Although my two birth experiences were vastly different, there is still a very common thread that runs through both. Birthing my first son was a traumatic event, one that took me 9 months to work through, both physically and emotionally. And the fact that I anticipated an easy transition into motherhood meant that the fear, uncertainty and general sense of overwhelm was only amplified. Having been rushed to theatre for emergency surgery just an hour after welcoming my son into the world meant that my first few days as first-time mum were hazy (hello drugs!!), scary and uncertain. I often felt crippled with fear and overwhelmed with thoughts about whether I was meant to be a mom after all. The voices kept playing over and over in my head “Wasn’t I supposed to be good at this? Wasn’t becoming a mom supposed to be the best feeling in the world? Why then am I feeling so helpless, so alone?”
Birthing my second son wasn’t any less significant in it’s magnitude, in fact it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to endure (my epidural didn’t work and when you are not expecting that type of pain you can begin to feel like you are going to lose your sanity) yet it was an experience that healed me in every possible way. With no need for medical assistance or post-birth intervention, meant it was the first time I experienced birth without trauma or fear. Not the kind I had come to know the first time anyway.
Both situations so immensely different in so many ways, yet looking back now, both so strangely similar in their all round experience. A common thread so evident in all the moments that lead to both these life-changing events : I had support. Every step of the way I had people there for me, offering me strength, encouragement and solace. I had two sets of parents on either side of our family who were there to carry the weight of our new responsibilities. I had a partner who was at my bedside supporting me through both births and who even changed nappies for the fist time while I was in theatre. I had friends who set up meal rosters for us so that we didn’t have to cook for three weeks after arriving home. We even had our best friends sneak into our home the morning before we arrived home to stock up our fridge with yummy food and put fresh flowers in our kitchen. Such generous support that made the world of difference to our lives as parents to newborns.
Despite the overwhelming and sometimes scary moments faced giving birth, they were still the most magical moments of my life. Those first few days in hosiltal, getting to know your very own flesh and blood, to finally see their pink flesh after months and months and months (and months!) of baking them in my belly – those days where you are on what seems an endless high. They stand out to me amoung the best days of my life.
Now at 6 months pregnant I’m thinking back to these precious moments as I anticipate meeting my little girl for the first time. Those days in hospital where I bond and get to know this little life I have dreamed about about for so long!
And I’m sure many moms will agree with me. The many moms who have had the privilege of giving birth in private hospitals and who have medical aids and tons of support from family and friends. But what about the vast majority of the population who don’t? The moms who are not even sure they can afford to keep their babies, never mind birth them. The moms who don’t have beautiful nurseries waiting for them at home or brand new knitted jerseys from granny in their hospital bag? What about the moms who hadn’t really planned to have a baby but who are now facing the overwhelming sense of responsibility of keeping their baby alive? No meals waiting for them at home or flowers brought to congratulate them on their new appointed role as Warrior Mama!
These women are scared, alone and many of them face these fears with no help from a partner or hands-on nurses. (Not because these nurses don’t care, but because due to lack of funds and overcrowding, there is simply no time or recourses to give these women the attention they would receive in private hospital)
If this is the kind of thing that breaks your heart as much as it does mine then here’s the good news : There’s a way you can make a difference and touch the lives of some of these woman. Woman who find themselves alone and overwhelmed this Mother’s Day. Through an incredibly special initiative called Cape Town Embrace, moms around the country are being encouraged to visit a new mom this Mother’s Day. Here’s a little bit more about the Motherhood Connect campaign and it’s creator Julie Mentor.
So that’s really how simple it is. Contact your closest government hospital and make an appointment to connect with a new mom this Mother’s Day. Take her some hand picked flowers, a new baby grower or some little spoils. Or just show up to offer some encouragement. Remind a new mom that she is everything this baby needs and that although it may seem overwhelming at first, she will find her feet and come into her role as “MOM”!
This Mother’s Day is all about EMBRACING each other and EMBRACING all that it means to be a mom. And sometimes that means taking it a step further and offering support and encouragement to those who really need it. ♥