Saturday, 1 January 2011
The Importance of a Woman's Heart
Something I've been learning ever since my daughter was born 3 and a half years ago, is how valuable I am, how important my instincts are, my reactions to things, the way I deal with stressful situations. All of these things are hugely important, not only because I am 'worth it' as they say, but also because I am influencing and shaping a beautiful little person. Sometimes I worry way too much about being a 'good Mum' (what does that even mean anyway?), when really, as my husband reminded me the other day, Amber doesn't need a 'good Mum', she needs YOU, Sophie. It makes sense that when I take care of myself, taking care of her comes naturally to me.
There are some days, when I'm tired and I wake up to moaning, which continues until after breakfast and is then followed by 'Will you play with me', when all I want to do is curl up on the sofa BY MYSELF! On these days, Amber can trigger all my buttons, she has the incredible ability to make me feel guilty and like I should be doing something I don't want to do, I should want to play with her, I should have a better handle on the day, more creative ideas for her etc, etc. All these feelings of should, only make me half- hearted and stressed around her, which makes her feel insecure, which triggers more moaning and more demands- you get the picture! I'm learning to put myself first, to god forbid, send Amber to her room to play whilst I collect myself or worse still, put something on the TV for her! These things allow me to relax, be myself and then we are able to enjoy each other and have a brilliant day.
These thoughts have all been triggered by my increasing thoughts about my upcoming birth of my second child. It's not long now. I have been thinking about how life doesn't always feel 'perfect', things often don't work out as we plan them. I am learning to embrace the beauty of imperfection. For example, on one of my 'Amber stress days', I thought to myself, 'what I need right now, is to be away from my daughter and my husband, somewhere warm and tropical reading an amazing book and not being interrupted!', but then I realised, 'no, what I need is THIS, raw, family life, that challenges every part of my heart to stand up and be counted, I need these challenges, I need this love, these people, this amazing joy. It was like I came to terms with my life having always been what I have needed- for my heart's good, in order to grow into me, even when it didn't look like it and didn't fit into 'the plan' ('the plan' has gone now by the way!).
Amber's birth is probably one of the things that has affected me most in my life, so i's not surprising that I'm feeling emotional about going through that experience again. With Amber, I wanted a home birth, I had a birthing pool ordered and ready to go, and then at 37 weeks, I was told that she was in a Breech position and I would have to have a Caesarian. I was completely devastated, because it felt like giving birth was going to be one of the most important things I had ever done, and I felt like it had been snatched away from me. Unfortunately I didn't have time to do any research or talk to any midwives who may have been pro a natural breech delivery, my waters broke a week later and I was rushed into hospital and told to sign some paperwork so that they could C- Section me. I never even felt a contraction. Having said all of that, Amber's birth is still the most specail moment of my life, and I had no problem bonding with her. The moment I saw her, my heart filled up with love and joy and it carried me through. However I was left scarred emotionally and physically, and it took me a long time and alot of tears and 'why mes' to come to terms with what had happened. I was inspired last week by Kelly Rae's birth story, and how, although it wasn't what she had wanted, the trauma of it cut her open and allowed her to surrender deep inside where she feels she never could have if it hadn't been for her birth experience. I think for me, I have come to a place where I've had to completely surrender trying to understand it, other than to know that I am so grateful that I can relate to other women who have had difficult birth experiences (and there are alot of them), and also having had that experience has lead to deeper self- discovery and inner strength.
Yesterday, my husband and I watched a documentary called 'the business of being born', which was recommended to us by our dear friend, Ashley after she'd been thinking about me and the birth. I can't say how glad I am that I watched this and I know that I am going to have a different birth experience because of it, I am forever grateful to her for telling me about it! The documentary was 'birthed!' by Ricky Lake of all people, but I am her biggest fan now! She had had a difficult birth at a hospital with her first child and wanted something different the second time around. The documentary went on to basically uncover the corruption of the hospital system in the US, although I think to some extent it applies to the UK as well. I was in tears and had moments of extreme anger that made me feel sick watching how these women were being treated like children or worse cattle, with the sole aim being for the babies to be born within a certain time limit, with absolutely no respect for the importance of the birthing process for the woman. Seeing them strapped to the beds, being told when to push because they had had epidurals, being told not to cry, to hurry up, man it pissed me off! It just looked like ultimate abuse when compared with watching a woman who is totally empowered in her birthing experience, in control, in touch with her body and surrendered to the process and the pain. It was like they had 'cut the heart out' of the most beautiful experience a family can have. The women who had had a natural birth, said it was a life- changing experience, something that has been a right of passage for them, an almost out of body, spiritual experience. If the Doctors understood this, would they be rushing women, giving them drugs that haven't even been around long enough to be deemed safe, making them lie down on the beds which is the worst position for giving birth? It seems to me that a birth should be a private and safe time for a woman and her chosen birthing partner, with the midwife or doctor only in the background, feeling the privilege of being allowed to be there and not calling all the shots. The facts are that many many women have unnecessary intervention because of fear and the magic card that the doctors have of 'for the safety of your baby', which basically means that of course the woman will agree to anything you say! Anyway, you really need to watch the documentary if you are interested, it blew me away and made me feel very determined to be in control of my next experience!
I know that in a way, I have already had intervention now, and I have been set on a path and deemed 'high risk'. Looking at the facts though, I am not 'high risk', in fact there is a less than 1% chance that I will have any problems having had a caesarian, and caesareans have lots of risks too which are usually glossed over because they are so convenient for the doctors. Having done lots of research since my first experience, I now know that having a breech delivery and having a c-section hold about the same level of risk to mother and baby, that there is actually a movement in Canada to get breech birth back to being seen as a normal birthing position. Apparently, the only reason it is deemed unsafe and standard practice is to C- Section is because of one piece of unfounded research. Unfortunately Midwife's are no longer being trained in how to deal with such a birth so it has become more and more difficult to be able to deliver naturally if your baby is in this position. I need to do more research here though. The bottom line is, that we need both sides of the story, not just one, and we need to place value on the birthing process as well as the end result. So much in life now is about convenience and I think that is a very dangerous thing. I am of course, incredibly grateful for hospitals, Doctors and Midwives, and they do, without doubt save lives every day, but there does need to be more of a balance and less fear around birthing for women.
This all brings me back to my blog title: 'the importance of a Woman's heart.' For me, I see a Woman's heart as very important, and the environment where she gives birth to her child- the most vulnerable and spiritual experience of her life as possibly the most important thing to think about and research. People may say to you, as they did to me, basically 'get over it', 'it's not about you, it's about the baby'. The sad thing is that these words do work on us and we think, 'yes, it's not about me, and we love our babies and would go through ANYTHING for them', but I would say, it is also about you, it is you giving birth, it is your heart that will be forever changed, and it is not selfish to protect that and place importance on the experience, doing everything you can to make it as you want it, and then surrendering and letting it be what it will.