The Australian Filipina went on hiatus in late 2007 and was resurrected as an online magazine. I wrote this piece in 2007 and it was finally published early this year.
When I was pregnant with my first child, many women were quick to reassure me that labour will be just like a very bad stomach cramp. ‘And don’t worry,’ they said, ‘you’ll forget the pain soon after.’ I believed them. Three children later, I know for a fact that they lied. If there’s anything I’ve learned about having children, it’s that it hurts. A lot.
1. Labour hurts
No matter how well you prepare yourself, you can’t imagine the pain of childbirth until it hits you. Worried that you’re having contractions? If you’re not doubled over in pain, ready to gnaw your husband’s arm off for his contribution to the torture you’re experiencing, then it’s not the real thing. ‘Women have been doing this since the beginning of time,’ you’ll hear your midwife say. The best response to this is to nod your head while you ask for an epidural. Now. Anyone who suggests that the entire business should be captured on video is clearly no friend of yours.
2. Recovery hurts
’That wasn’t so bad,’ I stated proudly to my husband, as I enjoyed the heady rush of cuddling our new baby in my arms for the first time. Then my pain relief wore off. I ached in places I didn’t even realise I had. When the nurse told me that she could give me pain pills only every six hours, I nearly cried. I wondered if all my bits and pieces would ever work again. ‘You stay on your side of the bed,’ I growled at my husband every time he tried to kiss me goodnight.
3. The bills hurt
Even if you’re smart enough to forgo the Bugaboo pram, the Stokke cot and coordinated, top-of-the-line sheet sets in every nursery theme known to humankind, your savings account will go into depression. Forget about using the maternity payment to buy a plasma TV. You’ll need it to pay for your child’s first birthday party if you plan to celebrate it in true Filipino style — two hundred guests and a jumping castle. Never mind that the birthday celebrant will probably sleep through the entire thing. Then there are the ongoing costs of raising a child. My family has gone through enough disposable nappies to create our own toxic landfill by now, and the only good thing about the cost of childcare is that I earn loyalty points on my credit card. Soon I’ll have enough to get a free plasma TV.
Obviously, the joys of parenthood far outweigh the pain, or we wouldn’t be crazy enough to go through it over and over again. Once your child is out of nappies and old enough for school, all your suffering will fade into insignificance. But before you congratulate yourself, you should know that it isn’t over, yet. There’s one more kind of pain you have to endure as your child gets older: a pain in the neck.
This article was first published in January 2010 at the Australian Filipina online.