Motherhood: The great unknown

New Zealand’s current Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has announced she’s pregnant. Hold the front page.

Even with the current social climate as it is, this announcement seems to be pushing even some of the most liberal men I know. One particularly close to me (ahem), debated that it was at least worth questioning whether it’s appropriate for a current prime minister to have a child. I think I saw him flinch a bit as he said it.

But it did get me thinking – not about whether Jacinda Arden is capable to be a mother and prime minister at the same time. After all our very own Queen Victoria had NINE children in her 63 year reign of the UK – and that was back in a day when the royal family really did rule the country.

What I was considering though, is whether Jacinda Arden has considered how she might change through the process of Becoming A Mother?

A friend recently asked me why mummy bloggers are happy to ‘just be known as a mother’. Meant innocently enough by a twenty something friend, the implication being that women have so much more to offer than just being a mother. I smiled a wry smile which may have appeared to be in agreement, but is a well practiced look when talking to someone who just doesn’t understand. They’re not in that place and if you haven’t been in that place you really don’t know. How could you?

The birth of my sons was in the main, raw and painful and terrible and harrowing. It wasn’t the worst birth story I’ve heard and very very thankfully it ended happily but equally it was not the best.

In my hormonal state I felt let down by medical decisions at the hospital, I was given a full spinal block that worked too quickly and petrified me with full body paralysis. I was literally torn in two by the ‘need’ to give birth to my twins naturally (not my need) and when it came time to sew me back together, I was told there was literally no skin left to sew.

If I’ve ever come close to telling that story to friends male or female, I stop short of the ‘gory details’ unless of course they’re mothers themselves… no matter their own birth story when talking turkey with a fellow mum we can take the pain.

We’ve looked life in the eye and been to the point of no return. The point when anyone in any other situation may turn away, say it’s not worth it, pack their bags and leave. The point where self preservation kicks in. But in this instance it doesn’t. Because you’re not the most important person anymore. You are secondary, your body, your pain is no longer important. And it doesn’t really seem to matter (from my anecdotal research) how your baby comes into the world – the pain of healing post major abdominal surgery of a c-section or a childbirth led by hypnobirthing where pain was minimised, the common thread is that we became mothers. In that moment you witness exactly how far your body and mind will go for someone else.

And when you’ve been through all that, how can your perspective on life not be forever altered? And we’re only at the birth! Not mentioning the moments of utter joy married with moments of complete darkness that can seem relentless when bringing up these young men and women.

This shift can often be unexpected. I’ve had many a friend who was previously the last in the office, driven in their career shift to a new found need to be with their child that sees them not return to work. And vice versa too.

An individuals version of motherhood is impossible for anyone else to comprehend – we don’t even know how we will feel, change and evolve ourselves.

Photo by Anna Turner Photography

Photo by Anna Turner Photography