One of the first things I said to my son (after: “I think I’m going to drop him, he’s really slippery.”) was:
“Hi there. Nice to meet you. I anticipate you and I will have a healthy professional relationship that will eventually grow into something more.”
I was lucky because I had so many people normalize the reality that some people don’t immediately imprint on their children and fall madly in love with them. So my kinda lukewarm feelings didn’t worry or concern me… didn’t make me feel guilty or weird. Thank you so much to the many women that mentioned it. I proceeded to live up to the duties I committed to. I was going to keep this small, foreign human alive, fed, and thriving to the best of my ability. Not because I loved him unconditionally – but because it was my moral obligation. I willingly signed up for this after all, right?
As far as babies go … I think I got one of the ‘easy’ ones. I don’t really know what that means and I have sweet eff all to compare him to because I’ve spent so very little time with infants. But for the most part he’s pretty chill. That said, he’s a baby. He cries a lot. And this whole parenting gig comes with some serious commitment factors (including but not limited to incredible sleep deprivation). Many things I was well aware of (and protested) in the earlier days of my pregnancy.
Oh please don’t make me do it. I don’t want to be a 24/7 wet-nurse to this ball of flesh. Can I just hold him for a while and then give him to someone else??
It was sort of this poetic justice kind of thing when all my fears, anxieties, and anticipated inadequacies were very much realized. And I feel that much more inadequate knowing that we got one of the ‘easy’ ones. Good grief, what kind of loser can’t handle a little crying. It was on one of these endlessly cry-filled occasions I turned to my husband and said:
“When is this boy’s mother coming to pick him up? I am tired of baby-sitting and I would like my life back please.”
While she’s at it, if she could pick up these extra rolls of flesh around my midsection and the surplus of junk I’m packing in the rear that would be great.
It’s weird when you don’t instantly bond. I don’t feel like a mother… not in the least. I feel like a caretaker. Like someone left him on the doorstep and it would be unethical to let him starve to death so I take care of him – until the more adult-y adults come to get him. Hello? Adult-y adults? Where are you? I have your baby.
I feel like I accidentally wound up with the shittiest job ever. I have this boss that yells at me all the time and doesn’t even speak English… or even a language I could cross reference through Google-translate. I’m guessing all the time. And I’m usually wrong. Which leads to more yelling. It’s a real confidence booster. So yeah. This parenting gig. Not for me.
Anyone willing to come pick up an 11lb newborn please message me and I’ll give you my address. What a reasonable price for these things? $100 sound fair? I’ll throw in some diapers and a rattle or something.
I know that I should be more grateful. I have an incredibly healthy baby. We had an uneventful and peaceful birth. My husband is a hugely supportive partner, and an enthusiastic and active parent. We have a community of amazing friends and family to support us. I shouldn’t be so dramatic. I should not be feeling what I’m feeling.
But isn’t that just the lovely thing about feelings? They are irrational, illogical, and wreak all sorts of havoc on an otherwise (often) sane human being’s (usually) healthy mind. Not to mention I can get into a wicked guilt spiral about having negative feelings when I should feel happy to have the beautiful, exquisite privilege of raising an infant. #firstworldproblems
Is depression exclusive to first world? We’re so incredibly privileged we have to make up issues like disliking our babies or arguing about which produce is superior.
Anyways, I digress.
In summary. My spawn continues to thrive. And I will continue to persevere through the cesspool of complex, hormone-fuelled emotions that cloud my mind every other day. Hats off to women everywhere. This shit is messed up.
Holy shit you guys. Birth is a trip.
So many stories through the history of my life prepared me to fear my impending doom-date (aka my future spawn’s birthday).
Halfway through my pregnancy there was nothing I feared more than having to deliver this baby. I was so scared that any time I found myself reading any sort of material designed around educating myself and preparing for the labour and birth – I would end up crying. I’d beg my husband to somehow take over my body and do it for me. He’s tougher than me. And way braver.
He said he would if he could. And whether this was actually true or not. I believed him and let it comfort me the small amount that it did.
I made it a mission to seek out positive birth stories. I knew they existed even though I hardly heard any. Positive birth stories seem like Narnia… you have to know exactly where to look and even then, you might have to jump a few hoops to find what you’re looking for. But it seemed the universe was on my side. When I made the conscious effort to find the stories, they also found me.
