There has been a lot of processing since writing this, and I am very fortunate to say that right now, I have a slightly wider perspective. However this oscillation between the idealised and reality was and still is a massive thing, so I wanted to share.
Labour was absolutely brutal. For a portion of it, I hated it. It was painful. I remember completely acknowledging that I could die from this – because I could not imagine it ending. I was so engrossed and enveloped in it. And not in the spiritual life-emerging way. In the I-cannot-fathom-surviving-this; this-is-shattering-me-to-my-core; way. And maybe that is spiritual after all. Or maybe it was just brutal.
Where the heck was my all natural, pain-free, orgasmic birth?
Pain was supposed to be a construct. I was supposed to ride the waves of contractions. Which were going to be ‘rushes’ rather than contractions. They were not rushes. They were definitely contractions. And instead I found myself gasping for air in a tsunami of onslaught.
Did I not do enough? Did I not visualise enough? Did I not “talk to my body” enough? Did I not trust enough? Did I not break down the generations and generations of programming and conditioning enough to claim my ‘birthrite’ of a pain-free and transformative birth? What the heck world?!!
I feel let down by the things I believe in. By the belief that I could change this experience. By the very desire to want to have changed my experience – what about just acceptance? I feel let down by the shame I have for finding birth intense. I feel let down by the blame I place on myself that I didn’t “change” my situation, that I didn’t have this orgasmic experience. Whatever that means and however that might have happened.
I was supposed to love her straight away. You see photos, gorgeous photos, of mommas holding their babies and crying in joy. Weeping with love. I didn’t love her straight away. And I really hate that about my experience! How could I not love her straight away? I don’t know if it was the pain or the length or the exhaustion or the fear as I rode through very new, dark, isolating and unchartered (by me) abyss. I was supposed to love her instantly. But I didn’t. (I absolutely adore her. It just didn’t happen instantly, it took a few hours of calm and quiet as I began processing and filtering in her arrival and my incredible vulnerability to get her here)
So this is a constant thing that I need to keep reevaluating. I wish I had of been super mellow and chilled out, and at peace with the process of birth. I wish I was in this enlightened spiritual place the entire time, and saw it as some grand convergence of magnificence. But I wasn’t. And I didn’t. Things didn’t go to plan. And I didn’t feel or look how I thought I would or should. [Yes, I’m even judging what I looked like during the birth]
And it hasn’t ended just at the birth. The interplay between what I think I should be doing or feeling and what I am actually doing and experiencing has continued into the early parenting, and all the things I am not doing… Assisted by the countless passing comments by the peanut gallery!
- I’m not exclusively breastfeeding
- I’m not talking enough to my child
- I’m not reading enough to my child
- I’m not putting her on the floor enough
- I’m not excercising her enough
- I’m not exercising myself enough
- I’m not going outside enough
- I’m not leaving the house enough
ultimately: I am not enough. Not good enough. And that’s sad!
I rage so hard against victim blaming – and I am definitely not a victim in this – and yet so much of what I am describing, and that new-age-y stuff sounds pretty similar to victim blaming. A bad birth is my fault because I did not do enough to ensure a more positive experience. Rather than acknowledging that birth is a pretty phenomenal phenomenon. One that I have no cognitive control over, and one that, has literal life and death consequences. So it’s okay if things change for the health and safety of me and my child.
~ ~ So if that is something I rage so hard against all the time… why am I still here, feeling this disappointment in myself? And shame? And frustration?
And why is it I hold myself to such impossibly high standards? I would never place this pressure onto someone else when they described their birthing experiences.
I kind of need everyone to back off!
And by everyone, I mostly mean myself. And my head. But everyone as well. Because all of a sudden that one single passing comment from one person turns into 20 passing comments by the months’ end and they keep swirling endlessly in my head.
Yes I listened when they told me not to push (I tried to anyway).
Yes I trusted them.
Yes I am grateful for the medical intervention.
Yes I am doing the absolutely best that I can, right now.
And yes, despite my pain and discomfort… despite the difference between my idealised self and versions of events, and reality everything… this new little human is perfect! And I did fall in love with her. Even if it was a few moments later than I expected. And I did it. I birthed a perfect little human!