Nobody warned us of this,
Not a word in the antenatal classes,
Not a peep from the mothers we knew.
Each one of us had done it, each one of us had birthed a child, - the proof was in the pudding. And here our puddings were, some soft and round, some long and lean - all beautiful, guzzling, gurgling miracles. So why, then, did I feel so far from miraculous?
Why then, when the opportunity arose, did I dare only to smile and nod, the words barely passing through my lips as my turn arrived to share the tale of what we women were supposed to call strength.
Why then, could I only recall those four hospital walls like they were a prison my mind still couldn’t escape from?
Why then, did I wake in the night, sometimes to a crying baby, but more often than not to the tears streaming down my own cheeks, soaking my own sheets.
Why then, could I not feel strong or proud? Instead, I barely even felt human. I’d been poked and prodded, monitored, molded, and shredded of all dignity and control.
I had listened in the antenatal classes when they told me to believe in my body. I took note of the explanation that followed - and I reveled in every word. So sure, I was that my body, like the bodies of so many women before me, would birth my baby. So sure, I was, that this natural, normal process, would send my body through the stages of labor, 1, 2 and 3.
Why then, like 30 percent of women giving birth today, was this not my story? Within those four walls, I felt stripped of my role as guardian of my own body, as woman of my own mind, as the author of my own story.
And in the weeks, months and years that have followed – silent I have stayed.
So, today, though my words my tremble – I’ll speak of the birth that left me feeling as though I had failed.
I’ll speak, so that another mother, may glance over and speak too, in solidarity and in strength.
I’ll speak, so that more can follow - in their search to allow their words to tumble out - and to know that those words will be echoed back to them.
I’ll speak, in the hope of bringing comfort to the women who come next – so they, too, can know that they’re not alone.
I’ll speak, so that you - new mother, can let the feelings rise in your chest, and bundle in your throat if they must –
but you will know they do not have to stop short of escaping from your lips.
Today I speak – because birth trauma is real – but your birth does not have to define your experience of Motherhood.
If you, or someone you know are experiencing difficult feelings surrounding a birth experience, reach out to one of the many support services we have available: https://www.villagekiwi.co.nz/services/search?keyword=&village=Village+of+Mums-1&age_range=&interest=Mental+Health-107&sub_interest=®ion=&suburb=