Every story was so incredibly unique from one to the next. The only thing that stayed the same between them was the tone of each woman’s voice. They sounded confident, bold, empowered, at peace, and proud. It was amazing how many women said they didn’t like to share them because they have felt condemned by others for their experience. (That they didn’t ‘suffer’ enough??)
After hearing and reading several empowered stories, I decided that I wanted to create the best environment for myself to facilitate my own positive birth story. I didn’t care how it happened, or what didn’t go according to plan – but I was determined to have a positive story to share after our kid landed.
I meditated and visualized daily, I sought out resources for hypno-birthing, and was gifted an amazing, custom meditation lead by my good friend Dianne [Soul Conversations] that was incredibly empowering and created tremendous mental ease as I approached my due date.
Brin and I also signed up for birthing/baby classes with Sharon Loose of Calgary Birth Essentials. The idea of birth classes made me wanna hurl. All I could envision were bad 90s movies where the ladies are wearing a moo-moo, sitting between their partner’s legs on the floor and being coached on how to breathe. Ugh. We tried other methods of getting the information we needed but finally just bit the bullet and registered. It was actually the BEST thing we did.
Sharon was so helpful and informative; she went through everything in a zero-fluff, zero-BS, zero-moo-moo-sitting-on-the-floor way. We didn’t have to role play or do anything dumb. We just got to ask a bunch of questions and she gave us a buttload of information that would unbiasedly support a large variety of birth ‘plans’ (I put plan in quotes because… well you know why.)
Information is something that makes me feel at peace. The more I feel I understand, the more empowered I feel. Education is powerful tool to yield, and Sharon was the cat’s meow in providing all the information we needed to feel really good about going into our birth experience.
So… for anyone that’s like me, and wanting to read a positive birth story. One that doesn’t involve any scary narrative what-so-ever – here goes…
Our Birth Story :
On April 29th I was watching a movie. I had actively decided to stay up past my ‘bedtime’ (I was self imposing a 10pm curfew in effort to get as many quality sleeps in as possible before baby arrived). I started my movie at 10pm because sometimes I’m a rebel like that.
So yes, rebel me was sitting there watching my movie and working on crocheting a small tote bag. I was fidgeting a lot; found it hard to get comfortable. I kept moving around from the couch to the floor to the birth ball back to the couch. Late pregnancy is wildly uncomfortable. I thought nothing of this weird dance.
It was about halfway through my movie, when I noticed the crochet needle slipping from my sweaty hands that I realized I was unconsciously rocking my torso back and forth. I thought to myself: hmmm… maybe I’m in pain.
I had busted out my contraction timer a few times trying to figure out how it worked. I thought I’d take this chance to give it another go. Who knows, I’m 4 days overdue, so maybe something’s going down.
The pains I was experiencing were not following any formula we’d been taught, so I ignored them. I’d been having cramps for about the last 4 weeks anyways, this was likely no different than all those. I went back to my movie, and my crochet project.
My husband came upstairs from playing video games just before 11:30pm. I mentioned the pains to him, and said I didn’t think it was labour. But maybe it was? I wasn’t sure. I just knew that every so often it felt better if I got up and walked around. Or rolled around on the floor a bit. He stayed upstairs with me, and watched while I took the occasional break from my crochet project to roll on the floor with the elegance of my whale-like state. I think he suggested we take a walk outside maybe 3 or 4 times… but I really wanted to finished my project! And the movie was almost over. At least wait till the movie was over.
So after the movie was done, we walked outside for a bit. I had to stop and hold onto him periodically because the cramping was pretty noticeable. But then it went away, and we carried on.
I still wasn’t convinced I was in labour. I decided to take a bath. If this was some ‘false’ thing – then a bath would diffuse the situation for sure. And holy man. It DID feel better. My cramping didn’t go away, but it noticeably reduced in intensity. I felt like a new man. (or whatever).
Now… from this point, things for me get a bit fuzzy… kind of like recalling a dream. Because you, dear reader, know this as my birth story, and therefore know that I was in labour – which was much more information than I had at the time. I was pretty much in denial about the whole thing.
