A little over two years ago, Emma gave birth to her now 2-year-old Son AKA “Little Chap.” On that fateful day, she overcame one of her biggest fears: giving birth. Here, she writes about how she moved beyond her fear, likening the process to that of a symphony, and crescendoing into her new role as “Mummy.”
Unfinished Symphony: A Transition to Motherhood
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been afraid of giving birth. Sure, the idea of actually being a parent freaked me out too – chocolate handprints on the pale curtains we’d saved so hard for, toddler meltdowns in the supermarket, how to not let Baby take over my life? But before I could solve these issues, I had to be able to face the idea of actually giving birth to the little darling in the first place (well, I hoped it would be little!).
Therefore, despite being one of the first of my friends to get married, I was the last to become a mum. When the “You guys must be starting a family…?” questions came along, I said we wanted to wait, be secure, build our careers etc. The truth was I just couldn’t visualise myself going through childbirth without having some kind of internal panic attack!
Eventually, of course, my hormones got the better of me and my maternal instinct overrode my fear of what was necessary to make it happen and yours truly was in the family way! From the moment we conceived, my fear remained buried but only until I read about someone likening managing labour to a tightrope walk – you don’t focus on the end of the rope, in case you fall off, instead you focus on taking one step at a time, until you reach your goal.
Thinking of labour in those terms really helped my perception of what I was facing – finally I had the tools to manage my fears – I could take control by focusing on each contraction. I knew labour was unlikely to be constant pain like on TV, but each contraction would be a crescendo and tail off. Perhaps being a musician helped too. In my mind, I thought of it as playing each phrase until the symphony was complete.
When the first contraction hit me in the Post Office, Baby was already ten days late and I was not about to be induced if I could help it! Therefore, it was with some relief that I greeted pains no worse than bad indigestion! As advised, I got on with life and cooked our dinner, after which I succumbed to a night of gentle bouncing on my gym ball. I later plugged into a TENS machine which helped enormously. The contractions were just as I’d hoped – a mild pain, a crescendo and then a fading away to nothing. Sure each crescendo in the symphony got louder (more painful!) but my TENS machine had ten levels and I wasn’t using more than a low level at this stage.
When contractions came frequently and lasted long enough, we drove to the maternity unit, my husband afraid that delaying longer would see us stuck in rush hour traffic or snowed in! I expected them to send me home, only to find I was five centimetres dilated (Go Girl!). The midwife passed me the gas and air (stage 11 TENS!), and I blissfully retreated into what I can only describe as a bubble for a few more hours, where I literally breathed through each step of my baby’s journey into the world.
After approximately 19 hours of labour, I finally felt the urge to bear down and luckily, the midwife cottoned on, as Baby’s head was crowning and my waters broke. Then at 11.03am, I cleared the final hurdle and delivered our son safely into the birthing pool for that longed for cuddle while they cut the cord.
One step at a time, I conquered my fears and made the transition from frightened young woman Before Baby, to walk out of the hospital a grown woman, a mother, feeling capable and brave. Just as well as there have been a few big transitions to make since.
As “Mummy”, I am still who I have always been, I just come with extras now. I’m still a control freak and sweat the small stuff (though my son is teaching me to improve!). I still love my husband and old friends (I just don’t get to spend much time with each of them to say so that often). I still adore listening to Guns’N Roses’ at top volume (it just tends to be on my IPod on the tube!). The thrill of going out to the movies, a nice restaurant or a fabulous party now depends on childcare.
Though I still have concerns about the new curtains and do my shopping online to avoid meltdowns, I have come to recognise that parenting, like birth, is an ongoing transition. I still need to take the tightrope one step at a time and like me, my son, my little symphony is a long way off finished.
Emma Jessop is also known as Mayfair Mum, a fledgling Mummy blogging about her hopes, fears and frustrations as she juggles part-time work with family and friends and all things associated. You can read more of her unfinished symphony at Mayfair Mum.
Share Your Story
As Katherine Center so eloquently puts it, “you have to be brave with your life, so that others can be brave with theirs.” Have you reinvented yourself in some way or are you owning your life and rediscovering what makes your heart sing? If yes, share your story and inspire others! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.