Reading Lucy Pearce’s blog moods of motherhood I see that she is sharing blogs from mothers around the world about the journey of motherhood and the roller coaster of experiences.
I read a blog from Karina Ladet and was reminded of my own journey, and on this, the Birthing Day of my now 14 year old daughter, I am minded to share my mothering journey as never before.
I was a reluctant mother, born of a reluctant mother and raised to ‘Don’t get married, don’t have kids, you’re not domesticated enough’.
A girl-woman who never grew up, who became the emotional dumping ground for my own mothers pain and who was programmed to retain apron strings long after they should have frayed and torn apart. I believed I was not ready, not able, not willing, to become a mother.
Yet, magically, it seems, I was also fated to bring two wonderful souls onto this earth. They were both ‘foretold’ to me before I even conceived, and I ‘knew’ at the moment of rapture, that I had begun the process of creating new life. Each of my pregnancies began at the moment of Orgasm and ended long after the calender told me it would!
There are really two stories to tell, at least to begin with, about my journey into motherhood: The ‘I had Post Natal Depression and was a bad mother’ story and also the ‘I mothered from my soul, with my intuition and did an incredible job’ story.
And because I hold the first one so hard within me, I hardly ever get to tell the second. So today, THAT is the story I am going to try and share.
The story of my son’s incredible birth, which took over three days, which caused me so much pain and left me riding a wave of insanity as he came into the world ‘back to back’ meaning I had to cling onto the world so hard, that there was no place for peacefully letting him come, is a huge one for me. A beautiful, soul journey that truly tested me, and nearly took us both, I am sure.
That I had planned the water birth, the whale music, the whole nine yards, and ended up with pethidine, and epidural and episiotomy and a ventouse was a source of trauma for us all! A shock to the system and a massive learning curve, which made a mockery of the Birth Plan. (Does anyone ever get the birth they plan, I wonder?)
I spent two days on the ‘C Section’ ward, unable to walk or toilet alone. I was shattered and scared and when I took my first shower, the amount of blood I saw shocked me.
How was I to manage this? I had hardly ever had a heavy period! I had no idea what to do! And if I couldn’t take care of myself, how the heck could I take care of him? I guess I am not the first new mother to cry in the shower with shock and fear at what lies ahead. But of course, no-one sees this side of us, and we put on our brave face for our partner, our parents and visitors, and most of all, for that bundle of love we are just desperate to hold again.
I breastfed from the moment he was born, easily, naturally and without any drama. (I was blessed). And I loved him so much: That smell, oh that smell. I can remember it well. The sweet perfume of my own baby, how I nuzzled and guzzled and drank it down. Such a sweet nectar, I was instantly hooked. Clever, clever mother nature, for drizzling newborns in nectar so sweet that their mothers would kill for just one more sniff.
Within a few days of hospital nonsense, I took myself home and my body recovered, slowly as I slipped unsuspectingly into that most mystical role of Mother. My days as the Maiden were over and now, in the Full Moon of my life, I was the bringer of life, the fruitful one, the powerful, magical creator. And I gloried in my new-found persona.
I recall feeling so horny, in my big pants, all padded up and unable to even consider sex, but I climbed on top of my man and declared ‘I am a Goddess! I have produced new life!’ And I really believed it in that moment. I had never been a waif or bought into the ‘skinny’ ideal of beauty; at over 6′ tall it would have been pretty tricky for me, but I had also never really gained lots of weight. SO to weigh in at over 15 stone whilst pregnant was a bit of a shock to the system and post baby I was a very large, flabby creature. But I cared nothing for what I may look like, as this most powerful feeling overtook me. ‘Look what I have done! Look what I produced. My magical vagina has given you a new life! And We made it happen! How amazing is that!’ I swear, if I could bottle the way I felt that day; the immense power I held and the total disregard for my body, my bruises, my pain or my exhaustion, I would cure all the ills of womankind. We should all feel that way, all the time. And I had hardly realised it until this moment, writing this, that is exactly the message we are all trying to pass along with our work. With our writing, our healing, our coaching and our friendships. WE only want to share that incredible energy….but sadly it kind of fades away and gets lost beneath the sleepless nights and the leaky boobs.
Ah, the leaky boobs, therein lies a whole other story.
To ignore the pain and the loneliness and the craziness would be to tell a lie, but I was blessed to have the most angelic child. He slept a lot, he fed well, and I fed him wherever I damn well pleased. I was never rejected or made to feel wrong for feeding him. Thanks to the citizens of Coventry for being so supportive – or just ignoring me!
He was as smiler! Such a glowing child that I wrote a story about him called ‘Golden Smile’. All about the healing power of his smile and his empathic healing nature…I think it was prophetic, because now, at 16 he is so popular with his friends, he is the one to turn to, he is well respected by his employers (yes, two jobs!) and doing well at school. Also, he can read me like a book and often gives me sage advice.
