In just five short weeks, I’ll be giving birth to my second baby boy.
Naturally, like most expectant mothers, I’m spending my final months leading up to meeting him obsessively planning for his arrival. My to-do lists have their own subheadings. My phone pings with a reminder every other hour (I really do need to finish that Centrelink application). I’ve washed and folded a silly number of tiny socks. Our bedroom has been rearranged to make way for a bassinet. I’ve added newborn-size nappies to next month’s Amazon order.
And I’ve booked myself in to get my hair and nails done the day before my scheduled C-section.
Before you ask, the answer is “yes” — I’ve also picked out the exact pajamas I’ll wear after surgery, the clothes I want to leave the hospital in, and the outfit my baby will be wearing when we emerge into the world (we’ll be colour-coordinated, of course).
I know what you’re thinking. No, really, I do, because I used to think exactly the same way.
Imagine being so vain that you’d care what you look like when you give birth. The only thing that matters is a healthy baby.
That was my attitude going into my first birth, and I think it’s one a lot of women share. There’s a certain amount of shame, and even superstition, that comes with wanting to look and feel your best when giving birth — like somehow, the very act of putting forethought into your appearance could be tempting fate, or asking for something to go wrong.
There’s a sense that women should just be happy with the hand we’re dealt during birth, and that expecting anything “more” would be greedy. Giving birth is, inarguably, dangerous, and the priority is getting both mum and baby out the other side as safely as possible. When you put it in those terms, it seems frivolous — maybe even callous — to care about how your hair looks.