Special Guest Blogger: Every Birth is Beautiful
Giving birth is one of the most profound experiences a person can ever go through or witness. Whether it’s at home or in a hospital, completely natural or medicated, vaginal or cesarian – or, in my case, as part of a rushed clinical operation full of white masks and green walls – it is still yours, and it is still beautiful. Each woman has her own definition of ideal surroundings for a birth experience. So many women look back on their birthing experience with annoyance, disgust or even pain at the way they were treated or at the way they were ignored. The time that should have been one of life’s most beautiful having been ripped from them by the hands of careless doctors and pushy nurses.
So many women are told that they have “a healthy baby and that’s all that matters.” Not only is this not true, it’s insulting. Your birth experience from beginning to end is important, and it does matter. It is not the same as the resultant baby, and therefore should not be compared as such. Not to mention that there are many women who give birth to babies who must struggle as they enter this world. Those babies are just as beautiful. Their mothers are just as strong. A blanket statement such as the one above does no justice to anybody and completely misses the point.
It’s 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I awaken to a great pain in my abdomen and stumble up the stairs to the bathroom. I hate being pregnant – always having to go to the bathroom, always being in pain. There is a burst within me, and the ground is splattered in a clear liquid.
Could it be? Impossible. I’m only 34 weeks along.
But the liquid keeps flowing. I’m in a puddle. Could it be?
I stumble back downstairs.
“Baby,” I shake my husband awake, “I think my water might have broken. I’m going to drive to the hospital. I’ll call you if it’s anything major.”
The doctor arrives two hours later. An ultrasound shows that Baby B is still breech. I’d been told that doctors will attempt a vaginal birth if the first baby is head down. Not this doctor.
“Baby B is breech. I’m going to operate.”
Well, I figure, she knows her strengths. If birthing babies is not one of them, who am I to contradict her.
A rolling cot, white walls, white gloves, an IV drip. The smell of ammonia. A sickly green-tiled room.
“Sit very very still,” someone says. “If this goes in wrong, you could end up paralyzed.”
What a thing to say to someone in labor.
Suddenly, I can’t move. Numb from the waist down. Sawwing, cutting, burning, pulling, jolting. I can’t see a thing. They’ve graciously put up a thin blue curtain between me and myself. My husband is at my head, keeping me calm. And then we hear it. The baby’s cry.
Little Dulce was born at 9:14 a.m. Natalina followed at 9:15. They weighed less than four pounds each.
I heard counting in the distance, but it wasn’t fingers and toes. The staff was counting medical equipment to make sure they didn’t leave anything inside of me. They brought each of my babies to me for a quick kiss before they whisked them off to the nursery.
And it was the best day of my life.
Should I be upset about this story? Possibly. Nothing went according to plan. Nobody spoke to me or asked me what I wanted. No one held my hand, no one tried to understand that I wanted a vaginal birth. I didn’t get a chance to attempt breastfeeding. They didn’t treat me like a person in control of my own decisions. They took over. They did their jobs.
It was the best day of my life.
So many mothers are disappointed with their birth stories – with themselves – and they have every right to feel that way. Far be it from me to tell someone their feelings aren’t valid. That’s how these poor women ended up here in the first place. Doctors can be crass, they can be business-oriented, and they can be wrong. There is never any reason for a medical professional to power-trip over something that is a daily routine for them but a once-in-a-lifetime for a mother. Still, no matter what happened in that hospital, or in your living room – no matter who ignored you when; no matter if you were induced or cut open, maybe even against your will – you still gave birth. They can’t take that away from you. They can mess with the experience, but there is no denying that in that hour, in that moment, you were giving birth. They can’t take that away from you. In that instant, you were all that your baby knew and loved and needed.
As a good friend of mine said, “Apart from all the noise of doctors and midwives and epidurals and Apgars, you made a person. You are amazing. Even if you don’t feel powerful about any other aspect of that day, you should still feel powerful about that.”
For those of you wrestling with your birth stories, know that it is possible to be upset or disappointed with a process and still in love with the result. All birth is beautiful. It is the beginning. It is the end. It is all there is. It is life. You are life. You should be proud.