2013-03-25

Motherhood: the biggest pissing contest of them all

As I'm on the brink of becoming a mother, I've come to a startling revelation.

Once you get pregnant, you are faced with many choices you have to make, and rest assured, every single day people will be asking you the same questions:


- Are you going natural or C section?

- Are you going to breastfeed? How long do you intend to breastfeed for?

- Are you going to quit your job?

- Do you want a boy or girl?

- What are you going to do about your hair colour? Dye black?


Sure a lot of people are just asking for fun or out of curiosity... Honestly before I got pregnant I never cared if other pregnant women are planning to breastfeed or not. For the life of me I don't get why that's even interesting to others. All I cared about was whether I can play with their baby once it's out. Maybe for people who aren't in the appropriate age group to discuss parenthood they are simply asking these questions because they are making conversation in a topic they are unfamiliar with. These are the questions everyone patronizes mommies-to-be with.

But if you are talking to fellow mothers, all these questions are loaded, oh yes they aren't as innocuous as they seem. There are politically correct answers to each of them, varying degrees of social acceptance tagged to each of them, and woe betide you if you answer the wrong thing - you will be in for some unsolicited "advice". To be fair, most of these mothers don't mean any harm, it is just that they have been through the same thing and they know better.


And here are the "correct" answers:

1) I'm going to try natural with no epidural, I don't want drugs to harm my baby. It might be painful but I'll endure it.

2) I intend to breastfeed for as long as possible, my baby deserves the best milk nature can give. I cannot take any drugs, caffeine or alcohol for the next few years but that's ok.

 Why not until he is 35?

3) Of course I'm quitting my job, my baby is my first priority. What kind of monster do you think I am?

4) Boy or girl doesn't matter *wan smile* as long as he or she is healthy.

5) I suppose I will go bald for the entirety of motherhood so without having to care for my hair I can better devote time to my baby.


"What is hair when you have the miracle of life in your arms?"


Have you realised a similarity between the politically correct answers?

Yes, they all involve the most amount of pain and sacrifice from the mother. 

And in all the cases, whether or not this pain/sacrifice is necessary or even relevant to the welfare of the child is not important - as long as you suffer as a mother, it makes you a good mother.

Your happiness should never be a priority, your child's should. Even better if your only happiness comes from your child's happiness.


Let's take for example the most asked question of all - how do you intend to birth your baby?

Here are your choices, ranked from Most politically correct/socially accepted/noble... To the least:

1) Natural without epidural (including water birth and other fancy hipster births)

2) Natural with epidural

3) Elective Caesarean Section with epidural (awake, can see baby born)

4) Elective Caesarean Section under general anesthesia (knock out completely)

5) Surrogate

(Emergency C sections not included as they are not a choice)

You will realize I am right: the list also ranks the most painful to the least. People who opt for elective C sections may heal slower from their wounds but during the childbirth process they at least do not suffer 10 hours of labour pains and contractions. Those who choose to completely knock out do not even have to suffer the long and thick epidural needle enter their spine. A surrogate of course means you don't even suffer through 9 months of pregnancy.

A woman who goes through natural birth without epidural is often applauded for her bravery and sacrifice, whereas if a wealthy woman, totally capable of normal birth, chooses a surrogate so she can preserve her youth and not suffer through pregnancy and childbirth, will be judged like crazy.

To me, this sort of ideal where she who suffers most wins, is completely stupid and irrational.

It is a pissing contest between women.

Just like how men make their car engines as loud as possible while buying expensive watches to show they are the most alpha and successful of males, this is the passive aggressive, rather masochist female version of it.

Men base their life's success on their careers and wealth. Most women, I suspect even though I'm not a mother yet, base their success on how their children turn out. (Of course some value careers or other priorities more, I'm saying most)

We may not be able control our children's genes, but with better and more careful nurture than other women, hopefully our kids can turn out stellar human beings, validating all that we went through for them.

But this competition between mothers is not as simple as buying the most expensive flashy car. It is ridden with layers of guilt coming from other "flashy" mothers showing off their sacrifice and judging others who did anything less. It constantly makes you feel inadequate - am I a bad mom? Am I doing enough? Am I allowed to still be pretty?

We all know that becoming a mum already means sacrificing a lot. With a child we are taking the risk of finding it very hard to find another life partner should the current baby's daddy dump us. Our bodies go out of shape, our nipples are deformed and boobs deflated and defeated-looking. With each child it ages us. Raising a child takes up so much time and energy that could otherwise be dedicated to a better career or our life's dreams.

As it is we are already sacrificing a lot. What I don't get is why these stupid people all around insist that everyone should be inflicted with unnecessary addition pain!

A good mother should be making choices that means the best for their children, right? Not just the worst for her?

