Birth Story #2 Eylül Aslan
From Istanbul, living in Viena
When did you become a mother?
In February 2018, I was 28 years old and lived in Berlin.
Did you want to get pregnant? What was your motivation?
I think I did not exactly know if I wanted to become a mother or not, I somehow wanted it to happen without me having to make a decision. It felt too much of a responsibility to make that decision. I would like to think more like my son wanted to become my son, so he came to me. I was not being very strict with contraception and then it happened and I was glad that this stress of making that decision was taken from me.
Can you tell us about the birth? Which were your expectations and what did actually happen?
I wanted a drug free birth from the first moment I heard I was pregnant because I wanted to feel this experience completely. I was very curious during my whole life and also my pregnancy to see how it would feel to give birth. It happened pretty much how I had imagined it to be like. It was painful, but not so much that I could not handle it. I felt very strong, proud, confident, safe, but also impatient for the pain to go away. I was of course completely on adrenaline. I felt like I could manage anything thrown at me. I was screaming a lot, so much that the doctor told me to focus on my breathing instead of screaming, but screaming gave me strength so I did that, ignoring her.
I felt like a stranger to my baby though, when it was over and they brought him back to me to let him suck on my nipples, all I wanted was to be alone, I wanted my family and husband and the midwife out of the room. I did not feel this incredible love towards him like most people say this is the happiest moment of life for a mother. I was exhausted and wanted a shower. My midwife helped me walk to the shower and she washed me, I felt more like I needed the attention and someone taking care of me, rather than me wanting to take care of my baby.
Did you have any mantras or visualizations that help you to go through the pain?
I kept imagining a blue sky with some clouds and I am watching them float by. I always visualize this view whenever I feel bad. I was thinking of this during birth as well. And I also tried not to focus on the pain and reminded myself soon it will be over.
Do you remember at which point you felt "that love" towards him? Do you remember, how did you feel, when you realized that you were not feeling that first sight love?
I would say some time after he wanted to stop to be breastfed and I could finally sleep during the night and had enough energy to enjoy being with him. It was probably after the first year.
I just felt confused, I thought it should be automatic that I loved him in that way "everyone" talks about... But I needed time to let myself feel that. I think I was too exhausted and in kind of a shock to feel anything at all. It was an overall frozenness for me, not only towards him. I was not able to do most things I love like focusing to read a book, for example.
What do you recall the most about the postpartum?
I was, for a very long period of time, impressed with what my body had done. My baby was born 4 kg. It was vaginal birth and he was almost 15 days overdue. I could still not believe it was me in that room who gave birth. It was almost like I was out of my body, or more like my body took over me completely. And all I could was to let go. This experience I remember so well, because my legs were shaking for hours during contractions and it was absolutely out of my control and this has taught me that life is basically this way, I can only let go and believe things will turn out well. Or not. So, I do not have this delusion anymore that anything is in my control.
How that does feel?
It is the best feeling! I am much more relaxed about almost everything. I just leave things be.
Which are the most significant changes you have experienced in your life since you became a mother?
I guess my priorities have changed drastically. I feed, wash and take care of my baby before I can do it for myself. The first year almost felt like my body was only serving him, I had to eat healthy, drink a lot and overall take more care because first we shared a body and then my body was feeding him. This was very new and challenging to me, to accept that I was not in the center of my world anymore. And now after 2,5 years I still have to plan everything according to his needs.
Is that ok for you?
It is, if I can leave him with someone I trust and then I can have some time for myself.
They say it takes a town to raise a child, how much help did you need in the beginning?
I really regret not having been in Turkey when I gave birth. I would have appreciated the support and help from my family. It really was not easy to only have my parents for a short period of time (only what their short term visas allowed).
Did your relationship to your mother change after you became a mother yourself?
Yes, absolutely, I understand her much more. We were always best friends anyway but now it is different to have her perspective and to understand what she went through. For example it is awful how her doctor made her have an induced labor because he was going away on holiday for a week and wanted to get it out of the way... It is insane to know she had to have a more painful birth experience because it was better for him, definitely not better for her.
What is the best about being a mother? What do you see as the worst?
I think it is amazing that someone else's needs come before mine. It can be sometimes frustrating, but it has changed me in ways that would not have been possible without becoming a mother. It made me realize my body is constantly changing and that, basically, everything is always changing. Makes me appreciate little things much more and time has become more valuable too. When I find some time for myself, there is no option of really wasting it with worrying or having second thoughts about life or decisions, I just need to go for it and do it.
Would you like to have more children?
I haven't decided on that yet...Time will show but I think I need at least another 1,5 years to gather the energy to do it again.