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24.7.11

A Competition I Won't Enter.


We all know that for years and years women have fought hard for women’s rights. To have equal rights and opportunities as men. Owning our own homes, equal pay, the right to vote, equal opportunities in the work place and the chance to have the same jobs as men and promotions.
More recently , and more my era I guess, the Spice Girls came along and shouted about Girl Power, Destinys Child sung about Independent Women, Beyonce has sung "If I Were a Boy" etc etc.

Most women I know, yes MOST women, want to be wined and dined, want to be spoilt by their men, want to have doors held open, meals paid for, surprise flowers delivered, chocolate brought home and waiting on the kitchen worktops for them, love letters left around the house for them, want anniversary cards, Valentines cards, want to be proposed to in the most romantic way possible, want the biggest wedding ever where the day is all about them [not the groom] and so on......yet claim to be independent, claim to be a "tough chick", claim to not need a man in their life. "All I need is my girls" [the last statement is something I've never felt to be honest]

Yet, as soon as we [in my experience the majority of the female population] become pregnant we enter this competition. The competition seems to vary depending on the person, person’s friends, or social group etc. We must out-do each other when ever and where ever possible.

Who has the worst morning sickness? Who didn't have morning sickness? Who had the healthiest cravings? Who had the oddest cravings? Who has the biggest bump? Who has the smallest bump? Who felt the baby kick first?  Who has had to visit the midwife the most times? Who has the clearest scan? Who doesn't feel the need to find out the sex because "we'll love them no matter what"? Who has spent the most money? Who gets the most benefits from their company with regards to maternity leave? Who is having the most time off with maternity leave? Who is going to have their baby first? Who will go overdue? Whose bump is lower? Who will have the best baby shower? Who has the better pram? Who's packed their hospital bag the earliest/latest? Who fell pregnant the quickest? Who took longer to fall pregnant? Whose baby was planned? Whose baby was an accident? Who had the best/worst reaction from family? Who had the most admissions to hospital? Who had no complications? Who had the most complications?
I think you get the picture?............

It doesn't end there though, then comes the birth and the baby.
Who had the shortest/longest labour? Who had the least/most amount of pain relief? Who had the least/most stitches? Who stayed in hospital the shortest/longest amount of time? Who had the lightest/heaviest baby? Who breastfed/bottle fed? Who lost their baby weight the quickest? Who fit into their normal clothes the soonest? Who got the most amounts of presents? Who had the most help from their husbands/other halves? Who is the most tired? Who developed Post Natal Depression? [Not a joke] Who cried the least/most? How much sleep are you getting? Is the baby in a routine? Who had sex again the quickest? Who waited the longest to have sex again? Whose baby slept through the earliest/latest?
Then surely that’s all.....right?.....wrong!

Baby development stages....
Whose baby sat up first? Crawled first? Walked first? Got their first tooth? Was weaned the earliest/latest? First words-when and what?

It then moves onto who has the best birthday parties. Blah blah blah.
I don't want to be a part of this competition. It’s pointless. Totally pointless.

For years we have campaigned to support other women, to stand up for each other, yet at the quickest opportunity we try and out do each other.

I found this a lot with the birth of Charles. It constantly seemed like a war with other pregnant girls I knew to see who felt the worst etc [all via Facebook statuses] and I became sick of it, it was a game I didn't want to play but slowly felt I was getting sucked into.
I remember one afternoon, it was May, a month before my due date, and I was scrolling through Facebook statuses. I was inundated with update after update after update of pregnant girls moaning about their bumps, moaning about their bodies, saying how they already loved their baby more than anything in the world; they had felt the biggest kicks ever, etc. With every comment on their status, mostly from a new mum or fellow pregnant girl they would up the stakes....
"*A* just felt the biggest kick ever"
"*B* I get big kicks too"
"*A* My baby kicks me really hard in the ribs, I'm sure I'm bruised around there"
"*B* Yeah mine too, I'm sure I'm bruised everywhere inside"
"*A* I think my baby is trying to burst out"
"*B* Me too, my midwife said she thinks the same"
"*A* My midwife said she's never seen or felt a baby kick as hard as mine"
"*B* My midwife said she's thinks the baby will be early and will probably break my waters just by doing one kick"
You catch my drift......[this is a made up conversation but almost identical to daily conversations seen on Facebook"]

I sat and felt "the rage". I wanted to comment on every status. Instead I closed my netbook, cuddled my bump and made myself snap out of this rage. Why was I getting myself so worked up over what other pregnant girls were saying? I was being entered into this competition almost, and I hadn't asked to be entered.
Get me out!
From that day onwards I ignored most pregnancy related statuses, unless if I could see they weren't going to head down the competition route. Also doing the same once Charles was here and have continued to do so as he has grown and developed.

Two years on and nothing has changed, the same thing remains and this time I have stayed well clear. I even cut down on the amount of info I shared regarding my pregnancy, with Charles I would update before and after every midwife appointment, would report on kicks, on things I'd bought and so on. This time I figured that actually, people didn't want or NEED to know about my appointments. I also calmed down on the information I shared in real life, with friends face to face or via text message. I wanted to keep a sense of privacy with this pregnancy where I could.

I was surprised to learn though that this competition isn't just with my Facebook friends. I see it [saw it] a lot on baby forums, which is why I tend to stay away from them now. And surprisingly enough I see it a lot on blogs and on Twitter.
After the birth of Harry I had a lot of lovely messages of congratulations from Twitter followers. I was really overwhelmed and unable to keep up. I had made it known that it didn't go as planned and after being asked to share my birth story and having people ask if I was ok I decided firstly to post about the condition I suffered from, and was unaware of until almost the last minute, Vasa Praevia. And once I felt it was the right time, for me, I wrote my birth story [which took me almost 3 hours] two weeks after the birth and shared on my blog also.

I was really surprised at what I felt was a lack of support from some who I know from previous conversations and blog posts also had a hard time with labour and post-natally.....these were the women I was almost relying on for support.

Through looking at past, and present, Twitter and Blog conversations, these women were also part of the competition. They had entered a long time ago except I hadn't seen it then.
But now we were at the same stage, I am no longer a pregnant lady, I have moved on and fall into a few of the other categories. The main one for me at the moment being the "Birth Trauma" category. And although I have had some AMAZING support from some regarding this, most with their own Birth Trauma story to share, I have been left surprised and shocked at those who fail to support others in this group or just blatantly ignore/dismiss it.

I don't want to be part of the competition. I stopped myself before and as a result felt my parenting style with Charles was/is more relaxed than some others, and I will continue this with Harry.
I'm not going to rush to do things because others are, I won't boast about things or moan about things to outdo others. Instead I will boast because I want to, or need to. Because I am proud.

Pregnancy, birth and motherhood can be so hard for some and can be so full of ups and downs and rather than competing throughout this time we should be offering support to each other.
As supportive as our partners can be sometimes we need fellow mummies to say "you are doing brilliantly" or sending virtual hugs etc. Not sending virtual daggers and inserting knives in our backs at any given opportunity.

I bet most of you are not even aware of this competition. But I bet if you sat there and thought about it for 5 minutes or less that you'd see it in your own life.

Maybe you are part of it but just unaware.
Take a moment to think, and get yourself out of it.
Take a look at your child/children and realise that competing isn't worth it.
There’s no prize at the end of this competition.