Saturday, March 9, 2013

On being strong enough

photo from sacred pregnancy website

Let me tell you a story about a woman who thought being strong enough meant doing all the things, instead what it really means is letting go of all the things, asking for help, and being ok with how things turn out... even if it isn't perfect.
Back when I had my first daughter I took great pride in the fact that I didn't "laz" about. When she was just 24 hours old my mother and I headed to Walmart to buy some nursing bras. Although my mom was there and was helpful, I didn't utilize her nearly enough. Instead of making my room a nest and holing up in there, allowing others to wait on me, I took it as a thing if pride that I didn't "need" anyone. I could pop a baby out and be back to life like nothing life changing had happened. In fact it didn't dawn on me for many, many years that that was really a poor way to be. To push yourself, to act as if nothing major had happened. I heard about a "baby moon" (the first 30 days post birth where you truly let others help and you, as the mama, stay in just caring for and getting to know your new wee babe) and thought, hmmm interesting. After Caelan was born I tried to do that, I tried to just let go of what I thought I needed to do and just let others help. My dear circle of mama friends brought dinners over for 2 week, that was lovely, but for the most part, I just wanted to prove to myself and others that birthing a baby was so natural that you didn't NEED to rest. In fact during a post birth visit from my midwife while my mother-in-law was staying with us, the kids all got hungry, instead of saying "Hey, MIL, could you fix the kids lunch" I handed over the baby and made the kids lunch, by the time I was finished the visit was almost over and the whole time my MIL talked to the midwife and held the baby... now don't get me wrong I love my MIL, but that should have been me. I should have been sitting on the sofa and holding the baby and talking to my midwife. I wasn't strong enough to say what I truly wanted and what I truly needed.
After Rowan was born a friend had given birth, we went to pay them a visit. I brought a gift for the baby and a gift for the mama. I looked at the birth pictures, we talked about breastfeeding and I learned that she was not leaving the house for a month. she wasn't getting out of her PJ's or doing much of anything. People were bringing meals, and they had stuff frozen to eat. The big kids could go out, but people had to pick them up... she was serious about this whole baby moon deal. I was in awe, why had I not done this? Why had I not said "I am staying in"? I wasn't strong enough.
I did do a bit better after Fiona Rosy was born, I pretty much stayed in bed most mornings. Mike had a week off, so he made me breakfast everyday, and that was lovely. But on about day three we needed food, instead of just sending dear husband to the store, I nursed Fiona, made sure she was bundled up well and left her with daddy, because I wasn't strong enough to just let him do it. I had to be in complete control of food purchasing and prep.
This has been on my mind a lot the last couple of weeks because I am still pondering what it is I want to do with myself. I no longer want to be a midwife, but I do want to help mamas and babies. My fund raiser for becoming an IBCLC is slow going, but that is ok, because I still have a bit of stuff to do. What has got this fire burning in me though is discovering "Sacred Pregnancy", the book is lovely, the magazines are beautiful... full of empowerment, self care, self love, and honoring this transition. They even offer retreats so you can learn to be a Sacred Pregnancy CBE or Mother Roasting... which is amazing. Mother Roasting is taking care of the mama after birth, keeping her warm, fed and free of worry. Letting her have time to stare at her baby, get to know this new little being. My fingers are crossed that they have a retreat in Arizona sometimes in the next year or so. I truly feel that as a society we do not honor the miracle of child birth enough. It has been made so medical, so disassociated from the natural world. The mother is often forgotten, like she isn't even there. We numb her, drug her, her power to birth is taken away... she doesn't deliver her baby, the doctor does. And as soon as the baby is out we push her to go back to work. The shear fact that we have no true maternity leave in this country speaks volumes to how we truly feel about motherhood. The very idea that we have to have laws to protect breastfeeding is just ridiculous. And yet we all take this as completely normal. And I am not saying that every birth will be a perfect, and that every breastfeeding relationship is going to be without a struggle and that every mama should stay home full time. We should honor the mother, support breastfeeding, and give her and the baby time, real time, to get to know each other. Even if it was a C-sec... maybe even more so if it was a C-section, and even if formula is being used and even if mama has to get back to work in 4 weeks... that mama still did an amazing thing, she still grew a person inside of her, she still is a miracle, and so is her baby. That needs to be honored.
That is what I want to do... work with those women, women who just gave birth. I want to wrap them in love and honor them, make sure they are strong enough to say "NOPE, not going out, not playing hostess, not fixing meals. I am staying in my PJ's and sipping tea, and being with my baby. If you want to see the baby you must bring food and/or do a chore". I want to make nourishing foods, and teas. I want to do chores and fold the wash. I want to help with breastfeeding and read story books to the other children. I want mama to rest in her bed, drink in her baby and experience her miracle. I want to help them be strong enough to demand that.
photo from sacred pregnancy website


Heather aka Proud Mama said...

Isn't it weird how we feel we must prove ourselves. With Benton, I stayed in bed for the first week or two. My mother freaked out and told me I shouldn't do this. I stood firm. I wanted to savor this time with my last baby. I have no regrets about that. Dave took two weeks off and he was in charge. I am glad you are finding something to do which adheres to your passions.

Mama Gone Green said...

I was the same and felt that I just had to jump back into the routine. Especially after the first, I think a lot of people assume "OK, she's got this, she's done it before" but it is actually harder with the second child b/c you still have to take care of the first.
I think our culture also just expects people to jump back in. After my second I had to return back to my part-time job after only 4 weeks. I think I would have felt guilty just holing up in my house for those 4 weeks, even though that is probably what I should have done.
Anyways, thanks for the good though-provoking post.

D. X. Luc said...

This is something many need to see. With all my children I was out once I came home from the hospital and when I wanted to rest, I was actually told, "As women, we can't lay around after having babies. You aren't the first to be a mother of more than one and you won't be the last."

That made me feel completely lazy if I stayed down just to rest. I'm hoping one day if I have another I'll get a break. Great post!

sustainablemum said...

Lovely, lovely post. Written from the heart with passion. I hope you can follow your dream.

the wild magnolia said...

i like your candid comments.

so many options are available now. it is exciting to read about.

My last child was born over 30 years ago. ;-}