Recently, during one of our oh-so-enjoyable lunch breaks at From Day Dot, the conversation turned and ended up with us all sharing our birth stories, perhaps inevitable with five mamas all in one space. I’m glad the days are gone when women felt they had to keep tight-lipped about what happened behind the closed doors of birth suite.
When I was an expectant mama I loved to listen to these stories, and I now enjoy sharing one of my own. But it got me wondering:
What is it about a birth story that makes us glory in the gory?
I think for me it is about two things:
The first is the camaraderie of a shared experience of pain.
Pain is an essential element of our humanity. It is a common denominator and shows us our limits. Pain is a teacher. We are all the sum total of the pain we’ve experienced in our life.
I had an epiphany as a result of one long moment of pain. My labour was prolonged due to my baby’s posterior positioning, and I realised that had I been experiencing this in another place or another time I’m pretty sure that I would have been beaten by the exhaustion. It is quite possible that one or both of us may not have made it out alive. Deep, I know. But I have taken from the experience a profound sense of gratitude. I am extremely blessed and privileged to have access to top medical care.
We appreciate each other on a deeper level when we understand each other’s pain. You don’t have to physically be in the room to be right there on that labour ward with that mama as she shares the detail of her child’s birth. From her story we learn how her experience has shaped her. By sharing our own stories we can feel understood.
The other aspect I love about a birth story is the sense that the fiercer the battle, the sweeter the victory.
I don’t mean to suggest that you need a traumatic birth story to feel a sense of achievement, because that certainly is not the case. Your battle is personal to you (and I’m sure very different for each child you have).
My birth story is about the safe delivery of my baby girl, but it represents more than that. As a supremely private person, I battled the fear of losing my dignity. You know the fears I’m talking about: What if I poo? Will I be naked? Who is going to see "downstairs"? What if I don’t have time to shave my legs before labour comes (firstborn questions, I know.)
Now on the other side, seeing these fears pale into insignificance is very freeing! And I have carried that freedom out of the birth suite into life. As an example, this summer gone I was freed from the usual thoughts, like how will I look in my togs on the beach now? Who cares! I just had a baby! And for that little life I would give up anyone’s opinion of me any day of the week!
So keep relishing all those gory details and let me know if you love a good birth story as much as me! Perhaps you had your own epiphany moment? I’d love to know more in the comments below. ☺