I wrote my birth story shortly after giving birth. I reminisced over the labor, the time spent with my husband, the process I took. Now, looking back, I realize that story was false. Sure, the facts were true. However, I left out my emotions. I left out my anguish, my grief, my sense of being unfinished. I had a cesarean birth. My baby was surgical removed from my body, instead of gracefully slipping into her Daddy’s hands, she was dragged out screaming. As I planned my home birth, I was blissfully unaware of the possibility of surgery. The midwives did nothing to prepare me for this life changing experience, the birth that wasn’t. In the months that followed I would open myself to the anger, guilt, sorrow, and waterfall of emotions that would come. I am still angry at my midwives, still feel cheated, still feel the pain from my scars. However, I look at things differently now.
All the birth tooting, natural minded mumbo jumbo like, “Trust birth” and “Your body was made to do this” are now insults to women like me. So, our bodies were not made to give birth? Our bodies are somehow wrong for not delivering vaginally? No, this is certainly not true. As Ina May said, “Your body is not a lemon.” But yet, there is that feeling of not belonging to the club. There is a feeling of missing something so important, so craved, of being invalidated. I use my experience in my doula practice to embrace all birth, to see all possibilities, to validate all women and their bodies. For so many women, a cesarean birth is not their choice. It blindsides them, punches them in the gut, and takes the light away. In my experience, as I said, my midwifes did not prepare for me the possibility at all. Was it their job to do so? Maybe. Though, mostly it was my job. For that is the ultimate end to it all, it is a pregnant woman’s job to be informed. No one can help you, if you do not want help. A doula can provide options, lay them out, explain the process, but if you do not open your own book then the story is never read.
So I carry these emotions around, even still. I carry them because birth matters. I carry them for me, for you, for the next woman in my place. I carry them so that I can remember my power, and take it further. The combination of my body and baby did not end in a vaginal birth. Yes, I have a beautiful healthy baby. Yes, I am alive. Yes, I am lucky. I thank the medical community for being there when I certainly needed it. The community of women who come to support each other though, has the greatest power. I will forever be changed by my experience. I do not “trust birth.” I am in awe of it. I do not think “my body was made for this.” I know my body made a strong baby, and whichever process that brought that baby into this world, I accomplished.
The rights of a birthing mother are what she makes them. Be informed, be strong, be precious. Take my story and every other woman’s as just that, our stories. Your book is yours to read and write!