You know when your friends have babies and they never tell you what it’s like to have babies, it’s the same thing. You know when your friends have babies and they don’t tell you about the aches in your ribs, they don’t tell you about the heartburn which makes you consume Gaviscon and Settlers like they’re a free drug. Nobody tells you of the nausea at the coffee bean you once loved and the fact you can’t even look at a cup of tea. Nobody tells you that you’ll drive miles for gravy granules and when you find the shop has shut you start hanging around various aunts houses in the hope they too keep gravy granules. Nobody tells you, you won’t sleep until you’ve had that gravy and new potatoes. Nobody tells you the smell of pork will turn your stomach or that really, anything will turn your stomach for 18 weeks. Nobody tells you that you will be literally terrified every day because you’ll be scared something goes wrong. Nobody tells you about kick charts, about immunisations, about grumpy midwives or visits to the labour wards. Nobody really discusses their birth plan or pain relief and NOBODY tells you about the actual pain!
After that, nobody warns you that the sleep deprivation continues for years and the worry continues a lifetime.
Nobody wants to put you off. Because the list above and the other million difficulties that come with being a parent is worth it and it’s so so hard to explain why – except it is, for me, and I think most – just love, makes it worth it.
My mum told me last night that when I was born she knew what I was thinking and she would look at me and know when I was going to wake up. She told me how her engagement ring went missing when I was a toddler and she asked me to find it, at 18 months old I walked to a tiny bit of grass in the garden and pointed to where I had buried it a few hours earlier. It was a lovely warm cwtch of a feeling to know you are loved and known like that. And it reminded me of how impossible it is to express the feelings of parenthood, of the love, of the hardwork, of the eternal change to your life, of the sacrifices you will forever make, of the corners you will fight, you can’t explain it.
And on the other side of birth there is the inevitable death.
Yesterday I sat at Alder Hey hospital and I felt such immense sadness at babies and young children and older children sitting there. My heart broke looking at the brave look on their parents faces and then I remembered that I had suffered, I guess, the worst of the worst, the actual loss of a child and it got me thinking, like birth – dying isn’t discussed openly either.
Again, nobody prepares you. Nobody can. What to say? You get a leaflet afterwards, ‘what to do after the death of a loved one’ and you read it and you see the words inquest, coroner, funeral director and autopsy and you think you wouldn’t accept it or that you would throw it away in the bin. But you don’t. Like a birth it happens and you have to get on and that’s the weirdest thing. Nobody can prepare you, just the same as birth. Not about waking up at 4am to write her funeral. Not about what colour coffin to choose or songs to sing. Not about how you return to work in a few weeks. Not about how work is impossible 4 months later. Not about how you will still manage to dance and smile sometimes. Not about the guilt you feel because you can.
It struck me the most important events in life are a kind of ‘secret’ we all keep. Even I’m keeping some because who really wants to know the dark, awful stuff about death and who can tell anyone else about their experience. You can’t. Because it is so personal, so unique, so different.
What we can share is the here and now, the memories, the fun, the smiles, maybe just maybe because it is easier, because it is less painful and that is fine. I think that is fine. Life is for living, not concentrating on the bad. Life is for living and concentrating on the good, on the joy of a baby, the touch of their skin, their first toothless smile, their clumsy attempts to crawl, their first gummy word and their hugs as they sleep on your shoulder. Life is about making the most of today, of this second and that’s why we concentrate on the nice stuff, the positives, the life.
And I think that’s a good thing.
Sent from my iPad