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Patience and selflessness…

Pregnancy is a time in our lives when we are forced to face up to things.  Perhaps it is the first time in your life you have been larger than a size 10; when you are going to bed at 9pm because you are so dog tired you couldn’t possibly stay up another minute; a time in your life when the very thought of coffee is enough to make you projectile vomit.  There are things at work in a pregnancy that are so much larger than we are.  You are no longer in charge, but rather slightly subservient to a tiny tyrant kicking you from within that you haven’t even met yet.

I remember giving up smoking when pregnant with my first daughter – not out of some smug desire to be a good mother – but because I could no longer inhale the smoke without hurling.  What a shock to have my behaviour dictated by something I had created deliberately.  

I meet women every day who are in a state of shock that they are no longer in charge.  Not drinking; not smoking; not staying up late; parading about in trackie bottoms or maternity jeans; suffering from a cold and unable to take anything strong and go to bed; not dying their hair; taking vitamins; avoiding the fridge because of that terrible smell…  I wonder how many of these women realise what a great preparation this is for what lies ahead?

Becoming and being pregnant is just the start.  Once you have managed to survive your nine months (40 weeks – which is actually closer to ten months, surely?) you are only just beginning to learn about being patient and selfless.  Your baby will come when they are ready – not when you are ready… and although there is a huge psychological element to that moment when you go into labour, it is your baby that starts the whole process off, not you.  You are just hanging about, like the Worlds largest departure lounge just waiting for an arrival.  And babies can be late.  Very very late.  They don’t care when the maternity nurse is contracted to start, or when your mother is coming to stay or your husband’s parents can get down to visit.  You have to follow their lead – and get used to it!  It starts now and goes on for the next – oh, I don’t know, twenty years or so.

So waiting for labour to start is a good place to learn some patience.  Don’t be tempted by the hospitals administrative desire to get you delivered “in time”.  Unless there is a grave health issue, your baby is much better off if they are born when they are ready – not when you or an overstretched maternity unit want them to put in an appearance.  Dates are illusive things and although you may have been given a specific due date – knowing when a baby is due is based on a guesstimate and not an exact science.  Your menstrual periods sometimes have a bearing on this – if you have a long menstrual period (29-31 days) you are much more likely to gestate for longer.  Likewise if you have a shorter period, you are likely to have a shorter gestation.  But there are no rules!  Most first babies are born on average 8 days later than their due date and that statistic includes the induced ones who may have stayed put for much longer if they had been left.

Once your baby is here, most mothers choose to be led by them.  If you decide to demand feed, you can expect to be feeding about 12 times a day.  Or more.  Again there is no exact science here and you will find that you will pick up cues to follow from your baby very quickly.  I have to say most of the women I work with who are happiest are the ones who can totally surrender to being a new mother.  Who forget all about themselves and are quite happy to just gaze lovingly at their baby for hours at a time, who learn to trust their own instincts and observe their baby and their new role as mother with a sense of wonderment.  Some mothers don’t need to forge a routine or wrestle any semblance of control over their new charge.  They can enjoy just being - with their new baby; in their new role; enjoying their new family.  There is nothing more important for you to do at this moment and if you can let everything else fade away for a few weeks then please do.  Let go and relish this new phase in your life when you learn to be totally selfless, enjoying that amazing love you feel for your new baby. It is a lesson for life – as most truly happy mothers I meet put their families first.  Nothing else is ever as important as this.  Until you do it all again…

Posted on Sunday, December 28, 2008 at 03:26PM by Registered CommenterLucy Symons | Comments1 Comment | References1 Reference

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Reader Comments (1)

Well put dear friend. The world and the mommies of London are better off because of you.
January 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScott

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