Friday, January 6, 2012

The Invisible Mom

There’s a baby boom in Edmond, America right now:  And seeing all these beautiful knocked up women waddling around with their big old moon bellies fills me with longing. 

But for all the wrong reasons.

See, I'm a Libra, which means that I am a drama queen often enjoy a little attention once in a while. (Ok, some of you are probably thinking "Thank you, Captain Obvious, for this startling insight into your psyche. But we figured this out several posts ago.")

When you're pregnant, it's like you're the center of the universe. People pay attention to you. And as your belly gets bigger, it's gravitational pull increases, drawing dewy-eyed gazes, warm smiles, and the usual checklist of questions.   For example:
"When are you due?"
"Do you know what you're having?"
"How are you feeling?"
"Do you have any names picked out yet?"
"Are you sure you aren't having twins?"

People hold doors open for you when you're pregnant.

You get your H1N1 shot without having to wait on line like everyone else.

You can fill your grocery cart with as much chocolate ice cream as you want without being judged by the woman at the neighborhood market.

Even when your  (c)ankles rival those of an elephant, and you're lumbering down the candy aisle at the convenient store, people tell you you're beautiful!  You're glowing!  You're just the cutest pregnant lady evah! 

(And you believe it.)

This solicitousness peaks when you reach Critical Mass: All eyes are on you during the last few weeks of pregnancy, as you become that proverbial 'watched pot.'  

Your partner, friends, family, strangers, are all holding their breath, just waiting for your water to break.   At the time, you may be irked by all the attention (i.e., you sneeze, and your hubby makes a beeline for the hospital bag…)  but you’re probably also reveling in it, too. Or at least you should be, because it’s all about to change.


After so many sleepless nights, you finally get to stagger into the hospital or the birth center or your magical homebirth tub --  your hands dramatically clutching your contracting belly, your head held high, smiling serenely while shaking on the inside because aside from worrying about the health and safety of your baby, you know that you might be one of those women who poops herself during labor.

And throughout it all, it never occurs to you that your spotlight is about to dim.

You see, once you're a mama, you become invisible.
Sure, at first there's a flurry of emails, calls, and wall-posts on facebook, but after a few weeks, people lose interest. Instead of asking how you're doing, everyone asks about the baby. It's as though now that the baby is out, it no longer matters how you are feeling, or whether or not your needs are met. No wonder Postpartum Depression can strike around this time. I mean, not only do you have this huge hormonal letdown,  but you finally realize that you were just a vessel for new life. And while most new mamas can handle this, those of us who thrive on attention, (ahem) are at a loss.

When faced with the harsh reality of becoming the Invisible Mama, some women become uber-competitive, fighting tooth and nail to make the best cake for the bake sale, or bring the most healthy but delicious snack to the playgroup.  Other moms are able to throw themselves back into a career, and forge a new identity based on a lot of hard work and a lot more caffeine. I, on the other hand, got pregnant again. (Believe it or not, with the help/no-help of birth control.) 

But now, Mr. Stinky Pants is two-years-old – he’s toddling out of babyhood leaving a trail of cracker crumbs in his wake.  And, the idea of going through it all over again  -- the upside down days where night becomes the new morning, the colic and acid reflux phase, the near-biblical deluge of baby poop (ten diapers a day, people!)  for a measly nine months of stardom seems a bit… desperate.  (Like Tom Cruise making another Mission Impossible.  Oh wait.)

That said, I miss the feeling of butterfly wings fluttering inside me and knowing that it has nothing to do with the beans I ate for dinner.  I miss my sweaty and oily glowing skin, and the roadmap of stretchmarks on my stomach and thighs.    I miss missing all the things that are forbidden:  Tuna sandwiches and raw cheese and wine and crack and three cups of espresso.  I miss feeling swollen and engorged and peeing fifteen times a night, and  having to sleep propped up because everything I eat insidiously creeps back up through my esophagus, and  God Forbid I should sleep for more than an hour at a time without waking up to change positions because sciatica is an evil you know what  is brutal. 

And yes, I miss knowing through it all that I better savor every minute of it because this too shall pass.


  1. Now, I want one, too! And my youngest is 14 going on 15, but still leaving a trail of cracker crumbs.

    My mom was pregnant 11 times, and she said although she knew her body was done (really, really done) having babies, there was a mourning she went through knowing she wouldn't have another. I think you expressed the feelings of so many--or at least me--beautifully!
    ♥ TransitioningMom

  2. Oh honey. Try being an Army wife. I'm the oldest one I know here who doesn't have a child at least in embryonic form. They. Are. Everywhere. Which, oddly, makes it a little easier to ignore. Cause like they say on The Incredibles, "When everyone's special, no one is."

    And don't knock that new MI movie. It was pretty freaking awesome.

  3. I feel ya! My youngest is 16 months and oldest is just another sixteen months older than that, and I still want another! Maybe a tiny part of me loves the attention ( who doesn't?!) , but my hubby has put his foot down and said no more. There kind of has been a little mourning period... it's weird to think of being done. :(

  4. JG....funny you mention the MI movie. I heard it was good too!