Birth stories make me cry. They touch on something really tender within me – a deep joy, a longing, a sadness. They trigger memories of the feeling of completion that comes when as moms we welcome our newborn for the first time. They trigger memories of an unmatched joy. And sometimes, they trigger memories of pain, of trauma, of loss.
And the photos, oh the photos! Mom in pain, her face a mask of concentration as she works through each contraction. People surrounding her, offering support in any way they can, from back rubs to ice water to cold cloths on her face. Then pushing, with legs everywhere, camera carefully angled to avoid any shots of ‘down there’, mom’s face shining with sweat, jaw clenched as she pushes with every inch of her being. And then finally that moment. When Mom looks down and sees baby for the first time and a smile breaks across her face that is unlike anything else. A smile that says Hooray!’ and ‘Welcome! I love you! You are the most beautiful thing in the world!’ And her arms are reaching down and baby is reaching up and they are about to meet for the first time. Some women are lucky that a camera catches that moment. It’s frozen in time, in mom’s mind and in a photo. That moment always makes me cry.
I never considered writing my birth story for my first two babies. The internet was different then, just emerging (I’m dating myself, I know) and birth stories were read in books, not on websites and in forums. They were written by authors, which I am not. I have portions of them frozen in my mind – like with my first when the midwife asked if I minded there were students in the room, after I’d already been naked in front of them for 5 hours, or when the OB came in and shoved his arm up me and it felt like he stuck a 2 by 4 in there, or with my second when my husband dripped Rescue Remedy in my mouth and I realized I’d been panicking. And of course I will always remember holding each of my sons for that first time, their skin still damp and waxy, their eyes sealed shut. I’ll always remember the first night with my first, when I realized I had been re-defined. I had purpose, I had a place in the world. I would always be somebody’s mom. But the bulk of my memories of both births are a blur of emotion and pain and colour and sound and people. Maybe one day I will make sense of them, maybe that chance is lost.
The birth of Baby D is fresh. The fear, the worry, the pain, the panic, the relief, the pure joy, then the same same series of emotions again when he went into distress. And so I’m going to write about it. And it will make me cry, so bear with me as I do it in gentle phases.