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  • Lois Vanessa Erhart

Understanding Grief: ‘Every birth is a gift, but with every birth there is also a loss’

Just like in any transition, you may already be aware that you’re leaving some of your past behind, even if just temporarily. This is a very important part of the process, it's very normal and important to grieve. Maybe your past self was an excellent rock climber or salsa dancer, and although she may well be able to climb or dance again, she will need to pack away her shoes for another time. I mean this literally, if there is something that you associate with your past life, take time to pack it away in a pretty box and say goodbye for now. 

It was really tough to pack away all my midwifery equipment in the weeks before my daughter was born, and although I knew I would be using it again soon, it felt symbolic and sad.

Being a midwife was such a big part of who I was, I'd just completed a year of beautiful home births and really good care and just when I felt I was at the top of my game, I was going to have to stop for a while. I redirected my emails and had an automated message informing clients that I was on maternity leave. I was leaving a world I made for myself and my clients.

This was obviously bitter sweet, because whilst packing away my midwifery equipment, I was making space in my life LITERALLY! (it's a lot of equipment!) for myself, my pregnancy, my birth experience and my baby.

Before you know it and only when you're ready, you’ll be climbing rocks, riding bikes or in my case assisting births. 

There are also things that we may have to give up for a much longer time. Traveling is still possible, but it's impossible to do as spontaneously as you maybe once did. Traveling with a baby requires planning and a lot of packing in order to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. 

You will hopefully still have the chance to see all the places in the world you planned to. Be patient. Our time with our children really is very short, after that the world is our oyster again!

It's not just our plans or jobs or hobbies we grieve but elements of who we were! I used to be so strong and independent! I became really soft and vulnerable during the pregnancy. That was hard! I really missed being able to deal with things rationally.

But actually, wouldn't you rather have a mother who is soft and vulnerable AND strong and independent? These changes are ones that can often leave us far richer and deeper than we were before, if we let them. 

Every birth is a gift, but in every birth there is also an element of loss, the loss of who you once were and who your partner once was. I really encourage you to take time to reflect, and grieve together. 

You are YOU at the core, and that will never change

No matter what happens during pregnancy, birth or postpartum, you will remain YOU! We grow and learn but no one can take away who you are. A good way to remind yourselves of this is to use your own names when referring to each other. Don't forget your partner is who they are too! It may be that undesirable or unfamiliar personality traits appear, remind yourself ‘this is me, this belongs to me too. I'm funny and interesting and protective and jealous and honest.’


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