The Deepening of the Super Woman Complex by Amy Reissner RN

The Deepening of the Super Woman Complex.

The Super Woman Complex comes to every woman at different times in her life, if it arrives at all. From what I could gather from others, and in my own personal journey, it seems to arrive, for many women, with the developmental milestone of pregnancy and birth.

Motherhood, pregnancy and gestation, is such a time of transformation. One might say that the power of the feminine aspects of women is like a metamorphosis, as there are dramatic changes physically, psychologically, and for some, an awakening occurs spiritually, as well. The creative female power is inherent within all women, whether we give birth to a baby or to creative work endeavors.

For me, the birthing of my son, which coincided with my birth as Super Woman, though the seeds may have been planted when I was a younger and living at home with my family of origin. (that topic for another blog)

As mentioned in my last blog, after giving birth to my son, we remained in Manhattan for about 9 months, during which time, I studied to go into the field of birth. Once our new family moved from Manhattan to the suburbs of Rye, NY, where we settled into our lovely townhouse on Milton Point, where we still live happily (on most days), or so it seems.

My nesting instincts, until my son was 18 months old remained in full throttle. However, in between playing with him, giving him naps, and preparing lovely meals for hubby, as well as exercising, I began gestating other ideas of who I wanted to be, in addition to 'Mother'. I became certified in the field of childbirth education, hypnotherapy for perinatal counseling, as well as prenatal and postnatal exercise for moms.

After my son hit the 18 month old mark, my hormones had gone back to normal, and I decided to seek an obstetric practice that was interested in my credentials and philosophy that visualization therapy could facilitate easier births and post partum periods for women. I honed my craft with much gratitude to Dr. Ronald Schneider, who believed in my skill. I formed an association with his OB practice at Soundshore Medical Center. Soundshore Medical Center was also interested in my perinatal exercise classes. I also gave these classes at the Rye YMCA, Scarsdale YMCA and Greenwich YMCA for a short period of time.

It never occurred to me that I could not be a mother and an individual with a professional calling. I never thought I could not have it both ways and I wanted it all! I did not want to be a stay-at-home mother as my mother had been. Interestingly how sometimes the pendulum swings in one direction or another, as women seek to do, be or become their own person, and do things differently than their own mothers.

I was very lucky as I had some part-time help in the home. A very lovely Jamaican woman, named Jean, was amazing and took great care of my son, cooked lovely meals and cleaned my home while I continued to do the dance of part-time work.

I thought I was invincible, but with a 2nd pregnancy, two years later, ending at the end of the first trimester, at around 10 weeks, mother nature had other ideas for me. I was totally devastated, crushed, and depressed. The idea of birth and creation and children meant everything to me.

After recovering from my D&C, I wrote poetry and a love letter to my departed baby, and painted landscapes with dark skies and puffy clouds, but with beautiful flowers, which depicted my mixture of grief and hope for the future.

Is it possible that my life was so full, that I did not make enough room for my baby to grow? I remember explaining, to my 2&1/2 year old son that sometimes seeds don't grow. I used little pots where we had planted some seeds and he saw that two of the pots had shoots, while one pot had was no sign of life, as nothing had sprouted.

I knew when I felt life in my belly, knew before my pregnancy tests were confirmed. It was the same when I felt that there was stillness inside me. How sad it was, feeling betrayed by my body. The guilt that I felt was also tremendous, almost as big as my belly, with the now emptied uterus. Should I have stayed home in confinement like the women did during the Victorian era? But that was not my way...for I had other mountains to climb.

I did go on to have another healthy baby, this time a girl in 1999. I studied and prepared for a natural birth with a midwife, which was all I hoped it would be this time. I felt like a lioness, invincible, roaring, and birthing my baby girl with total amazment and joy.

Before my next blog, it might be an interesting investigation, if you could take a look at your own personal her-story with Super Woman, if you can relate to this complex. What was your mother like when you were growing up? Do you see yourself having followed in her footsteps? Or did you try to do things differently and walk down your own path? Was there some judgement of your mom when you were younger? Were your needs met by her? Also, you might take a look and see how your health journey compares with your life-time manifestations. Did your health suffer during times of extreme stress....whether it was work-related, personal issues at home, etc.?

Stay tuned till the next blog, as the Super Woman Chronicles Continue. 

Would love to hear your comments and your story too!

Check out my website for Mother's Day Specials coming soon! Healing and Relaxation for all Super Moms with or with out the Super Mom Complex!




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Myra Oney May 10, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Hi Amy, Another great article! When my son was 16 months old I had an ectopic pregnancy that was devastating physically and emotionally. Although I had only thought I was pregnant for two weeks I was surprised at the post-partum depression I experienced. I was working in a very physical job that I loved at the time and wondered if that was to blame for the ectopic. When I finally retired from that line of work when my son was seven, there was a sense of freedom as well as retraction and diminishment. I was no longer "chained" to a job and a commute and I would be able to devote time to raising my son, which I craved, yet I had the feeling of loosing a world and a community that I had been a part of for 20 plus years. In retrospect it was time for me to let go of that world and move to a new chapter, just as nature had let me know that one child was enough for me as I moved forward.
Amy Reissner May 10, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Thanks Myra, women have amazing resilience and abilities to do so many things. It has been my experience both personally and professionally, that the childbearing years are quite profound, both physically and psychologically. The call to tune inwards as our baby gestates is part of the the whole 'creation and creative' process. I think that many women feel pulled when they are pregnant and also working. There are many women who have no choice and must work through their pregnancy. And sometimes, things happen, and one does wonder if one miscarries, was it because of work that may have been to challenging, too physical, too stressful. And yes, mother guilt often follows. I released mine by writing to my departed baby, as well as by painting. Transitions from working to giving birth, is part of the birth process. Many women today, who take maternity leave wait until after they give birth...not recognizing that it is also important to take sometime before the birth, in order to transition into 'Mother' mode. Unfortunately, our society does not, as a whole, unlike many of our European counterparts, understand or give time for this important process.


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