So answer me this: how is a natural birth without epidural any better for a baby than an elective C section?!

Fact: Loads of moms insist on doing a natural birth because they think it's the right thing to do.

However, a big percentage are not able to do it due to various common complications, such as the umbilical cord being tangled around baby's neck, or the cervix not being able to dilate enough, the mother's pelvis being too small, or the baby being in breech, meaning it didn't turn to come out head first.

It seems to be that instead of risking all these complications, it seems better for the baby (I'm not discussing what's better for mommy here) to simply do a C section. There has also been debate that natural childbirth is painful and traumatizing for the baby, who can't possibly be feeling that comfortable being pushed through a narrow passage. A difficult delivery can also cause shoulder dystosia, which means the baby's shoulder gets stuck and his arms can be permanently paralysed.



But yet, with all that in mind, a C section remains the unpopular, less noble option. To date, every single person has advised me to go natural, with only 2 saying a C section is better.

Why? Because people automatically assume that what requires the most pain/sacrifice from the mother must be the best option for the baby. What dumb logic.

There are even loads of people saying I should do it without epidural, for really rational reasons like these:


"I think you should try it without epidural 
because why wouldn't you risk pain for your child?"


(OK this was an actual tweet someone tweeted to me but she has since deleted it after I rudely replied her)

Why?? Why must I go through necessary pain that by no means benefit my baby? Would you also like me to stab myself in the eye with a fork so I can show how much I love my child?

Someone once drew a parallel for me. To ask someone to go through childbirth without pain relief is like asking someone to pluck out a rotten tooth with no anesthesia. The technology is there, it has been proven safe with minimal side effects, so why go through the pain?!

It serves absolutely no purpose except to win the pissing contest between mothers with something to prove. Whatever pain you can go through, I can go through more.

No thanks, I'm not playing this stupid game, go ahead and suffer yourselves.

(I know there are people who are terrified of the epidural needle or don't wish for the side effects of epidural, but it remains the mass majority of women who go through this option merely do it for bragging rights and a sense of altruistic pride.)

The same goes for breast feeding. Not as well documented as childbirth horror but perhaps almost as traumatizing I'm sure, is breast feeding. My own mother told me that her breasts got so engorged they were stone hard and it was even more painful than childbirth for her.

I wasn't breastfed, she gave up after 2 days.

I can almost hear the disapproval from other moms who endured their stone hard breasts and persevered, but don't you dare judge my mother - she worked 3 jobs raising my brother and me, nobody can say she is a bad mom. Momo told me that back in her day anyway, formula milk was all the rage and most moms who could afford formula gave formula to their children because formula promised all sorts of extra nutrients that will supposedly make babies prodigies.

Which is better for the baby? Formula or breast feeding? I don't know, but the general consensus, or trend, nowadays anyway, seem to be breast milk.

However, the quality of breast milk every mother produces is different, so who is to say? The milk a drug-addled or unhealthy mom provides can't be that much better than a cow's. Whichever the correct answer is, I'm sure the difference is negligible.

But yet if a mother says she is not going to breast feed for whatever reason - be it to preserve the shape of her breasts, because it's painful or troublesome, or because the baby wouldn't latch on and she gives up, she will get judged like mad once again.

Why?? Why should we care if another mother doesn't breastfeed? If you are so sure breastfeeding is so benefactory to babies, then shouldn't you be glad? Perhaps your sore nipples will cause your child to be far superior to other formula fed children later on in life - isn't that just fantastic?

Not to mention, there are plenty of women who are not able to produce enough milk for their babies... When people keep talking about how breastfeeding is good, how do you think this will make these poor mommies feel? I'd talk more about this later.

Another thing I hate is that somehow people feel that mothers should never be vain. 

It is as if people expect that once you are a mom all your time should be dedicated to your child - any time spent on yourself, especially something as superficial as your looks, must mean you are neglecting your kid.

Sure, people do leave nice comments saying stuff like "Hot mama!" or "You are so pretty and young I can't believe you are a mother of 2!" but in general...


Who do you think is a better mother?

Megan Fox or the matronly woman on the right?

(The woman on the right plays the cook in Downton Abbey btw)

Anyway I don't blame people for their prejudice. Even though there is no evidence that a woman's looks affects her ability to care for her children, the fact remains that most people think if you look so frazzled and unkempt your best efforts must be put somewhere else, and one must presume it is into the children's welfare.

A woman's weight loss after childbirth is a hotly debated topic as well. Let's face it - to gain so much weight during pregnancy and seeing your looks rapidly decline is depressing as hell. It doesn't mean you are not happy about your new baby or don't love him like crazy. One can be depressed about something and happy about another thing at the same time.

