Thursday, June 11, 2009

Speaking of Birthdays...

I love hearing birth stories. And I want all the details, please. No need to leave anything out.

Whenever a friend or acquaintance or total stranger in line with me at Trader Joe's has had a baby, I fiddle around waiting for just the right moment to ask, "So, how was the labor and delivery?" All I want to do is celebrate, commiserate, sympathize, support, connect. Yet it is a difficult question to actually ask.

Sometimes, I feel the topic of childbirth is taboo. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but I have some ideas. For some women, I imagine, it is simply the most extremely private of experiences. For many, I think, it feels uncomfortable or even unacceptable to speak of--labor and delivery are bundled up and tucked away in the back of the brain. Maybe woman aren't expected to talk about the pain, physical or emotional. Or maybe women censor themselves (from either asking, or responding wholeheartedly) because their own expectations, or those of others, weren't met during the process. Maybe when women do open up, they are comparing notes, judging, being judged.

I do know one thing for sure: the more we talk about it, the better. Communication is the key to connection, after all. And that is what makes life rich, right? Connecting.

In a mothers' group after the birth of my second child, we were invited to share our birth stories. Some women were excited, while others were apprehensive about the opportunity. The wise moderator of the group also asked us to talk about how the actual experience related to what our expectations had been beforehand. We listened to each other quietly and carefully, as our babies cooed and cried, nursed and napped in our laps. Tears flowed, happy, sad, and relieved. Then the moderator told us, it is said you have to tell your story 100 times in order to work through it, especially if it was difficult or traumatic for you. I can attest to this truth, myself...but that is another story.

Childbirth is by far one of the most intense and transformative experiences possible to have in life. Shall we talk?


  1. Yeah I love hearing women's birth stories too. But I love the thought of women having easy births and I always tell people my first was so hard because I was terrified and tense. The key to an easy birth is the art of relaxation & breathing. I wasn't taught this before I had my first. There is a new film called Maybe some women will find this helpful. ONe can only hope.

  2. I am a committed stay at home father and I can attest to the transformative experience of child birth and the ensuing joy that springs forth. I was the coach. Watching as well as aiding when ever possible. How ever possible. To see my partner push through that experience gave me an all new level of respect for her. Women are so strong. The effect that the birth of our child had on me was immediate. My instinct to protect and nurture rose up in me like never before. Certainly a transformational moment in my life. As for my partner her experience was clearly different than mine but she would be able to speak to that better than I.

  3. I spend my evening watching "deliver me" and "a baby story" just to prepare myself for what's to come in 8 short weeks.....I am getting very anxious about the whole thing. I don't have any expectations because I know they could all go away instantly, my plan is just to breathe and deal take it minute by minute until I get my prize at the end!

  4. I always tell friends to make sure to create a birth plan before-hand and to prioritize the list. Most important thing first, down to the least important (but still important) piece. The most important thing should be that both mom and baby come through it all alive and healthy on the other end. Sometimes, this is all you will be left with.

    In my case, for both babies, I wanted to have a natural birth experience and ended up having 2 c-sections. Both children wiggled themselves into a bad position (something about the way I'm built inside, I suppose) and were simply not going to come out naturally. In the old west, I would have died with the first one. As it is, I have my health and my two beautiful babies have their health and we all have each other. The most important priority was all I had left, but that alone still made the birth experience a success.

  5. I love your blog! Your writing flows so naturally. Keep the stories coming!