I have this weird thing, this weird feeling every time a close friend approaches her due date. It’s a kind of excited but fretting feeling, watching her prepare for the (lets face it) unknown realm of birth and postpartum… we have all been there, it’s like trying to pack for a surprise holiday with no idea how long you will be there, what the weather will be like, or if the locals will be friendly.
The apprehension felt is totally subjective if you are already a mum. It’s either “I hope it goes as well as…” or “I hope it’s not as bad as…”.
I have been both of the above. After my first child (homebirth, empowering, very whole experience. Postpartum: like being on the best drug in the world, pure heaven!) I was keen to ‘help’ friends to have the same. I advised, spoke about natural birth, baby bonding, breastfeeding, I tried to help. It was about wanting to share a good experience, to share the love. (This of course didn’t always work out and in one instance that plus my
intrusive full on breastfeeding “support” left a friendship in tatters).
After my second birth (homebirth, exhausting, defeating, hollowing. Postpartum: unravelling, slight PPD) I wanted to help people to avoid this experience. So all my pregnant friends got the warnings and advice about how to handle the second time round, as if they hadn’t heard enough moaning already.
I had this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to protect them at all costs. (In fact, I wrote about it a few years ago here). I wished that what had happened to me would not happen to my friends. Around due dates I would get really jumpy and overinvolved (just for the record…sorry!) and also in the postpartum…I didn’t know if I should call, or stay away. Sometimes it even brought on flashbacks of the hard times I had been through, quite painful.
I wanted to support them and protect them from their possible pain….as if, even if I could (oh, the lofty ideals), that that would be desirable…
Yes, pain hurts, but pain makes you grow as well. My second experience was tough, but it shifted emotions and feelings in me and forced me to grow in ways I will always be grateful for. Imagine if someone had cushioned me from that experience (how?), I wouldn’t be the same person I am today…
Even if it hurts, we get through, and we grow, and we all have a right to own that and walk it for ourselves.
I’m writing this with someone in mind, you know who you are. May your impending birth be empowering in it’s delight but also in its sorrow, for birth is the ultimate portal through which we have the privilege of higher knowledge. And really, I wouldn’t want to take that away from you, even if it hurts.
(PS. For the record I have 3 kids. Number 3 birth was also at home: self directed, delightful, enjoyable (not quite orgasmic, but I can believe it!), satisfying, fast, healing, and a family affair witnessed by number 1&2). Postpartum: completing, whirlwind, precious, enjoyable, busy!)