I have had five different birth stories. I tell each one a little bit different. Are some more joyful than others? Yes! Does that make me love any of my children less? Absolutely not! I think there is this idea that birth is birth and it doesn’t matter how your baby gets here, as long as you have a healthy Mom and baby. Sure, that’s always the goal! But what is wrong with desiring a beautiful birth story? What is wrong with being a little bit sad if that beautiful birth story doesn’t happen the way you had hoped?
I shared a three-part series on cesarean birth last year that was called Still a beautiful birth. I absolutely stand by all births being beautiful in their own way. Each child comes into this world a little bit differently. Unfortunately, these days, women are having their birth stories determined for them by their providers. I read a comment on Facebook recently where a woman said that her only birth plan was to let her provider tell her what to do because her OB had delivered more babies than she had! I was a little bit surprised by this, but why am I really surprised? Are we just letting care providers railroad us into determining our birth stories? Is this part of the reason why 1 in 3 babies are born by cesarean?
Here are three reasons it is okay to mourn your birth story:
- It doesn’t make you love your children any less if their birth story wasn’t up to what you thought it would be.
There seems to be this idea that you are a bad Mom or don’t love your children if you are unhappy with how they were born. This is ridiculous! Three of my children were born by cesarean, and I was not happy about it. But I love each of those children with every fiber of my being! I don’t look at my five children and say, “Well the first three are okay, but those VBA3C babies, wow they are the best!” No way. I love them all equally. And my birth stories are part of who I am. It shaped me into the childbirth educator and DOULA I am today. I wouldn’t be who I am today without those stories. But you better believe I was sad about it at the time. Would I change my birth stories no? Mourn it a little? Yes.
2. It’s your story, not ours.
Don’t let someone try to tell you how you should tell your story! Why do you think so many women are struggling with post-partum depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder after their births? Because they are often holding in their true emotions over the birth story and not processing it the way they should. I highly recommend getting involved in some sort of post-birth support group (like ICAN or a post-partum depression group) to sort through those feelings. If you are local to me, I would be happy to point you in the right direction! Sometimes just saying your story out loud and having someone else validate what you are feeling is all you really need. Don’t suffer through your story in silence! Talk about it. Write your story down. Get help if you need it.
3. Your expectations were obviously let down.
Maybe you took a class like Birth Boot Camp and prepared for months for this birth, or carefully selected your care provider and did all the right things to have this amazing birth you so longed for. You went to the chiropractor and ate healthy and exercised. You did everything right! But your expectations for this birth came and went. That has to be really hard! I know, I was there. You are not a failure. Your body is not a lemon. Birth can sometimes just be unexpected. It takes turns that we don’t desire. Our birth plans were dashed because of one thing or another. It’s okay to mourn that! You worked hard for this, but you didn’t fail. You still birthed your baby, one way or another. But it’s okay to be sad about the way it happened.
My hope through this post is to start a dialogue about our birth stories. We shouldn’t be ashamed to share our true feelings. As women and mothers, we need to be supporting one another! Let’s share what we truly feel and work through it together.