After working with so many families, I'm still appreciative of the wisdom that gets brought to the forefront about birth and parenting. Like this gem, a recent client shared at our postpartum with her 1-week-old, "The things I thought were important before going into labor just didn't seem important anymore."
And isn't that the truth?
It's wild to look back and compare the person you were before birth and the person you became after. It's bazaar and scary and - if I can insert my own experience here - very affirming. There is no telling whom you are going to meet when you dive into labor and face the reality that parenthood is on the other side of this precipice. Our gut-brain meets our logical brain, meets our emotional brain - and in the mix of anxiety, calm, intensity, and finally, DECISION TIME, which part of yourself rises to the top?
For many, including our client at this visit, they were surprised. They wanted to lean into the need for security. She started labor with confidence and was quickly overwhelmed with the pain and reality of becoming a parent (in her words). She made a choice she never thought to make before - and that's the point that I love - where someone has space and confidence to ask for what she or he wants at that moment.
This couple returned home after birth, feeling ready to start something new, only to be confronted with a new dilemma. Once at home, one of their beloved and devoted family dogs became aggressive and lunged at their new child.
Can you imagine? If you are an animal lover, can you picture the immediate shock and devastation? Can you feel the pain?
When my doula partner and I sat with them on their couch, one of us holding that precious sleeping baby, and the other petting their second family dog, we heard the story and saw the tears as they shared what happened. The realization so sudden that they couldn't take the risk, and are so sad to be losing a beloved family member.
The joy and sorrow were felt all around - with a new child and grieving the loss of their pet.
And as if there isn't enough grief already present when starting parenthood, that for this young couple, they are feeling this loss seems cruel.
We are so proud of this family. Walking with them through decision making for the last six months, and now be with them through this - making this choice to put their child first - they are figuring out what parenthood means, and how they will navigate challenges from the very start.
Sometimes the priority shift comes in becoming disconnected from friends.
Sometimes it looks like missing events, or celebrations, or for many, their regular daily schedule.
There is no way we can prepare you for all the ways your mind will alter your world after your baby is born. But we can help you as you start to try out your new parent-voice. We are affirming your choices. Asking for clarification here, or bringing attention over there, and sharing typical emotional revelations, so you don't feel like a freak.
Please don't think you will be the same person after you have a baby. Please, give yourself time to get to know your new mind and body. And please, honor any priority shift that seems out of character.
Give it attention.
Ask it what it needs.
Ask it why it's important.
Connect with this new you.
Birth is a transformation for everyone.
Ariel Swift (she/her) does most of the writing around this blog, but we love having guest writers and visits!
Doulas of Chicago offers boutique doula services for Chicago families looking to enhance their birth and 1st year parenting experiences. We can't wait to help you turn your home into a haven.