Facebook Live, Ego, My Tribe and Birth

This blog started out as a piece to explore Ego and self-preservation based on my own experiences of a challenge I'm doing on Facebook.  As I wrote it grew into a piece about Ego and birth.  Our Ego has so much power over us.  If we allow it to.  Our Ego is part of us and so we can, ultimately, chose if we should listen to it.  Easier said than done though.....  Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading this piece and my link isn't too tenuous (there goes the Ego again).

Today I am on day 2 of Suzy Ashworth’s 5 Days to Get Seen and Heard visibility challenge.  This morning in Suzy’s closed group on Facebook, Suzy invited us to share one new thing we learnt last week. 

I hastily responded with “I've learned that other people's perception of me differs from my own. I am overly critical of myself and others are encouraging of what I do. I am choosing to ignore the critical Ego in my work and listen to those around me who are seeking to hold me up and support and encourage me in the valuable work I do. In fact, my desk at home faces a wall (don't most of us have this) and on the wall in front I have little affirmation cards. The one I am drawn to while writing this says "I know I make a difference and I help others" and I really do. Deep down I know it. I just have to remind myself sometimes. ”. 

One or two clicked to like / love what I wrote and when I joked that I may have inspired myself to write a blog post, I received some encouragement (see what I said about those who are seeking to hold me up?).

I’ve been seeing people go live on Facebook for their businesses and a few people also going live on their personal feeds.  I’ve wanted to do this myself, but I’ve been held back by fear.  My Ego has been telling me I can’t do this because I don’t really have anything interesting to say, people will laugh at me, I’ll look foolish / like I don’t really know what I’m talking about, my face looks weird.  Ah, you name it I’ve told myself these reasons to not click that button to “go live”.

I was the same with blogging.  I am still quite new to this writing stuff lark.  At first I feared exposing myself to judgement and criticism (I think we already established how self-critical I can be), but now I have written a few blogs my writing flows much more easily and, after I’ve done a quick read through for typos (though I’m sure I miss some), I publish what I have written.  I’m sure the blogs I post aren’t perfect, but I’m not striving for perfection.  I’m striving to be real.  To be true to me.

Yesterday I did my very first Facebook Live.  The one on my newsfeed is actually the second recording (did I really just admit that) because, without even watching the first, I decided it was rubbish.  Then I did it again.  And I still wasn’t happy.  But I didn’t delete it.  I left it there and shared it on my personal page and in Suzy’s group and I walked away.  I went out for the afternoon with the family and didn’t check into Facebook. I decided to not feed my Ego.  I decided to walk away and not watch for people judging me.

When I decided to log on last night to see how my video was received I was blown away.  My video had 326 views.  I had comments both on my page and in other places I had posted offering encouragement and praise.  I think my personal favourite from someone in Suzy’s group was “you come across really ‘real’ and down to earth”, which really is me.  Or at least I hope it is.  I certainly aspire to just “be myself” and to be “real”.

I love how yesterday I put myself out there and when I did my tribe (made up of friends and other birth workers) all gathered around me to offer me love and support. 

Today I did my second Facebook Live.  Today I did it feeling the love and support of my tribe around me.  I was able to turn down the self-criticism of my Ego, tune into the positivity around me and actually enjoy making my video.  It was only mean to to be around 2 minutes long!  I may not get many views as it’s quite long for a Facebook video to grab the attention of someone scrolling, but I loved doing it.  I really let go and allowed myself to be me.  Amazing!

When I started writing this I was going to write about Ego and self-criticism in the context of these live videos, but a thought has just occurred to me.  This ALL applies to birth and motherhood too!

In our culture so many of us doubt our ability to give birth.  We all too often fear birth.  We fear pain, suffering, difficulty.  The same applies to our role as parents.  We doubt our abilities to care for babies because quite often we’ve never really been around babies to know the first thing about caring for them!

Imagine being pregnant and being surrounded by your tribe.  Imagine being surrounded by a group of people telling you “you can do this”, people lifting you up, honouring you and the awesomeness of your body as you grow and prepare to birth your baby.  Imagine having someone with you who believes in you and your body.  Who loves, nurtures and supports you as you birth your baby.  Someone who inspires you and gives you confidence.  Someone who holds you and makes you feel safe not matter what path your birth takes you on.

Imagine after your baby is born there is someone there to support you while you rest with your baby.  Someone to tidy up, make a light meal, do the washing up, make you a cup of tea, support you as you learn to feed your baby (whatever your feeding choices are), someone to show you the power of the mother inside of you.

Can you imagine still being able to hear your Ego still telling you how you can’t with all that positivity around you?  Can you imagine how powerful you’d feel listening to the messages of how you can give birth around you?  How you are the best parent for your baby?  Feeling that unconditional love and nurturing as you journey into parenthood?

Once upon a time this would have been the norm in our culture.  The women of the village would have come together to support each other on the journey into motherhood.  Young children would have helped with babycare, other mums would have supported you through pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatally they’d have helped care for you and your family while you rested.

As a Hypnobirthing Practitioner I have been a part of the labour tribe for some years.  I’ve been supporting parents as they’ve learned to believe in their bodies, as they’ve learned to have confidence in their abilities to birth their babies and as their partners have learned how to support mothers in labour and as they birth.

Now, as I work towards becoming a Recognised Doula, I will be that someone loving, nurturing and supporting women and their partners not only through the antenatal period, but also as they birth their babies.  I will hold space and offer a feeling of safety to parents as they birth their babies and postnatally, I will support families as they adapt to life with their new babies.

The Ego is a crazy thing for self-preservation.  While I fear going live on Facebook, I don’t fear supporting families in the work I do.  I don’t fear being a part of their tribe as they journey into parenthood.  My Ego did question if I was good enough for this work, but when I reached out to my tribe they helped me to see this is the work that I love, am passionate about and good at.  They showed me how through my work (and as a person outside of my work) I help other people and make a difference to their lives.  By showing me my power and allowing me to empower myself (and drown out the sound of my Ego telling me I couldn’t), they doulaed me to taking the first steps to becoming a Doula and now they doula me as I continue this journey, they always will (much as I offer the same to others in my tribe). 

Through having someone to support you as you prepare for birth, or as you labour, or postnatally, through having someone like me to support you, know that you have a tribe behind you.  You may be working physically with one person, but the whole of the tribe is with you. 

Helen Discombe