by Andrea Umm Abdullah
Hey. I want you to look up for a bit. Look up from the floor. Look up from staring at your hands, wondering what/why/how. Look up from your stomach, the place that held your future.
I want you to imagine a friend is sitting next to you. I hand you a piece of tissue, tell you to wipe your tears, and I look you in the eye and I say, "It's okay."
It really is.
It's okay that it didn't turn out the way you wanted. I know you did your best. You took classes, you shopped for doctors, read books, talked to people and in the end you got this.
All you wanted was to have your baby the way you thought you were supposed to.
Don't let all that care, love, and thought you put in to the birth of your baby-don't let that go away now because birth was done to you instead of you giving it.
But you know what? That doesn't make all of your efforts and intentions worthless.
And it doesn't make YOU worthless.
I know you felt alone there on that bed, because the doctor was present but she wasn't really "there" for you. But remember that Allah was there.
I know you feel raw, exposed, violated, inadequate, and like a failure.
But you're not.
Maybe you didn't have support from your husband. Maybe your insurance didn't cover the doctor that you wanted and you just didn't have the money to pay out of pocket. Maybe your doctor was selfish and didn't care about the you - the person whose body was on the bed , or the body she delivered - a new person coming into this world.
You can blame your husband, the doctor, the hospital, you could even blame the country, but don't let all of that take away from now, or from your future.
Your birth does not define you. "Natural moms" don't have some special place in Jannah where you aren't allowed.
I know we women ask, "How was your birth?" We get excited to hear about how you defied the odds, how you triumphed against hospital norms and statistics and old hospital practices, but the look in your eyes tells it all.
There will be times when you feel like you are put in to that "other group" of non-natural birthing women.
But you know what?
You are in the much bigger group of mothers. And no one can take that away from you.
You need understanding and connection now. Not pity. But my empathy does little if you don't first have compassion for yourself.
So next time you get the interview and you can't bring yourself to talk about it, say, "Alhamdulillah, I had my baby and alhamdulillah I am here to tell you about it."
Maybe every drug, intervention, restriction, and procedure you were afraid of, actually happened. And I know it just feels so...unfair.
I know what it's like to have to fight from the moment you walk into the hospital. You have to fight to be able to walk around instead of being strapped, you have to fight to get up to use the bathroom, you have to fight for water, you have to fight for what seems like everything, and all of this just makes them more upset with you. I know.
I know it hurts, but your dream of becoming the best mother did in fact come true.
Just because it didn't have the whole beginning you wanted, doesn't mean it's over.
Whether you had a natural birth or not,
whether you will have a natural birth next time or not,
whether you have scars to show for a baby that didn't make it,
You are a mom. And Jannah is at your feet.
Today, I want you to look at yourself in the mirror. I don't care if you have to ask the nurse or the next visitor to hand you the make up mirror in your purse. I want you to look at yourself, puffy eyes, drained face, messy hair and all, and tell yourself, "I am a good mother."
And if it makes you cry, say it again.
Say it until it makes you smile.
Say it until you believe it.
And then go to your baby, look him in the face, even if he's sleeping.
Even if you have to get wheeled up to the NICU and whisper through glass windows, tell your baby, "I'm your mom and I love you and I'm blessed to have you."