Funny story. After the horrors of first trimester morning sickness finally subsided, I breezed into the second trimester effortlessly. I was bouncing with energy, the bump was starting to show, I could eat for pleasure again. It was a generally nice time. One small, itty bitty thing, which didn’t bother me in the slightest but probably upset my loved ones enormously, was an increase in bodily gas. I might go as far as to describe myself as a wind machine. Available for hire at a photoshoot for long haired lovelies near you, nose plugs included.
Do you remember that episode of Sex in the City where a heavily pregnant Miranda is having some farting issues and she accidentally pulls her own finger? I found that offensive to women at the time. It ticked me off that a poor, vulnerable pregnant woman should be portrayed in such an undignified way. Ha! What a muppet I was.
I was burpy and farty. A Purple Ronnie greeting card, if you will. At home, I relished in it but at work obviously professional decorum required that I keep control of my gassiness which I did. Until one day…
…a lovely, friendly colleague of mine was showing me something on her PC. We were having a chat about something worky and then she made a joke which was pretty funny. So I laughed…and so did my bottom. A loud, high-pitched, sharp but short laugh.
There then followed an awkward 30 seconds of nervous laughter on both our parts where either she didn’t hear it or did an excellent job at pretending she didn’t hear it and I stood there praying – praying my farting ass off – that there wouldn’t be any follow up odour because there was a fairly good chance there could be.
There wasn’t. Phew.
Obviously, we never spoke of it. Not to each other anyway. I certainly didn’t mention it to a soul at work because that would be to acknowledge that it actually happened. I can only presume that she has regaled our colleagues up and down the corridors with the tale. Fair play to her if she has. I know I would.
This is a quick but important one! It really isn’t slightly insightful but it’s good to know if you’ve never been responsible for a tiny baby before:
Things I learned #6: babies make lots of noise at night when they’re sleeping. And I mean LOTS.
It’s the dead of night. The baby is fast asleep in the bed/basket/cosleeper/whatever you’re having yourself beside you, grunting and shuffling with the occasional loud screech followed by a whimper. Maybe there’s a bit of thrashing around going on too.
You’re peering out from under your sheet at them, bleary-eyed and white faced with exhaustion and worry because you think they’re awake or about to wake up or hungry or lonely or in pain or sick or <insert other possible scenario here>. I worried enough about this to ask my GP at my six week check! She made the excellent point that if they weren’t okay, they’d wake up. V sensible advice indeed.
It’s okay, go back to sleep. They’re sleeping like a baby 🙂
I spent all of my teens and early twenties being horrified at the concept of motherhood. The idea of getting pregnant and having a child was alien to me. Alien enough, that when I was in college I always had enough money set aside to make a trip to England just in case such a scenario should arise. I know that’s probably upsetting to a lot of people but it’s the truth. Motherhood was so alien to me that I fleetingly contemplated the idea of getting my tubes tied while I was still sensible and clearheaded and not overrun with irrational hormones and the relentless quickening tick of my biological clock. Of course this was ridiculous youthful, inexperienced idiocy at its best but it provides a good example of where my thinking was.
At some stage my opinion changed where having a baby didn’t seem so unreasonable but that was for other people and I lived my life is a child free zone, interested solely in reaping life’s benefits for myself, living one hedonistic, free-spirited day to the next, not particularly interested in the future outside of trying to climb up the career ladder. (Incidentally, I’ve misplaced my ladder. Have you seen it?).
Then one day I wanted a baby, and boy did I really want one. I couldn’t and can’t explain the overwhelming desire, a need almost, to have a baby. This eventually turned to desperation as months went by without any success. My daily life and my decision making was deeply affected by this waiting and wondering as to why nothing was happening.
It took us exactly two years to conceive, a passage of time that was long enough for us as a couple to think about, discuss and make important decisions for where our life would go if it turned out we couldn’t have children unassisted or indeed at all. One of the light bulb moments for me was realising that if we weren’t going to have children, then I needed to radically change my life.
I looked at my job and where my career seemed to be headed. I looked at where we lived, how we spent our free time, what our ambitions and dreams were, the choices we had made and thought, well if there aren’t going to be any children in this picture, life has to get damn well more exciting and full and satisfying and meaningful then it is right now because right now, life wasn’t good enough. If there won’t be any children, then these…compromises, let’s call them…that we’ve made to faciliate starting and having children need to go. And that’s what they were, compromises. A lot of life and living is compromised and sacrified when you have children. Listen, when I did finally get pregnant, I was more than happy to compromise and sacrifice – and would have compromised and scarificed a very great deal more – but that doesn’t downplay that you do have to make trade offs when you have children. You have to limit yourself to create a limitless world for your babies.
Since I have become a mother, my life has been enriched and I have felt love and received love in ways I never thought possible. It has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. But at the same time, it is the hardest thing I have ever done, or will do, in my life. I wanted it more than anything and still it has at times pushed me to the edge of reason. This experience all by itself has convinced me that motherhood is most definitely not for everyone. If I suspended two years of my life and put literally everything on hold while we tried to make a baby and still struggle with the challenges of mothering and parenting my son, what must it be like for a woman who finds herself with a baby when she never wanted to be a mother in the first place or circumstances have prevailed where she felt pressured to have a family?
