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Birth plans are important. They let your team know what you want, don’t want, and how you want your birth experience to go.
They also feel like your first step into motherhood, your chance to decide how your baby comes into the world.
But what about when your birth doesn’t go the way you had planned? The way you had wanted?
There is a true loss to that experience, one that mothers often don’t feel allowed to admit, experience, or grieve for.
Quite often we say “well, I have a healthy baby, so that’s all that matters.”
But it’s not.
Especially if this was your first baby, your birth experience was also a birth of a new you.
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ”
You planned for the birth you wanted because it was important to you to have that experience. You didn’t get it.
And that just plain ol’ sucks.
So, how do you accept that your birth experience was not what you wanted?
Here are a few good ways to start to accept your birth experience:
- Admit that this was important to you. No more brushing it aside. No more saying that it didn’t matter. It did.
- Allow yourself to grieve the loss of your birth experience. This was truly a loss. Yes, it may have been necessary and yes it may have all turned out just fine. But that’s not what’s important at this stage.
- No matter how uncomfortable, allow yourself to feel any and all emotions. If you need to, be alone for a little while and put a name to everything you’re feeling.
- Sit with the uncomfortable emotions and give yourself the kindness of feeling however you feel for as long as you need to.
- Eventually you’ll move on to acceptance. But it will no longer be a false acceptance of pushing down your feelings. It will be a true acceptance that this is the way it happened, and it’s ok.
It may take a while to get to acceptance. Be gentle with yourself!
If it helps, try writing down your experience and how it makes you feel. Journaling can be a great release and you may find that it is easier to process your thoughts and feelings.
Ultimately, you may find that accepting the loss of control over this very important experience is the hardest part.
I feel extremely fortunate that I had a few weeks before the birth of Little Miss to come to terms with the fact that I would likely be having a C-Section. This gave me time to research alternative options and take ownership of the birth that I hadn’t planned.
I definitely discovered that it was the lack of control over the experience that was the hardest part for me to accept.
If we’re honest though, we really have little to no control over much of our birth experience. Baby gets to decide much of it.
And perhaps that is the greatest lesson in accepting whatever birth experience we had. Yes, it was our birth as a mother and our first step into motherhood, but that’s the funny part. It’s just the beginning of our lack of control.
We don’t get to control what type of sleeper, eater, or personality our child has. So, perhaps, accepting our birth experience is also about accepting that much of our new lifestyle will be dependent on someone else. A very small someone else.
Perhaps, accepting our experience is also a way to accept our new role, our new responsibility, and our new selves.
Becoming a parent changes everything. EVERYTHING.
This first step of letting go can be the beginning of our growth as a person. Growing into our motherhood. If we have the courage to embrace it.
I hope you get there mamma, cuz if you can, a whole new world of possibility, flexibility, and understanding awaits you.
I believe in you. You’ve totally got this.