So the long and short of it was I started to feel really nauseous, and was dry heaving a bit. Eventually I actually threw up, and only then did I truly entertain the idea: Oh. Maybe I AM in labour.
I got in and out of the tub a few times trying various movements/positions to feel ease and relief – and sometimes even a sort of leverage on the intensity which was climbing gradually. Every contraction rolled in like a wave… I could feel it coming – like seeing a wave form in the distance before you actually catch it. When it would hit it was powerful – but also temporary. Between contractions I let my whole body relax. Even sort of blissed out in the state of complete relief in the absence of that intensity.
Our app had told us to go to the hospital like 4 separate times already (for us with home-birth this means call the midwife) but I was still not convinced it was time. I had only been in labour for like… an hour or two. And my contraction timing was all messed up; they were supposed to be in this particular pattern when we were meant to call her. I didn’t let Brin call our midwife until quarter after 1am when I was having double and triple peaking contractions and the intensity was referring into my upper thighs (this would usually indicate late labour… which baffled me because it had only been 2 hours). Brinley got our home-birthing supplies together between contractions. He held my hands during them. Our midwife arrived at 2am.
When she rolled in I was mid-contraction and also in the middle of this powerful dry-heave. She looked at me and said: “Are you pushing??”
Me (mid-contraction): “No… I don’t know. I thought I was dry heaving?”
She checked me and I guess I was ready to roll. Brin offered to fill the birthing pool (another thing I wouldn’t let him do because we were supposed to wait for the midwife to get there for that…) – and we were told: nope, no time! Brin sat on the edge of the bed and I sat between his legs, those weird ‘dry-heaves’ got really strong (Fetal Ejection Response… check it out #themoreyouknow) and 2:34am we had a baby.
It was the craziest experience I’ve ever had. I’ve had the occasional runner’s high. I’ve climbed mountains. I’ve played on big stages in front of thousands of people. And I have never in my life felt as powerful, as high, and as much a rockstar as I did after giving birth.
I liked my kid well enough – but the amount of love I felt for myself after delivering our son was something I’ve never experienced. I was so incredibly proud of myself. I felt tough, powerful, strong… and my husband reinforced that by telling me almost every hour for the following days how proud he was of me, and how amazing he thought I was. I am so thankful for having had the opportunity to truly acknowledge and see my own power. What a gift.
So yeah. In summary. 3 hour labor, start to finish. It was the ultimate in badassery. I would give birth 100 times over being pregnant. I’m going to create a separate blog post that details some of the steps I took throughout pregnancy that may have helped contribute to our positive (and speedy) labour experience – and a couple things I would add or do differently in the future. I did get a pretty hefty tear that was very near needing a ride to the hospital to fix, but luckily didn’t.
If I could go back in time and soothe my own worries… I’d say this:
Labour is tough. It is. But it is absolutely, wholly, and one hundred percent something you’re capable of. The pain is temporary. Enjoy the breaks. Your body knows exactly what it’s doing. That baby knows exactly what it’s doing. You just need to let it occur. The pain rolls in and out like a wave. It’s gone as quickly as it comes. There is not one part of this you can’t do.
At 31 years old I became pregnant. On purpose. Through the traditional method of combining my husband’s and my own DNA by way of intercourse.
My husband and I discussed this ahead of time, we decided that the time was as right as it was ever going to be – and boom, the rest is history.
Now, even though technically I agreed to all this ahead of time. It doesn’t stop my brain from being really inconvenienced by the idea that everything was about to change, my priorities completely redirected, and that my life is not going to be solely about me anymore. It was now going to be entirely about another person, who will literally do nothing except run me through the gauntlet 24/7 for the rest of my life.
I hope I’m painting a real clear picture here on how excited I was to learn we were pregnant.
So maybe I missed that day at school – or that maternal part of my brain didn’t fully develop or something because I did not get the hype. When we unearthed the news, all these women were frantically running around talking about how exciting it was going to be to have a BABY. Omg. A BABY. Like, if I had a rough day or complained in the least about my feelings or symptoms – the comfort was always that I was going to have a BABY. Like somehow this was reassurance and would solve all my concerns.
