In case you missed it (!!) Paul and I are counting down the weeks until our second child will be born. We feel a lot more prepared this time around. We already have all the baby furniture and bits and pieces – that’s a no brainer. This time we also have a little bit of experience! We have been there and done that. Of course, each baby is very different, so who knows what this little one will bring? Not to mention that we have a toddler to fit into the picture this time too. However, we are comforted by the lessons learned the first time around.
Before baby arrives, however, must come the birth. Last time I thought I was prepared. I had read many books, blogs and articles and thought I knew what I would need to have a calm, focussed labour, and then a swift recovery. Without realising it, I had some fairly high expectations. I took it for granted that my waters would break, I’d have some contractions and then I’d push the baby out. Sure, it might be long, it might be painful, but I’d get there in the end.
The reality for me was quite different. You can read Pebble’s full birth story here – but the long and short of it is I ended up needing a caesarean and we were blessed with a robust and healthy baby. We were delighted, if a little shocked by it all!
This time around I have no expectations for the birth at all. None. I’m leaving them at the door, along with any hope of a good nights sleep for the next six to twelve months…. perhaps longer! One thing that I learned from my first birth was that the birth itself is not the most important part about becoming a mother. Not at all! It was the furthest thing from my mind once I was holding our baby.
Paul and I quickly became all consumed by loving and caring for this tiny human. How to feed her, how to wrap her, how to change her, how to bath her. How to love her. How to be our best selves for her. We thought we were prepared, but it was a steep learning curve for two *cough* fairly highly strung new parents.
On returning home I had another reality check. I had more high expectations about how life at home with a baby would be. I was lucky enough to enjoy a year of maternity leave and had planned to be a super mum – of course I had! Our house would sparkle like never before, our linens would be fluffed and folded, our dinners would be nutritious and delicious, and our baby would be the happiest and most educated and cared for child that ever was. This wasn’t a conscious expectation, it’s just how I thought it would be – it was only when reality took hold that I realised how I had set myself up to fail.
Instead we struggled with a baby who wouldn’t sleep for more than twenty minutes at a time and who wasn’t getting enough milk from me (yet another high expectation – that I would breastfeed easily!). It took us three months and lots of help to get our daughter (and ourselves!) settled. We found our family rhythm, and Paul and I began to enjoy being parents. I began to spend a lot more time playing with Pebble, visiting family and friends and delighting in the daily discoveries of life with a baby. I let the dust gather and the washing pile up occasionally, and sometimes we had toasted sandwiches for dinner. I found what was important for us, and that was enjoying being a family, learning to be a mum, and giving myself a break. Pebble will not remember whether the floor was swept but she will always feel loved.
I know that sometimes I will forget this lesson. Sometimes I will feel overwhelmed by the need to cook and clean and organise. Or the need to be the ‘perfect’ parent. Sometimes mother guilt will overcome me and I will want to run, or scream or cry. Sometimes I will run and scream and cry. This time around I have experience, lowered expectations. I also have the warm words from a friend to help focus my mind – a meditation for when it all becomes too much. I’m not usually one for meditating. I’m too busy rushing about doing sixteen things at once, and I used to think that I somehow needed to learn to do it “properly” or had to set aside lots of time for it. Now I know differently and I feel very strongly that I need to stop and focus with this birth and second child. I need to put the brakes on those negative thoughts before they take hold. This mini meditation is written by a friend, Mel Dunn. Actually, she’s my step-cousin :) My family is wonderfully complicated and I’m very lucky to have my life collide with so many awesome people. Mel is a mother, a teacher, and a woman who has one of the biggest hearts that I can think of. Mel has shared this meditation with me and other mothers to give guidance as they navigate the highs and lows of motherhood, and she has given me permission to share it with you all too.
I hope this meditation helps you as much as it has already helped me.