Maybe it’s age.
Maybe I have always been ‘like this’. Though I think it’s down to Brexit and to Trump and to the beginning again of the Indyref nazi-name calling – and the fact I am just wired and angry and looking to deflect.
Whatever – I am become less and less tolerant and more and more judgemental and angry – angrier than I have ever been before in my life (except maybe when I was going through puberty – but that’s another story).
Anyway – mostly I get up in the morning growling. And spoil for a reason to pick someone off or put someone down (literally and metaphorically – and hopefully before midday).
I have become ‘Outraged of NL’. And I’m not even fucking 50 yet.
Yesterday my crotchety sneeringness led to me leaving a sneering (yip, it really was ‘sneering’ – I definitely recognise it now as sneering) comment on a wishy-washy ‘oh woe is me’ whiney, self-indulgent Guardian article by a woman who fucking claimed her experience of childbirth ‘was akin to surviving war’.
She’s not been through a war (we readers of that sad sack article know she hasn’t). How can she fucking say something like that? How can a supposedly reputable paper print that offensive crap – whilst at the same fucking time carry articles about Syrian’s being murdered by the 1000s in Mosul accompanied by pictures of bleeding traumatised toddlers and wee tots and Mammies screaming and auld folk crushed.
If she’d just said something along the lines: my labour was hellish; full of blood, pish and shit; and I nearly died during it and I feel traumatised by the very memory of it. Maybe then I’d have understood – and I’d have felt sorrow for her. And that vague old mother remembrance, of how the first birth is a strange and powerful ordeal of the flesh and of the spirit, would have surfaced and I’d have felt bonded and all profound and pained for her. But I’d have known it was a transformation that was necessary and essential – that birth is life in extremis and that it would be very odd indeed if it didn’t dislocate and disrupt – effectively tear your life in two: marking before and after.
But she went too fucking far. She said (I’m quoting): “I am probably fairly typical of my generation of women: I married quite late and started a family late. I had had a lot of years of being an individual. I had all sorts of notions about independence: I thought my ability to think independently and solve problems was my primary asset. Combine this with a profound ignorance of children and babies and, indeed, most aspects of a woman’s traditional role, and it is plain I was ill-prepared for what awaited me.” and then, (cardinal sin as far as I was concerned yesterday – and today too it seems, as I’m beginning to feel that peculiar rush of blood to my head-feeling that presages raging incomprehension) “I had a dangerously well-developed sense of self. It is this basic identity that new motherhood would destroy.”
And then the comments section rapidly filled with equally whiney ‘no one told me it was going to be as hard as this’ and ‘no one told me I would disappear and it would all be about baby and I would lose my Self‘ women who should know fucking better.
Fucking lumping suffering jeeeesus.
This woman is an adult. It was as an adult she made a choice to have a child.
What did she fucking think was going to happen? Did she think she was taking delivery of a fucking puppy?
She says “but I had no notion of simply being a vessel”.
That tragic sentence is how she describes being pregnant. She felt she was just a carrier – a vessel. How fucking sad is that. That she was unable to recognise her pregnant self as her Self with a bit extra – a bit extra that she had actively chosen. The bit extra that she had purposely set out to carry.
Did she really go around the whole 9 months feeling like she had mentally and emotionally checked out? Was her sense of Self so monumental – but so fragile –that it couldn’t flex and grow? Was she so attached to who she was that she couldn’t bear to change? Did she really think that having a child was a bit like maintaining a hair colour and style – all outward but no inward growth? Ah jeez. I could cry for her. For all that she missed and lost.
Maybe the pregnancy was the very first time it hadn’t all been about her. The very first time she’d had to experience that very adult thing of compromising or being selfless or of sacrificing a bit of what you wanted, to do something for someone else. I don’t know.
But does she realise just how fucking insulting she sounds? Does she think the rest of us didn’t also have a well-developed sense of self? That we somehow didn’t know who we were. That we had no – or a weak – sense of Self?
Were we little more than empty vessels, pre-birth, to her? Devoid of personality or of wit or of intelligence and ambition?
It is this that she has failed to comprehend (presumably because she does not understand that this is important or perhaps that it exists at all): that we also had a flexibility – an ability to adapt to change. I think it’s called resilience now. In HR speak.
