Princess Kate Middleton is in labor, as you'd likely know if you've turned on a television or been anywhere near Facebook this morning. I want to believe that the paparazzi will allow her and her husband this time with privacy and discretion, and I have to hope that the cameras won't chase them all over town when the baby emerges, elbowing each other for that first picture.
You have to wonder when being famous automatically meant that you consented to being followed by total strangers 24 hours a day, to having flashbulbs go off in your face at every opportunity, to relinquishing any sense of privacy.
Obviously, I make the argument that it shouldn't. I don't just make that argument, I also refuse to buy tabloids because when you buy tabloids, you are encouraging that very behavior.
Anyhow, I wish them calm and peace, joy and love on this day.
It also got me thinking.
I've been thinking a lot about babies lately.
I had a bit of a revelation in a therapy session a few weeks ago when it comes to my experiences with pregnancy, childbirth and parenting newborns.
My first pregnancy was a true miracle. I've never been so happy in my life as I was then, feeling as though the entire cancer diagnosis and all that had led us to this moment. Then it ended in the middle of the night in a medically forced labor two days after an ultrasound told me that the baby had died.
My second pregnancy, a miracle as well, but a cautious one now because the joy was gone, ended in shock and panic when he came too early and was whisked away to the nicu and intubated. The pregnancy had been easy, and he was an easy baby once we got past all that, but those were the scariest 9 days of my life.
My third pregnancy, mostly uneventful, ended in an anticlimactic birth in a room full of too many people and cameras, but with a baby girl who was healthy. She would soon develop nightmarish colic that would last well over six months.
My fourth pregnancy was hell, from the moment of conception. I knew I was pregnant immediately and was sick within days. I lost so much weight and was so dehydrated that I needed IVs more than once. Towards the end of the pregnancy, I developed an irritable uterus, which basically just meant that I had contractions almost constantly. For six weeks. Then I tripped chasing one of the kids and strained every ligament and muscle between my knees and my chest. In excruciating pain, contracting constantly, I was just happy when it was over. And she was the sweetest, easiest baby. I developed PPD that was almost border lining on psychosis. It lasted over a year.
At this point, my therapist stopped me, knowing that I still had one child to discuss, and she pointed out something that I had never considered.
You had to combine all four of them to get one good experience. To get the joy of pregnancy, an easy pregnancy, a good labor and a healthy happy baby, all four of them had to be grouped together. Something bad, very bad, had happened each time, and I had never really allowed myself to think about that way.
Instead, I always just sort of felt like something was missing but couldn't make sense of it.
Even though I am a doula and help other women work through their experiences all the time, my own weren't making sense to me.
I can see it now, though.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, my fifth pregnancy was easy. He was early and tiny, but perfect. He was a good baby, but he was also not planned, and that fact set in motion an entirely different set of events that would tarnish all the memories that could have been good ones. That should have been good ones. I've written before a little about how, purely as a coping mechanism, I don't remember most of it. What I do remember acts as a trigger for my PTSD. My own child, a trigger for something that he had no fault in.
I know that it may sound odd, but as a woman who has been pregnant five times and who has four children now, I don't have many good memories of those moments in my life. Just playing the numbers, you would think I should.
I became a doula in the hopes of helping other women build those memories, but every once in a while, I wish that things had been different for me.
This is the part where I ask you not to lecture me about being grateful for what I have, because I am. I'm fully aware that society, women especially, expect and almost demand that we only remember the good pieces, that we never talk about the bad experiences because they mistakenly think that it somehow diminishes our love of our children. It doesn't. It just makes our experiences as mothers more real, more genuine, more honest.
I wish and hope for other women to have what I didn't.
And as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I'm a little envious when it all happens for them.
Good luck, Princess Kate. I hope another chapter in your fairytale comes true today.
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