Truth be told – I thought giving birth was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life to date. I was told pre-birth that I would pretty much lose my dignity because… well…your nether regions get a viewing by all of the participants in the birthing process. Yup. It’s true and I cannot deny that I was warned well in advance on this one. This includes the doctor/obstetrician, anaesthetist, nurses, orderlies, and anyone else who happens to join in on the cacophony of medical speak going on around you when it’s discovered that all is not going to plan.
So forget that you’ve parked yourself in a hospital room about to give birth and have happily made yourself available to the resources on offer – gas, quiet music or whatever takes your mind off the pain – it’s just that when the plan (not that I ever had a birthing plan to begin with) doesn’t go well you have no choice but to go along with the flow. So there I was waiting for someone to do something, to do anything to get out of that scenario! I was posed at the ready on all fours in a public hospital bed, connected to a beeping machine monitoring my unborn childs’ heart. In medically-trained strangers we trust. Apologies for sounding a tad sarky here.
Now I’m not the first to have had a difficult birth and/or an emergency caesarean, but it sucks when it happens. Even if it’s only once. Don’t get me wrong it’s all in perspective for me now. It’s just that something like that stays with you, even if the minuscule details start to fade with time.
I recall one week prior to the arrival of my son the nurse asking me how things were going. I had answered in the positive. However, I also advised her of how my burgeoning stomach looked very different. Almost as if the baby had changed position. We joked about the baby being in breech but the nurse confidently stated how she would know, as she had assisted many mothers-to-be in her career to date. I wasn’t so sure about her dismissal of my concerns, but then…what did I know? I was just a vessel (and understandably a very anxious one) carrying a child – with no medical knowledge whatsoever. Carrying my first child.
First time I’m doing this. I know there are first times for everything. To be honest, it did not occur to me at the time to own up to a lifetime of anxiety suffering. Hindsight tells me that if I had perhaps thought to illuminate the nurse in the pre-birthing stages then maybe they would have sat up a little straighter and paid more attention and humoured me – even if to prove that I was silly for being anxious. Or maybe me proving them wrong and avoiding a traumatic birth. But those are all ‘what-if’ thoughts now. It no longer matters.
So there I was in the formally unrecognised county, commonly referred to by most as ‘Lah-Lah Land’, as I had thankfully been given an epidural when I had requested it. Hence, that slightly floaty feeling had entered my head space when the machine in the room started beeping and concerned looking nurses were trying to determine whether or not to panic. Ahhhhh…the serenity of childbirth…
Surprise, surprise. My son was born breech. Unfortunately, his planned arrival also heralded the unplanned and unforeseen touchdown of postnatal depression. Sigh… But that’s another story for another time.
Reminiscing about my birthing experience is not something I do. After all, my days are spent very much in the here and now where time is short. Unfortunately, I am not always practicing mindfulness and simply being ‘in-the-present-moment’ (which is what I am aiming for). Instead, I mostly find myself in a ‘let’s-just-get-through-this-moment’ before anything hits the proverbial fan so-to-speak. Sometimes that can mean a mild metaphorical ‘boom’ or ‘bang’ that only my ears and senses are graced with in the household during the day.
My toddler has just reached another milestone at the end of April – age 3 – and so sometimes morphs into a teenager (well, to be honest, he did slam shut his bedroom door in my face the other day very teenage-esque style). Yes, apparently the terrible age of 2 is not really terrible. It’s the magic number of turning 3 (can you sense my jaw clenching? my teeth grinding? me talking through gritted teeth?). So now giving birth has been overtaken by the next hardest thing I am having to grapple with – a threenager. You know the type – a 3 year old advocating some serious attitude around the household.
Enter a parenting program called ‘Triple P’. Those of you who live in Perth, Western Australia may have heard of it. Triple P is a Positive Parenting Program. I am halfway through it. What I love about it is the fact that it’s a hands-on course whereby you’re given a workbook with exercises to firstly monitor your childs behaviours. So there aren’t any parental moves on changing any undesirable behaviours in the first three weeks. It’s not until you later implement the strategies in your household.
Participants have access to a facilitator who guides the group through the program. We meet up in a group on a weekly basis at a designated location, sometimes sharing our own personal parenting experiences, and go through the parenting workbook together. It is interactive and visual (each week there is a DVD to watch that supports the workbook and facilitated discussions). Further to meeting up in person, there is a period of several weeks where the group does not convene. Instead, each week at a designated time, the facilitator will contact each individual parent attending the program and touch base on how the week has eventuated regarding the problem behaviour they are experiencing with their child or children.
There are four more weeks to go before I ‘graduate’ from the parenting program. There are no medals provided. Although a certificate will be provided if you want one. I’ve already decided on accepting a certificate as a sign that I’m working at this parenting gig. A visual reminder that I can do this.
Despite my birthing memory and the shaky start to becoming a mother for the first time, I am trying to embrace parenting by being open to assistance such as the aforementioned parenting program. Understandably, being a parent is a lifelong journey and I get that it’s a work-in-progress. Having my son turn three is also a milestone for me in many ways, too numerous to mention here in this individual blog post. I can share one thing though and that is it has taught me that I am a resilient woman who rises to the occasion – especially after chocolate and a caffeinated beverage have been consumed. Though not necessarily in that order… 😂