Birth Plans and Feeling Guilty

I went to a baby shower recently. As often happens when women gather, the conversation turned to babies and birth. I was seated next to a lovely woman I had been acquainted with growing up, who had recently moved home to raise a family.  We were sharing our very similar stories, when I told her that I had given birth at home and had a wonderful experience.  

“I’m so jealous,” she said as she told me she had wanted a natural birth but ended up with a c-section. I could hear the disappointment and sadness in her voice. 

“But I know all that matters is my baby was healthy in the end." She gave me a small smile. 

I stopped her. 

“Actually, I don’t think that is all that matters. You are clearly still very upset and sad over what happened and I think that is a completely valid way to feel,” I told her. Her eyes filled with tears. 

“Thank you so much for saying that,” she whispered. 

Well-meaning family and friends had told her to focus on her healthy baby. They hoped to help her “get over” her birth experience. However, she confessed it never really made her feel any better...only guilty for feeling disappointed at all. 

We all enter motherhood with high expectations. Whether you’ve dreamt of motherhood since cradling that first baby doll or stumbled into it by surprise, we all are filled with visions of what we will look like as mothers. 

I saw myself as the mother of girls. I saw myself breastfeeding well into my child’s first year. I saw myself never spanking

Inevitably, those visions and expectations get adjusted...if not outright destroyed. Some have a harder road than others. Some of us face real tragedy and life-altering situations. However, this is not a zero sum game. One tragedy doesn’t soak up all the sadness for lesser disappointments. To quote Dr. Phil (which I assure you I RARELY DO), “If you are sitting in a hospital bed with a broken leg and the person next to you is in a coma, that does not make your leg not broken.”

So, if you are out there right now feeling sadness over a broken dream, please hear me. Do not let someone tell you what you are feeling is not valid. Motherhood is a journey filled with missteps and stumbles and it is hard enough without feeling guilty over every fall. Feel sad. Feel disappointed. 

But please don’t feel guilty. 

What disappointments have you had to overcome as a parent?