My son turns 4 tomorrow. I have mixed feelings this time of year-feelings you may be surprised to read. But I have now given myself permission to admit this to myself and others.
On my son’s first birthday, I got many texts, calls, Facebook messages all saying happy birthday to my little buddy. I was grateful that so many people remembered him. One of the text messages was from a friend saying “Happy Birthing Day”. That was the first moment I allowed myself to feel all the feelings I had about my son turning one. Someone had validated that I gave birth a year ago and that is actually a big deal. See the thing about your child’s birthday is we are told it is a time to celebrate and remember all the positive things that have happened over the year. It is a time to be grateful and be blessed.
However, I get flooded with emotions this time of year. My son will be 4 tomorrow and I think about how amazing he is but I also can’t help reflect about my own birthing experience. Prior to actually giving birth, I had a lot of expectations for what my experience would be like; for one I wanted a natural birth. During my pregnancy I had high blood pressure and it eventually became evident that my natural birth would not happen. I would need to be induced. I was induced at 39 weeks. On a Monday evening I went to the hospital to begin the induction, only to be sent home when to many other woman came in that night that were in labor. I went again on Tuesday morning. It was not until Wednesday evening that my labor actually began and I had my son mid-morning on Thursday. I will save you from the details, but a lot of this birth is not what I wanted nor expected. That impacted me.
My birthing experience impacted me
Have you ever acknowledge that before or said that out loud? My birthing experience impacted me. It feels good to say it. We seem to live in a society that gets so excited about a new baby that we tend to forget that a woman just went through a huge life event. Maybe someone who comes to visit the baby asks how your labor was and you give a quick answer or share just the facts. But what about your feelings? I know a lot of moms and talked to several about their birthing experiences. Not many share about their feelings about the actual birth. I am not talking about just the pain but the real feelings about their experiences of giving birth and the aftermath. Here are some of the feelings I felt before, during and after giving birth.
Alone- I have a pretty amazing husband who was supportive throughout, but there is something about not fully understanding what is happening that can be isolating.
Scared-Not knowing what is happening to my body.
Embarrassed-lets face it-birthing a child is not pretty!
I remember feeling confused because even though I had those feelings, I still had feelings of pure joy but just having no idea what to do. I could not just get over those feelings. I remember people coming to visit being so excited about meeting my new baby and me feeling like I just want to be with my husband and baby but not understanding why I was feeling that way. Then and now, I am grateful that I did have some people in my life that I could open up to and be honest. I will never forget my sister’s wise words.
Giving birth: “There is no other medical procedure that you are expected to have an audience”
My sister is right. I can’t think of another medical procedure where people ask to watch, hang out for hours, or visit people that actually need recovery time. Looking back, I think I needed to process this whole experience. I needed time for myself and family.
Why am I sharing all this with you? I share this because between 25-34 percent of women report that their births were traumatic. The American Psychological Associate reports that 9-16 percent of women will develop postpartum depression. These are women you encounter everyday. You can reach out to them. Sometimes women just need to talk, have their feeling validated, or just be told that they are not alone. Their child’s birthday may actually be a reminder of a difficult time.
This is just something we don’t talk about. So maybe we could change that? Maybe the next time you wish a child a happy birthday, you could acknowledge that mom about her birthing day. It may not be something she wants to talk about or maybe it is something she is thrilled to talk about, but just remember that that day has a lot more feelings associated with it then just celebrating a birth.
If you are still struggling with some of these feelings, please seek out professional help.
Happy early birthday to my amazing little guy! It is hard to believe it has been 4 years. I am blessed to be this guys mama!