Stop “Mommy Wars” Before You Give Birth

stop-mommy-wars-before-you-give-birthHaving struggled to get pregnant, I often found myself sneering in judgement of the “irresponsible” pregnant women in my path.  If ever I found myself pregnant, I’d eat organic foods, wear flat, sensible shoes, drink gallons of water, refuse caffeine and smoked deli meats, replace my daily stress with meditation, and hold my breath in the presence of bleach, second hand cigarette smoke, and exhaust fumes. 

 Should this woman have chosen to stay caffeine free for her pregnancy, I would have applauded her.  Well, I would have before I realized she was a Judgy Judy patronizing unsuspecting pregnant women just trying to get their chai on.

 And when I became pregnant the first time, I spent the ten weeks prior to my miscarriage abiding by my predetermined high horse.  I experienced multiple migraines – migraines which were historically softened with the caffeine buzz of a Big Gulp of Diet Coke, but, I was pregnant now.  I would just endure them.  I wouldn’t medicate.  I wouldn’t dare drink a Diet Coke.  I would endure the paralyzing pain for daaaaaaaays.

I got pregnant again.  Same thing.  No caffeine.  And another unsustainable pregnancy.

So when I got pregnant for the third time, something felt different.  I felt excitement for sure, but it was diluted.  While I was celebratory, I was mourning an impending loss that never happened.  In the haze of waiting for the pregnancy to end, I visited Starbucks almost daily, ate a couple deli sandwiches without clarifying if the meat was smoked or not, and even ate a few seaweed salads laced with questionable amounts of what I was sure was mercury-laden flying fish roe.

But eventually, the weeks turned into months and the months into trimesters, and eventually, I was obviously pregnant and still participating in the daily behaviors for which I’d once judged others.  I cleared my “taboo” activity with my moderation-approving OBGYN, but still felt trace amounts of shame for being the pot that judged the kettles that came before me.

On a crisp morning in January, I stood in line at my usual Starbucks, involuntarily resting my hands on the belly that housed my sweet baby.  I accepted my tea from the friendly barista, and turned to leave only to find myself face-to-face with my first “mom war” opponent.  

“I sure hope that’s decaf,” she scoffed in disgust.

I was horrified.  Initially, I felt my face flush in shame. 

It was not.  It was laced with the drug that would keep me awake to teach a 6:00 a.m. class in spite of the fact that I’d been awake every hour on the hour emptying my bladder the night before.  It was my reward for boarding the subway into the city at 5:00 a.m.  It was my indulgence for foregoing fast food and filling my diet with loads of superfoods aimed to grow my baby boy.  I’d compensated for my unhealthy habits in other ways that I felt comfortable with.  And, in the end, I was the mother here.  Should this woman have chosen to stay caffeine free for her pregnancy, I would have applauded her.  Well, I would have before I realized she was a Judgy Judy patronizing unsuspecting pregnant women just trying to get their chai on.

Sheesh.

Perhaps we are all just doing the very best we can to live our lives, grow our children, make ends meet, and stay true to ourselves?

So there it was- my first glimpse into the world of how being judged as a mother stings a bit more than the lifetime of judgement we’ve all experienced prior to having children.  I can stand to be questioned, just not about my integrity or my love and concern for my child- born or not.

{ MORE:  The “Mommy Wars”. }

In the world of parenting, opinions are formed about everything.  You are judged if you choose to live child-free, if you choose to have ten kids, if you opt for surrogacy or assisted reproductive technologies, if you adopt, if you opt for a home birth or hospital birth, c section or water birth, if you co-sleep, use a pacifier, cry it out, don’t cry at all, formula feed, breastfeed, breastfeed in public, work from home, work outside of the home, or work from Jupiter.  It is inevitable, where children are concerned, points of view are polarizing.  

It’s no wonder.  Raising humans is a big undertaking.  But perhaps in our pregnancies, we can help change the temperature of the conversation?  Perhaps we can accept that the pregnant woman eating donuts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is simply surviving on the only food she can manage not to throw up.  Perhaps the pregnant woman drinking a Diet Coke is trying to ward off a migraine that’s been plaguing her for weeks?  Perhaps we are all just doing the very best we can to live our lives, grow our children, make ends meet, and stay true to ourselves?

Yep.  I choose to believe in that.  

What do you think?

Stop “Mommy Wars” Before You Give Birth

Jennifer Bruno is a credentialed trainer by day and a freelance writer and aspiring photographer by night. Raised in rural Kansas, Jen moved to sunny Florida after college where she met her husband, who married her despite hearing her sing Dixie Chicks karaoke. Shortly after saying “I do”, they moved to New York City to fulfill their dream of living amongst the bright lights and skyscrapers. They currently share their cramped apartment with two modelesque miniature dachshunds named Millie an ... More

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5 comments

  1. Profile photo of laura laura says:

    I hated all the people that tried to tell me how to live my life while I was pregnant. I even had a regular (I’m a server) who tried to change my name choice…..I’m figured how to put people in their places nicely. Didn’t want to get fired 🙂

  2. Profile photo of Melissa Melissa says:

    kudos to you for not yelling at that lady! so far the only people to comment about what i should / shouldn’t eat are very close friends who are, for the most part, speaking in jest. i’m waiting for the day some one i don’t know decides to offer their unwelcome 2 cents, although i think my resting bitch face let’s them know to leave well enough alone.

    there is a lot of information out there, but in so many situations there are no definitive “right” and “wrong” answers… and it’s so wonderful to read something that is completely realistic. i have to admit, no matter how much pain and suffering google causes (sometimes cramps are just cramps), i am so thankful that we have this resource to find amazing pieces like this instead of sucking it up and going it alone.

    thanks! xx

  3. Profile photo of MamaCat MamaCat says:

    First let me say I’m sorry for your lost babies because I can imagine nothing more heart wrenching and it would have been very hard in your place not to tell that lady about it just to shut her up – good for you for taking the high road. And thank you for writing such a thoughtful article. If we spent less time telling other Moms and Dads everything they were doing wrong because it’s not our way and started supporting eachother I think we would all be a lot happier.

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