Given the stage of life that we’re at now, with a toddler and moving in social circles with other people who have small children or babies on the way, myself and my husband often find ourselves engaged in conversations about responsible or acceptable fathering with horror stories of men’s reactions to having children and their adaptation to their new life. Stories of selfish, self absorbed, hands off, unsupportive fathers are regularly churned through rumour mills and usually end with “some men just aren’t cut out to be fathers” as if that’s a pefectly acceptable reason for a man to shirk his responsibilities. We NEVER hear the same phrase being used about women. Women are not allowed to be described as “not cut out” to be mothers. It’s like we believe that every women has an inevitable destiny to be come a mother. Because she has the biological potential, it must be realised unless something physiological prevents it. Society does not allow a woman to not be a mother because she doesn’t want to and yet the many reasons not to be are vast. Who can deny that the world is your oyster if you don’t have children? You can pursue any dream, goal, career, passion, adventure, fantasy, anything that you like without having to take anyone else into consideration. There is nothing holding you back. This is a very attractive option for your life.
If it is acknowledged that some men are not meant to be fathers and we know that there are incredible fathers in all walks of life also, surely we can deduce that some element of fatherhood is personality based? A man can have a personality and a set of morals and values that are inclined towards or inclined against being a father. Obviously, it’s the same for women. Our own experiences, our communities, our families, society and the media tell us that there are many mothers out there who should never have become mothers and have done unspeakable harm to their children because of it. One of my mottos for life – of which I have quite a few – is “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” This can apply to almost anything. Just pick something that you able to do, and ask yourself if it’s the right thing to do. All women can be mothers, be it biological or otherwise. There’s compelling reasons for many not to be.
I admire women who look into themselves, recognise that motherhood is not for them and choose not to be a mother. Maybe more women need to do this and know that it’s okay to make that decision. I applaud women who are brave enough to tell people that they don’t want any children because we certainly don’t make that easy for any woman. We tell her she’ll change her mind when she meets the right man. We tell her that her biological clock will ring too loudly in her ears and she’ll come around. We call her selfish. We assume she’s infertile and must secretly be dying to have a baby.
She doesn’t want a baby. She’s knows herself well enough to know that having children and being a mother isn’t for her. Being a mother is a life choice, as legitimate as any other choice, like getting a mortgage or travelling the world for a few years. Let women make their choice and then leave them alone.
I’m still basking in the afterglow of the Olympics and sharing it all with you lucky ducks who are probably well over it at this stage! Apart from the boxing giving me inspiration for How Long is 90 seconds?, watching the swimmers with their headphones on right up to poolside and listening to the language used by athletes of all disciplines during interviews reminded me of the similarities between sports psychology and hypnobirthing. It makes perfect sense to me that the philosophy of one could be applied to the other, given that they both involve the mental preparation for a defined, time sensitive, challenging physical event.
I used the Gentlebirth homestudy programme during my pregnancy and I’m sure this sounds hyperbolic but the programme really did change my life. Not in the tabloidy “I left behind my old life and found who I really am” kind of way but practicing the programme and internalising the thought process had a deep effect on me that has influenced my thinking in other aspects of my life apart from pregnancy and birth.
The Gentlebirth programme was created specifically for Irish users and is designed with an understanding of how the Irish maternity system works. It involves listening daily to audio tracks and using a workbook to prepare your mind for labour and birth by addressing your fears and anxieties and turning around your thinking so that you are calm, confident and in control. It also helps you to build a toolkit to keep out negative thoughts and influences and to tune into your body and its natural instincts. The workbook is particularly useful for providing information on how hospital policies operate and empowers you to get the birth that you want rather than what might be convenient for them.
Some women listen to their Gentlebirth tracks while they’re in labour and find it really helpful. I didn’t do this because I needed all of my concentration to focus on getting from one breathe to the next but it was Gentlebirth that gave me the tools to know and focus on this. If you have read my birth story, then you know that I firmly believe that the programme was fundamental in the positive experience that I had.
Just as importantly though, it really had such a positive effect on me during my pregnancy and in the weeks after the birth. It really helped me to get good quality sleep. It helped me turn Baby S when he was in a breech position. My first listen to the Gentle Induction track conincided with the day I went into labour.
I was hugely sceptical of the affirmations initially. They sounded pukily happy clappy to me but they were a great track to march along to when I was out walking and once I got into the swing of it, I found them hugely powerful. Even now, when I hear people talk about women having MASSIVE bumps and probably having a HUGE baby, straight away my brain – followed swiftly by my mouth – automatically says “your baby is the perfect size for your body”. It just comes out. I must say it a lot actually because a friend recently said to me that she has repeated it to other people after hearing me say it and realising that it’s true. I’m such a convert to affirmations that I use them daily to remind myself what an awesome lady I am 😉
I was on a high for weeks after Baby S was born. Even though my body was exhausted, my head would be racing and I would listen to a track called New Mother Meditation to help quieten my mind and relax enough to nod off. Honestly, if I didn’t have this to help me sleep I would have been walking around wide-eyed and delirious like a loon.
It was so lovely to have access to a tool that takes something that is culturally shrouded in so much fear and negativity and turn it into something positive and life affirming. Which it is, of course! I looked forward to giving birth and I believed my body could do it. These days I find that I believe I can do other things too so I just go and do them. Hurray!
The beauty of Gentlebirth is that it is a universal tool for pregnant women, regardless of their birth options. Whether you’re planning a natural birth, thinking of an epidural, having an induction or scheduled for a Caesarean, there is something for all of those scenarios in Gentlebirth so that you can have the best possible outcome for you and your baby. I know that reads like a sales pitch but in all honesty it’s because I love it so much. I’m happy to cheerlead it for anyone who’ll listen!
Have you any thoughts or experiences about hypnobirthing?
There a couple of great bloggers out there who have also been through the programme. Mama.ie has a post called There Is A Better Way to Give Birth and a whole host of other hypnobirthing related articles if you’d like to check them out.