You are strong, clever, beautiful and kind. You are in a position at this moment that is far from how you imagined your life to be at this stage. You recognize the change that’s about to happen but you really have no idea on the scale of that change and the impact it will not only have on your life but on YOU!
Right now you work day in day out with other peoples children. You ‘love them like your own’ and truly do believe it. Of a matter of fact, babies and children are as drawn to you as you are to them. You know you will always be surrounded by children in your life, but at this stage it’s through work that you envision that love. You have a path laid out in front of you with children of your own having a place in the distant future.
As you stare at the 5 positive pregnancy tests on the bathroom sink with your boyfriend of 8 months standing on the other side of the door waiting to hear the news, reality punches you in the chest. The path you are on is changed and you are far more concerned with the opinions of others than you are with the reality of the situation. That will come later.
You deal with the drama and declare that yes it is your choice and you choose to take this little person on with all your heart. With love and support from those that matter you began to prepare for his arrival. You read every book and article you can on pregnancy and childbirth. You think you know so much you could lecture Obstetricians on the process and stages of birth, the pain relief options and the ‘what to expect if something goes wrong’. At the moment, you’re stressing about the birth. You’ve got your heart set on a water birth with no pain relief, and you’re scared stiff about things going wrong. A caesarean would be your very worst nightmare. But listen here girlfriend, you knew nothing.
You know you are strong and can handle anything. However you are clueless to the fact that birth and motherhood will change you. Not your body, YOU. Empowerment will fill you with a satisfaction you have never felt before. You are lucky to have a birth that progresses as fiercely as you are. You have the whole delivery suite staff popping in to see the 19 year old who just nailed her first birth naturally with a short stage one, two and three posterior labour and delivery. *gloat, gloat* You have this tiny perfect little man in your arms, a loving partner by your side who is equally besotted and a whole fan club in the wings ready to love and support and enjoy every moment of your little man. You head home on day 2 feeling like a rockstar walking out on stage. The endorphins are pumping. You are on top of the world.
Until you’re not. Suddenly, the hormones drop and tiredness sets in. All those things that nobody spoke about seem like a taboo secret that nobody informed you about. Your stiches from the tear sting with the swelling and pain you with every movement, your ‘amazing little feeder’ feels more like a parasite tearing your nipples to shreds every 2 hours, if you stand for periods longer that 4 minutes it feels like your uterus might actually fall out, oh and did I mention the sleep deprivation? Nobody knows you are stuggling until they ask how you are and you cry at them. And cry at songs on the radio, and cry at that cute dog on the sorbent ad, and cry when your baby has that tone in his soft little whimper in the night and you realize its time to feed again. You cry while you’re alone on the bed in NICU when your after pains hit, thinking there is something seriously wrong with your body. You cry at the guilt that maybe something you did caused the jaundice. You cry because you are angry at the nurses for not letting you cuddle your baby after his feed due to needing to go back under the lights. You cry when your size 12 jeans won’t button up. But the tears will slowly fade. This is your way of dealing with what you have been shutting out of your mind for the last 9 months. You will see you needed this.
You focus every piece of your being on that little guy. He is now the center of your universe but there is room for more Ashleigh, there is room for you in there too. You teach him everything you know, but he teaches you more. He teaches you plans aren’t set in stone and that life is exactly what you make of it. He lives freely and care free and does everything in kindness. He has the sweetest little heart with empathy like nothing you have ever felt before. Instead of you kissing his hurts away, he kisses yours. You have a new lease on life, motherhood is beautifully kind to you. But there is room for more, you won’t be seen as ‘just a mum’.
It takes you a while to realize, but there is a fire lit inside you. Birth is your calling. You are an addict. From here on in, you will forever be drawn to birth and the journey of women into motherhood. As you process the last year of your life, you realize that women have superpowers you didn’t know about. You look around at your Friday morning playgroup at each of the beautiful women you’ve met that are all on their own journey. You have heard all of their birth stories in great detail, you listen to the underlying tone of shock or surprise of how things went no matter how ‘straight forward’ or ‘traumatic’ the birth was. Motherhood is hard and us women have to support each other. There feels like nobody else in the world that understands what you’ve been through quite like other mothers. Talk about birth and motherhood and all that it brings, and most importantly LISTEN. Learn what it means to hold space for others. Be a neutral supportive place for others to talk when they are ready. This unspoken superpower of women needs to be recognised by women themselves and when the time comes, remind them of how amazing they are and what a fabulous job they are doing because after all, that's what you really needed.
Ps. You won't fuck him up, he's going to be the most amazing little guy with the sweetest heart you've ever know. Learn life together.
Follow your heart always,