I’ve been thinking about you and what it must be like when you get here. A search term entered here. A series of clicks there, and suddenly you find yourself immersed in this story.
I know, because I was once you.
You’re safely beyond that unpredictable First Trimester. Or not. Your doctor has smirked when you’ve used words like “natural” and “birth plan.” Or not. Your belly it itching. You can’t sleep. You have high blood pressure You feel great. You feel lousy. You’re confident. You’re afraid…
And then you read my story.
How unfair that I have posted it. The horror of that outcome.
And yet here I still am, preaching natural, unmedicated birth. Everything in this culture tells you to be afraid of birth. Tells you that it’s dangerous, best left to professionals. Women die during child birth, don’t you know that? And here I am, the waking dead, singing the song of natural birth.
Bullshit, you say. I don’t blame you.
I used to have this fantasy, during the weeks we attended our Bradley Method classes, that in some future class we would be standing in front, just like those other couples we met. Instead of the blonde opera singer who was married to the polo-shirted engineer, it would be us cuddling our baby and teling the story of our birth. It would be us giving the we did it, and so can you speech. We’d talk bravely about all of the things our doctor thought might be wrong with me, all of the interventions he wanted to do that we said no to. We’d discuss openly our decision not to be induced, talk about how I championed through those weeks of slow labor, and the wonders of that warm shower nozzle for getting through contractions.
All of those things are true. They happened, but we will never be invited to share our story. Mine, is a cautionary tale. That rare possibility that we don’t dwell on in class. My tale says birth is best left to the professional, and carefully controlled with narcotics, and medicines.
Do whatever you have to do, Doctor. Just get me out of here alive.
And now you’ve combed through the archives. You’ve read the stories and you’ve lost hope. Or been shaken. You won’t take chances. You’ll do what your doctor says. He knows what’s best. Birth is risky. birth is dangerous. Women die.
I’m so sorry that that’s the only story I have to give you. I so wanted it to be different. I want to tell you that your baby can come out fully alert with eyes open and ready to nurse. I want to tell you that when your breasts are sore and the baby is crying and it’s 3 AM and you have only slept 2 hours out of the past 48, you will know that you’re going to make it through, because your birth experience will teach you that, if you allow yourself to fully experience it awake.
I want to tell you that I am fat, out of shape, neither an athlete or a an attachment parent hippie. I’m a regular woman who cries when she stubs her toe just like you do. And I want you to know that this is in you. A happy, successful birth is in you. And I believe in you. I know how strong you are. And I can’t wait for you to see how amazing it can be. And yes, it feels like nothing you’ve ever felt. And no, it’s nothing like a menstrual cramp. and you’re going to be fine. women do this every day around the world.
You’re going to be fine. Even though I wasn’t.