It’s very hard to describe the utter love and joy that is present when you birth your child. It’s a crazy and all consuming love that is at times fiercely overwhelming. But at the same time you know nothing about the realities of how you will actually manage to raise this tiny screaming bundle of joy. Finally, getting through the front door and breathing a sigh of relief to be home was coupled with the “bloody hell, they have actually let us leave with this baby, despite the fact we don’t know what the actual frig we are doing” panic! It’s literally learning on the job mayhem, which coupled with all the hormones and struggles of breastfeeding; sore nipples (actually sore everywhere!) and recovering from the birth, I found really tough. Actually, quite maddening to be honest.
The birth of my first born was everything I didn’t want it to be, none of my birth plan happened; I was disappointed and felt like a failure. I had placenta previa, which meant that my placenta was so low that there would be a risk of it coming out first during birth, which would obviously be a bloody shit show for all involved (literally…too graphic?!) So I was booked in for a C-section, which is my idea of a nightmare. It was a lot better to have a planned C-section than an emergency one and for that reason I am very grateful. Despite that, it was still an incredibly scary/odd/awful experience. As it’s planned they literally just get you to walk into theatre, everyone’s sort of bustling around and it’s all very normal – weirdly normal. Like guys, I’m literally about to have a baby and this is oddly everyday. I need somebody to make an announcement or sound a trumpet or something to signify what is actually about to happen here. My baby is about to be born! I worry that it does matter how you’re born and this kind of birth was just not what I had envisioned. I hate hospitals. I know for some people hospitals bring a kind of comfort and reassurance, but not for me, they make me an anxiety-filled sweaty Betty. My baby was born so suddenly (and unbeknownst to her) to a room full of strangers with masks on and bright lights, and not being able to hold her for a few minutes felt awful. And I still hold a lot of guilt about that, I know that I couldn’t perhaps of changed the fact that she did need to be born by C-section and that if I would have attempted to birth naturally it probably would have encountered huge problems but a little part of me thinks I should have fought it and attempted a natural birth crazy though that might sound. I should have somehow been able to protect her from that harsh first experience of life. I should have been better. I should have done better. I should have fixed it. That imperfect moment in which I became a mother felt tinged with another narrative of how it should have been. And I know in the grand scheme of things it really is insignificant, that I am so bloody lucky and believe me I am so so grateful and blessed and I would never ever ever think any less of anybody else for having a C-section but I just struggle to forgive myself.
My second birth was the complete opposite, and I really fought for it to be that way. I wanted perhaps to alleviate some of the guilt from my first birth, and to prove to myself that my body really could ‘do it’ and give birth, what is perceived by many to be ‘normally’ I guess. I planned a home birth despite some concern from my healthcare providers (after having a C-section there is a very, very, very tiny risk that the scar could rupture during contractions) and went so far over that I almost had to have an induction and not have my beautifully planned home birth. But I did manage it and, after almost 36 hours of labor, my second little girl (actually big girl..8lb 9!) was born into the water and it was so lovely and peaceful. Except that after all those hours I was so emotionally and physically frazzled that I forgot that it was actually my job to pick the baby up out the water and not just hope that she perhaps might swim to the top… ha! Step in the midwife who swooped her up into my arms, bliss!!
I can look back now and realise that both births, no matter how different, were what they were meant to be and I can now start to accept that. I cannot change the past, the only moment we have is the present, the here and now and I can only continue to mother my children in the best way that I can, and that is enough – I am enough. #Selflove is something I struggle with and I think that feeling like a bad/not good enough mother is so common and really needs to be talked about more. Only by sharing stories and supporting each other as women can we really make progress and affect change. Having struggled mentally and emotionally over these last 3+ years I only really feel now that I am coming through the fog and actually able to reflect and attempt to process myself as a mother and perhaps even accept myself as a mother. Three years of no sleep really can send you a bit higidly pigidly, hey?! Anyway big love to everyone reading this, and if you take one thing away from this brief, messily written scrawl on motherhood I wish it could be this: Love yourself, you are enough, give yourself a break and if it’s hard right now just know it will get better. You can do it.
‘You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are!’