For me it's apologizing. Or was.
I was at a party last fall where I was called out by a friend (in a nice way) who made me realize I am/was a habitual apologizer. I would say "I'm sorry" in situations that were just plain unnecessary.
We have a language where hundreds and hundreds of other words could be used, and I was editing down to an apology. I know I'm not the only one here that can identify with this.
Mostly I know because I work with people who do it all the time. New moms. (I would say parents, but I don't really have moments with male parents where this comes up.)
And moms are saying it about things that require no apology. At all. Like feeling pain while in labor. Or needing to feed their baby...again.
- Having contractions Oh, wait just a minute, I'm sorry, I can't answer your question I'm having a contraction....
- Being thirsty in labor I'm so sorry, can you get me my drink?
- Changing positions No, no, no...I need to move, I'm sorry this position just doesn't feel good!
- HAVING A BABY I'm sorry I made such a mess!
- Being sore I'm sorry I'm moving so slow.
- A messy house (even if it isn't messy) I just haven't had time to pick up. I'm sorry you have to see it like this.
- A crying baby I'm sorry! I'm sorry!
- Being in Bed I'm so sorry you have to be in here and see me like this.
All of the things mentioned above are real situations that have happened, and I would bet all are common for many other doulas as well. Some women prefer to be extremely private, so for them it IS completely odd and horrible that a visitor would be in her home and see this part of life.
But guess what. I'm a doula.
It's not a statement I make often, but in reality I've seen a lot of vaginas and touched a lot of breasts. The world of birth is not a scary or grotesque world for me, and the state of your living room, your baby's temperament, or your manner of dress are not judged.
You don't get points deducted for having unopened mail or a sink full of dishes. In fact, how about I do those dishes real quick for you...No...it's fine...just relax! Tell me how you're feeling. How was last night?
One of the things I talk about with my clients is how to prepare with realistic expectations of the postpartum period. Not just with their own bodies, but with guests and family too.
If it is important to you to have a clean home and a spread ready to go whenever guests may arrive, let's talk about ways I can help you prepare for that so you personally won't have to take over the brunt of that work AND the work of being a new mom.
Sorry Not Sorry
Hashtags can be cheeky, silly, expressive, annoying, or whatever....
But I have fully embraced the #sorrynotsorry hashtag. It was a step in my recovery, if you want to call it that.
Just because I was made aware of my habit of apologizing didn't make it easy to unlearn it. It took practice. Quite a lot actually. Months of it.
But it has been a wonderful change. Freeing. And I can see this as a positive change both for me and my daughter. I want her to see me using an apology at times where it holds meaning and value. I don't want to cheapen the phrase through overuse and inappropriate timing.
I won't pretend that I understand your personal relationship with the phrase, "I'm sorry." But I know in birth and recovery for the 6 weeks after (or more), there is a new normal where the feelings and tasks that used to be easy are no longer easy.
There are no apologies necessary for that change. It is not your fault. It just is.
I'd love to hear from you reader! Do you have a #sorrynotsorry moment you want to share?
What was early recovery and postpartum like for you in your home?
Did you feel guilt and if so, what for?
Authored by A Swift Doula