Wednesday, 23 March 2016

it's the end of the world as we know it

Copyright: <a href=''>kapu / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Yes, you carry on in that field with your flowers just now - come see me when that baby arrives.

Remember the time? Surrounded by cooing friends as cute tiny outfits are brandished for the arrival of a tiny human being. A perfectly packed bag with a perfectly organised birth plan sit by the door. And all eyes are on the parents to be offering tales of joy for the precious days ahead gambolling happily with the newborn amidst fields of bluebells and happiness and daisy chains in their hair.

You know that noise an incorrect answer makes on Family Fortunes? Well, insert that here!

A disclaimer - babies, kids, children, bairns, offspring are all wonderful and I thank my lucky stars that our three are healthy and happy (most of the time) and they make me proud every day. 

Ok but now fast-forward, oh mothers out there, to the moments when you would let a passing stranger hold your child if it meant you could have a thirty minute sleep.  When you could shove the advice of others down their well meaning throats because whilst they are swanning about with their fully grown school kids you haven't showered for three days.  When you are almost paralysed with fear that your spotty /coughing / fevered / apoplectic with screaming baby will never become that beautiful bundle of bonny that you had dreamt about when you decided to get into the pregnant state that deluded monsters out there call 'natural'. 


Now there's a word.  According to the 21st pretty much everything can acquire the natural status.

A well meaning dad once said to me that women used to give birth to their babies in the fields and carry on working.

Side eye.

Men - you might want to stop reading here but I urge you to continue.

I'd like to know what's so natural about waking up a mother and finding your insides feel like they're going to fall out of you if you so much as think about walking? And that you believe your baby has been celebrating a carnival inside you for 9 months that on leaving, it's like the Day of the Dead below the waist.

What's so natural about having a vice clamped onto your once hidden mammaries, that now seem to constantly be required to be pulled out and yanked for six to twelve months in a varying range of public places?  Obviously accompanied by either frowns of disapproval or prying eyes.

What's so natural about the copious amounts of poo (all the colours of the rainbow), sick (milky and with bits), snot, eye gunge, ear gunge, scalp peelings being projectiled and shed over you for the next few years?

And then there's the fear. Oh the gut-wrenching, night sweats fear that you will accidentally lose / smother / burn / forget / break your baby. No one ever tells you about the fear at those bloody baby showers do they?

I was at a fun baby shower once (no really it was and the chicken, rice and peas were to die for) and an elder told us teasing mums to stop frightening the newbie mummy with our tales of doom, gloom and what-we-would-like-to-call honesty. But no. I disagree, I think women work with the power of knowledge and information. I wish someone had told me about the bad stuff when I first got pregnant; about the stuff that will make me cry, that will shake and make my marriage, that will make me doubt that anyone should have let me have children in the first place.

I wish someone had told me about the failure I would feel after a miscarriage; why aren't the support agencies preparing parents for the difficulties that could be faced pro-actively because it's a very different set of faces you are thrust into if your baby is incredibly sick or worse, doesn't arrive or stay in this world for long.

Do we naively believe that regardless of eventualities that modern medicine can fix all ailings so that we don't consider the many paths after pregnancy? Is it tempting fate if we prepare ourselves for sadness instead of the gladness we should expect or does it allow mothers, fathers, families to be aware of the support they can access if needed?

So I'm now the self-designated mother with the truth message about the sugar and the salt of babies but not too overbearing now, after all, I went back and did it twice again didn't I?!

This post was written after attending a Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Baby Loss session at the Women of the World Festival , London, 2016