Meanwhile I’m sitting over here like: am I the only human being with a vagina that could give two-sh*ts about having my own baby? I care not for babies. Never really have. They are like a less furry, less cute, less entertaining form of a puppy. I would much rather have a puppy. Can I get pregnant and deliver a puppy?
Anyways. There’s a whole middle part to this story that I’m going to cut across for the sake of efficiency. I got through pregnancy, I had a baby. And learned that babies are okay if you made them yourself. But I haven’t lost my ability to empathize with my anti-baby brethren. So I thought I’d offer this piece of writing to act in service of you that feel inherently awkward around babies and new parents.
Okay. So. You remember in kindergarten when you brought home that art project? You were SO excited to show your mum because you kicked some serious ass on it and it was the most amazing thing that your little six year old self had ever accomplished? You couldn’t WAIT to get home and show her.
And when you did, she told you it was so awesome! And you felt like a million bucks. And she gave it a prime location on the fridge, reserved for only the best, most amazing art. She even bragged about it to her friends – and every time you overheard her, you just beamed because you were SO proud of yourself.
Your new-parent friends are basically kindergarteners. They just made what they think is like, the BEST thing EVER. Like, it deserves TWO fridges.
And much like those kindergarteners… even if what they made isn’t really that good… don’t tell them that. It’s your job as their friend, family member, or loved one to simply put a smile on your face and tell them they did an awesome job.
The baby itself doesn’t care how much you like it. The baby poops and eats at the same time. The level at which it cares about your perception of it is less than zero. Babies are confident AF. They need no emotional reassurance about how many people like them. It’s admirable really. #goals
So if you want to feel less awkward around babies… know that the baby really has nothing to do with it. And keep telling the parents/kindergarteners what a great job they did, how proud you are, and it’s just the most awesome thing ever. Just like 6-year-olds, when they are told what they need to hear in that moment, they won’t question the sincerity.
Re: holding the baby. If you don’t want to hold the baby because a) babies are gross b) you think you’ll accidentally kill it or c) you literally have never cared less about something than you do about holding a baby. NO PROBLEM.
Here’s what you do. You act like you’re really flattered to be entrusted with such a task, but you’re just so nervous you aren’t up for it. If they insist (and I hope they don’t – bad etiquette on their part)… do something like sneeze into your hands and then reach out to take the baby. Or develop a sudden cough of sorts. First-time parents will be so distracted by trying to find the lysol that they’ll forget they offered.
So in summary. The baby has less to do with the whole act of coming to see the baby – and it’s way more about your friend/family member and giving them a platform to show off their crappy new art homework.
Smile, congratulate them, shower them with praise and adoration – and tada! You’re golden.
(PS. If they make a lame joke about you changing the babies diaper… you don’t have to laugh at that. That’s brutal. You might want to consider getting new friends.)
Oh how I love humans. Humans are the greatest, most amazing, most gloriously curious creatures and I will adore them always.
Even the stupid ones. Even the ones that I disagree with, or the ones that cut me off in traffic. I love them and always will love them and there’s nothing you can say to change my mind.
Observing people is probably the strongest passion I have.
I love to watch people manage relationships, circumstances, emotions, miscommunication, disagreements. I love to watch them come together through challenges, to unite in hardship, to celebrate together, grieve together…
Just to be clear, it doesn’t mean I love each individual human. Some of them are buttholes, and many of which I could go the rest of my life never seeing again and be completely happy about it. I just think that the human dynamic is incredibly beguiling.
A common theme I’ve noticed about humans is how much we like to be right. Like, just love it. We start wars over it… ruin relationships over it… self-sabotage and self-destruct over it. So fascinating.
I’m essentially the poster child for someone that wants, needs, and lives to be right. I love to be right. And I do pretty much any and everything I can to assure that I am right as frequently as possible. I also acknowledge the disconnect and damage this has created in my life… and I’m trying to curb the habit a little.
I wonder what the world would be like if we all stopped needing to be right about things…
I think we forget that we have this incredibly effective mechanism in our brain that constantly reinforces our bias (the reticular activating system – be a fellow nerd and google it.) And our glorious bias, as real as it is for us – is built entirely around our individual experiences and perceptions.
