As an expecting mother, I was told all about the sleepless nights. People made sure to give their opinion on whether I should bottle feed, breastfeed, or exclusively pump. I was told which swaddle to buy, which sound machine worked best, and when to introduce a pacifier. They told me about sleep training but that it really didn’t matter because I wouldn’t get any sleep anyway.
Whenever I would mention how scared I was to give birth, I’d always get the same response: oh. honey, don’t worry, your body will know what to do.
I remember listening to calming meditations as preparation. All of them repeated a mantra about how your body is designed for this. I went to the birthing class and listened to the nurse tell us about how women used to give birth in fields by themselves. Our grandmothers gave birth in their homes with no medical interventions and boiling water. The message was very clear—I was made for this.
Fast forward to after 12 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing, during which that all proved to be untrue. I wasn’t made for this. I could not deliver this baby in the way I was designed. It was heartbreaking. I felt like my body had failed.
When people found out I had an unplanned C-section, the responses were always different, but never quite helpful. Oh, thank goodness for modern medicine. Well you will still want to try for a VBAC next time, right? Oh, you took the easy way out! So lucky, I would have loved a C-section! Bless your heart! Oh, sweetie, none of that matters. The comments were never-ending.
Not long after, I had a sweet friend text me and say, “I am so sorry birth did not go the way you wanted to experience it. I’m here if you ever need to process through that.”
Finally. I felt so seen! She wasn’t trying to convince me of how to feel or even give her opinion at all. She just wanted me to know she was there and willing to sit through the feelings with me.
The truth is I have a healthy baby boy in my arms that I carried, grew, loved, and sustained for nine months. At almost a year postpartum, I am starting to see that my body did not fail me, but in those moments and months after, it really did feel like it did.
So for the mamas who feel like their bodies failed them during birth, I see you. I am you. I’m not going to sit and try to convince you otherwise. Instead, I just want to pour you a cup of coffee or tea and sit with you in these feelings. We can sit through them together.