A birth after loss.

Friday, 4 August 2017



I know I banged on about it already, but two weeks ago today I was working at my first birth. I think I look back on it much like a mother looks back on her own birth, fondly, for the most part, with a gaussian blur over the harder parts. It was difficult to do, physically, as I am quite pregnant, however it was the mental and emotional side of it that I was more afraid of than the physical.

The last time I held a newborn was a year ago, when my neighbour had her baby, and even then the baby was already a week old. Before that? My own. I wondered, before meeting the baby, if I would cry, if I would have to fight myself to actually hold her, I wondered if I would even remember how to do it properly or if I'd flounder about or even just fully avoid it. I kind of knew I wouldn't avoid it because it was something I was craving. I missed my son and I missed holding him and so I wanted to replicate that, somehow, if possible. It wasn't the same at all, of course, because she wasn't mine and because she was so much lighter.

And I didn't cry. I didn't break down. I didn't hold her for long.



Since then I've been around children, and older babies, but no little babies, no newborns. Just as it had been before I'd had my son. He was the first time I'd held a baby for more than a couple of minutes. Nobody I knew was having babies, and they still aren't. I'm always the youngest of all the mothers. It often feels to me that older women forget what it's like to be in your twenties, the general uncertainty of it all (especially in this climate), they forget how it feels to be singled out.

The birth itself was a source of great anxiety for me, my first one aside from my own. I'd never subjected myself to watching birth videos (aside from that one 70s birth that you're often forced into watching as a child in school), I'd never seen any photos, all there was was horror stories and anecdotes. Much as the same for other women I imagine. So I was worried. I was worried about how I would deal with it, would I even be properly present knowing what was coming? Would I just be fine? I didn't know. And, to be totally honest, I was worried something would go wrong.

During her birth I kept thinking about my own birth, and how similar it was. I remember the things that she and I remembered saying the exact same things during mine. It put me back into that place again. The more I compared the more I began to relax, almost, because I knew what the end result was going to be and even though she wasn't too focused on it, I was. I suppose that's the one good thing about not being directly involved in or responsible for the birth of the baby, you can see more into the near future. I was surprised at myself. The fact that this didn't bother me as much as I thought it was going to was surprising.

I admit, come the pushing stage I was beyond excited to see her do it, to get there, to have baby out into the world, even though it wasn't mine. I think, in the end, it's become like a kind of exposure therapy for myself. I avoided babies and pregnancies and everything that came with it for so long, out of a kind of angry, bitter jealousy – thoughts of "why them, and not me?" plagued me for months on end – but in that moment it was, and as wildly cliché as it sounds, and as it is, I was a part of something bigger than just myself. I was party to the real start of something enormous, something life-long.

Holding her baby felt strange, it had been so long. A strange mix of foreign and familiar. This baby was much closer to Ezra's weight. Looked more like him. I thought that it would be different some how, that I would be thrown straight back into the time just after I'd given birth, like they do in movies, flashbacks and that overwhelming wowness of it. But it just wasn't like that, it wasn't like that at all. It was just normal. I think, perhaps, the foreign feeling came because the baby wasn't mine, and I suppose that was a good thing. It was a happy anti-climax.

Thinking back on it, I suppose it kind of makes me sad in a way. I miss it. In that being so involved in my own pregnancy, I still can't see the end. I can't see the wood for the trees, as it were, so consumed with the right now, despite having been there for her "end", to see it. So focused on the end that I have to make a conscious effort to enjoy the right now, despite the crippling fear of the right now.

I miss it. The birth. Being there. I miss the excitement and the thrill. I feel maybe that the birth was a turning point for me. It showed me that things aren't bound to go wrong. I have been so set, since the very start of this pregnancy, that something will go wrong, because that's what happens, that's what happens to me. I've always felt that it is not my lot to be happy, or to stay that way. That something will come along and take it away from me, it has so far. Though, it may have shown me that, in all its screaming glory, her efforts after a long journey rewarded with a fat baby at the end, but I'm still not entirely convinced. Something to work on, I guess.

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