Following what feels like the gestation period of an African elephant, I’m ripe and ready for birthing!
After my miscarriage in 2016 I couldn’t see a way through to where I am now, I was lost in a fog of grief with seemingly no end in sight. Now, at nine months pregnant and content with a son moving around in my belly, I look back and wish I could grab that sad lady by the shoulders, and tell her she’ll feel alive on the inside once again. In truth I spent the first few months of this pregnancy swinging from joy and elation to sadness and paralysing fear. I desperately tried not to become too attached to the idea of another baby, just in case. I smiled and made the appropriate noises when I spoke about it, but on the inside was a cold determination to protect my heart. You see, no one really speaks about the emotions that come with the pregnancy after the one that ended without a baby.
I know that I’m lucky to be here, about to give birth, but the truth is: this pregnancy has taken it’s toll on me in so many ways. And while I am grateful, I’m also worn out. Which almost feels like a betrayal to my baby to say out loud, but there you have it.
I’ve been challenged many times on how I see myself as a woman and a Mother.
I like to be in control, that’s no secret to anyone. I like to know what’s going to happen and when, so that I can brace myself for the fallout, be it good or bad. It’s an anxiety coping mechanism, I know that. When you’re pregnant your body goes completely rogue. It assumes the biological autopilot position and you’re left clinging on for dear life. You’re reduced to being a passenger on board your own body, with nothing left to do but sit and stare out the window as each change occurs:
“Oh look – another stretch mark!”
“Someone pass me the nail clippers, I’ve got thirteen new skin tags between my thighs!”
“Over there, a haemorrhoid is squeezing it’s way out of my anus – STUNNING!”
All the while, people expect you to smile and wave because that’s what us preggos are meant to do. It makes others uncomfortable if we’re not happily nesting, rubbing our growing stomachs and generally being maternal as fuck.
I’ve had to stop doing a lot of the things I love and have become a low-key hermit. My friends haven’t seen me in months, and I’ve stopped performing and working as my body wasn’t coping with my lifestyle. In other words, I’ve had to hand my entire person over to this pregnancy, and that has challenged the ambitious, sassy business lady in me enormously.
I’m both terrified and in awe of the ways in which my body has changed and adapted over the past thirty seven weeks. Women’s bodies are miraculous things. There have been times where I’ve caught myself feeling worried or repulsed by what’s occurred to me physically. It’s hard not to when your previously B cup breasts now nestle themselves snuggly inside a D cup, and when set free, rest atop your growing stomach like two giant, mono-nippled Jabba The Huts. And when lifted for aeration, they have the surface temperature of ‘centre court at the Australian Open’ degrees celsius underneath. On these occasions, I’ve mostly been able to remind myself that there’s a human life growing inside of me. A whole new person to come into the world, created by the factory of my body… and then I just worry about that instead of the cellulite on the side of my knees.
I wanted to say to any woman who is pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or may one day want to be pregnant; it’s okay at times to feel stress, anger and pain when you’re up the duff. Society is really only comfortable with us pretending that this is the happiest time of our lives when sometimes, it’s not! I mean, I was promised there would be ‘glowing’, and yet the only sheen coming off me has been sweat.
That all being said, as I head into my final weeks of pregnancy, I say thank you to my body for what it has achieved. I’ve been hard on her more times than I care to admit, but what a bloody marvel it is to have done this thing. Instead of criticising my thighs, skin and everything in between, I say thank you for growing thighs, skin and everything in between. I say in my best Osher Günsberg voice: We’re at the pointy end of the competition, the summit of the mountain, the finish line of the marathon and now more than ever you need to go softly into each day.
Most days, I sit in the nursery imagining what’s to come. I’m bursting to meet this child and once again experience those magical first few days that only a newborn can bring. I let that warm feeling spread through my bones, and it feels good to allow that to happen.
Thanks for coming on the journey with me friends, I feel like this has been a communal pregnancy of sorts. Your words of encouragement, gifts and well wishes have kept me going.
Let the next chapter begin: Current day Em with a baby!
What does that look like? I have no idea but I know there will be plenty of tears, bodily fluid and some bad behaviour – and that’s obviously just me.
I’ve had some fairly eye-watering things written about me in my time. Once it was ‘reported’ that my life was so low, I was drinking wine at 4pm in my pyjamas – ignoring the fact that: a) when I’m not with child, that’s just a regular weekday activity, and b) it was a photo that I had shared on Instagram myself. Ground-breaking journalism, guys.
