While I was pregnant, I tried to stay as active as possible up until Raza’s birth. People kept telling me to relax and that I was crazy for showing up to meetings and events. Their statements implied that I was showing up for others and didn’t need to exert myself in that way. But what they were failing to realize was that I was showing up for myself.
You see my happiness comes from my productivity. I feel at peace when I know I have done something to help my loved ones, to further issues I care about and completed my to do list at work and at home. While I enjoy my facials and massages, I’m not really sure my definition of relaxation is the same as the universal definition of relaxation.
Needless to say, this hasn’t changed after having Raza.
I was emailing the day after having Raza and participating in a panel three weeks after his birth. Once again, I started hearing comments like “don’t worry about this, you should be home”, “you need to relax” and “enjoy time with your baby.” I know these statements come from a good place. But they also imply that I am doing something wrong. Why am I expected to stop doing the things that I enjoy? If I can make it work, then let me. Women already have to navigate the loss of their social calendars and certain friendships as a result of becoming pregnant and a mom. And don't even get me started on the fact that this conversation isn't even an issue for dads.
Don’t get me wrong, I have days of zero energy. But if I feel good then I want to go about my day as I would have with or without a child and whether I am pregnant or not. In both instances, I listen to my body and my doctor first and foremost. If neither object, then I move forward.
I love spending time with Raza. When he is up, he has my undivided attention. But Raza also sleeps close to fourteen hours a day and feeds for three to four hours a day. That leaves plenty of time for me to actually do other things like check emails, attend meetings, make phone calls..you get the point. This is where keeping track of his schedule comes in very handy.
More importantly, it helps me find a balance between my new and old identities. Women already have to navigate hormones and changing bodies while they are trying to figure out how to raise a child. Outlets for intellectual stimulation are rare at this stage unless we make it a point to make this a priority. It is definitely a priority of mine.
We should stop assuming that there is one uniform approach to pregnancy or motherhood because there isn’t. No one should be made to feel like they aren’t doing enough or are a bad parent because they decide to spend time with someone or something other than their child. As always, each mama, each baby and each circumstance are different.