A labour of love


Photo credit: Flickr – Weird Beard


I haven’t spoken, let along written, about my labour except to close family and girlfriends.

This is because I think it’s a very personal experience and isn’t something I want to share online – just like I have shortened my son’s actual name to AJ for the purpose of this blog.

Physically, it was one of the most intense things I have ever been through.

A good friend of mine advised me in the lead up to the Big Day that it was like preparing for a marathon – eat healthily, exercise, look after your body, and you will instinctively know how to do the rest.

These proved to be very wise words, and I have since come down from my hormone-high and resumed normal day-to-day exertions with relative ease.

But apart from the obvious, initial strain on my body, I found myself left with some rather unexpected emotional wounds following AJ’s birth.

It feels like just yesterday that I held this beautiful being in my arms for the first time, someone who I felt an immediate and immense love for.

Yet at the same time I knew things had changed forever, and I felt an overwhelming sense of vulnerability which I couldn’t quite put my finger on, until now.

I recently came across the below piece of writing on Facebook, and have since seen it doing the rounds on various blogs.

I’m now sharing it with fellow mothers, fathers and parents-to-be to remind them that birthing classes only go so far in revealing the wonders of parenthood.

Sure, it’s an amazing and life-altering experience that I wouldn’t change for the world, but be prepared; you will never be the same…

By Dale Hanson Bourke*

Time is running out for my friend.

We are sitting at lunch when she casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of “starting a family.” What she means is that her biological clock has begun its countdown and she is considering the prospect of motherhood.

“We’re taking a survey,” she says, half jokingly. “Do you think I should have a baby?”

“It will change your life,” I say carefully.

“I know,” she says. “No more sleeping in on Saturdays, no more spontaneous vacations…”

But that is not what I mean at all.

I look at my friend, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of childbirth heal, but that becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will be forever vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never read a newspaper again without asking “What if that had been my child?” That every plane crash, every fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will look at the mothers and wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think she should know that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will immediately reduce her to the primitive level. That a slightly urgent call of “Mom!” will cause her to drop her best crystal without a moment’s hesitation.

I feel I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might successfully arrange for child care, but one day she will be waiting to go into an important business meeting, and she will think about her baby’s sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure he is all right.

I want my friend to know that everyday routine decisions will no longer be routine. That a visit to McDonald’s and a five year old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room rather than the women’s room will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that danger may be lurking in the rest room.

I want her to know that however decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother. Looking at my attractive friend, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not so much to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish his.

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or stretch marks will become badges of honor.

My friend’s relationship with her husband will change, but not in the ways she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is always careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his son. I think she should know that she will fall in love with her husband again for reasons she would never have imagined.

I wish my modern friend could sense the bond she will feel with other women throughout history who have tried desperately to stop war and prejudice and drunk driving.

I want to describe to my friend the exhilaration of seeing your son learn to hit a baseball. I want to capture for her the laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real that it hurts.

My friend’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.

“You’ll never regret it,” I say finally.

*This piece has been accredited to ‘author unknown’ in various places on the internet, but according to this site, the author responsible is Dale Hanson Bourke, as written in Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul


One thought on “A labour of love

  1. MarissaSmaro says:

    I had tears welling in my eyes just reading this … and I am yet to discover the wonders of motherhood. I know your labour was a rather difficult one, but I also know you’ll never regret a minute of it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s