Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Birth Monologue

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.
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The piece below was written in March of this year as my contribution to the Body Monologues event. I shared it (in front of a real-live audience) and it was scary, exciting...and healing. It has been hard to get to this point of being able to share my feelings about all this...but I am finding peace in doing so.

A Birth Monologue

100 years ago, you’d both be dead…
What’s important is that you’re both healthy…
You are just not made to push out big babies…

These are all things I was told after I gave birth by caesarean to my son 3 years ago and to my daughter 7 months ago. {My oldest daughter was born vaginally}.

Phrases filled with Cold Comfort.

Because the truth is that I was feeling like a failure. I was feeling angry, robbed and I just wanted someone to understand. Someone to tell me, “Yeah this really sucks.” I wanted to blame somebody...and that usually ended up being me.

Why hadn’t I tried harder? Why hadn’t I done more? Unwarranted regrets filled me. Perhaps, if I had squatted longer?

I felt failed by my body.

What was wrong with me?

Why couldn’t I push my babies out? I did with my first!

And, hell, wasn't it in my genes? My grandma pushed 6 babies out!

Everything I had read and done to prepare for childbirth told me that I was going to have the natural birth I wanted. Nothing really prepared me for what actually happened.

So twice I was robbed of that experience. Twice I felt like my body failed me. Like I was incapable, somehow less of a woman.

I was shot down by my impassable pelvis.

And all this was made worse by my feelings of guilt, because after all, both times, I was holding my sweet, live, healthy babies in my arms. And I was happily falling in love with them. It was paradoxical…happiness among sadness, grief over birth. And it was hard for those close to me to understand what I was going through, to understand that I was in fact grieving.

And so, time passed on. Physically I healed. I returned to my yoga practice practiced more vigorously. I relished the challenge, welcoming the sore muscles as a sign my body was alive.

I relied on mindfulness and gratefulness to cope each day.

Slowly I became less emotionally numb. And then came the anger at how things played out. I was angry that there was nothing I could do now to change how things had happened. But with the anger also came the realization that it was only a matter of time before I began to heal emotionally. I knew that part of healing would include forgiving—forgiving myself and the medical system that let me down.

Because ultimately, I believe that’s where the problem lies.

My pelvis is not too small. My pelvis is not impassable. And even if it were, respecting a woman's sacred space during childbirth should be a priority and she should be involved in any and all decisions.

Maybe then, and only then, will any unexpected outcomes be slighly more bareable.

But I believe the medical system does not trust women. At least it wasn't the case for my second cesarean. The one that hit me the hardest and the one I'm still healing from.


I was put on the protocol wagon and not allowed to veer off course, to fully listen to what my body needed. And to be a woman in labour and not encouraged to listen to what her body needs, what her body is telling her to do...is a hard thing to reconcile, it's a hard to thing to deal with and to carry around.

But our society has medicalized birth to the point where we have taken away women’s ability to trust in themselves and the wisdom of their bodies. The medical community’s message on birth is: “Birth is dangerous…and scary shit can happen, so let us prevent this by doing what we think is best.”

Our lack of a health care system that sees and supports birth as a normal, life experience, and that does not consistently let women guide their own birth process—has led to an attitude of fear around normal birth, sometimes even discouraging women to have homebirths or medication-free births or even routine medical births that are women-led. It has resulted in increased rates of unnecessary inductions, unnecessary interventions during labour, higher rates of pain medication, higher rates of instrumental vaginal birth and ridiculously high rates of caesarean sections…

Knowing that the problem does not lie in our womanly ability to birth, but rather in the medical system that is supposed to be supporting us, helped me cope a little more. And it made me want to change things a whole lot.

Women are ultimately going to be the ones to change the system and take back our right to birth, and I hope it happens soon!

One day I went to my yoga class and after having a relatively uneventful but invigorating practice I prepared for Shavasana. As I let my mind clear and I unattached myself from my thoughts—something unexpected happened. An overwhelming peace came over me. The pain and hurt and all the feelings of failure and inadequacy were suddenly abated.

At first I resisted.

“Am I dying? Is this why it’s called Corpse Pose?”


Then I realized that the feelings were not gone, they had not suddenly vanished, but the sharp edges were softened and I could feel a sense of peaceful healing energy envelop me. And I knew everything would be more than fine. I knew that some good would come from my experiences. I can feel that I am regaining trust and confidence in my body. Slowly, but surely. 


Because regardless of how my babies came into this world, they did come into this world and their births have all taught me so much and made me stronger and wiser and they are a part of who I am…and being me is something I would never want to change. 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)

15 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story (and way to go for sharing it with an audience!!). I too have been struggling with feelings of guilt for not being able to have the natural birth that I wanted to have with my son. It's such a fine line, isn't it? Being a part of the natural parenting community makes us feel the need to have "perfect" natural births and yet the society we live in encourages moms to just have elective C-sections at 37 weeks to "get it over with." Trying to find balance in there is hard enough, and yet we still feel such feelings of shame in the end, even with healthy, happy, beautiful babies. I'm happy to hear that you are healing, as am I. Yoga is definitely a great way to help!

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  2. I am so happy that you are at peace with your births, and I trust that you will be a catalyst of change. You are inspiring!

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  3. “Birth is dangerous…and scary shit can happen, so let us prevent this by doing what *we* think is best.” That pretty much sums up the arrogance in the medical birth system. I don't know how many times I've resisted the urge to say to a doctor "If 4 years of medical school makes you smart, then my mammalian body with 300,000 years of evolution is a genius! Guess which one of you is actually in charge here?"

    I'm so sorry that a flawed system derailed your births, but I'm so glad you're using that experience to make a positive change for the mamas who come after you!

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  4. Lovely post. And I completely agree with you about the medicalisation of childbirth. Hopefully it will change for the better soon, and by adding our voices to the narrative of how things need to change, we'll all make a difference. Here's hoping anyhow!

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    1. Yes exactly! Thanks for reading :-)

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  5. This is a heavy load to live with, especially when all you were trying to do is what was best for you and your baby. I'm so grateful that you've found peace and forgiveness for yourself.

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    1. Thank you. It sure is, well I am ready to say was, heavy! Thanks for reading :-)

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  6. Breathtaking post. I totally agree with you about the medicalisation of birth and can only empathize at how hard it must have been to go through birth where your process was disrespected and violated in this way. I love to read about your healing journey and recovery through yoga as it really shows that there is healing in life for whatever we need through a process of time, forgiveness and willingness.

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  7. ((Hugs)) It is tough. Glad you found some peace. :)

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  8. I'm glad you're finding what you need to let go and that you have the courage to share your experience to help other women. Well done.

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    1. Thanks, it hasn't been easy, but sharing has actually helped with the healing. Thanks for reading :-)

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