“At least you have a healthy baby and you are okay!”
How many times have I heard these words said to a mother who just went through a delivery that was very different then what she had hoped for. More often than I have hoped. The person who says these words are meaning to bring comfort but, in reality, it speaks something very different.
Your wishes weren’t important.
Your hopes for an (unmedicated, intervention free, vaginal…insert anything) birth doesn’t matter.
You need to be happy that both you and baby are safe.
You can’t grieve the loss of hopes and expectations.
Of course, we all care that mother and baby are healthy. But that is only the foundation of the birth process.
On top is the building – the beauty of it. The hopes. The dreams. The expectations. And they are important as well. They are part of the journey – part of the process.
Imagine that you are hoping to have a beautiful home. The kitchen you imagined. The space you hope for. And the wood floors – oh and the tile! Don’t forget that fantastic bathroom with a huge bathtub! But – once this house is purchased – the house you get looks more like a shack then your dreams.
Of course, you are going to be disappointed. Of course, you are going to be sad. And of course, you are going to be glad you have a good foundation and a roof over your head, BUT there is something missing.
Another thought I like to share is that of a bride on her wedding day. Imagine this bride being told by her close family and friends that “at least she got married!” when her photographer didn’t show up?
What would your reaction be if this was your best friend? You’d mourn with her. You’d figure out a way to take some pictures, even though they aren’t professionally done. You would hold her hand as she cried.
It’s the same with birth. And we need to see it that way. The journey a mother has during labor and delivery is important. But what we often fail to acknowledge when a loved one is a new mom is that the process of the birth of the baby and the baby itself are two completely different things.
So let me say it –
You can be in love with your baby and still mourn the loss of your hopes and dreams for that perfect birth – no matter what it was.
Can I say that again?
The baby you hold in your arms in different then the journey you had to bring that baby into your arms.
Let me say:
Your expectations for your birth are important.
Your hopes for birth do matter.
It’s okay for you to feel (sad, disappointed, upset, insert your emotion) that your birth didn’t go the way you wanted.
Please, grieve however you need to for your lost hopes and expectations!
So, what I choose to say when a mom doesn’t have the birth she hoped for is: “I’m sorry things didn’t go the way you had hoped. I know that having an (unmedicated, intervention free, vaginal…insert anything) birth was important to you.”
And then, I listen…