We have a room in my home that we call the sun room, which is a very good name because three of the four sides have windows. This room has been a few things during our eight years in this house but currently I think it is in it’s best iteration as a pleasant work space and reading area. It is in this room that I have a little alter of sorts, or an area with beautiful things that are important to me (though not all of the things that are important to me by far – I have little alters all over the house). It is here that I have two poinsettia plants that we had been gifted for Christmas. When we were gifted the first poinsettia I thought it was beautiful but I knew that it needed special attention to encourage the growth of the red leaves and that felt overwhelming to accomplish. I initially kept it in my son’s room. Despite the east facing windows this wasn’t the right place because the poinsettia lost many leaves and grew really long, trying to reach the light. And of course all of the new leaves it made were green, which didn’t bother me as I was just happy to be keeping it alive.
We rearranged the sun room into its current configuration and I moved the poinsettia there, into our home’s greenhouse. Nothing much changed for a while. Then Christmas came again and we were gifted another poinsettia, this time much bigger than the first. I admit my first reaction at poinsettia #2 was something like, oh no, I guess this one will do poorly too. So I put it on my alter space with poinsettia #1 hoping that this was the place they really wanted to be. To my horror poinsettia #2 began losing it’s brilliant red leaves, fast. Was it too dry, too wet, too much sun? At the same time poinsettia #1 was so spindly and growing long in the narrow space next to desk I put in that the kids had accidentally broken off a branch. My confidence in growing these poinsettias was going down faster than the leaves and branches were falling.
Then, something clicked. I noticed one day that not only were new leaves growing on poinsettia #1 but they were red! And, in spite of the leaves continuing to fall off poinsettia #2, new green leaves were taking their place at the top. And in the place where the branch broke off of poinsettia #1, new buds were growing as well as a couple other buds on other branches. We had found a rhythm, these poinsettias and I and they seemed happy to be growing and making their own path separate from the path I thought they would take. Now I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have these poinsettias with their surprise leaves and growth.
Ok but didn’t the title of this post mention something about a birth and three paragraphs in I’m still talking about poinsettias? Yes, we’ve finally arrived at the birth part. The analogy may be a little vague, and maybe I just needed to talk about my poinsettias for a minute, but I wanted to touch on the decision to get pregnant again, after the first baby. Whether this is the second, third, fourth, etc pregnancy things are usually pretty different from the first, especially if you have little kiddos running around. YOU are a different person. I find many people are excited but a little more realistic about birth this time around because your body, or your partner’s body, has already been through it. You know more of what to expect, but it also opens you up to all the other possibilities of what you know could happen but didn’t happen with that first birth or what did happen that you don’t want to repeat. This can give people both a sense of confidence and anxiety, especially if the first birth wasn’t so great for you. It is 100% ok to allow yourself to feel all the complicated, contradictory feelings. It is 100% ok to not have all the answers.
Like the poinsettias, this birth is probably going to be different from how you imagine and different from the first. You will be in a unique position to be equipped with knowledge from your past birth(s), knowledge about your body (or your partner’s body), and knowledge about the birthing process and system in general. Probably at some point, there will be that surrender to the unknown, whether it’s the unknown of this birth, of how you will be as a parent of more kids, of the postpartum time … all of it. And then something will click into place and things will start to come together. I’m not going to lie, it could take years, kinda like my poinsettias. You could be still processing the birth or struggling with parenting but at some point there will be a shift and things will ease up. That is a moment to live in, a feeling not to be rushed.
For anyone interested in a Labor and Birth Refresher class, I will be teaching one on Saturday, July 27th from 2-5pm. More details on the Classes tab. We will touch on all these things and you can be in community with other parents who are doing this birth and parenting thing again. Hope to see you there! I promise the whole class won’t be on poinsettias.