These days social networking sites are full of pictures of people announcing pregnancies and births, and it all looks so ‘picture perfect’. I was excited and all set to have a natural second birth after my first daughter was born via C-Section, and I was so sure that it was going to happen just as I had planned. However, everything I did not want to happen happened; every emotion I was scared of feeling, felt. My labour was painfully long, resulting in very little sleep: a dangerous infection for the baby and me after a traumatic birth. This left us both hospitalised for some time!
If, like you, I were reading this, I would probably think, “What’s the problem? She was healthy, and she got to spend time at the hospital bonding with her beautiful new baby which she craved desperately.” This, however, was not the case. As soon as Belle was born, I felt so sick and tired that I asked for her to be taken off me and I didn’t even bother to look at her as she lay before me; innocent, pure and beautiful, which is what I assume, anyway. I kept insisting to the nurse that I did not want to spoil my first look of beautiful Belle since I felt so drained and sickly, but I believe this was only the start of a real battle to love my own child. I was scared. I remember crying uncontrollably as they handed her to me, wondering “where is the gush of emotion I felt when my first baby girl was born? What is wrong with me? Am I broken?”. During this phase I also dearly missed my little girl who was sat at home with my husband probably wondering where mummy was. I felt so alone sat in this small hospital room too scared to admit how lonely I really felt.
After the wounded memory of losing my first born son I had much stored up love to unleash, and so, when my first daughter Scarlett was born I was so overwhelmed with love for her. A natural birth was so important to me for reasons that were deeper than I first thought. The birth of my son was a natural one but the tragic memory of losing him surrounded me like a cackle of hyenas circling a baby gazelle. And so I wanted to have a positive, natural birth to make up for incidents of the past. But then when Belle was born I felt as if I had been robbed of the “wonderful” natural birth that I wanted, handed instead, a ceaseless blanket of pain and an overly large pillow of depression to make me as uncomfortably miserable, fearful and lonely as possible. But, I quickly realised that a memory could not be fixed by another.
When i finally took Belle home I decided that enough was enough, I had to stop neglecting the goodness I owed my daughter, and so I started to speak goodness and life over my girl. I spoke such words of love into her small, adorable ears and told her all the things I believed she could do in her life. I realised i needed to forgive myself for not wanting to hold her when she was born and to just let go of the guilt and anguish that seemed to surround my every thought. As strange as it sounds, I also forgave my little girl even though she was blameless, completely innocent. I constantly prayed and prayed that my little girl would not feel rejected by her mother and that I would brighten up, be positive and shower her with the love she deserved.
There is a deep and powerful truth hidden in the Bible: “there may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning’ (Ps. 30:5). This is truly how it felt for me; pain through a night replaced by joy next morning. We have been born into a culture which makes us feel shameful for not feeling the way we are taught is the norm. But I believe that shame is a horrible, manipulative bandit that steals the joy, confidence and security of too many people. Since the trauma of Belle’s birth, I am a completely different person: madly in love with my adorably perfect little girl who is growing too fast. I have learnt that hard times can either steal a part of you or build a layer of character. If we choose to be healed and not soak in our sadness, a strong woman can break through and become the stillness in the storms of her life and teach others to do the same.