This post is my entry into Little Stuff’s Aptaclub Preparing for birth app competition.
If only I’d known that being pregnant meant ending up with a baby. And gosh, writing that down makes me feel really silly! It’s just that when I was expecting my first child, the whole nine and a half months was all about me. All about the pregnancy. How could it not be? This had never happened before, this was HUGE! I was huge, too. But I was pregnant. I was allowed to be huge, and to cry at random television adverts and complain about not sleeping. I was allowed to get away with being too tired to wash up and too emotional to face cleaning the bathroom. This was all about me
Those nine and a bit months dragged, but they were special. I had daytime naps and long baths. I was pregnant.
And then? Then my whole world changed. Yes, yes, I knew I was going to have a baby. I just never really thought about it. I thought I was prepared but… I just wasn’t. I had read all the books about being pregnant, and giving birth, and recovering after the birth. I just didn’t read beyond that. Silly me.
Babies are hard work. They cry a lot and they demand stuff. If only I’d known. If only I’d known that the sound of their cries in the stark light of the operating theatre would be enough to reduce me to the most heart wrenching tears I have ever experienced. If only I’d known that the thought of my son being alone- with tubes down his throat and strangers’ hands on his body- for the first hour of his life would make me feel so utterly sad for such a long time. If only I’d known.
If only I’d known I’d be able to pick out my baby’s cry in a sea of wails. If only I’d known that being a mother would be the most emotional and difficult and easy and humbling thing I would ever do. If only I’d known that there could be real terror, real joy and real feeling now that I had created. If only I’d known just what it meant to be a mother.
As each of my babies has kicked and squirmed inside of me, I have held my hand to my belly and rested it there for a while. I have waited, patiently, for another sign of the life inside me. I have waited just as patiently for their entrance into this world and I have experienced three very different births. And for those who say that the birth is just one day, I say: If only I’d known.
My son’s birth changed me so much. There is no app for that. There is no app to help you with debilitating flashbacks to the horror that was cold eyes boring down on you as your baby’s heartbeat fades into nothing. There is no app to help you with the crushing feelings of suffocation, isolation and despair following a traumatic birth. No app to help people understand that while yes, your baby is here and he is well, things are not okay actually. There is no app for that, but there should be. Because there are more women like me; there are too many, in fact. There are groups of women who understand and who should be made into little apps themselves, to fight birth trauma and to hold virtual hands when they’re needed. There should be an app to let women like me know that they are not alone. If only I’d known that I wasn’t alone!
And at the end of the day, the wonderful thing about Aptaclub’s preparing for birth app is that it can well be a source of comfort for you. Throughout my third pregnancy, I relied heavily on the support of friends and family. Those were the people I turned to when my son’s birth threatened to consume me and my unborn baby. Those were the people who helped me to educate myself on pregnancy and birth so that this time= third time lucky– I was actually ready for it all. If only I’d known then what I know now.
If only I’d known that being a mother was going to make me ME.