Sometimes you smack hard up against what you’ve missed out on, and even though you thought you were ok with missing out, turns out you’re not really.
I’m not talking about the childhood trauma of missing out on the netball team or not getting picked for the part of Dorothy and having to play the Wicked Witch of the East instead (the one who gets squashed by Dorothy’s house in the first scene and is out for the rest of the production) – although I get that these things can be HUGE at the time.
Sometimes it’s fear of missing out [FOMO] that ties us up in far too many knots – whether it’s feeling like it’s too late to fulfill a dream because you find yourself (suddenly it seems to me) in middle-age (and so therefore past it?) or concerns about missing out on the blogging party, the freebies and that sense of being part of a club (silly really).
This week I smacked up hard against a wall of loss in missing out on giving birth – and specifically missing out on giving birth to our kids.
I knew I was on a collision course to a whole lot of hurt and yet I steered myself in that direction. Be stoic. Be professional. It’s a long time ago, you’ll be right.
For my work I decided to do a feature article and film a video about the highly regarded midwifery program at Southern Cross University on the Gold Coast.
They have state-of-the-art teaching facilities, including a simulation birthing Mum (they call her Annie); dolls that look, feel and weigh exactly the same as real newborns, and a program focused on celebrating the miracle of birth through natural nurturing as much as possible.
Filming involved interviewing a new mother and her three-month-old bub, a glowing pregnant mum, an enthusiastic student and a couple of passionate academics/midwives; along with multiple takes as simulation mum Annie ‘gave birth’ (to multiple babies, but actually the same newborn doll, over and over).
For 4.5 hours you could say I was immersed in the pregnancy and birthing experience – which I know is short in actual labour terms, but excuse me if it felt a bit a like a long and painful labour.
A labour I missed out on (maybe you think I’m lucky to have been spared the pain, but it’s a whole lot of hurt I would have been happy to experience).
Mostly I still feel that sense of missing out, not (so much) on the experience of childbirth itself, but on the experience of birthing our two beautiful adopted kids.
I was consumed with thoughts on how the births of our two children must not have been ideal, for their mothers, or for them. I was consumed with jealousy of their birth mothers, who I will probably never know – that they got to have the miracle, regardless. I am also filled with gratitude. Huge gratitude.
I’m middle-aged now (not menopausal as yet but my moods would beg to differ). Our eldest turns 12 in a few weeks. And yet still the ghost of loss haunts.
It makes me realise how silly our feelings of missing out can be, and especially how fruitless FOMO is.
So you missed out on a job – I get the disappointment (and the annoyance because you really deserved it) – but move on, something better awaits.
So you missed out on the chance to travel somewhere you really want to go (I wish I’d gone to Alaska) – turn that disappointment into determination and you’ll work out a way to get there if you really want to.
So you make trade-offs every day in every way to pay the bills, educate your kids, respect a partner’s priorities, live the life you’ve chosen, and in the process you miss out on some things. Think of what you gain by prioritizing. Would you really trade the other way?
So it’s hard to stop that little insecure and sometimes petty FOMO from rearing its jealous and sometimes ugly head – tell it you’re not about projecting a future based on fear. Your future is based on love.
Oh and celebrate – the miracle of birth that is the miracle of life, of living right now, without fear and with love (and definitely without FOMO).
The miracle that brought our kids into our lives is just as miraculous as the one experienced when each and every child is born. Over and over again.
Life is F####ing miraculous even when it feels like a world of hurt. You can’t feel a world of hurt unless you are alive.
So tell FOMO to F##k off and be reborn as love. It’s possible you know.
Happy Birth day.
Linking up with Grace for FYBF. X