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High-Achieving Women Find They're Not Prepared for Motherhood

stressed mother with baby

Motherhood surprises women these days. Not the fact of motherhood. Many women meticulously plan their pregnancies. Certainly, women of advanced education plan childbearing, occasionally to a fault.

The fact of motherhood does not shock, but the day-to-day of motherhood and the intensity of motherhood do. As a culture we condition women to believe that having a baby is just a biological function and they will go back to their previous lives, albeit with babes in tow, after a few weeks of recovery.

[Insert gentle, hysterical, or bitter laughter from experienced moms here.]

Trained to be doctors and lawyers and such, today’s young educated women did not typically care for babies when they were growing up. College bound, they had better things to do than babysit babies and their mothers had visions of them doing “more” and wouldn’t dream of expecting their child to care for other children. Even now, many of the mothers I know—I'm in the highly educated and metropolitan set—think that expecting older siblings to care for younger ones is some combination of dangerous and unfair. And watching a young girl play with babies is almost pitiable.

In this domestic discouragement, we lay the foundation for the common motherhood shock. Unaware of even what should be the known knowns of motherhood, newly expecting moms tend to read books about pregnancy and childbirth. It is presently happening to their bodies and book learning comes easily to the modern woman. It's how we made all those good grades and have out-enrolled men in higher education, after all.

Publishers have helpfully provided a large library of pregnancy and childbirth books. With so much information—much of which is contradictory, by the way—it is all too easy to forget that pregnancy and birth only last nine months plus labor and delivery. (Actually, it is 40 weeks or 10 lunar cycles, although it is really only 38 because the 40-week timeline begins at the start of your last period when you weren’t actually pregnant—yes, yes I know. As I was saying about overwhelming information…)