All aboard, it is time to exit motherhood’s expectation station. Having expectations is a dangerous game, but how can we not as we are incredibly privileged to get to make a lot of the decisions around our birth experience however it can also set us up to fail if things don’t go to plan during the process of birth/becoming a mother.
Don’t get me wrong for some people it is reassuring to go into birth with a plan of all the things you want (I thought I was one of those). For me I wanted to create a beautiful zen environment with salt lamps, essential oil diffusers, positive birthing affirmations on the wall, meditation and dim lights. Allowing me to create an energy force flowing through me where I could channel it into successfully birthing my baby into the world without drugs or too much assistance from others. Once my baby was earth side I had this vision of breastfeeding my baby the essential nutrients to set up their life, establishing an unbreakable bond and just snuggling in our little bubble for the first few days before the world entered. To say reality was a big fat slap in the face was probably the understatement of the century.
I feel incredibly grateful to have been able to experience the true miracle of childbirth and watch in awe of my body that not only created (with the help of my beautiful husband) but grew, birthed and supported my baby. However things didn’t quite go to plan, all of my zen wishes were out the window once I experienced the bone chilling indescribable pain that is child birth. Some people seem to sail through it but for me given that I am incredibly sensitive and in tune with my body I felt every niggle, spasm, contraction and adrenaline rush bit by bit.
I labored for 20 hours before being told that bub was now head butting my pelvis and my cervix was starting to swell basically my birth was now going backyards- say what?! Trust me this is the last thing you want to hear 20 hours in! The only thing I could now do was to buy time and force my tired body to relax through the help of an epidural (the one part of the pre-natal class I tuned out of because I thought there was no chance I was having a needle that big in my spine). Low and beyond there I was lying on my side embracing the fact that the anesthetist had 3 goes at my epidural because apparently my back was too straight. About 4.5 hours later bub was in distress, his heart rate kept dropping and he had swallowed meconium (yep his own poop – gross I know) which is toxic if he drinks it and of course he did.
By this stage I was told that if I need to have an emergency C-section it was now incredibly dangerous because the baby was too low in my pelvis and by pulling the baby up there was a high chance that it was going to damage my reproductive organs which could affect future fertility and damage my bowel and other internal organs as well. So we were prepped for surgery and the doc called in another OB to help as this was not going to be an easy delivery. I will save you some details but baby was delivered naturally via forceps and we narrowly escaped a very risky C Section! Due to the stress of the birth, I didn’t have a milk supply for 5 days which meant I had to bottle feed (those who know me well would know this really rocked my boat), my son spent the first few days of his life choking on mucus (Meconium), I ended up with limited mobility thanks to a catheter and a lot of stitches. I couldn’t bare to have visitors because I was totally and completely exhausted, I was bleeding, sore, and I felt like I was lost in an unknown town during a cyclone without shelter.
Why I am sharing this story with you, is not because I want any sympathy but for a few key reasons which I feel are incredibly valuable especially for new mums, soon to be mums or women who want to have children in the near future. It is 5 things I wish I could go back and tell my new mum self.
1. Be kind to yourself, and then be kinder.
Woman are so incredibly strong, powerful, selfless and nurturing but yet incredibly judgmental of themselves, their bodies and their abilities. We are not merely as kind to ourselves as we deserve to be. Regardless of the delivery type you must take time to honour the incredible journey from the woman you were, pregnancy, birth, postnatal to the new mother and woman you now are. Be kind to yourself during every stage of pregnancy, labour, delivery, recovery, sleepless nights, breastfeeding, your changing body and managing your new demanding schedule and life. It is such a blessing but it’s also bloody tough so be kind always.
2. Everyone’s birth is beautiful and unique and do not compare to others
We are human beings and it is such a natural process to compare our experiences to others, don’t allow yourself to feel less valuable as a woman if you didn’t have the ‘perfect’ pregnancy and birth. Whether that be through IVF or natural conception, morning sick or not, induced or natural contractions, short birth vs long birth, a C Section vs vaginal, traumatic vs empowering, hospital vs home, quick recovery vs long recovery, big baby vs small baby, supported vs unsupported, drugs vs no drugs etc. Regardless of the situation or experience you had, that birth belongs to you and your baby. No one can ever make you feel less of a woman for your birth experience unless YOU let them. Honour your journey regardless of the process because at the end of the day you birthed a beautiful and unique baby into the world. You did that!
3. Say goodbye to your expectations
I had to learn this the hard way because just about everything I wanted in my journey didn’t happen and this left me feeling like a failure, did I mention that by this point I had only been a mother for 2 days! Allow yourself the space to pivot and embrace whatever happens as unique and special to your journey and not only be comfortable with that but freaking proud of it!
4. To your baby you are their entire world
On the days when you feel like you aren’t a good mum remember this. Your baby chose you, you are their entire world, you have everything they need, want and love just by being you.
5. Just follow your instincts and stop worrying about everyone else
Stop listening to everyone’s opinions, stop caring what people think and just be the amazing mother you are. There is no other baby in the world the same are yours (read that again) therefore not all advice is going to be relevant or useful for you. If you don’t want visitors- don’t have them, if you want to bottle feed- do it, if you want to cuddle your baby to sleep – go right head. This is YOUR journey, don’t let the opinion of others dictate that.
For me the first 6 weeks were a blur, it was bloody tough- I felt like I didn’t enjoy them as much as I could have. I was caught up in the should’s, apps, baby books, juggling opinions of what motherhood was supposed to be or what I was supposed to be doing, I felt like I was continuously apologizing, I felt like I was fighting a war inside my head instead of surrendering and just doing what I wanted, what I felt in my heart was right for my baby, my body and my journey. I wish I knew then what I know now and that is to fully embrace and just enjoy the one journey that is the ultimate gift (even though some days it doesn’t feel like a gift).
For me especially being told that I may never get to experience birth and motherhood first hand now makes me appreciate it so much more. Especially for all the women that would make amazing mothers and haven’t until this point been able to conceive, had angel babies and are constantly living with the grief and heartache around fertility and miscarriage my heart breaks for you. The one thing we can all do as mothers is appreciate and be grateful for the privilege of this blessing every single day.
My parting words to you, thanks for reading this far, I hope you have gotten something out of my words shared and I hope that you too can exit expectation station- PRONTO to live a happier and more fulfilled life.
I am passionate about sharing my health journey in the hope it will help others improve their health. Instead of taking 10 years like it did to me it is accessible now! I have a bachelor of Public Health with Majors of Nutrition and Health Promotion. I will soon be undertaking an Integrative Health Practitioner Certification.