To all the mothers who didn’t feel like superwoman after giving birth… this one’s for us.
It’s for the women who felt weak and dare I say, frail, after finally delivering their baby.
For the new mother who felt used and empty, instead of this overflowing accomplishment everyone promises.
For the woman who, to this day, still can’t recall her first thoughts immediately after delivery but instead knows the overwhelming sense of relief they felt knowing their body belonged to them and only them, once more.
…Only for reality to come crashing in when you realise you still have to birth the placenta. Breathe mama, it’s nearly over.
It’s for the new mother who transcended reality to bring her baby earth side in a bid to avoid completely losing themselves to the pain.
At the expense of being present.
We didn’t have tears of joy streaming down our face, we didn’t cry out with happiness, we didn’t clutch at our babies with fervent familiarity.
Instead we spent those precious new minutes, coming back to reality, trying to sink back into ourselves, coming to terms with no longer being our own. Irrevocably attached to the infant we are shakily holding to our chest as those around us gush and fuss over this eight pound “accomplishment” wailing in our arms.
Birth is different for everyone and every woman experiences birth in vast difference. For some women, we don’t hear a lionesses “roar” with each contraction – it’s a deep, side-splitting scream that echoes the painful lengths we will go to to birth our baby.
Not everyone relishes deliciously in the labouring hours. Instead, us very-human and very-non-superwomen, fight through the unknown eternity that stretches before us, praying that it will end soon (however it may end – episiotomy, tear, forceps or emergency section. At this point we almost don’t care).
Not everyone feels an instant connection to their baby – instead you feel alienated and confused as to why you’re not infatuated with this being you grew for more than nine months. This feeling goes on for more than nine months.
Recovery comes in all different shapes and forms. Section or vaginal, there is no textbook way to feeling well again and the intricate mix of physical and emotional healing we must go through (all saturated in sleep deprivation) is tough on us. It’s tough on us individually, as a new mother and as a family unit. All kinds of stressors and anxieties plague new mums, second-time mums or sixth time mums: maybe we just get better at filtering out the bullshit as time goes on.
But mums… You’re doing it. You’re living it. You birthed that baby (or babies) who is sleeping on your chest right now. However it transpired and however birth touched you, you passed the ultimate test and you passed it with flying colours.
It’s okay if you didn’t ride on cloud nine, it’s okay if you asked for the gas, then morphine, then the epidural; it’s okay if birth made you feel weak. It’s okay if birth made you feel spent. It is different for everyone and its time we celebrated the birth stories that aren’t necessarily dripping in liquid gold, that aren’t masqueraded in inhuman strength and womanly power.
It’s time we celebrated the rawness that is birth. The hurt that can come with it. Let’s not romanticise each story into a tale of beautiful motherly strength that prevailed 16 hours of contractions. Birth stories need to be heard and read for what they are; incredible women who go to incredible lengths to deliver a baby. They don’t always go to plan and they are not always easy to digest. They take immense strength and can be shrouded in a hurt that lingers like an open wound for far longer than people will “ooh” and “ahh” over your beautiful newborn.
Birth may not have left you feeling like superwoman – but trust me mama, you are a force to be reckoned with.