When he was 2 I conceived his sister, and although the year was financially harrowing, ending in a bankruptcy and my beloved Converted Coach being repossessed the day before her birth Driver:’Blimey, you’re big, when is it due?’ Me with immense belly:’Last Week!’
She came so easily. After labouring at home all day, clutching my little smiler on my lap as my contractions hardened, eating fish and chips before heading to the hospital, stopping of for snacks at the shop on the way (after last time we were taking no chances!), I arrived at hospital about 10 pm and laboured in the bath with gas and air for a while.
At one point it all got a bit ouchy so I asked for pethidine, and the midwife said ‘I’ll grab you some in a minute’ but continued filling in her paperwork. We all chatted and nattered as I laboured along, I was feeling highly entertaining and enjoyed making conversation with such a lovely team,then she remarked ‘Oh yes, you wanted some drugs!’
‘Oh, don’t worry,’ I replied, ‘No, no, you carry on, don’t let me disturb you, I’m only having a baby!’ (It felt hilarious at the time, but then maybe that was the hormones!)
At 2am-ish I said ‘I want to push, (after my sons birth where I wanted to push but was told I would not be able to for at least 7 hours!!!!) to which the midwife simply replied, ‘Go on then!’
‘What?’ I responded, ‘really?’ I was incredulous, and she laughed at me. So we set to work.
The story goes that my ;little girl popped out like a pea, in fact I pushed so hard she simply shot out and they had to catch her! I remember the whole room going ‘Whoa’ as she flew out! Poor lamb. What a welcome! And what a lot of hair! The comment that would follow her wherever she went for the next year! It was certainly smiles all round and such a jolly experience. And one I am happy to recall every November 27th/28th. She loves me to tell it to her, and the fact that she ‘popped out like a pea’, when her brother was ‘so difficult’, gives her immediate one-upmanship!
It is my quirk to relive my birthing experiences each birthday, to remember exactly how they got here, and recall how blessed I am to have them both.
I was privileged to be able to breast feed both of them, for as long as I wanted to. (Attachment Parenting didn’t really hit my radar then), but I fed him for a year, until he walked, which suited me, and fed her for 7 months, until I really couldn’t, it got sore and she was unhappy. But we all did the best we could and they were both happy. I think this is an important part of anyone’s story, that they were able to choose and do what worked for them. I feel grateful that I was able to make my own decisions and not be judged for any of it.
I’m so glad I got to share that bond, the eye contact, the skin contact, the ease of feeding whilst half asleep, feeding on the bus, feeding in the car (parked of course) and I never did learn to make up a bottle or sterilise stuff! I’m still clueless about all of that!
Mostly, my parenting journey has been one of self discovery. Take away the emotional turmoil of the depression, I parented closely, attentively yet at arms length. If that makes sense. I stayed at home – we had no money and I did not indulge in the World of Corporate Baby Business at all. But….I played with them, hugged them loved them, attended play centres, met other mums, shared insights and attended parenting classes – just for something to do! I learned more and more, long before the internet was like it is today, long before mobile phones were surgically attached to our thumbs. This was the late 90’s, when I had Talk Radio through the night, bus rides into town, Oprah on the TV and a diet of ham sandwiches and milk (before I knew that diary was the devils juice!)
Now, as an older parent of teenagers, I delight in watching them grow, learn, share and give back to me. They educate me, enlighten me, offer me challenges as to how I handle myself and always, always show me that when all is said and done, they love me, forgive me and understand me.
Because I have always been open and honest about Who I am. I have shared my weakness, they have seen me cry, they know I take medication for Hypothyroidism (diagnosed when my son was 4 months old and I was literally falling over with exhaustion) and Depression, (finally diagnosed when he was one and maintained ever since) and they have seen me lose it! And then they have heard and seen me apologise, take full responsibility for everything I said and did, and never once did I tell them it was their fault. I firmly believe that what makes me a ‘good parent’ is not that I do everything right, but more that I accept that I do stuff wrong. And in that acceptance and the willingness to admit it, I create a safe place for them to make mistakes, to behave badly, to feel awful and be miserable, loud and yucky! Because, you know, It OK not to be OK. Its fine to be pissed off. It really is. And if your being pissed off means you act ugly to someone, then it is your responsibility to own that, to accept it and to make amends. And the next time they are pissed at you, remember, its not about you at all, they are just feeling pissed!
I will take these thoughts now into another post, and I thank you for reading this far, as jumbled and messy as it was. Its a little glimpse into my parenting journey. And now I’ve opened the box, there is more waiting to pour out.
Happy Birthday to my Daughter, I love you both so very much.