I have always considered myself a strong and independent woman. After I found out I was expecting, naturally, I had strong assumptions that nothing would change and I would continue being a strong woman. Pregnancy kicked my butt big time. Hormones made me an emotional wreck; I was indecisive; and I was insecure. There was so much I didn’t know and so much I could not research. As I was choking back my tears as I was talking to a friend (and recent dad), he gave me the best advice ever: Don’t be a hero. There isn’t a need to be one.
Usually, I am not one to take advice kindly. I always knew best and trusted myself…only. This was an exception. I took his advice and continually reminded myself: Don’t be a hero. Here are the times when I reminded myself I didn’t need to be a hero:
Your circumstances have changed.
You must change as well. During my pregnancy, I constantly had to remind myself that I was pregnant. The fact that my belly stuck out well after five months and I could rest an apple on top of it wasn’t enough of a reminder. Once at work, I noticed the water cooler was out of water. Rather than asking someone to change the huge gallon of water, I diligently took off my heels and proceeded to do it on my own. A coworker walked in just as I was going to lift the water and told me to stop. She screamed that I am pregnant (duh) and I shouldn’t be lifting anything heavy (double duh). I knew both things but I didn’t want to ask for help. Don’t be a hero. Ask for help. The consequences are too high not to.
It is ok to be scared and to ask questions.
Being pregnant is so scary. There are so many things that can go wrong. It is absolutely ok to be scared and to ask questions. The doctors don’t expect all mommies to be calm and happy about everything for the entire pregnancy. (I doubt such a mom even exist.) You don’t have to act tough and internalize all feelings. Ask questions if you need to. Even ask the dumb ones that don’t make sense to anyone except for you.
Have your labor your way.
Sure it seems like the heroes are the moms that give birth naturally; without drugs; and after being in active labor for 10 hours. They are who they are. You are who you are. If you need the drugs to assist with labor, do it. If you need to hug your husband or bite his hand the entire time you are having active labor, do it. If you need to squat to give birth to your child, who cares? Do it. No one will judge you for having the labor you had. Personally, I did not have a smooth labor and it was not the labor I envisioned with my rose colored glasses. However, I gave birth to my lovely and healthy full term daughter weighing in at 7 pounds and 1 ounce. That makes me a hero.
Accept help when offered.
My mother in law offered early on to come help us but I declined. I felt like I could do it all because I am a strong woman; I wanted to have our first days together as a family; I didn’t want to say something to offend her cause I didn’t know what my hormones would be like; and I didn’t want my mother in law here to remind me that my mother cannot be here because she has already passed away. After I was finally released from the hospital, we went home and immediately went to “work” on keeping our baby alive. For the first 24 hours, we didn’t eat, sleep, or shower. We were hungry, tired, and disgusting. I caved and asked my mother in law to come help. Bless her heart, she had already packed and was ready to drive 2.5 hours into Calgary to help us out. When she arrived, the first thing she did wasn’t to see her grandchild. She gave me a huge hug and thanked me for a great job in bringing her grand-daughter into this world. For the next 11 days, she took turns helping us feed/change/rock our daughter, she did all the laundry, and she cleaned up the house when it was out of order according to our standards. She was a dream come true for me. Although she told me that I was a hero, she was mine.
There are no set guidelines on how you should proceed with your pregnancy, what decisions you have to make, and how you should bring your child into the world. Whatever decisions you make, you are already a hero for carrying your baby; for protecting your baby; for bringing your baby to this world. You are your baby’s hero. You are your husband/partner’s hero. You are your family’s hero. You are your own hero.