The idea of Heal Your Birth Story came to me while sitting in a prenatal massage certification class many years ago.
Over the days in class…I sat there in circle with many other women, mostly mothers, and day after day each woman shared her unique birth story. It wasn’t something we decided, it wasn’t something the instructor asked us to do…it was what I now know naturally occurs when women come together in a safe circle. Women are natural circle creators, natural space holders, it’s what we do.
And like that…It dawned on me, as I sat there in a puddle of my own tears, that I wasn’t alone, that everything wasn’t perfect and that’s ok, and that we all needed to share our stories so we could feel normal again. I began to think about our cultural norms. How as mother’s in the US, we are not often, given the time to truly heal after birth. We don’t give ourselves permission to speak about what is truly happening for us.
Deep down we fear being shamed or exposed for not being pinterest perfect the second we leave the hospital and everyday thereafter.
We give birth, we are given a baby (or in my case two), a few days later we are discharged- confused, in pain, terrified and completely unsure of how to embrace our new role and from that moment on… feeling completely unqualified for the most important job we’ll ever have. We’re thrown into hyper speed… eat, sleep, change, repeat…it’s all a blur as we move from day to night, night to day… I swear my couch had my butt imprinted on it from hours of sitting there breastfeeding, in my mind saying – “this is the last time. I can’t do this again”, followed by passing out & waking up terrified that I suffocated one of the boys under the weight of my enormous boobs, they were HUGE.
We got rid of that couch and I gladly would have burned even though I loved it. I loved the marks that were evidence I survived this moment in life & so did they. Don’t get me wrong there’s a million miraculous things occurring at this time as well. That is not lost on me, or any of us for that matter. But there are also those times that all I could do was silently cry, wait for the sun to rise and try again to live up to my new expectations.
You see, we’re expected to not only know what to do, but to be ok –
….physically, when the simple act of getting up & sitting down feels hard, let alone caring for another life. We forget the magnitude of pushing a life out of our bodies -or- that we just had major surgery -or- the dreaded… pushing for 27 hours only to have a c-section… you know that mom…you are my hero.
We start filling our very hazy, hormonal mind with irrational thoughts that feel so real….we watch other women….we compare….“so & so was back to work in three weeks, so & so was working out in two weeks, how does she do it?” We confide in our girlfriends who share the same “omg did you see so & so, she never missed a step, she left the hospital in her skinny jeans??” silently sinking deeper into the sadness of our coffee cups, without even realizing what just happened…
We continuously look for confirmation outside ourselves
….almost obsessively on our digital lifeline to the outside world…facebook & instagram – at 1:00am – again – at 3:00am-…feeling worse and worse, only to continuously find the illusions of how well other women are doing it…and time after time what looks back at us… is our own emotional undercurrent of unspoken failure.
After opening my practice to prenatal clients I realized they would later become post-natal clients. One by one (not all – but enough) began to share their struggles. They begin to share how their marriage changed, how hard it is, how they still feel physical pain or discomfort in their abdomen that their doctor has assured them “it’s nothing”. I now think of this as phantom pain and do work in my office I call “womb work”.
The energy of emotions we keep in after birth is strong – particularly around accepting & embracing motherhood. This energy remains in our wombs & sometimes creates physical discomfort.
One by one- they began to share with me what they are afraid to share with their partner, their mother, their best friend because they don’t want them to know that they feel like they’re “hanging on by a string”. Some women I refer to counseling for postpartum depression & some are not quite at that point but are still in need of support.
So a workshop was born…
A place where women can sit in circle, as we are meant to do, to sit in a shared space with other women who are willing to be vulnerable, women willing to share their truth & shine a light on their experience – what helped them through, what they’re still working on. And what I’ve come to know, is that this workshop is often not about the actual birth, for some it is about the months that follow, the changes that occur physically, emotionally, spiritually, how our relationships with our significant other changes, how our best friend doesn’t understand why were not fine, and how no one ever told us about these parts.
No one ever tells us that accepting our new role as “mother” comes with a few challenges and that’s ok. It’s ok – if you “didn’t fall in love at first sight”, it’s ok – if “it took some time”…you will. It’s ok if you have to go to counseling, it’s ok – if you’re in couples counseling because you’re having a hard time negotiating your new roles. This is no easy time for Dad’s either…
Bottom line is…it’s ok if everything is not perfect.
There’s lots of imperfect things occuring that are ok….what’s not ok is if you’re not talking about it. What’s not ok, is if you’re pretending you are ok and inside you need help. It’s not ok as women that we keep pretending, even to our closest friend, that this part is easy…it’s not and that’s ok.
BUT here’s the thing….here’s what we never say out loud. We never say;
“I feel like I was forced to have a c-section.”
“I’m so angry.”
“I feel betrayed by my doctors.”
“I feel betrayed by my body.”
“I feel like I failed before I even started”
“I feel like my partner betrayed me.”
“I feel like I’m crazy because my doctor says I’m fine but I still feel pain.”
These are all quotes from my previous workshops…and forget if your baby has trouble latching. That’s an additional dialogue of self failure….no one actually tells you, for as beautiful a breast feeding is, it’s super hard, it hurts and it kinda sucks… until you get the hang of it… so if breastfeeding is your jam – hang on, it gets easier…if breastfeeding isn’t your thing – cheers to ya – bottles for the win! …you’re doing great!
Truly, I created this workshop out of necessity. I created this workshop for the women who walk in crying as they cross the threshold at the beginning of class. I created this workshop out of a desire to bring us together in circle, to be seen, to be heard, to be honored, to begin to accept our new roles & to begin to heal our birth stories together.
If you or someone you know would like to join us…. the next one will be held at the sacred, Mama’s Wellness Joint on January 27th at 1:00 registration closes on January 25th.
With Love, Light & Healing,
(now for you ladies who were at the gym in two weeks and rocking life…don’t send me hate mail…I think you’re awesome – GO YOU – I wrote this for the rest of us…)
Hi, love! My name is Ilia.
And I’ve made it my life’s work to support people going through those moments of transition. Whether it be from woman to mother, chronically ill to alive and mobile, or more subtly, from one way of thinking to another, I hold the space for you to grow. To ask questions. To feel deeply. And to embrace the gifts your life has offered you.