Crashing at the finish line of BirthPosted: November 13, 2012
“A woman faces everyone else’s denial when she attempts to say how a traumatic birth has affected her. An uncomfortable sense of isolation and a fear of being crazy results, as loved ones, friends, and co-workers do not acknowledge her pain or how her world has changed. This separation from others in viewpoint and experience is often more difficult to heal than the physical wounds of birth.” Lynn Madsen, Rebounding From Childbirth
Sometimes I think I value the first time a woman holds her newborn more than I value all the other times she gets to hold them. Let me rephrase. Sometimes, I disgust myself for not being able to hold my newborns, more than I appreciate all the other times I’ve held them.
I was steeped in, and steeped myself in, a warm fuzzy cup-o-delusion about that moment when I would finally get to hold their tiny bodies, on the outside of my belly. You’d think, that with all I’d been through, that I would have known better – that there are always curve balls and unforeseen circumstances and that I might have entertained the idea, especially during my second birth, that I might not get to experience that moment. You know, that glowing moment that so many happy mammas post all over the internet of them holding their 2-seconds-old baby.
Why is the loss of that moment so deeply devastating to me? Because I put it on a pedestal. A gilt covered and tall pedestal that was initially constructed when my mother talked of having her 4 children naturally. She indoctrimnated me into the idea of natural childbirth from 6 years old, onward. The alternatives to natural childbirth became repugnant to me. Non-natural childbirth was only for weak women, or women with physical abnormalities, I surmised. After my first son was born, I realized my wrongdoing – that I hadn’t tried hard enough. I had given into the c-section because I was weak. That’s what I internalized. When I became pregnant again, 10 years later, I resolved to not be weak this time. So, when the c-section happened, I was only somewhat relieved to hear the surgeon say that my pelvis was deep and narrow. So, I wasn’t weak, just physically abnormal. But that didn’t help me feel better about it either because I had also been steeped in the stories of doctors telling their csection patients that they were narrow, or whatever, but that midwives don’t really believe all that. Midwives have seen all kinds of babies born from all kinds of women. That’s how I filtered what midwives say. I had a midwife for both pregnancies and deliveries. And still, I failed.
The pain I endured and the hope that I had, didn’t make one bit of difference in getting me that moment that I longed for. My attachment to that imagined moment has stolen many moments since then, from my experience. Just because I crashed at the finish line of the marathon of birth doesn’t mean I didn’t run the WHOLE DAMN THING.
Mourning must commence. I have been letting it slip slowly out of my eyes for years. I think I’d like to be done with it, at least the bulk of it, so I can finally move on.
Move on to seeing the two amazing humans that have been in my care for years now, with only my one eye on them, and the other looking back to a moment that never happened.