Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How do you tell your birth story?

I can't quite figure out what to do about telling my birth story.  In my day to day life (where I don't have *that* many friends that have given birth themselves), most birth-related stories are thought to be "traumatic," "horrible," "awful," etc.  I had arguments with friends (who'd never given birth, mind you) during my pregnancy who thought I was insane for wanting a natural child birth.  And since birthing, I've heard things like "I heard a story a couple weeks ago that made me NEVER want to have children," and "Oh good, now that you've given birth, I can tell you my horror story of my childbirth.  I didn't want to scare you before hand."

But having now been through a natural child birth, I can't really understand why we (we = the typical 21st century American woman) feel the need to dramatize childbirth SO MUCH that we convince those who haven't done it that it's impossible.  If you were to tell Rick and Dick Hoyt that it would be impossible for them to run a marathon, they might have believed you... or if you tell them that anything is possible, they might go run over 1000 races.  Perception is such an important part of each person's reality.

In preparing for my natural child birth, I spent a lot of time reading.  One thing I read was everything I could get my hands on by Ina May Gaskin.

This book was especially helpful at various points.  I read the 2nd half quite early in my pregnancy, learning about tips and tricks to reduce the pains of labor and encouragement to go naturally.  But the 1st half was meaningless to me early on.  It was full of people's birth stories.  

I didn't read the first half until the days just preceding Olivia's birth.  And I'd consider those stories to be the beginning of her birth story.  I knew all of the text book answers to how to promote a natural child birth.  I had all of the stages of labor memorized and all the info I needed to know for our birth plan was well laid out.  But as I reached 40 weeks pregnant, I wanted words of other women to inspire me.  So I spent my evenings (as Ben slept and I had insomnia) reading the stories in the front of this book.

Sure, some of these women had significant pain, some went to hospitals, others had home births.  Some labored for days and others popped their children out quickly.  But each story, in a different woman's voice, reminded me that we all can do it... we all are capable of this.  Our maker made us capable of this.  And it's a miracle.  A miracle I'll try to share with as many details as I can, including the physical pain and heart ache... but also with the amazing truth that the pain is irrelevant.

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