I know, I know, you’ve been waiting with baited breath. Just waiting for me to write another post. Pour out everything about how my weekend went. Surprisingly, I don’t feel like it. I know, I know…it’s weird. I think that it all just feel really personal, and maybe I’m not ready to share that just yet. Sound strange coming from someone who blogs? Yeah, felt a little strange saying it.
Yesterday, I spent a full hour staring at the screen. Never getting more than the above paragraph out. I still feel like I’m at a loss for words. Helping someone birth, and apparently, even the preparation for doing so, is much like giving birth yourself. It’s emotional, it’s physical, it’s beautiful. And it’s very personal.
My weekend was so incredibly amazing. I was truly surprised at the diversity in women. And I don’t mean just racially or culturally even. There were all ages. While I was not the oldest, I was definitely not the youngest. Actually, I was probably in the top half of the age bracket. Another thing that surprised me was that half of the class were not mothers. They just loved pregnancy/pregnant women, babies, and birthing. And wanted to learn more about it.
Let’s face it. For those of us who are mamas, our birthing stories are highly personal. So much so, that they affect how we feel about ourselves. A mama who had a birth that left her feeling like Wonder Woman? Well, studies have shown that it can turn a previously low-self-esteemed woman into someone with much more confidence in herself. A woman with good self esteem and then has a birth that made her feel out of control and like it happened to her (rather than something she chose), well, studies have also shown that that will knock her self-esteem down a few pegs.
I think that I am also more aware of my role, as a doula, in doing all that I can to make sure that it’s a birth they can look back on in pride. Always keeping the How will she remember this? in the forefront of my mind as I offer suggestions and support. Obviously, I can’t birth for them. And births can kind of have a mind of their own… I’ve certainly had a birth that did not go the way I’d planned in my mind. It’s all about support.
I have received some awesome support this last week. Support of my friends encouraging me (and saying they’ll use me for their next babies!), my husband who listened to me unload and process through all the information and feelings at the end of each late night. Support of my family who kept my babies for a weekend. (The kids had a blast. I’m still feeling the repercussions of being separated for so long. I feel like it was too long- for me!) I am thankful for the wonderful women I trained with (and the oh so amazing wonder woman who led our training). They were a support, a help, a community. Some women had some great stories about birthing their babes, and others shed tears as they told theirs. As women, I think when our births don’t go according to plan, we tend to feel like failures. I mean it’s birth, it’s kind of what we do. What our bodies just know how to do. There is a lot of deep-seated emotions that go along with the thought I failed at something my body is supposed to be able to do instinctively, on its own.
If you can’t tell already, I’m still processing some of my own feelings about birth. I’m learning to let it go. To accept it was it was. And to focus on some positives. Like the fact that when I wasn’t scared out of my gourd in previous births -especially my first- I felt like a rock star. I labored quietly in the night, letting my hubbyman get some sleep. I was relaxed enough to sleep in between contractions during the day, so much that the day seemed to go by quickly. I labored at home. I moved around. My water broke just as we were going through the gates to get on base (military). An hour and a half later… I was a mother. And he was perfect. And I felt like super woman. Like I could do anything. I birthed a baby, ok, that’s somethin‘.
The next two births left me with beautiful, perfect, healthy babies… and a little bit disillusionment of the medical world. I felt like this long, intensive, informative weekend helped in that aspect. Not that I now have unshakable faith in the medical community, but it was healing to hear of midwives, Drs, and nurses who have done things to protect the process I so fiercely believe in.
There is a secret in our culture and it is not that birth is painful but that women are strong.
-Laura Stavoe Harm
That is not to imply that if your labor didn’t go as planned, or it wasn’t what you wanted, that you are not strong enough. (Feel like that’s not a helpful quote for women? I can see why- read this. The truth is that the quote actually is from an essay talking about how we need to talk more about our births. You can read about it here.)
After my weekend, I feel like that quote resonates. Even though I did not feel strong during the birthing of my last baby, looking back, faced with insurmountable odds and lack of support (outside of my hubby and doula)… I birthed my baby. And that’s what really counts.