meditation, you will find yourself less and less perturbed in general. I suggest making yoga/meditation a regular part of your life- pregnant or not!
If you do find yourself in a situation where you cant tear yourself away from the situation physically because you feel that you walking away will just aggravate tempers, I find the best way to end a debate is to politely agree to the other party. I am not saying to take all their suggestions into action, I am just saying that saying “Ok. I agree.” Is the best way to put any debate at rest. Whether you do that or not, is a later issue. But in the heat of the moment just agreeing with your opponent will leaver her with nothing more to say. Let me give you an example. Suppose you are in youor 7th month and your mother-in-law feels that you should have more “white” things in your diet so that the baby is fair (believe me, I have heard such stories too!) just go ahead and say “OK.” It doesn’t mean you concede to such notions or you will not love a wheatish skin baby! It just means that your peace of mind is more important to you than explaining to an already blocked mind about how scientifically and ethically wrong she is! Even if someone has come with an intent to battle it out with you, the minute you say “OK fine”, they are left at loss of words. They have come with the hope that you will rebel then they will say something, then you will retaliate and it will be a nice long hour battle. But you said “ok” in the first minute. So there is nothing more they can say. An hour long battle has been reduced to a minute! It might look like they have “won” because you conceded to their demand. But in the long run, you got your peace of mind and avoided a stress full situation. For a pregnant lady, there can’t be a more winning situation than this!
Keep your peace of mind utmost! I cant offer better sincere advice for pregnancy. Your ego, ideals and opinion should take a backseat to your peace of mind. If sitting with your heels up as advised by your mom-in-law is helping avoid an altercation, just do it. It cant do you harm. Plus it will avoid any stressful argument. The only one thing to remember for a happy pregnancy and a resulting happy child is “Nothing supercedes my peace of mind”. If it means swallowing my pride for nine months, I shall do it. You should be above all other petty things. Only and only peace and no-stress should be your mantra! All other battles can wait, for atleast 9 months!
So next time you find yourself in a stressful situation with a loved one or otherwise, just say OMMM and remember to keep your peace above all!