Women and Babies…

PIN ITMaking babies is a right of passage for a woman. In past lives we would have gathered together around the birth of a new child. Women coming together to recognise the incredible social and biological transformation that takes place, not in the birth of the child, but in the birth of the mother. It’s spectacular.

Things are different now. We don’t gather together. We tend to judge instead of celebrate. We buy things… lots of things… for new babies. But what we don’t offer is recognition. Support. To the mother. And at the end of the day, who needs all of these pastel things anyway?

I’ve been thinking a lot about pregnancy and babies. It is coming very close to the time that we I had planned to start trying for a second child. Planning… not knowing what was just around the bend for my family. I was planning the growth of our family, while he was dismantling it. Seems somewhat silly now. I still have the list of prospective names tucked in my desk drawer. Names for a baby that I was dreaming of. A baby that doesn’t exist. A baby that isn’t mine. But I can’t throw it out.

After a year or so people generally start asking a new mother, new parents, when they plan to have another. And another. From what I have gathered from my enormous birth club community is that after the first year women are in one of two camps. The I do not want another baby (right now) camp, or I desperately need another baby (right now) camp. There isn’t too much in between. Women become jealous and sad when other women get pregnant. They get annoyed or upset that they  feel that they have to justify their desire to push for career or other goals instead of another child.I sit pretty firmly in the I’d like another baby (right now) camp. Which is frustrating… because it’s not an option. And although I know that it’s silly and it’s illogical and it’s out-of-my-hands right now, and although I am extraordinarily grateful (and exhausted by) the little person I already have. I can’t help but let my thoughts stray to those tiny fingers and toes. To the bulging belly and the whispers of promises in the night. The imaginings of face and the incredible unbelievable rush that is that very first moment together. And then feel a little pang of sadness. A little pang that comes from grieving a child that doesn’t even exist yet, from a relationship that has fallen apart.

I know the logic. And it’s how I talk myself down from these feelings every time they creep in. Every time they wrap their little hands around my heart for one good, hard squeeze. I talk myself down with logic. But the feeling is still there.Lurking behind closed doors. Waiting in the shadows, ready to pounce.

What is it? Where does it come from? Hormones? Probably. Isn’t that the age old excuse for irrational female behaviour (note the extent this concept is dripping in sarcasm, can’t stand anything more than being called an irrational woman, emotional woman… like my sex is an insult – but that’s another story)? Hormonal.

As women I think we are isolating ourselves by not talking about these things. One of the many silences… one of the forbidden topics. These emotions, these feelings of yearning and need and pain and loss and love and joy and… and… and… surrounding childbirth both past, present and future. Surrounding pregnancy and loss and relationships. They are universal (are they not?). They are part of the female experience. Part of who we are. Part of our physiology. Are they not? Where is our voice to speak up and say, Hey, no I don’t want another baby, get off my back. Or, Yes, desperately, I feel like I’m not done… but it’s not possible right now. Instead of removing ourselves from each other to deal with our jealousy and our grief. Why do we not band together? Together we say, I am jealous of your pregnancy and I am also so absolutely, wonderfully, completely over-the-moon joyful for you at the same time.Together we say, I feel your pain. I feel your joy. I feel your comfort. I feel your passion. Together.

We can feel jealousy and happiness at the same time and not be ashamed to admit it. We can say, I want what you have, without being bitter or resentful. We can feel joy and sadness and grief together without having to hide. Can we not?

What has happened to our red tent? What has happened to our rite of passage and our village? We used to give birth surrounded by people we knew, women with strong hands and minds and love. Now we give birth with strangers. We return home to our homes. Alone. With no time with which to transform from woman to mother. With many gadgets and pretty little things that are designed to make life easier… but really just encourage us to be alone. Gadgets designed to help us mother alone. And when we come to some of the biggest emotions, perhaps even illogical emotions, we turn inwards. Solitary. Silenced. Afraid that what we feel could be judged as ungrateful, or irrational, or ridiculous. So we turn inward. Leaving us alone.

There is nothing simple about women and babies. The link between the mother who bares a child and every mother who has ever born a child is undeniable. We are many and varied and different. But we are also one.

We are not alone.

