Both my babies were born in natural, drug-free, midwife-led labours. Both labours were about 9 hours from start to finish.
Once my sons were born, everything was okay and we were sent home after one/two nights in hospital.
I had minor tears both times, which healed within weeks with no further problems.
I have never miscarried, and I’ve never had to try consciously to conceive.
Breastfeeding was hard both times.
With Francis I didn’t know how to do it because I hadn’t read anything or gone to any short courses, so we ended up mix feeding from the beginning and weaning much earlier than I’d hoped for.
With Louie, I had read everything and gone to every course possible and breastfeeding exclusively for a whole month, only to find he was not gaining weight and having to supplement with formula. Now he’s nearly twelve months and we’re down to just two ounces of formula a day, so it is mostly my milk keeping him alive and I’m so surprised and happy.
When I couldn’t breastfeed the way I wanted to, I felt like a failure. My heart sank when my babies gobbled up the formula, clearly hungry after hours of getting ‘nothing’ from me.
I felt like less of a mother and less of a woman.
I know a lot of people have felt this way after giving birth - something I never experienced with my ‘dream’ labours.
Having had the kind of births so many women aspire to, and having struggled so much with breastfeeding, I wanted to say something about this ‘failure’ business.
People often say ‘well done!’ to me when they hear I gave birth to two 9-10 pound babies without painkillers in just one night. ‘You must be proud! Go you!’
Well, if I’m honest, I don’t feel proud.
I couldn’t have lasted much longer with the pain of labour - if I had had a twenty or thirty hour labour, I would have needed pain relief at the very least.
I had nothing to do with the fact that my contractions moved the labour on steadily. In fact with Louie I was sent home a few hours before I came back to give birth because although I was contracting my cervix wasn’t dilated at all.
I also had nothing to do with the fact that my milk took over two months to come in, unlike the usual three days.
I am not proud of having had straight-forward labours, I’m grateful.
And I’m not ashamed because I had a difficult time with breastfeeding, I’m grateful.
When it comes to motherhood I’m grateful for anything that comes easily, and I’m grateful for the challenges that remind me I’m not the one in control.
So don’t waste energy feeling sad that you didn’t give birth how you wanted to, that your children are different from what you’d imagined, that mothering is harder or sadder or duller than you hoped or wanted sometimes. Don’t envy others’ experiences because no one does anything valuable without suffering.
Dale gracias por todo porque todo es bueno.