Dear Mother

Dear Doctor, Midwife, Mother, Sister, Husband, Childbirth Care Provider,
These letters are a compilation of letters that have been shared with me from some of my clients' journals. I ask many of the women I work with to start writing... forgiveness letters, truth letters, anger letters, secret letters... healing letters that allow them to be honest about what they are holding in their hearts.

Some of these letters make it into the hands of their intended recipients... sometimes not... 
Dear Mother,
Hi mom. I bet you are sitting at your kitchen chair right now wondering what in the world I am writing a letter to you for. Why not an email? Why not a phone call?

Well, my doula gave me a project, that is to write to people who I need to tell something to. So, you, among many people, are getting a letter. She said I could blame her for any hurt feelings, but it was my choice to mail this letter and I am going to own my own choice and feelings in this letter. This is not my doula's fault, it is my feelings and my choice.

I love you mom. You are an awesome mom. When I was little, you taught me so many things: how to be strong, how to not be afraid of trying something just because I was a girl, how to be proud of myself and how to see myself as beautiful when I was always the tomboy and never the prom date.

You helped me get my first job and were there for my first award. You cheered me on from the side lines and stood with me in my wedding when dad couldn't be there. You have always been wonderful to me.

But this, for some reason this has changed things. This 'pregnancy thing' as you like to call it, it has put a wound between us that I don't see being healed before our little one is born.

It started when I told you my (in my eyes) exciting news
"Are you sure this is a good idea?"

That's what you said. I called you right after I shared the news with my husband and that is what you said. I was blubbering with happiness and excitement over your first grandbaby and you asked if I was sure if my baby was a good idea. 

Yes, we are still newlyweds, and yes, I am still newer in my career, but it really is none of your business if me and my husband decide to have a baby. We are ecstatic, can't you be? Or at least keep your opinion and shitty comments to yourself?

It continued when we went to our ultrasound appointment
I thought how cool would it be to have grandma there for the ultrasound, after all, you never got to have one and had never seen one. So I invited you. You said you would love to but could I reschedule because you had lunch with a friend planned for that time. Really? I invite you to a huge moment for me and you want me to reschedule for your standing lunch that you always have on the same time and day every week?

I said that to you and you balked 'of course! If you know my schedule so well, you should've known better in the first place'. Long story short, thanks mom, for missing one lunch with your friend so you could see your grandbaby for the first time.

But then, while we were there, we had already told you we weren't finding out the sex, and you waited until I was all jellied up to start the argument. The nurse asked if we wanted to know the sex and we said no. You leaned in and said 'but you can tell the Grandma'. We said no, she couldn't.

You started actually pouting, arguing that how were you going to buy things for 'it' if you didn't know what sex 'it' was, everyone knows the sex of their baby, and how were we going to pick a good name if we didn't know... were we going to just give 'it' some 'spontaneous and weird name' at birth?

The nurse looked so uncomfortable. She gave me a paper towel,said she printed us some pictures, and left. I missed nearly the whole thing because I was arguing with you. Thankfully I have pictures. And even then, you wanted to take them right away and make copies, saying I was so unreliable I might not get it done in a reasonable amount of time and you had to have something to show for the time you spent there with us.

And finally, the birth
Yes, I am going to give birth at a birth center. No, I don't need an epidural. Yes, I know the risks, and I also know the benefits. No, I probably won't need a cesarean like you did. Yes, I will probably deliver in water. And yes, with a midwife and a doula. No, my doula would not have taken your place, if anything, she would have made it easier on you, either helping you to help me or simply enjoy the experience.

I say would have mom, because you are not invited to the birth.

I am not doing this to be mean, but because your recent actions has shown me that there is something going on that we can't seem to fix, or even talk about, right now. If we can't fix it before the birth (which is only about a month away) I can't have that drama or that 'something' in the room while I am trying to give birth to my baby.

You can say you will behave, but I can't risk it. I can't risk it because, if you don't behave, you will ruin my birth... and I can't get that experience back, I can't redo it. I can't chance your nervous, untrusting attitude of my pregnancy and birthing choices won't influence everything. I can't have you pacing, and crying, and pouting, and making rude comments to everyone. I can't have you trying to change my opinion, or supersede my choices. And I can't let this be about you. Because it is about me, the mother, and my baby.

I love you. I don't hate you. I am not punishing you. But, ever since you found out your little girl was going to become a mom herself, you seem to have forgotten how independent, competent, smart, educated, self-sufficient, powerful, proud, well-adjusted, and sound you raised me to be!

I'm not a child that needs parenting, I am a woman who wanted her friend, who happens to be her mother, to share in a special moment with her. But, for whatever reason, you have become the parent you never were or ever wanted to be when I was growing up: manipulative, conniving, coercive, pouting, flaunting, and dramatic.

Where did my friend go? I don't know, but I need that person in the birthing room with me, not whatever this is.

I can't wait to see you fall in love with your grand-baby, we have you on the doula's list to call when I am near the end of labor. That way, you can get to the birth center before anyone else does and see our baby. I have the outfit you picked out for the first outfit, and we will be taking lots of pictures so you can see them if you ever want to. We might even video tape it, although I joke I don't ever want to see it.

I would love to go to lunch sometime this week and talk. I really want to, but I need you to know all of this and choose to come to lunch with me. If you choose to go to lunch with me, please know that you are showing me that you acknowledge my feelings and want to talk about this. It won't guarantee you a place at my birth, but your willingness will guarantee you a place in my heart and mind of respect and gratitude.

Sincerely always, 
Your Daughter, who is about to become a Mother
Update: mom did end up giving this letter to her mom. Her mom declined the invitation to go to lunch. Her mom was not at the birth and missed the first few days of her grandbaby's life. She did call many days afterward to come see the baby. She also did end up asking to see the birth video many months after the birth, itself. Mom and mother are still working to define boundaries and roles. Mom describes it as a work in progress.


SolaceMama said...

Dear New Mama,
You are a strong woman. It takes incredible guts to stand up to our moms and up for our babies. Ask me how I know...
Thank you for sharing this letter. I am not ttc yet, but when we are pregnant I know my mom is going to balk at a lot. It will be my 3rd baby and it will be a different birth than the other 2. At least that is how I am planning. And I already know she thinks I'm crazy.
Thank you for reminding me that it's still about me, my baby and my family.

tara said...

I'm so glad that mama sent the letter to her mother about this. I am sorry that the mother didn't want to talk and waited to come see her own grand baby, but I am very glad that mama said what she needed to say and got the birth she wanted.

Kristen said...

This gave me chills all through out. I am so proud of the mom! It is wonderful that she wrote the letter. I also think of my daughter. I hope I can let her make her decisions and be happy for her when her time comes. (She's 4 now.) She may choose hospital and epidural and I will have to sit back and be happy for her. I absolutely love this post, thanks for sharing!

Rachael Heiner said...

This is so brave. And I think it's the right choice - to take charge of your birth and keep negativity out? It's amazing. I'm sorry it didn't work out for Grandma to be there, but in the end it was for the best I think!


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