I am a member of many “Birth Month” Mom Groups – groups made up entirely of women expecting a baby the same month you are. Groups vary in size; most of the ones I’m a part of have about a hundred or so other women in them. They are often secret so they stay private.
Going through the pregnancy/ early newborn stage as a member of these groups is so helpful. Especially for first time moms. Any question you have is answered by many other women who have similar issues or feelings. You get close. You share intimate details. It’s an online-sisterhood and I find the relationships and intimacy addicting.
This go-round with H I felt like an old-bag “been there done that”. It’s my third child, my most recent pregnancy was only about a year before, and it was my second time being an active member of these types of groups. There is always a whining mom, a mom with drama (usually relationship related), a mom with serious health conditions, a mom who is a know-it-all, a mom who forces her viewpoints on the other women.
I’d like to think I’m an accepting of all viewpoints type of presence online. Supportive and positive to everyone. I cheer their victories, and I boo their hard times with them. I’m politically correct. I should be a damn Facebook Group Senator.
But I’ve experienced some pretty varied births, and went through major hurdles to breastfeed my first born. I’ve had a c-section, I’ve had an induced birth with an epidural, and I’ve had a 100% medication free birth. I know what to look for in choosing an actual VBAC supportive doctor or midwife. I know that just “trusting” your OB because they are an OB doesn’t mean you’ll have the birth outcome you want. I almost feel like I can pinpoint the women who will end up with an “emergency” c-section just based on how they describe their upcoming inductions etc. I have very strong opinions of this type of thing just from my own experiences.
But where do you cross that line? That line of saying – “watch out”. I’m also in VBAC support groups and I have no issue telling it like it is to women looking for advice or help; but to a fragile, impressionable first-time mom, I don’t want to cross a line that can’t be uncrossed.
Especially when it comes to breastfeeding. It’s fucking hard at first. It can hurt if you don’t do it right. It takes an insane amount of self-confidence to know that your baby IS getting enough milk and your body IS capable of doing it. If you aren’t 100% dedicated to breastfeeding, at any moment you’ll give into the allure of “topping” the baby off with formula (especially if you are sleep deprived). I’m not saying all supplementing ends with a breastfeeding relationship severed, but it can.
But how am I supposed to tell a new mom, oftentimes recovering from serious surgery, to just “trust herself” and that her baby waking up every 1.5 hours is normal and just to get over it? I can’t do it. So, instead, I complain to my husband about it. Or type it up in here.
I wish I knew then (circa 2010, the birth of my first) what I knew now. Experience is everything. I won’t be some “mama hen” to these ladies online, and really, what I ought to do is just log-off and forget about it; but, in a strange way I “know” and “care” about these women. So I just fret about it from afar, behind the keys of my keyboard.