Saturday, 14 May 2011

Hold on... I'm coming!

Why are we all in such a rush for everything?  We run for buses, trains, to catch the phone, the shops, the bank, the Post Office.

I think that we are really rather spoilt.  We live in I Want It Now street, Instantville.  Instant coffee, ready meals, packets of pre-grated cheese.  Emails, texts, BBMs, IMs, Facebook messages... oh you get the point and you want me move quickly along?  Right ho!

I talk about birth a lot.  I mean a lot.  Once people find out what I do for my "job" they all have stories to tell.  I'll listen all day to "good" birth stories, "bad" birth stories and the indifferent ones too.  I'll listen to tales of breastfeeding, why it did or didn't happen.  Advice given, sought, ignored, rejected.  I'm there.  I was having lunch with a friend recently and a young pregnant woman, on hearing what I did, came back and asked me for my three top birthing tips.  Lunch paused, cue my long-winded version of three quick tips (namely 1. Trust your body 2. Eat/drink/pee/rest and 3. Be mobile.  Gravity is your friend).

I spent the evening with a young couple and their 2 day old baby.  She was "helped" in an over busy postnatal ward after a caesarean.  Baby and breast were grasped and pushed together.  The result, painful breasts, poor latch, tearful mum, frustrated baby.  No time for sitting, waiting, watching.  And we talked. I told her that breastfeeding was like pregnancy.  Something that happened over time.  Look at the time it takes this newborn to crawl to its mother's breast.  No grabbing, no grasping, no shoving together.  Just patience and waiting.

Labour is another thing that requires patience and waiting.  Labour begins.  There may be a long latent labour phase.  There is a temptation to 'speed things along'.  Mum will have had weeks of calls and comments "hasn't that baby come yet?", "that baby really needs to hurry up and come now", "are we still waiting on that baby?", "aren't you fed up of not having that baby yet?" ad nauseum.  The baby moves slowly.  Taking time to find the right position, to turn and manoeuvre.  To slip into the birthing canal and do the dance around the pelvic bone, ready to exit and be born.  But the clock has started.  The countdown begun.  Texts and phone calls "We haven't heard anything from you for a while.  Is all okay?", the pacing in the homes of grandparents and friends.  The notes on the midwife's board.  Shifts starting and ending.

The second stage where Mum is now pushing.  "Hold your breath and push", "C'mon PUSH!!!!!!!!!" "Come on baby, stop keeping us waiting", "Get angry with your baby. PUSH that baby out!", "If that baby's not out in the next couple of pushes, we'll have to do something".

Remember, medical reasons are medical reasons and if that baby needs to be out quickly, then that baby needs to be out quickly.  If the baby needs to move with speed to suit timetables and clocks... well wait!  Let the baby come.

What about sleep?  What about having the baby at home?  Patience.  Wait.  Sleep when the baby sleeps. The house will wait.  Baby yoga, baby German, baby origami will all wait.  Allow your body to recover from the birth.  Take time to look and wonder at your baby.  Count those fingers and toes.  Watch those gradual changes.  Watch as your baby learns to sleep alone and to smile and to laugh.  Watch as your baby becomes a toddler, a child, a pre teen, a teen, a man, a woman, a father, a mother.  Time won't wait for you to slow down.  Time will march on.  But you can wait.  You can watch.  You can wonder.

I have planted some pots outside my front door.  The Wee Weapons want to know when the flowers will be big.  They want to see the results now, today, this moment.  I tell them to wait.

I have a favourite TV commercial.  A man is covered in bandages, his foot is broken.  The telephone rings.  The song plays as he hobbles across the floor to a phone that stops as he reaches it.  Hold On I'm Coming!



  1. This is a beautiful post. I tell myself every day to be patient, listen, watch, and enjoy life. I think the most important thing after love that I can give my child is time. So although there are occasions that I tell my three year old that we need to be somewhere, I try very hard to structure (unstructure?) our days so that we can go with the flow and take all the time we both want or need.

  2. I need this post as my screen-saver - it is a constant battle for me to SLOOOOW down. I actually think my lovely 4 year old is better at being patient than I am. However, when it comes to birth - it feels to me that time just pauses, the world goes on outside and whatever is happening out there, it just ceases to exist.
    THANKS - beautiful post xx