I spend a lot of time with postpartum people. Figuring out how to hold their hearts and help them thrive after the birth. Talking through the transition from person to parent, or established parent to parent of yet another. All of it is new, and all of it fraught with uncertainty.
People rarely talk about the grief of being a new parent, and really of parenting, period.
When you choose to parent, we have to acknowledge that not all people choose and some are forced to. And even still, in all situations, there is a grief. We decide or have decided for us that another human life will now supersede ours. While our culture will attempt to celebrate this, what is often true is the parents feel the anti-climax.
Why was everyone so excited? Why did everyone say this is the best thing that has ever happened to them? The best job they have ever had? It’s FUCKING HARD!!! And painful. And exhausting. And endless. Like grief.
Not unlike death, birth is a normal life event, though true-to-form for us modern humans we have made experiences of these normal life events as artificial and abnormal as possible. Being a normal life event does not remove the emotional roller coaster, the disappointment, the joy, the grief, and the birth and death of people as they once were.
In fact, normal life events should contain all of those things: disappointment, joy, grief, and the birth and death of people as they once were.
I have long thought of birth and postpartum as a grief experience, as both a birth and death. And Dr. John Neustadt and I talk about it in this podcast. I invite you to join the discussion, tell me what you think, and share your story.
And I want to specifically thank all of the families that let me serve them over the last 20 years…it is from them that I learned anything at all 🙂