Birth is an adventure only experienced by most women a few times in their lifetime. Make it count – no matter what your medical needs are. Get educated. Participate in the decision-making. Be a mother to your unborn baby, because you ARE, already, Mother. ~Tiffany Miller, CLD
This thought came to mind this morning as I was dinking around on Facebook. I have found that I dearly love the community I find there, among doulas and mommas alike. Even more, I find myself with an overwhelming desire to offer up encouragement wherever I can, and I often get random little thoughts like the one above. I usually think to myself, “I should actually write on my birth blog about this,” but never seem to get to it.
Well, today I’m getting to it, because I’ve decided that my role here is probably going to be less about information-giving, since that niche is already so well-filled. I’m good at sharing information, just not particularly good at writing about it. What I am good at, however, is encouragement. So, here goes.
So many think of motherhood as beginning at birth. When I stop to really think about it, though, I have come to the conclusion that a mother is born the minute the pregnancy test turns blue. (Or pink – not to leave anyone out!) That very moment, decisions come to to the forefront of the mother’s mind.
Decisions to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs in all forms. (Well, nearly all.) Decisions to “eat better,” even before she knows what her body needs to build a healthy baby. Decisions about work, commitments, care providers, and paint colors.
I remember, with my first pregnancy, feeling distinctly that I had been initiated into some sort of secret society of women called “Mom.” I remember telling friends who had yet to experience it that it felt “weird.” Indeed, it did. Before I was even showing, the community of women around me made me feel as though I carried some sacred charge, which turned me inward and made me wonder if there was more to pregnancy and birth than standard-issue, American OB care.
It triggered me to read, to talk to all kinds of mothers, and I began to question the status quo. I became very active in my care, interviewing midwives while being seen at a wonderful hospital. (At least, it felt wonderful to inexperienced me – I don’t know if it actually is wonderful, a.k.a. “Baby & Mother-Friendly”.)
I began educating myself. A voracious reader, I read every book I could get a recommendation for. I began to actively make choices surrounding my care and upcoming labor and birth. I listened to stories, and formed an idea in my mind of what I wanted my birth to be like. I strove to achieve that idea. My expectations were somewhat high, but not unreasonably so. They were tempered by caution and a strong sense of awe surrounding the as-yet-unknown birth process.
When my son was placed into my arms at the moment of his birth, I unconsciously realized that I had been Mother from the moment I knew of his existence.
I was already doing the Things a Mother Does. Making decisions for my child, based on what I believed to be best for him and our family. Some of those decisions I would change. Others I will be glad I made until the day I die!
Decisions made on behalf of my children during pregnancy are no different than the decisions I make today, though my oldest is now seven years old.
If you are carrying a child now, especially for the first time, and you are asking questions and trying hard to do what you believe to be right, then you need to know something:
You are your child’s mother NOW. If you are doing your best, then you are already a good mother. Do not abdicate those decisions to your care provider, even if he or she has earned your trust. Your care provider, mother, doula, mother-in-law, or whoever else is involved will not be the ones living with and carrying the consequences (good or otherwise) of your decisions.
Because you are already Mother.