It's All Temporary
Before I had Lucas, I read Ina May Gaskin’s “Guide to Childbirth”. It’s mostly a collection of empowering birth stories - the kind you want to hear before you have a baby. Many of the stories feature women envisioning how their birth will unfold, imagining themselves open and present and giving brith. I wanted to be one of those women!
One of the things that stuck with me from those stories was how comforting it was to have a point of focus or phrase to help in the tough moments for almost every woman. So I adopted my own: “it’s all temporary”. The saying “this too shall pass” felt too philosophical for what I was about to experience. But the word nerd in me decided to look up that saying. I found that it could be derived from the refrain of a popular song at the time, “that was overcome, so this may be”. How fitting is that for birth?! For life?! I was excited and thankful to have this in my mental birth toolkit. And I needed it. When my contractions grew and grew, I was able to remind myself that this is all temporary. When I thought I may need a c-section I immediately thought of the recovery process but even that couldn’t last forever. So how many days have I needed to tell myself that since?
A lot! From stressing about jaundice to wondering why cluster-feeding exists - all temporary! The jaundice goes and the cluster feeds phase out; it all came and went. The smiles, the anxiousness, the excitement of newness, it goes too but self-assurance comes. Some activities start to come with ease while others remain difficult. The turnover while babies are little is amazing. They start doing something weird or annoying and within a week it’s something else. As they grow that changes too and can feel a little less temporary but it is. We all know they’ll keep growing into and out of clothes, attitudes, wants, needs, etc. Everyone says to remember that they are little for such a short time. And to that I say, THANK GOD. It’s tough to grow up because the growing can be painful; we know this, we’ve grown and stretched in ways we didn’t think possible. For me, it helps to know that on the hard days, change is inevitable. It helps to know that tomorrow is a different day. It helps to know that he will continue to help me grow and stretch in new and different ways.
I know that a phrase isn’t always enough. And sometimes the feelings are not temporary. We need real support in order to thrive. We need things in our mental toolkit but we also need people in our corners. We need our doctor’s/midwives/doulas to ask about our support networks during postpartum visits. We need to be asked “how are you feeling?” and not “are you doing ok?”. When the okay-ness is implied, we’re so much more likely to say yes, even if it’s not the truth.
Allegheny Health Network (as a former-Pittsburgher I’m very proud) has a major partnership with Chrissy Teigen to bring awareness to maternal mental health. I’m hopeful that her celebrity will call attention to how overwhelmed moms are and how they can get help. The initiative has the hashtag #mywishformoms. If you’re feeling alone, take a look at the posts under that hashtag. Reach out to someone on there with a similar story. Reach out to me. As a doula, I want to help provide women with the information and tools they need to be emotionally, physically, and mentally healthy. As a mom, I want women to be more honest with themselves and their families about how they feel. I want them to know that the hard days are temporary and they aren’t the only days.