BY REBECCA SPARROW
It was one of those delicious rumours that spread through my hometown twenty years ago; propelled along because of its irresistibly juicy mix of perceived bad behaviour and motherhood. It was one of those rumours that many of us love: one that allows us to tut-tut another woman’s choices.
You see a very well known PR woman in town (I’ll call her Susie) had just given birth to her second child. Rumour had it that she was reading faxes as they wheeled her into delivery. And that she was annoying hospital staff by attempting to work from her hospital bed after her child was born. Think Alexis Carrington in labour and you get the picture.
Can you imagine? The nineteen-year-old me (a Communications student at the time) was horrified and appalled. What Type Of Woman can’t just be in the moment of having a baby? What Type of Mother is so obsessed with work that she’s writing media releases from her hospital bed?
What type of mother indeed.
And then two weeks ago I had a baby. And I sent a work-related email from my Smartphone just hours after my beautiful son Fin was born. Oh yes, yes I did. And then a few days later I sent some work-related tweets.
I know. HOW COULD I?
And Lord did it make people feel uncomfortable.
“Why are you working? Stop working!” said one friend.
“What is she doing? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” said another in a group email.
“Just enjoy your son!!!!”
“Tell me you’re NOT working!”
“Shouldn’t you be watching TV or reading or – hello? – sleeping?”
Of course, in my case, unlike Susie’s, my friends had my best interests at heart. They weren’t judging me. More concerned. A certain Sass & Bide loving woman we all know just wanted to move into my house, make me cups of tea and do my washing.
But still. Their reactions got me thinking.
It seems that when it comes to having a baby the judgement doesn’t end with how we have the baby (drugs or no drugs, Caesar or natural). Nor how we feed the baby (breast or bottle or both). Or who or how we care for our baby (Stay at home? Work full time? Daycare?). There’s also a certain way we’re expected to behave straight after the birth.