The emotional complexities of being a mom don’t wait until baby is born to set in. Shawn Johnson just shared the birth story behind her first child — along with the mom-guilt she admits she felt over the delivery of her new daughter, who was born earlier this week. In a super-relatable moment, the Olympic gold medalist (and new parent!) opened up about how she felt as though liked she had “failed” when she couldn’t stick to her original birth plan.
Happily, it didn’t take long for Johnson to realize she had nothing to be ashamed about… although she needed a little help arriving at that conclusion. The new mama took to Instagram on Thursday night to share the entire experience, saying, “22 hours of labor to end in a c section. I went in with such a stubborn mindset of thinking the only way I could bring our baby into the world was naturally. No meds no intervention. At 14 hours when I chose to get an epidural, I felt guilty.”
By the time she was told after 22 hours of labor that she had to have a c-section to safely deliver her baby girl, Johnson recounted, ” I felt like I had failed.”
Johnson’s no-shame epiphany came moments later, courtesy of her tiny daughter. “But after holding our sweet girl in my arms and being told everything went well and she had made it to us safely I could have cared less,” she said. “My/our world no longer has anything to do with us but everything to do with her. It’s all for her and I will forever do anything for this girl that I love more than I ever could imagine. A love no one can ever prepare you for.”
Not surprisingly, Johnson’s honesty about her daughter’s birth and the feelings wrapped up in it resonated with a lot of women. Author Emily Oster commented, “I love this message! Birth never goes quite as you plan. But she’s perfect.” Fans related, too. “Same thing happened to me and the only thing that matters is that little girl got out safely!!” one wrote. “Great job, momma!!”
And seriously, kudos to Johnson. For starters, birth is a beast in any form and deserves respect any which way. But also, by openly discussing the guilt she felt, it helps bring to light something that makes motherhood exponentially (and unnecessarily) more difficult: mom-guilt, aka mommy-shaming. In this case, sure, it was Johnson internalizing those things. The reason women are so hard on themselves about what’s right or wrong when it comes to parenting, though, is because there is so much pressure placed on us by society — and, sadly, each other.
The reality is it’s almost impossible to plan your child’s birth perfectly (please, feel free to ask me about the circus that was my son’s delivery). In fact, pretty much the only thing you can count on to stay constant about birth plans is that they’re going to change. The specifics of delivery don’t matter nearly as much as the end result. And when it comes to the “right” way to be a parent, well, there isn’t just one.
But, if you ask us, Johnson picked a route just about as fool-proof as you can: She did what was right for her daughter, and she brought the little girl into the world with an abundance of love. There’s no shame in that, Mama… not one bit.