Having a first child is a big change, where did the change begin to happen for you?
It was the moment my son and I dropped off all the visitors (mother & mother-in-law) to the airport. Instantly after we waved goodbye I realised I needed to use the bathroom. I actually had no idea what to do. Do I give my baby to a stranger whilst I go to the toilet? Or... Do I take the baby in the toilet? In that moment I realised my life had changed.
Did you feel you 'became a mother' after your child was born? What does this mean to you?
It took a few months to really settle and feel what a mother is and to be honest, I’m still learning and feeling what a mother is. I think I was in shock the first couple of months after giving birth. Gazing at my baby thinking – wow! I’m your mum. I had my mum and mother-in-law staying with us for support, in a way I still felt like a child who was allowing my parents to look after me despite being 34 years old. Whilst observing my parents – my son’s grandparents, it was clear their way of raising a child was somewhat different to what I felt inside. Not bad or good, simply different.
For me a mother is someone who honours the impulse from her inner heart to simply nurture her child. The more I claimed that, the less I felt like a child, the more I felt like a mother and the more I felt like a woman.
Was your experience of birth equal to the intensity of popular belief?
There is no denying that childbirth for me was a very painful experience. A lot of the women I spoke with prior to giving birth had bad experiences. It was clear and discussed that they had an expectation of what birth was supposed to be like. When things didn’t go to plan then this is where the panic kicked in. So my plan was to have no plan and simply go with what was required at the time of birth.
I clearly remember moments before my water broke I felt an anxiety and intensity. Baby was kicking like crazy and feeling the ‘idea’ of giving birth was getting me very nervous, especially after all these previous birthing stories. In the moment of feeling all those anxious feelings my body started to really tense up. I decided to stop, make a choice and feel what was going on. I realised it was time to accept what was happening, then I realised I had to allow my body to surrender. I could still feel how tense my chest and upper body was. I knew I had to open my heart, drop my shoulders and breath gently. Feeling into my body in that moment created a marker for the rest of the birth. Throughout the whole birthing experience I allowed myself to breath ‘Accept’ breath, ‘Surrender’, breath ‘Open my Heart’ and repeat. Doing this allowed me to get through the pregnancy and enjoy childbirth for what it was despite the pain.
What do you feel personally, is the most important thing when preparing to have a baby?
A lot of people said to me you can never prepare for a baby. In a way I felt this was true because how do you prepare for something you haven’t experienced? In saying that I found there is something deeper inside that automatically starts preparing. It’s almost like we already know what lies ahead. For me less was more, for example the more I started to prepare and think about what was ahead the more I would stress out and get overwhelmed. The less I thought about the future preparations and simply allowed myself to be present in each day, my body naturally knew what to prepare for.
How do you approach valuing the time to connect with your partner since having a baby?
It is very important to constantly connect with my partner on a daily basis. If I don’t, it begins to feel like it’s just Baby and I, with Dad over the other side of the room. When my partner and I are connected we don’t only feel like a couple but we feel like a family. Sometimes days pass where I allowed myself to get caught in the whirl wind of life or there are things that need to be discussed within the relationship that I may be avoiding. It is usually those moments when our baby is unsettled, that is when I am reminded to re-connect with my partner as it helps create a home of love & harmony.
Images by Dean Whitling from All is Light
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*The interview series on the Deeply Nurturing Blog is an opportunity for everyday women (and men to come) to share their lived wisdom and experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting.
Deeply Nurturing Blog
The Deeply Nurturing Blog serves as an online magazine, full of articles, interviews and stories relating to pre-conception, pregnancy, birth, caring for babies, transitions, raising children, relationships and women's health. By and about everyday women who are inspiring by their simple everyday choices in taking responsibility for their health and wellbeing.