“If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive” Mother Theresa
When major life events make us reconsider our priorities, motivations and role in the world, who can we talk to? How can we find ways to forgive ourselves for the bits that didn’t quite go to plan, forgive each other for the misunderstandings, and move forwards with new energy? Social Media Consultant Holly Christie joins us this week to tell us how she triumphed over the trauma of her first birth and went on to set up a consultancy to help other parents find their way after the upheaval of parenthood makes them consider a change of direction.
"When I had my son in 2009 I was fully prepared for what the practicalities of life with a baby would be like. I had looked after countless cousins, nieces, nephews and godchildren and felt completely confident in what I was doing. What I was not prepared for under any circumstances was the traumatic delivery that would be my son’s entry into the world.
"Physically recovering from the birth was a slow process and emotionally even more so. This seeped into every area of mine and my sons’ lives with no-one around us being able to relate to our experience and the emotional scarring it left behind.
"I started to feel frustrated with everyone around me. Well-meaning advice was interpreted as being bossy and controlling, and my sense of perspective had shrunk to a world which only my son and I inhabited. It was an isolating time which I found hard to navigate. The hospital where I had given birth was oversubscribed, so support was minimal with midwives and health visitors cancelling follow up appointments to check on me and the baby.
"As the weeks went by our bond strengthened and our love for each other grew. My son started to get the hang of feeding and I got the hang of helping him to do so. I breathed a sigh of relief and gradually my confidence in us as a family grew.
"The early days with a newborn can be a whirlwind of visitors, conflicting advice and misjudged good intentions. I felt extremely pulled between what my mother was telling me I should be doing, what my husband wanted and was being advised by his family, and what I felt was best for me and my baby. We muddled our way through and before I knew it a year had whizzed by and things somehow felt easier. Relationships with relatives had settled into a new normal and my world started to broaden again to include more than just me and my baby and our immediate family.
"With this new, lighter feeling I was able to spend some time reflecting on what had been a whirlwind, life changing year and to start to see life from a perspective other than my own. It took a lot of time to get to the stage of forgiving myself for isolating me and my baby in the early days. To forgive others for not understanding the emotional place we were in. The forgiveness didn’t just come from my side either. As time went on I found myself apologising to people for having shut them out and thanking those who allowed me the time and space to reach this conclusion. The patience of others during that time is something that to this day I’m still thankful for.
"The change in my life and relationships with those around me made me realise that the career and life dreams I had before having children had completely changed. If I was going to spend time away from my children it would be to do something I loved and believed in. After my second son was born, I set up This Demanding Life. Originally as a blog site, it grew to become a consultancy service supporting ‘parent start-ups’: companies started after the founder has had their own children and found themselves in a different mindset to where they originally thought life would take them. With as equal focus on work as family, my aim is to support people through these monumental life changes and help them navigate the new and amazing experience that children bring to the mix."