I remember, distinctly, my husband and I sitting in the living room of our friends, who had recently become parents for the first time. We were having a glass of wine while their kid slept.
(though I thought nothing of it then, now of course I see this as a small miracle)
I knew we would probably choose to have children one day, but we were decidedly on the fence. Both avid scuba divers and with a great number of unchecked boxes on our respective bucket lists, the decision also seemed a bit life sentence-y to me.
Also, a researcher by trade and by preference, I could not get a handle on this one:
It sounded like having children was awful. And awesome.
No one could give me the straight goods.
But I hoped my friends could, as we sat across from them, the baby monitor filling the space with white noise as we sipped our wine.
“It’s not all that bad,” my friend said.
“People make it out to be this awful thing. No one ever talks about the good stuff. Really, it’s not that bad.”
Nowadays, I feel like I spend a lot of my time in my doula work preparing women for the transition into motherhood. I’ve experienced it for myself now, twice, and know that it is not for the faint of heart.
I often liken it to my travels in India: “It was simultaneously completely overwhelming and dazzlingly spectacular and wonderful, All. At. The. Same. Time.” (which, in and of itself, is, of course, a total mindf%&^).
I do a lot of postpartum support in my day-to-day life. Arguably, even when I coach with women for whom motherhood has been the catalyst that has launched them into a new career or a new lifestyle, I am still doing postpartum support.
And in that, I do a lot of warning.
“It’s a life change. You’re going to become a totally different person.”
“Things are going to look totally different for you now, and you’ll grieve the loss of your former self. Some parts of her will return, and some won’t, and none of this is going to happen on your timeline.”
I don’t mean to be scary. I do it because so many of the women I talk to say, “I didn’t know it was going to be like this.”
And I just want to show them a little bit of what it’s like, and to say that it’s normal, and that the transformation into motherhood is both challenging and profoundly powerful, if you let it be so.
Because there are also
that you wonder how you would have survived without
when a fuzzy-haired little head nestles into your chest, a tiny body curls up on your lap
and you become a home for another person, a safe haven, for a while.
It is unbridled pleasure. An exquisite honour.
That is motherhood, too.