"You're the first pregnant woman I've ever met."
These words were coming from the mouth of a second year med student whom my midwife had introduced me to while I was pregnant with my third son. My midwife asked me to participate in a program where med students are paired with a midwifery patient to expose them to the alternative treatment offered, as opposed to traditional OB care.
I could not believe a woman living in the metro NY area could have lived a full 23 years never having met a pregnant woman. Had she never felt a baby kick by touching her aunt's belly and been told, "That's your cousin inside"? Had she never been to a baby shower where you see the mother-to-be glowing with anticipation and excitement of what's to come?
Turned out to be true - I was the only pregnant woman she had been around -- she was the youngest of her siblings and her family came to the US alone from China when she was small. She had no aunts or cousins here, no pregnant sisters, and strangely enough none of her teachers had ever been pregnant while she was in school.
I felt sad for her that she hadn't been around other pregnant women because I had learned so much from the other mom role models in my life:
My great-grandmother told me a baby will always need his or her mother more than anyone else (and that the mom should always feed a crying baby.)
My cousin Terry told me a strong, fast heartbeat inside usually means the baby will be a boy.
Aunt Pat has three sons and showed me a mom can change a diaper anywhere she needs to.
My sister-in-law showed me that a woman can do childbirth drug-free, smile at the end and say, "That wasn't so bad."
My college lab partner in cell bio class showed me that she can miss a study session so she can nurse her newborn and still get an A on her mid-terms.
My husband's Irish aunt told me how wonderful it is to learn I was breastfeeding my first son because where she grew up, she'd been told that breastfeeding was only for the uneducated.
My friend Corinne showed me how easy it can look to bring an infant and toddler to day care, work a 9-hr day, and then go home to be their mom every night. (We both know it only looks easy from afar).
A Parisian friend brought her six-week old baby to a very fancy tea party and nursed in front of all of us as if it was no big deal.
A lab co-worker put her baby first (and almost lost her job) because she refused to work with certain chemicals during her pregnancy.
My role models for being a mom were all around me - and I feel lucky to have been supported by so many women even before I became a mother. Who are your role models for being a mom?