Archive for December, 2008

Birth Disappointments


One of my students just gave birth. She planned a natural birth, as most of them do, but it ended in a cesarean birth. Her heart ached for missing the moment when they put the baby on your chest and it’s all gooey and you’re ecstatic and in bliss.I missed those moments with both my babies as I had two unplanned cesareans. I also had mama guilt about not birthing “well;” about not being able to “give” that moment to both my children, as if it was in my control at all and I had somehow decided not to give it to them. It was years later before a therapist said to me that our job as mothers is not to be perfect all the time; rather to be available to “repair.” And I was able to let go of not having had the “perfect” birth.

The repair comes even before birth sometimes, when we go deep and connect with that child in utero, about to be born, and let them know what’s going to happen, as my student did. Or when we touch that child for the first time. Or when we hold them for the first time.

Particularly for mothers who have had postpartum depression or anxiety, repairing becomes important. Not that the baby knows much what’s going on; they don’t. But that the mom can repair for her own sense of self; of not enjoying the baby or the babyhood.

You repair when you start to recover; when you come out of the fog and start to feel clear again.

It’s quite impossible to be the perfect mom, whatever that is to you in your head. We have bad days and good days. We get frustrated. We don’t always like our children or ourselves. Sometimes we even get postpartum depression, quite outside of our own control!

You don’t always know heading into motherhood what’s going to happen but instead discover it along the way. Let me say that better . . . you never know heading into motherhood what’s going to happen. Pretty much no one thinks they’re going to get PPD.

Particularly when you’re depressed, sometimes your friends can see it better than you do. Once my first child hit 2.5, one of my friends said one day, “you must be loving motherhood now.” She knew I loved imaginative play in children which starts to emerge around that age. Yes, I was loving motherhood at that point. But until she said that, I hadn’t really realized how much infancy . . . and postpartum depression . . . and birth . . . had impacted my sense of self as a mother. And that it was just then starting to recover. And that I was starting to “repair” for both myself and my child.