Why I Did not Want to Hear: “The Important Thing is that the Baby is Healthy.”

Why I Did not Want to Hear: “The Important Thing is that the Baby is Healthy.”

A mother’s feelings do matter. They are important and must be taken into consideration. Unfortunately more than often people pay little to no attention to them. It is often not done on purpose, not with the precise intent to hurt, but that doesn’t make it any less painful.

Today I want to talk about a “phrase”.
A few words that after the BIRTH of my first baby, I heard many times. Words that after almost 7 years, still do not go down very well with me.
 
I spent 9 months going to doctors appointments, preparing the nursery, getting everything I needed for that little creature that was growing inside of me.
9 Months trying to imagine how it was going to be like, googling every information possible, reading books, trying to get prepared…
As I am sure most mothers do.
I did NOT want to hear, I did not NEED to hear:
“The important thing is that the baby is healthy”.
 Let’s not forget, during that time we are also trying to prepare ourselves for the changes that our life will undergo and also for that fundamental and certainly not negligible moment that is: CHILDBIRTH.
That’s when I started to hear things like:
“You are not the first woman to give birth”! Or ” Women have been giving birth since the beginning of time…”
I hear people saying this as if it was “nothing” , as if our fears were just a childish whim. As if it were not one of those MOMENTS in life that, for better or for worse, will remain engraved in our soul.
 
Since the instant I found out I was pregnant, I spent months mastering the breathing techniques, learning self-control, trying to visualise that moment, imagining the emotion at the time of pushing …

So pardon me if, when I ended up with an Emergency Cesarean section, an injury during surgery, between painful attempts to fix it, useless medications and staff that dismissed it all by saying” it does happen”… Excuse me if, on top of all that,  I did NOT want to hear, I did not NEED to hear:
“The important thing is that the baby is healthy”.
 
This sentence did not make me feel any better, it made me feel GUILTY.
“Are you saying that I do not value the health of my child and that I am only thinking about the fact that it did not go as planned?”
It is NOT so.
I can assure you, with all my being, I already know how lucky I am to have a beautiful and healthy baby.
I know, mothers like me know that that’s the most important thing. We know it, do not worry, we KNOW it very well.
But just because I am so grateful for the end result of having a healthy child, it does not mean that my other feelings about birth are not valid, important, or should be so easily dismissed.
It does not mean that everything else ceases to matter, that what I feel has no value.
 
We are important too.
A mother’s feelings and emotions, must be given the right WEIGHT, especially at a time when she is particularly sensitive and vulnerable.
Hearing this phrase only made me feel as if people were trying to diminish something that was important to me.
Living an experience of traumatic delivery is NOT a joke and it is not always enough to know that the child is well to let go of what happened.
It took a long time for me to recover from the physical wounds, but a longer time to recover from the emotional ones.
 
I am perfectly aware that often people, especially friends and family, say this only in order to help, to stay positive. I am not saying they do it with the specific intent of hurting you or making you feel guilty. However that is how I felt, and how many mothers like me also feel when their feeling are dismissed.
 
So, just a little heads up:
If a woman confides in you, expresses her discomfort,  there are better things you can do and say if you want to make her feel better, compared to a sentence that has the effect of diminishing her feelings.
 
You can simply say “I’m sorry”, you can acknowledge that what happened, is NOT how she wanted things to go down, you can ask about her feelings or better still, you can simply LISTEN.
<MsW>
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