An ode to joy - and pain!

We are convinced that it is imperative to lift the taboos surrounding motherhood. Thanks to your testimonials, you offer invaluable support to all women who are going through or have gone through a similar ordeal without daring to talk about it. Thank you for them, thank you to you.

Pink background with Sharing is Caring written on it

Testimony of Joséphine

"I'd like to talk about postpartum. Not because we don't talk about it - on the contrary, my young-mother algorithm is saturated with it. Maybe yours is too, or maybe it will be. I've seen a lot, too much, too many exhausted mothers, barely recovered from depression, who pour out their souls and demand justice: the fourth month of pregnancy is real, and its emotional impact is real, but no one warned me, so pay up, cry with me. Too many mothers broken like amphorae, or else mothers on prozac, exalted like teenagers, summarizing in unbearable Realities the checklist to follow to soothe a newborn, they waddle between boldly written cartels that they point to either side of my screen, ghostly smile on their lips, screaming music in their ears. I'm sorry, but I don't want to.

I no longer want to be told that it's normal to fall apart, or to be taught how to decipher my son like I would learn how to make pepper sauce, because motherhood isn't dying of boredom, I believe; it's surprises, it's revolts. It's unexpected and yet terribly banal.

So let's talk about postpartum differently. Let's say it differently. Let's say what's important to say: that motherhood doesn't have to leave you feeling sad or tired. Sometimes, the noisy arrival of a brand-new child in your life goes well. Sometimes it brings out parts of you that had been asleep in the dark. Let's say, then, that it continues above all to make you who you already were, and that it's this person too that you're going to have to look after once you're out of the hospital, this person and their body, since that's where it all begins. We dare say that sometimes convalescence will be long and painful, and that we cry not from exhaustion but from pain, discomfort and surprise. That the body will continue to be changed and in pain, and that if it takes nine months to make a child, it takes just as long to recover.

That's what I'd like to have been told.

Things we never say - that we discover with our mouths open. I wish someone had prepared me for the incredible profession of midwifery, so that I could understand them and help them as best I could. These women - these men, sometimes - who shook my hand and massaged my back when I screamed from the pain of labor, who held the door for me with discretion while I wept with shame on my first trip to the bathroom, legs shaking, rolled into a ball on the tile floor, shriveling, blood and bruises. We have to talk about these moments because they exist, and then about the scars that flesh will keep forever, observed with a magnifying glass by those little fairies for whom the damaged, torn body of a young mother is still a beautiful body, who no longer see the folds, the stains, the stool, the gas escaping from it, or who say nothing, who look at you closely, who smile at you anyway.

Dear midwives, you saved the days following the birth of my son, after I had been robbed of his arrival and drenched in painkillers. You gave me confidence and rest, you laughed at my victories and cried with me in the middle of the night, holding my arm for long minutes until the shower, laying my child's mouth on my breast. You had the smell of his skin, the smell of my mother, of my home, comforting everything in your path.

Thank you.

I would also have liked to have been told that childbirth can leave after-effects. That I might not be allowed to carry my child in my arms, or in a sling, because this body has to recover, and an infant is heavy. That this symbolic gesture can also be stolen from me, for months on end, and that not all mothers spend the first weeks of their child's life with their little breath against their neck, against their breasts. That the bond will be created in spite of everything. That there's no need to worry.

The heart will be full. The body will be empty. You'll have to get your eyes used to seeing nothing in the mirror and your kidneys used to carrying nothing. You'll have to stop bowing to the difficulty of a simple walk, your organs like dumbbells, your thighs tight, go to the end of the street, then a little further, where it was already difficult to go during the last weeks of pregnancy when your belly was round, and then come back trembling with pain, out of breath, crying in your throat, under your tongue, so as not to give the impression of crying all the time or for no reason - there was nothing difficult, she simply walked to the end of the street.

I wish someone had told me how beautiful night-time rendezvous with my child will be, lit only by a blue nightlight. How hard it is, yes, to open my eyes for the fourth time in a single night, but how simple it is to look into his if he's watching me - and he is. You could hear the moon singing, in this bluish room filled with hydrangeas. Maybe she's singing.

She says courage, she says profit.

I would have liked to have been warned about the virulence of the return from childbirth, and not simply to have been encouraged to choose contraception - or to have it chosen for me - because it's hard to wake up the body when it's in pain, even when you don't have any complexes, even when you're lucky enough to have regained your figure, and even if everything seems ready again. Please spare me the injunction of having to mentally pigeonhole myself as one of those who have got their sex life back on track, or as one of those who haven't yet been able to - or know how to - do so. 

Let me tell you, finally, that gestures and emotions will come gradually. That all this can be learned, slowly, like poetry. And that poetry is a love song, passed from mouth to mouth.

That this new life will have the color of sunflowers, blooming like a bud, always looking towards the same light.

I don't want to be pitied for this difficult birth, but I do want to be congratulated: you did it, and you can be proud of it.

Because yes, I am.

Here's to your three months, my baby, and to my whole year of welcoming you and unburdening myself of you."

Would you like to testify? MotherStories is here for you!
Send us your story.