Your baby's birthday: harder than you expected
Being forced to celebrate the anniversary of a horror in your life is so complex. You are raw and emotional but expected to hold your head up and put on a smile. You wonder how you are supposed to survive your baby’s birthday.
Well-meaning but uninformed family members might even ask you to tell the story of how the baby was born.
The season is the same. The activities of your life are similar. So many reminders. You look at the clock and remember, “this is when they broke my water”. Or “this time last year (or 2 years or 3), I was begging for help”. You can’t help it.
There’s a term for this, it is called the anniversary effect.
You can only put it off so long
Even if you manage to get through the celebration, there will be a crash at some point. Your body will remember, you might have vivid dreams.
The flashbacks that you thought were behind you will come back, seemingly from nowhere.
So what can you do to head off this storm?
What can help?
Adjustments may be necessary
Adjust your expectations. This is always a good first step for anything upsetting. Recognize that you are going to have lots of emotions as they day plays out. You might feel sad, tearful, edgy, irritable, and also happy and excited for this big milestone!
Adjust the schedule: Maybe you don’t celebrate the baby’s birthday on the actual day. Sometimes this is more convenient, anyway. But separating the actual day from the celebration might help.
Schedule time for you
Maybe you need some solo time to process and remember. Maybe you take a walk alone. Maybe you rock the baby a little longer and let the tears flow. Maybe you re-read the journal you wrote about the birth.
Hold space for yourself and remember healing doesn’t happen overnight.
You aren’t magically “over it” by the time the baby is 1 or 2 or even 10. It is a slow process. But I promise it gets better. One day, you’ll realize you can remember the birth without anger or sadness or fear, it will just be your story.
And someday you’ll be able to tell your child the story, too.
Birth story processing
Sometimes working through the whole story with a trained and informed therapist can be healing.
Together we will move through the story, breaking down the steps, the what happened, and how you felt.
Learn more about my approach to birth story processing. Let the healing begin.