Babies are scary. That was one my first reactions to giving birth to my son in the summer of 2010. After a long labor, long pushing and an unplanned cesarean surgery, my son was born healthy, beautiful, bald and loudly screaming to the world how strongly he felt about being in the birth canal for 36 hours.
It was new to me, being a mom. I felt vulnerable, insecure, uncertain and utterly unprepared for this new role. I had read books, taken classes, talked to friends and family, yada yada yada. It was like being Alice falling through the hole into Wonderland… only it was Mamaland. My son felt like a stranger to me and I was afraid of making a mistake. I wanted to be the perfect mother.
During my pregnancy I had the typical experiences of unsolicited advice, personal questions and generally feeling that others were invading into my private life. Pregnancy is a rare condition where people can see it and sometimes want to touch it. My pregnancy wasn’t planned and so the first few months were not spent in a pregnancy glow, but rather nausea and anger. People want to be happy for you when you tell them you’re expecting and it’s kind of a bummer to tell them you’re pissed. However, this was learning for me. I was already growing my mama gut instinct in those months because I was veering off the path of other’s wishes and guidance. I felt bombarded with people wanting me to eat and drink some things, not others; wearing certain things; birth a certain way; feed the baby a certain way; what they wanted the baby to call them; how we’d handle visitors and hospital guests, etc.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t well received by some that my husband and I were doing things based on what we wanted for our little family and that I was going to do pregnancy and birth my way. In fact, during my second trimester, I had a huge rift with a very dear family member to the point at which I didn’t think we’d ever have a relationship again. I assumed they’d never know my child. This rift raged for months, anger, hurt, tears, nasty emails, harsh words via telephone. Though eventually we worked through it all, it changed the dynamic of our relationship.
And it changed me. It was the beginning of my strength in myself, in truly trusting that I knew what was best for me and my family. And also standing my ground. I was no longer the child, sister, cousin, or patient. I was the mother. I was Mama. This important lesson has continued through my time in Mamaland; learning to trust, listen to and follow my mama gut.