Perhaps the most profound side-effect of becoming a mother is that of gaining a hugely enlarged understanding of the breadth and depth of what ‘loving’ someone really can mean. It’s a new, compassionate, feminine wisdom that more deeply appreciates what lack of love means, how miraculous a baby truly is, how spectacular every child is — and even how precious every unborn baby is.
It is a deep inner knowing that in the big picture of life, the wellbeing of any fetus completely outweighs all a pregnant woman’s other collective responsibilities, including her image, her career, her professional reputation, her workplace irreplaceability, her body, her social hierarchy, her home, her financial security, almost her everything… perhaps, probably, even her soul? It creates a restorative realisation of just how much our society doesn’t permit that understanding to fully transcend into a new mother-to-be’s psyche, because there is such an absence of honouring the miracle called pregnancy: Society’s left-hand obsessionally promotes the piously perfect pregnancy, while its right-hand presumes the hardiness of the fetus, with modern life dictating and anticipating that the woman will maintain her normal unrelenting schedule until 37 weeks. Mothers-to-be slog at stressful careers and sweat beads of perspiration through addictive aerobic workouts, while their unborn baby grows, and all the while thinking, ‘If I’m not bleeding, then my baby’s doing just fine, thank you!’ Sooo not okay.
But, after childbirth, a woman can be left with guilt that resides in the dark spaces between her brain’s memory cells. Is her babe’s inability to relax for successful breastfeeding caused by her adrenaline-pumped, career-stressed pregnancy? Is her toddler’s need for spectacles caused from the forceps delivery, due to her resorting to an epidural from overly toned, inflexible pilates-addicted pelvic-floor muscles?
We never know, we sometimes wonder, we always worry.
You see, with the utopian experience of knowing more about what love feels like comes the slavery of being utterly responsible for supplying a defenceless person’s life force of maternal love – retrospectively from the moment of conception.
Deep in all our mother-to-be hearts we always knew that the combination of a relaxed pregnancy and second-hand belonging was much better for our baby than a stressed pregnancy and all new belongings. However, we weren’t able to listen to Her then… but we are listening to Her now!
Motherhood teaches us to comprehend first-hand the unlimited human capacity to love (and the brittle human capacity to loathe).
Before children we experience yearning for love and being in love – but after childbirth we experience being with love (and choking with love).
We learn, usually for the first time in our life, that God (the Universe if you prefer) does not make junk! No junk, at all, ever.
Kathy Fray is a senior Midwife who has been a best-selling birth-babies-motherhood author since 2005. Kathy is also the managing director for the MotherWise resources, and a global influencer on perinatal integrative medicine. www.KathyFray.com