However. An article came out over the weekend that upset me so much, I need to put it into words.
I’m not going to link to the article as it was written by a woman I actually admire (which only compounds my disappointment) and I don’t want to send any ill will her way. I think her heart was in the right place and a lot of what she wrote was spot on. But she imposed her own theories onto my motivation for leaving my radio job, which were quite simply a complete load of bullshit. A quick perusal of this very blog would have given her all the facts she needed, but I fear that perhaps the facts may have gotten in the way of her already fixed narrative, so she didn’t bother.
The article was about how working mothers still don’t have enough support on the home and work fronts (agreed). As an example, she used me leaving my job, along with Jessica Rowe leaving Studio 10 and Maddi Wright leaving her job as a breakfast radio host.
“If working motherhood is too big an ask for polished pros like Jessica Rowe, Em Rusciano and Queensland breakfast host and former House Rules star Maddi Wright, who quit her job this week, then surely it raises the alarm that even after decades of employers talking about supporting mothers to come back to stimulating work, and stay, we are still failing women.”
Deep breaths, Em.
First of all, working motherhood is not ‘too big of an ask’ for me. I can’t speak for Jess or Maddi, but what the actual fuck? Sure it’s hard, but it’s also awesome. I LOVE that my daughters get to see me going after my professional dreams. I’ve always been completely transparent about my struggles and vulnerabilities in trying to find a balance between work and family life – I do that so that none of you are ever under the impression that I find it easy, because I don’t. But make no mistake: I’m not a victim here! My decision to leave was NOT a retreat, and I’m not quitting the role of ‘working mother’ by any stretch of the imagination. When I fell pregnant, it simply clarified what I actually wanted to focus on (making great shit for you lot to enjoy) which I wasn’t doing enough of because early morning radio made me a shell of a person.
“When three, enviably successful and vibrant working mothers with the kind of profiles many would kill for “throw it all away” for stay-at-home mothering, within the space of months, you’re left wondering what’s up.”
Throw it all away?! I have chosen to invest my time and money into my own business. I have a book coming out, a national tour, a podcast, a maternity line and a bajillion other projects in the works. I was just sick of making other people rich from my content. Why is it so hard to believe that I would leave a job in breakfast radio because I wanted to back my own shit in?! Is that such a stretch? Of course family played a part in my decision. I was sick of being tired all the time and as I’ve stated before: that job and I were no longer right for each other. I wasn’t doing what made me happy, and the breakfast radio environment brought out the worst in me.
Obviously it goes without saying that this is not an attack on stay-at-home mums. I’ve been you, I feel you, and I see you, sisters. Your job is tough, exhausting and under-appreciated. You deserve so much credit, and if you would prefer to be working but your work place isn’t supporting you enough, then I wish I could go and secretly poison each and every one of your bosses. But it wasn’t the case for me, so I feel like my name doesn’t belong in this article.
My husband asked me why I was so upset when the article was obviously written in support of me. I had to sit with that for 24 hours and this is where I landed: it felt like she was saying that leaving a high paying job in the media was some kind of a failure on my behalf. Like I was defined by that one role, and since I was no longer doing it, then I must be disappearing into oblivion. I’ve worked bloody hard over the past fifteen years, and despite commercial TV not wanting a bar of me, radio finding me hard to handle, the comedy world not accepting me and mainstream media wanting to find new and interesting ways to punish me for being a driven and ‘opinionated’ woman – I’ve pushed on and made my own magic. I don’t say that because I think I’m a hero, I say that because I want you all to know that nothing will stop this glittering, emotional, work-a-holic train wreck from doing what she loves! Look, she’ll be resting at the station for a bit come Jan 2019 when the prodigal son is born, but then she’ll be launching her new stand-up tour complete with breastfeeding-friendly leotard!
In conclusion: I didn’t feel defeated when I stepped away from my “enviable” job. I actually felt the exact opposite. I felt empowered and strong and like I was taking control of my life once more. Now excuse me while I go and do a million things.
Have a great week,
P.S We sold out of the Em Rusciano community pins in 24 hours! The first batch will be sent off today and we’re hoping to have more in stock next week. I’m touched that so many of you wanted to join my cult!
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