04 Feb To The New Mum in the Maternity Ward – I Know
I remember the days following my son’s birth and the barrage of visitors with open arms, baby gifts and enough joy to believe that there could never again be bad. The star attraction was an amiable squidgy baby who was content enough to be passed around from stranger to stranger in what was the hottest day of the year. My instincts telling me that he wanted some time out in his cot on the cooler sheets, yet I didn’t feel quite qualified to assert myself on what a person I’d just met 24-hours earlier actually needed. . .
Everything Was Not As It Should Be
And as he was cooed over, I smiled whilst inwardly wincing at my contracting uterus and nether regions that could only be described as having been kicked by a horse. Everything was not as it should be. I felt disconnected from my own body, tangled by heightened spider sense that made me feel like an advocate for a small person I had just met and desperately confused by how happy I was one minute, and completely inconsolable the next. Worst though, was the realisation of all the lies I had been telling myself in the months leading up to this day. “When the baby is born, you can get back into fitness” “When the baby is born, you can finish all those books” “When the baby is born, you can get back to keeping that journal”. All total utter falsehoods, because it was quite clear that “when the baby is born” is a mythical place that mothers invent to pacify themselves that they do, once again, become the leading character in their own lives.
Goodbye, Old Me
I’m not saying that some version of that destination doesn’t exist, there IS a time and place for becoming you again (there is even an extensive process behind it) but it’s certainly not in the days prior to having a baby. In fact, I think it’s important to remember that for all the life there is to celebrate, something else is dying too. Not in the way we think about death, with all its finality, yet it’s still there even in the presence of a new-born as the mama gently kisses goodbye to everything she was. In a new mama, something is shifting. The centre position she held in her own life is being relinquished by another person and she’s being programmed to ignore her own aches and nourish theirs. Our natural human state of selfishness is being re-wired to selfless and there is not much we can do to support the mama alone, except maybe perfect the art of “I know”.
They say it takes a village to raise a child and there no denying the input we are set to have our sister’s / brother’s / friend’s / co-worker’s babies but what if we stilled the part of us that is set to shape (and sniff) the baby immediately upon its arrival. When we enter the maternity ward what if we first took the time to look at mama, to show her that we see her, and gentle whisper I know darling, I know.