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  • February 27, 2013 - 5:25 am

    jane@flightplatformliving - i love this post, it’s true and i think the world pushes everybody apart, not just mothers and women. we are insular creatures, we do not breathe the same air together any more, we sit in pods and communicate like this, leaving comments and clicking ‘like’. mothers especially need the everyday touch, the real touch that you dont have to get dressed for, i dont have the energy to meet you face to face and have to put make-up on as well! but these days every face to face seems big because it’s a rare event….for the tired mum (like me) that’s too much pressure and so once more i retreat to clicking ‘like’ on somebody else’s snapshot of a day out! the world pushes everyone apart but mums feel it more perhaps xxxxReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2013 - 5:27 am

    Mother Down Under - This is a beautiful post.
    Most days I yearn for another but then logically convince myself that it just isn’t possible at the moment.
    I feel your pain.
    Maybe next time someone asks me if I am pregnant with number two yet I will answer honestly. Because I too already have baby names picked out.ReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2013 - 6:00 am

    Zeph - Oh this. I love this. Beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2013 - 6:45 am

    Eva - I’m very much in the ‘I don’t want another child’ camp – for a myriad of reasons. But I sum it up as this ‘One husband, one kid, one cat’ that’s all I need. I get very tired of people asking when I’m going to have another and then presuming to lecture me about how lonely, or spoiled, or selfish, etc etc my daughter will be if she doesn’t have any siblings. I think the number of adults in the world that have siblings and still turned out lonely, spoiled, selfish etc disproves that comprehensively!

    I also get very annoyed with the assumption that parents need at least one of each gender of child, or that boys are preferable to girls. My sister-in-law just recently had her first baby – a little girl. And what did her parents say? ‘A boy, next time’. Instead of just relishing this time with their first grandchild and appreciating her for the miracle she is, not to mention assuming their daughter actually wants to carry and birth another child (and that we don’t have the luxury of choosing the gender of a child at conception – that’s nature’s job) – they choose to focus on the fact that they don’t have a grandson. What a load of @!$%!!. I would have thought that type of boys v girls sentiment very outdated in a wealthy country like Australia where we don’t have to rely on sons to take care of us in old age and keep the family line going.

    But I completely understand women who want more than one child – after all, babies are lovely and special – not to mention that they smell amazing (ah, newborn baby smell). There’s absolutely nothing like the early relationship between mother and baby. That all-encompassing love. The mutual adoration. It is incomparable. I think back with fondness and longing for those early days with my girl. And I can understand why women would grieve at the idea of not being able to have more (or any) children – either when they expected to, or at all – for whatever reason. Knowing the joy that my little girl brings me, I feel for those women who want that relationship, but are unable to have it.ReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2013 - 7:11 am

    Rachel - I don’t have any words of wisdom on the wanting another baby front. I didn’t really have chance to start wanting another one, when Maya was 1 year old, I was already heavily pregnant with kiran. oops :p

    Anyway I just wanted to say great post xReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2013 - 8:29 am

    Lila Wolff - This really resonates with me Sash, when I left my first husband I experienced the yearning for that planned baby that someones’ actions had taken away. I won’t go too far in to the stupid advice I received from people regarding making another baby while I was single.
    Even now there are twinges and while I don’t think our family can accommodate another one I am still wanting.
    You are right this and many other issues need to be discussed in the open.ReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2013 - 8:42 am

    ealferez - I love this post. I wish more people could see it this way. I chose to have multiple children and I am surrounded by loved ones who long for just one child. I just wish they knew that I do not take offense to their pain. I hurt for them. I love with them. I hope for them. Expressing one’s self is the right we all have and we all should be able to do so openly… without judgment or resentment!!

    Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.ReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2013 - 9:40 am

    Lilybett - Is it this generation or the previous one that doesn’t want to talk about it or that assumes you’ll go for another and another? In our little (huge) community I felt I’ve been supported when I’ve said that I’m fairly sure we’ll only have the one child. The grandparents seem to be the ones asking about the ‘next one’.

    I am almost 100% sure, I only want one baby. The thing is, I want another pregnancy and labour but not another child. I want to be pregnant for the first time again. I’m not in any way wishing away my child (do you hear that Jareth/David Bowie?), but I’m craving that pregnancy feeling again – the growing, blooming, nurturing and nurtured feeling. I want to do my labour over to see if I could avoid some of the chance problems we had. But the thought of doing those first 12 weeks of babyhood again makes me want to vomit; the thought of doing the first 12 weeks with a toddler as well – well, that’s making me want to vomit in The Exorcist proportions. I think I’m only just recovering from how hard that time was – physically, mentally and emotionally. If we were to have another, if I could no longer resist the clanging of the ovaries and the drag of the uterus when I see swelling, waddling women and fresh babies, it’ll be quite a few years down the track.