If we gather and process the data of our everyday life entirely based on perception and bias… then can there even really be factual happenings?
I like the saying that there’s 3 sides to every story: He said, she said, and the truth. And the whole argument I’m making here is that we’ll never ever know what ‘the truth’ is… because not one human being has the capacity to be entirely objective.
So if we were to accept that line of thought… that there’s no real ‘truth’ … Effectively, no one can ever really be right.
Maybe this would change how we interact with each other. We could argue our sides of a story differently. Not because our experiences lack value, meaning, or validity… but rather to understand they are not comprehensive. That the human experience is so incredibly unique from person to person. Even if perceivably the ‘same thing’ happens to one person – their human-ness means that they might process that event incredibly differently than another. And that’s totally okay.
This also highlights the concept that we could focus on the necessity of being better listeners. To hold space for someone’s feelings, emotions, and personal-experience before offering input. Or maybe, even take the occasional opportunity to not offer input… to instead be wholly present, and just listen for a while. Trust that this person has the tools to navigate their circumstance with their own skillsets and knowledge. Even if we think they’re doing it wrong… to step back and trust that their innate, natural intelligence will guide them through their experience in a way that is meaningful and impactful for them.
I suck so bad at this.
I love to offer advice, opinions, insights, thoughts, philosophy, and random tidbits of information I’ve accumulated over the glorious 32 years of my short life. I love to revel in my own words, and self-congratulate every time I feel like I’ve bestowed the privilege of my wisdom upon another. I love to show them how right I am about all sorts of things.
But ultimately… I acknowledge that I’m making this person’s experience about me. I’m not really cultivating an environment for this beautiful human to experience their own natural process.
So I’m working on listening. Staying out of the way. Being the natural and curious observer that I so love to be. Allowing all the humans, to human away.
Dear future, mother-self. From my current, non-mother-self
Here’s what I don’t know.
I don’t know what it feels like to push a human through my vagina. I don’t know what it feels like to have a hollow abdomen with disorganized internal organs. I don’t know what it means to love something or someone with an all-encompassing and innate capacity. I don’t know what it feels like to be sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, emotional, hormonal, and excruciatingly vulnerable.
There is very little of your experience, if any, that I can relate to. I reverently admire your bravery in facing this part of your journey head on. For pillaging through the vastness of the deeply unknown, and intimidating uncertainty.
What I do know… What I know more deeply and more unwavering than anything – is that you are powerful. Stronger, bolder… you are more than I am, and ever have been. So much more. This transformation has increased your capacity as a human-being, as a soul… everything you are – you’re infinitely more-so now.
I also know that you are infinitely more humble. And that there will be times – more often than not – that you will forget how truly powerful you are.
I know that you will feel like a failure. I know that you will doubt yourself, your choices, your abilities, your instincts. I know that there is nothing that you will want more to be amazing at, to succeed at – and also nothing that you will feel you fall more short of.
I know that in the birth of a human infant – is also the birth of an infant mother… one that needs equal amounts of patience, compassion, acceptance, love, and nurturing. One that deserves to have time to adapt, understand, and learn without judgement or criticism. Find the people that will hold space for you in this way – and cultivate an environment to hold this space for yourself.
I know that you will worry. You will worry so much more than you ever have (which, I might add, is an impressive amount). Please, don’t spend every waking moment think your baby will die. Because honestly, what a waste of both your lives. If you do not curb this now, you will not curb this ever, and your child will be made fun of profusely when you send them to school covered in bubblewrap and pillows.
Let the words: This Too Shall Pass mean more than they ever have. Acknowledge that each moment, no matter how incredibly challenging – or incredibly blissful… is entirely temporary. That motherhood is the combination, the unity of each of these passing moments accumulating to create the experience you have embarked on.
I trust you. I know that you innately, instinctively, intuitively know exactly how to show up for this infant. I trust you completely and entirely. I know that there will be so many opportunities for you to thrive… and also that you will learn from each fall, stumble, and hiccup.
I know that you will laugh harder and more passionately than you ever have. That you will love more deeply. That you will cry harder, yell louder, smile bigger… that every passing moment will mean more. There is nothing that you will ever have invested in so much. Which is crazy, because when you invest in something… you invest. This is why this is sort of unfathomable for me. There is more at stake now than ever… and all these things that seemed so big before – these things that are so big for me. Will not be big for you at all. And not because they’re smaller – but because you are bigger.
