Along they way, I've had the pleasure of talking with a lot of moms about their challenges, joys, and dreams, and I also became a parent. Today, blogs, RSS, Twitter, FriendFeed and other tools make for keeping up with motherhood all the more interesting and in real time.
Of course, there's only so far my insight can take me. After all, I'm a man, a dad. I will never know what it is to be pregnant, give birth, or experience motherhood. I've always treated this as a factor that hopefully gives me more objectivity. But, ultimately, it is a handicap. It doesn't mean I can't be effective in my profession, just that I might need to take a different approach and work harder.
Several years ago, it occurred to me, instead of treating my maleness as a handicap, maybe it's an opportunity. And that's when an idea struck.
The best way for anyone to understand someone else's perspective is to walk in her shoes. So, I donned a pregnancy suit. I approached the pregnancy project humbly and passionately. It wasn't a publicity stunt or a way to trivialize motherhood.
I wore it every day in private and slept in it at night for an entire month. It opened my eyes to how heavy that amount of weight can feel when added to one's belly. Every time I put it on, the weight surprised me anew. Fortunately, it was not debilitating, but merely slowed me down.
Sleeping, on the other hand, was a draining experience. Getting out of bed was a struggle. My once usual 6:15 a.m. workouts became a thing of the past. In fact, I struggled to rise at 7:15 a.m. This was the result of becoming uncomfortable during the night and waking just to roll over, as well as trips to the bathroom thanks to the water I would drink before bed. A restless night meant a draggy day. In general, I felt lethargic -- a feeling I was already familiar with as a parent of two young kids. Let's just say I know how lack of sleep can have a ripple effect on other areas of your life. I revisited that experience.
I learned a lot -- perhaps more from the new conversations, blog comments, and emails with other moms than from actually wearing the suit. They shared stories, challenges, and the joys of their individual experiences. And individual is the key word here. Just as there are all types of people in this world, and all types of moms, there seem to be all kinds of different pregnancy experiences.
It all boiled down to a single principle: Assuming to know what a woman is experiencing and how she is feeling about her pregnancy is a mistake. Everyone has a different pregnancy experience -- even guys. :-)