When I was pregnant, I heard (from the media) how often people were going to tell me how amazing having a child is. How they’d say it completes me. How they'd say I’d never known love like that before. And the media would say this is problematic because it overshadows how hard it actually is, how some women get postpartum depression, how life changes negatively, and how these are the things about which no one is talking but that we need to be.
But my real life experience (of what people were saying to me) was actually very different. They were saying how hard it was, they were discussing their negative experiences, and that's pretty much all they were doing. It made me so sad to hear (most, not all) people I knew talk about their newborn babies and younger children, expressing the difficulties with such disdain, complaining almost constantly.
(To be clear, when I say "complain," I don't mean that a person can't acknowledge that it is difficult to have a baby or a child. I am referring more to comments about how negatively someone's life will change once they have a baby, or saying things about a baby out of a mean spirit, or complaining just to complain, or calling your baby a dick or your two-year-old a "twouche-bag." I think frequently of how these kids will feel when they know that things like this are written about them on the internet. It's like parentally guided, head-start cyber bullying.)
I heard that fights with my husband would become the norm. I heard that I would be miserable because I would never get sleep. I heard that sex would no longer be enjoyable. I heard that the moment my husband would walk through the door from work, I'd hand over the baby and say, "You take her!" as I sloth off in misery to hide in the bedroom.
It was discouraging. I just wanted one person to tell me all the things the media said most people say. I wanted someone to just say “It is amazing.”
Because, the truth is, I was already afraid.
Here’s the thing. Now having been on the other side, I know this: It’s hard. Some days are hard as hell. But it doesn't make me unhappy. It actually makes me happier than I have ever been in my entire life. I am frequently exhausted. Things are messier. My body, in some way or another, is providing comfort to another person literally 20 out of 24 hours a day. Life is 90% different than it was before. But I honestly have never felt so fulfilled and content and purpose-driven every day.
I recognize that not everyone's experience is exactly like mine. Postpartum depression is a very real and scary thing. Women can be married to total assholes who refuse to help them. There are lots of scenarios that can contribute stress to this already drastic time of transition in a new parent's life. But I don't think that frequent complaining or talking shit about your kids, especially babies, is cute. Not at work. Not on "edgy" mommy blogs. Not ever.
Similar to when people make the old quips about married life and nagging wives, these comments irritate the hell out of me. There is informing and educating, or trying to vent about real issues to someone close to you, and then there is just complaining...to anyone and everyone, for the sake of hearing yourself talk or for the sake of being funny. So if you have a new baby who isn't yet sleeping through the night, or a two-year old who will only eat McNuggets, please just do us all a favor and don't bitch about them online or use a pregnant woman as your soundboard. It's not fair.