Now that my son, Peter, is 9 and I have emerged - at least I think I have - from the fog of first-year parenthood, I'd like to weigh in on a few of the popular myths about pregnancy and parenting.
Myth One: "We're pregnant." Oh, please.
Myth Two: You need a birth plan. Your doctor will repeatedly ask you if you have written up your birth plan. This implies that there will be some sort of order to the whole ordeal. Like Sherman storming across Georgia, you can have a strategy and stick to it. Books on chaos theory might be more helpful.
Myth Three: Water breaks. Sure it breaks, but sometimes it breaks with the force of Niagara Falls. And it doesn't stop until the baby is born. This is why the adorable maternity outfit you bought to go to the hospital should be replaced by a life raft and hip waders.
Myth Four: You'll be ready. Even though you'll imagine yourself lovingly tapping your husband on the shoulder and saying, "It's time," you will probably, like me, scream, shove a beach towel between your legs and waddle through the house yelling, "What is going on?"
Myth Five: You will forget the pain of labor. If this was even remotely true, why is it every woman within a 250-mile radius of your bulging belly feels compelled to recount in excruciating detail the trials and tribulations of her labor? Whether her child is 5 or 50, it's obvious that she clearly remembers exactly what happened, when it happened, how it happened, how long it lasted and how much it hurt.
As for those stories of frontier women who delivered their babies while working in the field and then got right back to harvesting, let me explain that a noted anthropologist has just discovered that, "Working in the Fields" is a puritanical euphemism for "Husband, get thee (bleep, bleep) away from my bed."
The only people who have something GOOD to say about labor are the ones who haven't experienced it yet. Take for example, my midwife. She had never had a baby or a bad hair day in her entire life.
During every session, she repeatedly told me that I would find the experience "empowering." Maybe it was the way her bouncing chestnut curls bobbed up and down when she spoke that finally provoked me to flip my limp locks behind my ears and snap, "If I wanted to be empowered, I'd sign up for Outward Bound. I'd raft, I'd rappel, heck, I'd even toast marshmallows over the fire with a stick I'd sharpened with my big toenail. This is a medical experience. My goal is to survive it. "
Myth Six: There will be a brief transition period and then everything will be back to normal. Transition implies a certain grace, a smooth easy change from one thing to the next. The arrival of a baby in your home is more like an unending performance of the dance of the hippos. It's more accurate to say, "One life ends and another begins."
Myth Seven: It's fun. This one is true. It'll be the most fun you've ever had - after the baby sleeps through the night.