    Because we’ve always been pretty sure we’ll only have the one, I went through a grieving process after we found out we were having a boy at 20 weeks. I grieved for the daughter I’d probably never have and for whom I have that little list of girls’ names tucked in my drawer too. But I would have felt the same if I’d found out we were having a girl – I would have had a short period of mourning for the unborn, never-known son.ReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2013 - 2:44 pm

    Abeer - What an intersting read!ReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2013 - 6:21 pm

    Joelle - Sash speaks such words of wisdom. Where is the Red Tent? Where are the Women’s Circles? Where are the Blessingways – celebrating motherhood and the transformational process that pregnancy, birth and parenting offers? I love Sash’s words. She encourages a new culture of thinking about pregnancy, about birth, about mothering. She is a visionary, a realist and an idealist at the same time. This post of course resonates with me as a doula, a mother, an aunt, a friend, a wife, a sister – a woman. I spent a year grieving – the decision to not have a third child was bigger than I thought – I too want to be pregnant and want to give birth again – but we’ve decided that parenting two is enough for us… xxx Loving your words as always.ReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2013 - 8:33 pm

    JJ - Oh Sash, how much I love what you write. It always tugs at my heartstrings, so unbelievably real!!ReplyCancel

  • February 28, 2013 - 11:37 am

    Ella - A thought provoking read. I accidentally got pregnant with my second baby, when the first was only 12 months old, so the decision was made for me.ReplyCancel

  • March 1, 2013 - 5:41 pm

    sarah - Great post Sash. I’m going to say this ‘out loud’ then. I want one. S is over two and I want one. My friend who’s little girl is just one month younger than S just told me she is pregnant with her second. I felt a pang of envy, I really thought I’d be pregnant before her. Silly. Probably. Now though I’m suddenly the most busy I’ve been with work and I’m not sure another is great idea until much later this year or next. But then, when is ever the ‘right’ time. Should you plan? I don’t know…I think I’ll just go back to saying I do want one.ReplyCancel

    • March 1, 2013 - 8:52 pm

      Sash - 🙂 I don’t think there is ever a ‘right’ time… there are just lots of different times, different moments… and no matter when… that little one will be such an amazing transformative blessing. Whether it’s this year or five years from now! xoxReplyCancel

  • March 1, 2013 - 6:07 pm

    Arna - Funny you should refer to the Red Tents.. I was invited to a small intimate group of Red Tenters 6 or so months ago. We were a new group, building up friendship and comfort was awkward at first yet the confidence to freely share our very personal experiences with each other was immediate.
    In a few days I am hosting a baby shower to celebrate with these friends the upcoming birth of a third baby and to show support to a fellow mother. Some people outside of our group have scoffed at our desire to gather for the imminent arrival of a baby who will have older siblings and a woman who is already a mother. I find that response strange. From my seat the journey of motherhood is ongoing and continues to develop, challenge and reward. It is and always will be the warmth of women – girlfriends, mothers, daughters, sisters, that make the experiences of motherhood all the better for sharing. Thanks once again Sash for your sharing. xReplyCancel

    • March 1, 2013 - 8:51 pm

      Sash - Don’t let the haters get you down. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to be “against” a Red Tent movement. So silly. Keep doing what you’re doing. What an awesome group to be a part of and what a lucky lady to have like minded women to celebrate and come together for the sake of her and her child. Whether it’s your first or your fifteenth… it’s a huge life change. xReplyCancel

  • March 2, 2013 - 4:06 am

    drea - I kind of in the grey area…. or I was. I didn’t want my first (couldn’t be more grateful and happy now of course). And didn’t want or plan another one, but would have been okay with the second, last year. This year? I’m in the never-ever category.ReplyCancel

    • March 2, 2013 - 6:25 am

      Sash - Hey Drea 🙂 Well, that’s good to know! I’m looking forward to an era of “not wanting another one” – so that the pangs disappear. Like everything, what we want/need/etc. can change as we do I suppose! xx You already have a pretty perfect “one” anyway! xReplyCancel

  • March 3, 2013 - 4:29 am

    Elle - I am only just finding your space, and I am hooked. It’s crazy that I have read so many posts about the longing for motherhood, more babies etc since I wrote my own post on the subject (http://skylarkingnanny.blogspot.fr/2013/02/a-not-so-secret-secret.html)

    I am in love with the notion of sisterhood, of women coming together, of a village raising a child. I am sorry you are going through a difficult time, but I see your photographs and I see your little one and I know that you two ladies are banding together for sure.

    Elle xoReplyCancel

  • March 6, 2013 - 5:09 am

    endelaney - beautiful. just beautiful. good, honest, words for an emotional mama today. thank you.ReplyCancel

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