Why do mommies feel the need to scare the crap out of each other?

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Congratulations!  You are having a baby!  What wonderful news! Now, let me tell you about how horrible my pregnancy/ birth/ postpartum/ breastfeeding experience was…

How many of us mommies have experienced something similar to this?  I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, after the obligatory congrats and hugs, we decided to start scaring the crap out of each other.

I know that most of us are anxious to share our negative experiences to help these ‘newbies’ in the mom club avoid the same pitfalls.  A lot of those anecdotes begin with, “If I could do things all over again, I would…” or “If you would’ve told me how hard natural childbirth/ breastfeeding/ co-sleeping/ ferberizing/ baby-wearing/ going back to work/ having SEX was, I never would have attempted it!”

The other side of the coin is all of the (ahem) ‘helpful’ information we bombard these sweet, excited, well-rested new recruits with.  We are so anxious to be helpful that we love to give our opinions on all the things they should be doing, thinking about, and planning for the next 20 years.  While, I am sure that starting a college fund for your sweet little bundle of joy is something that you will want to address, maybe it can wait a couple of months?

This amazing moment, the moment when we discover that our daughter/ sister/ niece/ cherished friend/ co-worker/ distant relative/ frenemy/ accountant’s 3rd cousin twice removed is joining the Mom Squad should be treasured by our doe-eyed loved one.  Instead our comments can leave the poor soul feeling nervous and overwhelmed.  She’ll have the rest of her life to feel nervous and overwhelmed!  (Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have let that little cat out of the bag!)

The wonderful thing about all of us women being so intricately and uniquely designed is that we experience all things differently.  We all have areas of pregnancy and motherhood that our bodies and personality are hard-wired for.  I cannot get pregnant on my own, but I have wonderfully easy pregnancies.  My sweet friend can get pregnant on a whim, but it is 40ish weeks of nausea, vomiting, and pre-term labor.  I could nurse a small army with the amount of breast milk I produce from the beginning, but my darling sister had supply issues with every baby.

My point is, just because you struggled, does not mean that the woman in front of you will.  I know we mean well, but there will be time to swap battle stories later.  I promise!

Maybe, when we hear the exciting news, maybe, just maybe we can just say, “Congratulations!  How are you feeling?  If you ever have any questions, or just want to talk about ANYthing, let me know!”

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21 thoughts on “Why do mommies feel the need to scare the crap out of each other?

  1. Liz

    Very well put! I think part of this type of verbal diarrhea that we moms tend to spout is not necessarily to scare the newbies but more like a cry if “I’m so glad I’m not alone, and you won’t be alone either!” Unfortunately, it does tend to come off as a wet blanket on exciting news. As for myself, I really do check my self before I throw out that wet blanket and leave my commiserating for my fellow mom vets… And know that the new mom will soon be one of us and can relate when she has earned her stripes (which doesn’t take long!).

  2. Ashley

    Very well said. I have a few people I’d like to gag and hog tie when there’s a newly pregnant friend around. Maybe it’s their way of showing how tough they are from going through such agony.
    Which I think God made us to forget the pain so we continue to procreate. God may be telling them something…

    • I totally agree, haha! The worst is when (though they may not know it) their pregnancy was much less difficult than yours but they complain and whine without even giving you the chance to talk. I try to remember, any time I want to complain…. there are always women who have had it worse. I’m being insensitive about moaning about mine. (Ugh, seriously, I’ve seen some FB statuses that make me cringe… not only for women who have had it worse, but also for women who can’t get pregnant.)

  3. Holly Ashjian

    Agreed! The lady who taught my birthing class specifically addressed this issue. She said something along the lines of, “Guard your words when you talk to women/your daughter someday about your birth experience. We all have this notion that giving birth is an impossibly excruciating ordeal. It’s reinforced by movies and horror stories from other people. This creates a lot of unnecessary fear and anxiety that ends up being really counter-productive in the labor process.”
    It was very timely advice (come to think of it, I’m pretty sure she was a doula 🙂 )! Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Love this! I always like to ask (non-invasive) questions because women usually seem to enjoy “talking shop” and I kind of let them guide the conversation. It’s an exciting, nervous time. I never bring up my negative experiences unless she expresses something similar to what I have experienced, and even then, I only bring it up to offer positive suggestions and to try to make her situation seem more hopeful. Obviously, if I can help, I’ll try. I AVOID worst case scenarios. Let the doctors do that, it’s not your job. Point being… this is about her, not you! Moms love to hijack the conversations and talk incessantly about their experiences in an often ridiculous one-upping game. Let someone else have the spotlight.

    Am I coming off to strongly? Oh well.

  5. Luna Fisher

    I always try to stop those conversations in front of new moms. I think some of the talk almost be a debriefing of traumatic birth experiences, I definitely think it is something not to do in front of a pregnant woman. In particular it should not be done in front of first time moms.

  6. Sara Wong

    Great blog entry! Fortunately, I haven’t had a whole lot of the scary stories from other people. I tend to find that when reading books. I agree that it is more important to encourage new moms rather than scare them with all the stories. I have appreciated the tips that I have received. What supplies to have on hand for after the baby, but put in a positive light. Such as, “If you have a, b, and c around you will feel more comfortable in the first couple of weeks after baby comes home.” Rather than giving me the horrible story and then telling me that I should have something around to help.

  7. Michelle Carter

    Exactly! Great post!! Allow others the same excited and anxious feelings we got to experience as a first time mom. This ranks right up there with the “just wait” people… the ones who love to reply to any vent you might have with, “If you think that’s hard, just wait until…”

    No, not helpful at all.

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