I have felt very worried lately about how all of you feel towards me. I know there is some hurt feelings out there and feel bad because its been due to misunderstanding. So Nash encouraged me to write a little about how I feel and what I tell him. I'm not one who likes to be vulnerable or show other's how I'm feeling. So its taken me a while to descide if this was a good idea or not. So again, for the thousandth time this pregnancy I'm going to step out of my comfort zone and share a little bit. Love, Heather
As women our main purpose in life is to give life. Yes, we do many other wonderful things! We can and do change the world and make it a better place. We are not less than men, in-fact we are more; the potential to create life is a gift that men shall never know. Our bodies are special they contain the power of God, to be able to create life and sustain it and nourish it afterwards is in my opinion the greatest miracle in the world. I am awed at the power we as women contain.
As part of the process of fulfilling who we are as women birth is a pinnacle event in our lives that changes us completely. No matter what kind of birth it is! No wonder we have such strong feelings about it. There has been no other topic that I’ve found that brings out such strong emotions. Every woman young or old feels something towards birth or the prospect of it. Once you have given birth you can’t help but flash back to your experiences.
So many emotions and expectations come with birth! Some women think about it all growing up and have so many hopes and dreams. And some don’t even think about it and get surprised by how amazing it all is. There are all shapes and sizes of our ideas and thoughts about birth. And there are even those that don’t get to experience birth for themselves, but have to go through the emotional birth of adoption.
What we thought about birth has influence on how we handle birth. There are those that are lucky enough and get the kind of birth they desire…no matter what kind of birth it is, be it natural, at home, at the hospital, with drugs, a c-section, an adoption. But there is a dark side of birth and it’s the hardest to handle. Things go wrong; there is no guarantee with birth on how things will turn out, and no due overs. True we can have other babies, but it’s never the same and the experience will always be different.
I am constantly amazed at how the emotions of birth are pushed under the rug, even among women. “You’ll get over it.” “The baby is healthy that’s all that matters.” “You can try again, you can have another one.” I think as women we don’t realize how giving birth changes us. Yes, becoming a mother changes us and that experience lasts our whole lives. But the process of birth only lasts moments compared to the rest of our lives, and we don’t seem to look at how those moments impact us. Or else those emotions are so strong we become afraid of what they might mean.
At the time of birth we realize how much we really put on the line. To give birth we give our own lives, there is nothing else on this earth that comes as close to loving like a god as birth. How can this not change who we are? Birth changes the world; it makes mothers and brings a new life.
How are we supposed to deal with how we feel towards the births we’ve experienced? I cannot answer that. Because it is so personal and each woman is affected differently by her circumstances and even by the experiences of other births.
Birth has the possibility of bringing great joy, calm, and peace. It also has the possibility of bringing guilt, fear, and the great unknown. I would say most births contain a little bit of everything. Because there can be great fear one moment and the joy of new life the next. Things can be so tangled we struggle to put them in words. I find my births are ingrained inside of me and even I can’t describe to you how they have affected me. But I can share a little bit… and maybe that will help you to understand why I react right now the way I do.
For my first birth I truly had no idea at what to expect, true I read lots, and asked lots of questions. But until you are in the process you really have no idea. I was young, I was naïve, and I took things to heart. There are things that family said and did that still effect how I think about my births. Things that when I stop and think about them make me sad or angry. I didn’t realize then how family and friends influence and have a changing hand in births. And things happened during this pregnancy and birth that I didn’t expect; to have things change from how I wanted them was shocking. But I learned that it was okay to grieve for the experiences I longed for and didn’t get.
My second birth was blissful one second and fraught with danger the next, I had no idea if I was going to survive, let alone my little one. All I knew was that my body had turned on me and I couldn’t do anything about it. And once everything was over I was left empty and alone, with a baby struggling to live. The guilt was crushing; I was supposed to be able to protect my little one. THIS was not supposed to happen! Birth is supposed to be a wonderful time, not one that makes us face more hardships than we can imagine. It isn’t supposed to make us feel like a bad mother. Yes, I realize that I can’t change how my body is, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel like I was betrayed. To make matters worse after a birth that is dramatic in every way possible. As a mom you are thrown into the NICU environment, where the baby your body couldn’t protect, is not truly yours. You have to ask to hold, feed, and change, touch your own baby. You have to leave your little one with strangers. You trade in a snuggly baby at your breast for a machine. I still feel guilt for this birth, but not towards my strong 5 yr old boy. But for that little helpless baby I couldn’t take care of.
Hopeful is how I think of my third birth, until I was bleeding. Seeing blood, knowing what it meant, fearing what could be… Fear and shock surrounded it. I have written my birth stories for my other two births, but not for my third. The residue of emotions are still so thick, that I am only able to write about afterwards and the NICU. And for now that is okay, I accept it. I do pick up and examine the memories, trying to digest them and understand myself. It’s a work in progress, just like most things in this life. There is the grief that I couldn’t fully protect my daughter from facing what her brother did, mixed with joy that I was able to protect her for longer.
My birth experiences have taught me many things. First of all I have no control over what happens; I can only control how I handle it. I’ve also learned how I react to things and learned to trust and listen to my body. I don’t hate my body and I’m surprised by those that hate theirs for not looking right or being what they deem as perfect. I truly am amazed at my body, I don’t necessarily love that it has flaws and I get very frustrated by them. I am blessed to be able to carry these babies at all and it does a wonderful job for as long as it can. Plus I am very capable of feeding my littles once they are here; breastfeeding is how I heal, and how my littles forgive.
I’m sorry that I’ve hurt some of your feelings through this pregnancy. I’ve just had to put things into perspective and for once listen to what my body was telling me. For months I’ve been standing at the top of a cliff, not sure of when the wind would pick me up and push me over.
Every little movement, every little feeling has been accounted for. I have had to pull away and just focus on how I was feeling. Most days it feels like I’m being torn in half; wanting to be excited, thrilled, blissful, happy, hopeful, and all the other wonderful feelings you get to have while pregnant. The other half of me knows the pain, fear, guilt, torture, misery, longing, helplessness, discouragement, and all the other feelings that come along with premature birth and NICU life. To keep myself calm I can’t let myself feel too much of either side and it’s a constant battle. One that I lose when I open myself up and start to feel any of the overwhelming emotions; happy or sad. I have lots more contractions and know that I have to be careful. And I’m strong enough, confident enough, and smart enough this time to do what I need to do. So I hope you’ll all forgive me and try and understand because it hasn’t been easy for me (or you).
I know I haven’t made it this far because of anything I’ve done or haven’t done. Just like in the past what will happen will happen. But I have to try; it’s all I can do. I am very thankful for making it this far, but realize I have weeks more to fight for, so I can’t start being excited yet. So forgive me when I don’t react how most pregnant women do, because I’ve been through too much to be typical.
Birth makes women strong, so we can be moms. To take the good with the bad, the happy with the sad, we have to cross a bridge that men will never be able to walk over. That’s why we love them so much, because they offer a different perspective, we can balance our pain with their joy. That’s why men have us, so they can strive to give of their selves. We give them the gift of being a daddy and they help us to be the moms we desperately desire to be. And with our littles we become a family, imperfect and flawed and wonderfully magical. And I’m thankful to be on the cliff of birth again…
How have your births changed you?