At my 20-week anatomy ultrasound, the sonographer noted that I had a low-lying placenta and my OB ordered another at 33 weeks to see if it had “moved”, or if I would need a C-section. As someone who is ridiculously bad at being pregnant, but suuuuper efficient at actually getting babies out, I was fearful of not being able to birth my son vaginally. Giving birth to my daughter was the most surreal, hardcore roller coaster ride and I was looking forward to my next go-round when Pax arrives.
Naturally, when it came time for that third ultrasound this week, I was a little on-edge knowing I would find out my fate, a fact that was compounded because my wonderful, light-hearted OB was on vacation and it would instead be a midwife I had never met before assessing the results of the scan.
I’ll admit I was immediately wary of her when she entered the room because she was clearly trying to telegraph the “I’m not a regular doctor; I’m a midwife” message as clearly as possible in her jeans and t-shirt and had a somewhat gruff bedside manner from the outset. She brusquely told me that my placenta was clear of the exit, my son was head-down, and we were good to go for a vaginal delivery. Relieved, I joked, “Hurray for doing this the old fashioned way!”
Her demeanor changed instantly, somehow even more serious, even more aggressive, as she said forcefully, “The way nature intended.” I looked at her, stunned, hoping for an indication she was joking [as if that would have made it less offensive], but she doubled down and added, "Babies just were not meant to be birthed abdominally." She spat the word out with such venom you'd have thought she was a cobra.
I was gobsmacked. I don’t have any real desire to ever have a C-section, and in fact felt no small degree of panic thinking that my appointment could have ended with one being ordered. But I also pictured in my mind’s eye a sweet friend whose beautiful toddler son wouldn’t be alive were it not for an emergency C-section. Myself, had this ultrasound gone differently, presented with no other safe options to deliver. And the thought flashed in my brain like a neon sign that this woman is supposed to support mothers. This woman, who had just shared such a damning opinion about roughly 30% of mothers, was supposed to advocate for them and shepherd them through safe, healthy births. It occurred to me that if this woman was judging moms so harshly, what could we expect from anyone else? Is it even possible to feel okay, just for a moment, about how you’re doing as a mom?
Every day I drive down a back country road to pick my daughter up from daycare at about the same time the school buses are making their afternoon rounds. Every day, I drive past the same woman, dressed in scrubs, waiting by the mailbox for her child to be delivered. She isn’t sitting on the stoop, waiting behind a storm door, just visible enough for the bus driver to release her kid; she’s right there, at the roadside, ready to greet her child. She’s either just returned home from or is about to head off to work; either way, that other obligation is so immediate that she has had no time to change back into her street clothes or won’t have time to change before leaving. And yet, here she is, fully ready to begin the mothering part of her day; she has shown up completely, standing there by the mailbox, not just doing the bare minimum. Every day I drive by her and see her waiting and want desperately to pull over, to tell her how much I admire her, just for this simple, seemingly insignificant thing she does day in and day out. I want to tell her I can tell she’s a great mom who loves her kid and that she’s doing an awesome job. But I never do, because that’s weird, right? Wouldn’t she be freaked out about some stranger basically telling her that she’s being watched every day?
And yet, that midwife in all of her scorn, did not hesitate a second to unleash a flurry of judgment against what must comprise a fair amount of her own patients, and mothers in general. Isn’t that just the most typical shit you’ve ever heard? Isn’t that just a microcosm of motherhood? We second-guess lifting each other up, but never give a second thought to judging one another endlessly.
This space is all about celebrating and supporting moms, in all their flaws, in all their ways and seasons, in all their tragic messiness and fierce beauty, and this is where we’re going to start.
At the end of the day I’m still a socially awkward coward and I’m not about to pull the car over and tell that mama all the things I think about her, a perfect stranger. But maybe I’d be willing to sidle up to that mom struggling to wrangle her three kids in the Target check-out line, hand her a card, and then run away before she has a chance to say anything that will embarrass me. And maybe she’ll think I’m a freak and be irritated that I interrupted her day. But maybe she’ll end up crying in her minivan after she straps all three little ones into their various car restraints and actually feel seen for the first time that day. So I’m going to try, because Gil knows I’ve needed a tiny little reassurance far too often, and have actually gotten it far too infrequently. So here’s the plan:
- Download our #AAMHELPAMOTHEROUT kudos card FO’ FREE here
- Print it out on cardstock so you don’t make us look like cheapskates, and cut out each individual card. Make sure you set your printer settings to print front and back!
- When you see a mama who looks frazzled, worn down, and is legit just trying her best to be a good mom and also not have an emotional breakdown, hand it over. You can leave it on her windshield after you watch her struggle for ten minutes to extricate her toddler from a car seat. You can fish it out of your purse while offering to pay for her Starbucks, or holding the door open so she can push one of those giant three-kid shopping carts that are impossible to steer through it. Throw that shit around like confetti. Celebrate the amazing moms you see all around you every day.
- If one makes its way to you: first of all, congrats! You’re an amazing mom! Then, come here, download your own cards, print ‘em out, and start paying it forward [also stick around a while and read our blog because it is the greatest. I promise.]. Take a picture of you with your card and post it on social media like the damn trophy it is. Use the hashtag #AAMHELPAMOTHEROUT and tell us how you got it.
As for me? TBH, I’ll probably continue to drive by that mom in scrubs every day and wish there were a less-creepy way to let her know she’s kicking ass. But also, maybe I’ll send her some flowers. Moms gotta support moms. Let’s start now.