I do not doubt that she had PND or PTSD. From her description, she experienced birth as a violation – as a profound disturbance – a rupture in the fabric of her conception of life and living. And that’d be enough (on top of the chemical and pre-existing social cocktail) to tip her over into illness.
I wish that her experience had been otherwise. I am sorry for her and the baby and her partner that this was her fate. And I will lend my voice to campaigns for greater antenatal support.
In terms of her search for reasons as to why this had been her psychological post-birth reality – it’s clear that she suspects that it is related in some way to her age; her lack of familiarity with babies or mothers; her very well-developed sense of self and her conception of a pregnant woman as simply a vessel (presumably without personality or free will).
My sadness is that she speaks of babies and mothers with barely concealed career woman contempt. She really doesn’t like those women who were telling her to throw away her books – wtf? Did they really say that, eh? Truthfully? Did they say it in that laughing, knowing way that my mother and granny said ‘oh ye’ll have nae brain for books and learning when the baby comes’ (because it was true, for at least a short time and at least for me – I did have sod all ability to concentrate afterwards for a little while). Or is this just poetic licence – another melodramatic and self-indulgent literary exaggeration designed to underline – if we hadn’t already got it – that she was a rarefied creature, singularly unsuited to becoming a vessel.
I suspect that she has some inkling that the lack of support and the lack of mental preparation and the failure to flex – even just a bit – didn’t help her cope with either the traumatic birth or its aftermath.
Birth is not – unless you are my pal Jill who gave birth, aged 18 yrs, to a 10lb boy after a 1 hour labour and brought him up very largely on her own – birth is rarely pretty. Or easy.
The first birth is a trial. An ordeal. One that generally will take you beyond limits you didn’t know you could survive.
My own first felt like a violation. I was utterly completely not in control. I was not in the driving seat. I was a passenger and my body was doing this pain to me.
I was scared – terrified – and then exhausted and asking to die.
Under no circumstances did I want to put my hand down there to feel the baby’s head. I wanted to cry and I wanted my Mammy.
This was grown-up stuff and I was just a wee lassie and I was angry with Robert. Towards the end I bit him, drawing blood, as I was pethidined oot ma nut; had a foetal scalp clip line up my vj and was lying on my side to help ‘undistress’ the baby. She emerged blue and limp and I couldn’t have given a shit. I just wanted to cry and sleep.
I swear I got pregnant with my 2nd partly to prove to myself that birth didn’t need to be like that. And that I could perfect the technique. But by the 2nd the passageway is carved. It’s never going to be the same. So even though he presented with his brow – and managed to separate my pubic symphisis – it just wasn’t as sore or as long as the first. The fifth dropped out (I was standing) onto my Dad. No ‘skill’ involved there. (That was a bit of a surprise. For us all. Cos we thought I’d plenty of time for Da and Ma to take the wee ones and leave the house).
I justify my own anecdote by virtue of the fact that the writer’s was personal anecdote too. I didn’t refer to my own experiences in the comment I posted. I observed that the writer sounded self-pitying and the whole piece self-indulgent. That she was insulting to other women in her barely concealed contempt for those who didn’t ‘go mad’ after birth. That her own observations re sense of self and her attitude to motherhood as likely not being protective, were probably correct. I got a sense of sneering from her writing. And a sense of whiney entitlement.
Ok. It likely sounded patronising.
And I wasn’t being ‘a sister’.
I was judging. I was unsupportive. We sisters are meant to support and validate and love.
According to the hate-email (my first!) I received, I was ‘a fucking monster who should fucking die agonisingly and over a 48 hour torture trip’ for my lack of ’empathy’. (I sent back: ‘Hahahahaha. Your profile looks so cool. But hey! You really are a fucking cunt :-)’).
Jeez. How low I have sunk.
To respond. To the hate mail. And to be ‘triggered’ by the article.
Who actually gives a shit. (Me obviously).
Anyway, I hate my current level of flaky anger that manifests as this sneering superiority.
I wonder if an Independent Scotland will be the cure.
In the meantime I am keeping taking my iron tablets (anaemia is a shitbag) and trying to dodge the diabetic bullet by changing diet and exercising… though it looks as though it’ll be a combo of my low tolerance threshold for ‘stuff’ on social media/the papers/politics and my high BP that actually finally ‘does’ for me…