Being a mum…

Being a mum...

Oh my, I just have to re-share this wonderful piece… so beautifully written and deeply true (thank you Abby Sandercock for the original re-post).

I keep finding myself musing over similar deeply emotional, philosophical points. One of these days I’ll write a longer piece that’ll express the depth of these feelings in my own words. In the meantime, please read and ponder the text below…

It is such a tremendous gift of life (well, parenthood!) to feel such vulnerability, such aching dilemmas and fears, such sensitivity, such an enormous love that you never thought was possible…

For all Mother’s
(including soon to be Mothers)

We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of “starting a family.” “We’re taking a survey,” she says half-joking. “Do you think I should have a baby?”

“It will change your life,” I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.

“I know,” she says, “no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations.”

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes.

I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, “What if that had been MY child?” That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her.

That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of “Mum!” will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moments hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her
baby’s sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room rather than the women’s at McDonald’s will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming
children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.

That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor.

My daughter’s relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks.

I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child.

I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike.

I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time.

I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.

My daughter’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. “You’ll never regret it,” I finally say. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter’s hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.
Please share this with a Mum that you know or all of your girlfriends who may someday be Mums. May you always have in your arms the one who is in your heart.

(Author Unknown)
— with Shaun Garrison Quintero and Molly Smith.

getting there…

getting there...

Baby Max is almost 3 months and I think I’m finally becoming saner, more organised, more chilled and little by little I’m getting my life back too.

Yesterday I managed to look after him the whole day, do housework AND go to Centennial Park for a lap AND cook a 3 course dinner, including this blueberry raspberry pie. I’m a bit proud that I managed all this!

Next milestones I’m really looking forward to: being able to do research work at least once a week and in a few month I’m looking forward to Max starting on a few solids. He’s eating SOOO much milk and it’s very hard to keep up. He’ll double his weight by 4 months and that’s something cause he started out at 4kgs!

I’m also planning to go to Melbourne and maybe to Kiama with Chris and the bub… bit scary still, but very exciting too.

But for now, I’m just happy to get out a bit more, being more confident with him in a variety of different places and doing things I enjoy that’s not baby related.

Doulas

Doulas

Doulas are persons who help out with labouring and birth, by physically being there, advocating for their clients to hospital staff, providing physical and emotional comfort, helping to make decisions, supporting partners and helping out with other practical matters.

Hiring doulas for a birth is becoming more wide spread and I gather this is because women prefer to give birth in an empowered way with lots of support. Hospitals have done away with the traditional trappings of birth: support persons, homey environment, mother’s control, movement, alternatives in birthing environment, rituals and autonomy. A doula is able to help bring some of these back into a context that’s otherwise devoid of these aspects.

I noticed that second time mothers are very keen on doulas whereas first time mothers aren’t as they are told that the hospital can take care of all their needs, society conveys the message that it’s normal to just go to the hospital with little deviation from the norm of simply taking what they provide, and the mothers themselves have not yet experienced a non-ideal birth that could have gone better with more help.

I decided that I don’t need to wait for another round before I take advantage of the accrued wisdom and actually hire a doula for a first birth.

Found some research evidence that testifies to the usefulness and importance of the doula in England & Horowitz (1998) Birthing from within. This pithy little table shows the different intervention rates for birth unattended by a doula, births with a passive or an active doule. The differences are astounding and speak for themselves. If nothing else, this research should be convincing as to the importance of having extra support while labouring and giving birth.

Another research carried out in South Africa showed that the relationship between the mother and her partner is also seriously affected by the doula, after birth. 85% of those who used a doula were happy in their relationships whereas only 49% of those who didn’t use one were. The doulad group was more confident about their baby, happier about their birth experience and there was a stronger mother-baby bond too.

Going deeper…

Going deeper...

The standard model of arranging and judging our lives, where we collect material goods, accolades and symbolic capital, obscures the depth of our inner lives, how we love, how we imagine our future and interactions with the world and others, how we harness compassion, care and empathy to help ourselves and in turn others. The standard model is everywhere, so it is doubly hard to hold onto an active emotional, mental, spiritual existence that truly makes us thrive and create a beautiful life with lots of enriching connections. Yet there is no way I can live a happy life without going deeper than what is generally offered up…