But yet most people say just eat as much as you want during pregnancy, and don't fuss about losing it too fast afterwards, your priority should be taking care of your newborn anyway. Loads of hollywood stars have created controversy for their rapid weight loss after childbirth, because people think they are giving unrealistic expectations to average, normal people. (Yes damn you Megan Fox - the photo above was taken a month after her baby's birth)

Simply whining about my weight gain or bad complexion on twitter or instagram would get me an onslaught of mean comments from people telling me my looks shouldn't be my priority at the moment.

I'm sorry, but for my whole freaking life my looks HAVE been my priority.

I may not be extremely beautiful but nobody can deny that I worked really hard to improve what I have, via painful plastic surgery, regular trips to the hair salon, tens of thousands spent on clothes/makeup/skincare etc.

You think motherhood is a magical button to make everything you used to care about suddenly become unimportant? When you worked so hard for something to have it all taken away, it is IMPOSSIBLE not to be upset, ok? Look... Look at what my stomach looks like now:



Once upon a time I had a flat nice belly with a cute belly piercing... It is the same colour throughout.

But now, at 9 months pregnant, my belly button looks like the mouth of a pufferfish. There is discolouration and pigmentation around the navel and linea nigra, though thankfully mine isn't that dark.

I can't decide which is worse, the fact that my belly piercing done 10 years ago turned into a dark scar somehow (things they don't tell you at the tattoo parlour, huh?), or that throughout the pregnancy little zits erupted around the belly and some of them left unsavoury scars.

Oh and the belly is hairier than usual too. How sexy.

I'm already one of the lucky ones. I have zero stretch marks. But still, I fear the skin there will never be taut again and some of the scars may become permanent. I may never wear a bikini again. :(

And yet when I whine people still scold me!! There is a saying that mothers should be proud of their stretch marks!! PROUD SIMI SAI LAH SO UGLY. What's there to be so proud of that my skin didn't manage weight gain very well?

I'd be proud if my son becomes valedictorian, not about fucking stretch marks and pigmentation scars!

So gimme a break! I'm trying my best to handle the ugliness and not get too depressed about it, but sometimes I still give in to human emotions, ok?

Back to the topic of a mother's vanity and people's ideology that a vain mom = a bad mom.

In an utopic world, yes, a woman, once turned into a mother, should be able to focus all her energy on raising her children and not need to care about her looks anymore.

But alas, the world is far from ideal. Think about it, other than getting both parents murdered by Lord Voldemort, what is the most traumatizing thing that can happen to a child? A divorce.

Even though a husband is supposed to love his wife no matter how she looks, the fact is that attraction is still important in a marriage. A woman who lets herself go unarguably increases the chance of her husband leaving her for a younger, slimmer, more beautiful specimen.

Attraction is not just about looks either. A woman who feels she is ugly will also be insecure and jealous. Confidence is a very attractive thing.

I can hear all the feminists being really mad at this and saying women should not have to give in to such despicable behaviour from men. But men are men - they think with their penis. It isn't right for a robber to rob you when you walk down a dark alley either, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't be avoiding dark alleys, right?

If Mike leaves me and our son because I became 100kg after giving birth, he may be an asshole but the one suffering the most is my son who lost his father. I must do what I can to prevent it from happening.

Of course, it doesn't mean I must immediately go for liposuction and a facelift after childbirth, but I guess I should put in enough effort so that if he does leave me, nobody can say "Who can blame him? His wife became a fat pig since she had the baby 3 years ago. Now she doesn't even shave her armpits."

Husbands also often feel neglected and unimportant after their wives bear them children. Looking good for him will make him feel like he still has a place in your heart too.

So, in conclusion: Vain moms = working hard to make the marriage work = being a good mom too. Two sides of the coin!

Actually I'm just making excuses. I don't believe Mike will ditch me if I became fat. I just want to look good because it makes me feel good about myself, and I am allowed to!


No wonder so many mothers go into depression... 

Already we give up so much for our children, but yet people keep burdening us with more unrealistic expectations, guilt-tripping us into thinking we don't give up enough.

Stop it already. Stop saying things like "If you not willing to give up xxx, perhaps you shouldn't be a mother."

Nobody can give up everything that used to make them happy and not go crazy or depressed, and I'm sure you agree a psycho person won't make a good mother either.

The art of motherhood is to find the perfect balance between giving the best to your child and also keeping yourself happy.


Besides, every child is different and so is every pregnancy. What might seem like the "correct" or popular choice for one woman might not be for another, so what would you know? Don't be so quick to judge.** If a woman decides to go for an elective C section or says she doesn't want to breastfeed, just let her be.

Abrupt end to my super long-winded article.


** Unless the mother is doing things that are proven to actually physically harm the child such as binge drinking or smoking or taking drugs to get high or changing a diaper every 3 days then I suppose it's ok to get judgey.

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