That’s what took me so long to figure out. That’s why I needed to cry, and mourn the loss of my life, career, and ambitions. Because I thought you were going to make them small. I thought you were going to deem them unimportant… they wouldn’t be worth your time or attention anymore. That you weren’t going to care.
But it’s not exactly the case is it? They will only seem smaller because you have grown such an incredible amount in a short period of time. Your capacity is so vast… these things will take up the same amount of space… but your atmosphere is so much larger now … they won’t carry the same ratio. I think this is cool. I think it’s cool that you’re capable of so much.
So please through all this – remember that even the days that you feel small, inadequate, incompetent, un-valuable… you are still so much more than you ever have been. You are incredible. Even on your worst day, you are amazing.
I admire you. I love you. And I have unwavering faith in you.
Perspective is an amazing thing. To be able to look back on something and have everything fall into place and make just a bit more sense. It’s a gift, really.
I know we tend to be more hard on ourselves when we reflect in hindsight about how we could’ve perhaps acted with more grace if we’d have integrated the knowledge we have at the present. But I think it does us a greater service to simply allow ourselves to be proud of the fact that we are now in the position to reflect so clearly.
If you’ve been following along with my story then you’ll know I have expressed a lot of challenges throughout this pregnancy. Less physical – I actually feel I got off quite easy (for the most part) on that end of it. But the emotional and mental struggles were extremely trying for me.
I’m here now. 9 months pregnant. A gloriously awkward, waddling ball of flesh. And I can now see the value in what I experienced, and how I experienced it. I see how incredibly important it was to let myself grieve the losses of what I’m losing, and have lost… I see how important it was that I let myself experience every ache and hardship of this transition… because of where I am right now.
I finally feel ready. Actually, I feel excited. It took me most of my pregnancy to get here – but I’m here now with real sincerity.
I think that if I wouldn’t have let myself grieve properly; if I hadn’t authentically felt and honoured each progressive step that lead me to now, that I wouldn’t be able to fully embrace and experience and honour the joy, ease, and excitement that I am currently experiencing now.
If I had written off my feelings as a case of the ‘baby blues’ and continued onward with false optimism… that those unaddressed feelings of loss, sadness, resentment would have lingered. They would be undigested and then ultimately interfere with my authentic joy like some weird static humming in the background.
It wasn’t a linear progression. It was many ups, downs, sideways, and lots of backwards. But I’ve landed here. In my own sense of self-assuredness and power. I trust my body, I trust myself, I trust the process.
I’ve learned so much through all that I’ve experienced in the last 9 months. I’ve learned that having indigestion is not only uncomfortable, but painful. So, perhaps when my infant is exercising the capacity and endurance of its lungs over a lengthy period time – maybe I can reach into the memory of my own trials with that discomfort, relate to it, and better hold space for its justified expression of the uncomfortable experience.
I’ve learned that the really bad days feel really long… but they are also finite. That change is inevitable, and can be quite swift from one day to the next. That these swift changes can be jarring – and the simple acknowledgment that the abnormal-ness is, in fact, quite normal, is incredibly soothing.
I’ve learned that there’s no point in planning ANYTHING because you think you know but you really don’t know anything at all. That people will give you incredibly poor advice, say unkind things, be judgemental, and not be able to hold space for your feelings and emotions in the way that feels validating or supportive. ALSO that people are incredibly compassionate, nurturing, uplifting, encouraging, and can be one-thousand percent necessary in over-coming certain challenges. And I’ve learned, most importantly, that I have the power to choose my people.
This experience has been fascinating. It’s been a real opportunity to re-evaluate myself, my relationship with myself and others, and given me tremendous chance to evolve (even if it took several instances of clunking me upside the head). I’m grateful for it.
I’m grateful for every rough day, every tear, every moment of anger, fear, and doubt. I’m grateful for the complacency, the apathy… and I’m grateful for the joy, the excitement, and the strong sense of empowerment.
I’m ready. I’m finally ready. And it feels really good.