Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why write your birth story?

I'm writing my birth story. It's almost finished, and I'm really excited about sharing it here. I read a lot of birth stories while I was pregnant and deciding where to deliver (home, hospital, or birth center), and then after I decided to birth at home, I read a lot of homebirth stories. I found the stories so poignant and sacred, such a beautiful glimpse into other families' most intimate moments.

But I was totally unprepared for my days-long labor and non-emergent transfer to the hospital. Since he was born I've felt disappointed that he wasn't born at home. I wanted the empowering, transformative birth experience that is described in so many birth stories; but by the time he was born I was just glad it was over. His birth felt anti-climactic. Is that weird to say? I thought, "It could've been worse." And tried to be glad that it wasn't. I wasn't scared, cut open, bullied, separated from my baby, or anything else that happens in hospitals. I grieved the loss of my homebirth, but since my hospital birth was "just fine," I couldn't give myself permission to mourn.

Part of me felt I wimped out by going to the hospital for the pitocin and epidural. Maybe he would've been born on Friday morning anyway, even if I hadn't gone to the hospital.  I've let all that go. In my baby's eleventh month, I joined a birth story writing group, so I've been doing a lot of thinking, remembering, and writing about our birth. His birthday was on a Saturday this year. On Tuesday night, I thought, "This time last year, my labor was starting." And for the rest of the week, as I worked at the hospital, shopped, cleaned house, and prepped food for the birthday party, I thought, "this time last year, I was in labor." It was such a long time. So many days. All in all, labor lasted about 84 hours. If I can do that, I can do anything.

I was fantasizing about getting pregnant again and having a perfect homebirth. I could labor in the tub, walk around in the garden, and give birth in our marriage bed. But then I felt it and believed it: my birth was perfect. It was long and painful, but it demonstrates my strength and determination. It is a testament of love for my child. And just like that, I found a new sense of peace, respect, and honor for myself.

And that, ladies, is why you should write your birth stories.

The essence of the rose is the thorn. 
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