Today is my oldest son's 8th birthday. Yesterday and the day before I wasn't feeling great and I found myself reading birth story after birth story on the internet. As I became aware of what I was doing, I wondered why the heck I was doing it. I like birth stories; obviously birth is important to me; but I don't normally read piles of strangers' birth stories one after another like eating chocolates from a box. This morning I realized that maybe the 8th anniversary of my first birth-giving experience was a good reason to be indulging in this mild extravagance.
Tonight I opened up the file with his birth story in it. I hadn't re-read it in a long time. I'm not going to post it all here, although it is posted somewhere on Mothering.com. I don't think I'm comfortable having it out in the internet transparently identified with me the real person and I'm sure my 8 year old son would be horrified by it being clearly identified with him.
It was interesting reading for me, though. I've changed a lot in some ways in the past 8 years. My life has changed a lot. What I noticed most was the voice I used in telling the story, and how it conforms to a common narrative voice used in a lot of birth stories available for everyone to read on the internet. Very positive, sophisticated in a way, but utterly naive in others. Although I don't think I wrote anything that wasn't true, I also didn't write a lot of things that were true. I think partly this was because I was writing it to share on MDC, and had a public persona to live up to in some ways there. And also partly because there were truths that I didn't necessarily know - at least not consciously - at that time.
This paragraph at the very end of the story does ring true to me now. It is naive in some ways, but that naivete is true to who I was at that time. It states pretty succinctly how I felt about the birth in the first year or more after it:
"Looking back now, from five months later, I think it was a
wonderful birth for all of us who were present.
As we wrote in our birth announcements: Born at home, we welcome him
with great love and joy and gratitude. I
am so grateful that I had no fear of giving birth or of giving birth outside of
a hospital. I was born at home myself 27
years ago and was present at the home births of my two brothers, and one of Moose’s
four siblings was born at home as well.
I am so grateful that I was not afraid of pain. I have had a lot of pain, physical and
emotional, in my life, and I knew that I don’t like pain but that I can go
through it. When people ask me, I say
that of course there was pain in giving birth, but there was no suffering. The pain was for a purpose and my body and
mind and spirit all knew it. Suffering
is pain with no reason or no good reason for being. I am so grateful that I had wonderful,
amazing support from my partner as I gave birth and that he has blossomed in
many ways into a wonderful father since then.
I am so grateful that I had my mother with me, and my dog as my “doula”. I am so grateful that I was able to have a
skilled, legal, caring midwife and assistant at the birth (and our insurance
even paid for most of it!). I am so
grateful that our baby was born healthy, whole, and without ever being exposed
to narcotics or other drugs. And of
course, our son - his life, his presence, his being - is continuous and
reciprocal and amazing love and joy."
I am still grateful for my child and our family and so many things. I also recognize that gratitude and frustration, confusion, and struggle can co-exist. They are all part of love.
I love you, W! Happy Birthday!