If you want a lesson on diplomacy, plan a wedding.
That’s my own quote, inspired by planning my wedding. Better than completing a poli-sci degree, though just as (if not more!) expensive. Haha.
Before I get into that I want to talk about happy things. A dear friend just had a baby, and it was a treat to see her and her newborn. If you’re wondering when and if it is a good time to visit a new mom, read this first.
She looked great. Healthy and gorgeous shortly after giving birth. It was a quick labour – a blessing she calls it. The baby was due early. Her labour was induced, because the doctors wanted her baby, a tad underweight, to enter the world earlier to get extra nutrients from man-made means. Motherhood is hard. You can stop reading if you want to be spared the details. You become a feeding machine, waking up every 2 hours throughout the day to feed your child. Your breasts ache, and any inflammation makes them hard like a snooker ball and excruciating to touch. I’ve learned these facts from biology class, blogs, common knowledge. But I didn’t think I really understood until someone close to me was going through it, and I saw it for myself. Perhaps I still don’t get it. I’d have to have a child of my own to fully join the club.
There are a lot of complex emotions, for the mother, for the observer too. How is such an unfathomable degree of pain managed? She told me she was in so much pain that she begged for a C-section, an hour into waiting (not yet in the labour room though). Any release, a knock-out, at that moment was better than enduring another contraction. Luckily the doctor wasn’t around. The nurse encouraged her to hang on just a bit longer. “Everyone goes through the same process“. Natural birth, apparently, despite the pain, is much better for mother and child. Well it makes sense. Isn’t the doctor cutting you two or three layers? There’s the stomach, then the uterus…I’m not sure if there’s anything else in between. But yes, stitches inside and outside – how’s the inside bit ever going to heal?
I wonder if animals experience as much pain. I’ve seen other mammals give birth on Animal Planet. It doesn’t seem as bad, plus it’s pretty much a one “lady” show, no OB-GYN or nurses around. Animals seem to handle it so much better. Why do humans seemingly plan for a battle every time a child is born? There’s the birth plan (of attack), the classes (strategy and knowing the enemy: contractions), the prenatal checks (ensuring optimum health condition), assembling your A-team (hubby, mother, care-giver, wise-grandma). And gosh, when you’re in the field, all training goes out the window. The pain, I’ve said above, is unfathomable. It takes the first-timer by surprise. There’s no mercy, no exceptions. You might be lucky to cheat with an epidural, but not everyone wants a big needle down their spine.
But I wasn’t here to just talk about the horrifying pain. Birth stories are also about hope, and close calls. I often hear about babies being born just in time, otherwise they’d have suffered suffocation in the womb. Or a mother just making it in time before the doctor orders a C-section. Or babies born way too prematurely so have to sleep in incubators at first, only to grow into strong, beautiful, lively people. The impressive phenomenon where the mother is still recovering from giving birth, and weak from all her wounds yet still switches straight to provider mode, waking up with her baby and finding the energy to pull through, amazes me. One day at a time.
I still don’t get it. I’m only theoretically appreciating motherhood from an observer’s perspective, from a friend of someone-having-been-there-done-that viewpoint. But as an outside I’m still in awe, and give my utmost respect for every mother out there.
I got distracted, too much to talk about in a birth. The diplomacy regarding wedding planning (I wanted to talk about guests and their kids…) will have to wait!
Featured image credit: makelessnoise | Creative Commons, extracted from http://www.motherhoodandmusic.com