I saw my new baby for the second time recently. Tiny, and just hanging out, playing with his/her little hands and feet. Exploring, learning already.
I found ultrasound scans during my first pregnancy a little bit creepy. But not so much this time. This baby, this quiet little one was just so unassuming, so peaceful, doing its own little thing. In a brief moment of spying on its private time, I feel like I know a little bit of my baby and I love it, want to protect it.
But it also brings me back to the reality that in around about 4 months, I’ll be giving birth again. After my son’s birth I was angry for a long time. Angry at the person who was meant to be caring for me. I blamed her for everything that went wrong. But now…with the benefit of months of thinking…not so much. Sure, she made decisions I disagree with, but is it really that simple? And after thinking a lot, I came to realise that I’d directed my anger the wrong way – at no point did this woman make me do anything. I agreed to it all. After a lot of thinking, I realised that I’m the only person I’m angry with.
How do you deal with that? How do you deal with the fact that you hate yourself a little bit? I’ve always been bitterly disappointed with the decisions I made that day, but now I realise that its me I hate, not them.
Seeing my new baby made me so happy. But the feeling is bittersweet – he/she deserves so much more. I hate that I can’t trust myself to give them all they deserve. I’m determined to do better this time round, but will I? Can I? And do I care enough? So much of how competent you feel as a parent is wrapped up in how you gave birth, at least in the early days it is. I get so angry hearing women preaching about their beautiful births and how they launched their babies into their world, supermum-style, with little pain relief, classical music playing in the background and fairies waving tiny candles overhead. The unspoken assertion here is that they did a fabulous job – better than I did, better than most do. But did they? Or did they just get incredibly lucky? How would fairy-candle-waving Mum have fared if she’d been strapped to a bed and subjected to an examination that hurt more than any of her contractions ever did? Would she have allowed it to happen in the first place? Did I allow it to happen? There are so many unanswerable questions…
And now I dream of (quite literally) gut-wrenching forceps deliveries, breech births where I’m simultaneously being chased down a flight of stairs (why?!). My subconscious expectations this time round are low; in fact, if I could temporarily check out and go find a sunny corner in which to curl up and hide for this labour – I would. I wouldn’t say I consciously feel fear as such, more an overwhelming feeling of “I cannot be arsed with this shit”. This shit being my new son or daughter…and so history starts to repeat itself.
With 18 weeks to go, the comfortable distance between me and D-day is becoming less comfortable. Midwives wants to discuss “expectations” and “plans”. How do I explain that my birth plan is nothing more than a well-crafted work of fiction to me? That my expectations are to be nothing, to count for nothing. That even if – by some miracle – I give birth at home, it’ll be the equivalent of going for a run a night and realising that someone is following you – looking over your shoulder, constantly on edge, just waiting to be attacked….but what can you do other than keep running because that’s the only way to get home? So maybe it is fear, hanging over me. No amount of relaxation of candle waving is going to help with this one, though – because how do I get round that I fundamentally distrust the people I have no choice but to let into my home? What do I do with that?? Especially since they themselves have done nothing to warrant that distrust?
At best, I’m hoping it’ll be over quickly. Will I be able to cope? And can I actually do it? I’m not sure…my instincts say no. But I’m willing to be proven wrong…