*This post was started and intended to be placed in the “healing” series I worked on before posting my daughter’s birth story. Due to unforseen circumstances, I didn’t finish it until now. To view the other posts on healing birth trauma visit here and here.
Women through the ages have always passed on their knowledge and wisdom through stories. Sometimes the stories were literal accounts of experiences and sometimes they were more of a fictional version meant to teach a particular lesson. With regards to birth, this is how girls coming-of-age learned. They sat in on births, they heard the stories of their grandmother’s births, their mother’s births, and so on. Somewhere along the way, most likely when it became medical and moved from home to hospital, women stopped talking about birth. One reason for this might have been that the majority of women were completely knocked out during the actual birth and therefore had no story to pass on. The others might have been too traumatized to discuss it (those who were fortunate enough to stay awake may have had to endure being strapped down to the bed, shaved, drugged, left alone for hours or any number of other standard protocols for the time).
Slowly, we have started to reclaim the storytelling of our births. Women, in my humble opinion, are talkers. We like to talk about something until we understand it completely and then we like to talk about it some more to make sure everyone else understands it completely. It’s just a part of who we are.
Being able to tell or write down your birth story (or stories) from start to finish is an amazing therapeutic tool. Just the act of getting it all out is healing. For moms who have had a positive birth experience, I feel it’s important to write it all down as soon as possible after birth. It’s amazing how quickly memories of specifics fade (almost as if they were meant to!), or how another person’s viewpoint can get easily intertwined with the haziness of laborland.
When writing down your birth story, keep these points in mind:
*Just as there is no wrong way to birth your baby, there is no wrong way to tell the story of that birth.
*You are the only one who experienced it and since it is your story, your viewpoint/perception is the only one that counts. (I’m not saying dads don’t count, but when writing the story for yourself…you are the only one who counts. His (or other birth attendants) version will be different because the experience wasn’t the same for him.)
*You can add to it over time. If your feelings/thoughts/opinions change about what happened, you can add that to the story later.
I hope all moms have the opportunity to know their story and share it in a safe setting. We have much to gain by sharing these stories, both for the listener and the teller. We can learn from other women. Together, we can work towards better birth for all.