So, after an awesome weekend with dear friends and a super fun trip to Old City Park in Dallas, my mind is clear and I’m ready to tackle this issue. A dear client, got me thinking about birthdays and birth stories, so let’s start there. My mother always told me my birth story on my birthday. She didn’t have any political or ideological mission behind it. She just did. Her mother told her birth story to her as well.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, a midwife told me of her family tradition to tell birth stories on a child’s birthday. I loved it! She felt that by telling the story, we would get our children comfortable with the idea of birth.
So every year, on my children’s birthdays, I tell their stories. Sometimes I tell the whole thing in one sitting, but mostly I tell it throughout the day. “Right now, 9 years ago, I didn’t think I could do it anymore, and the midwife didn’t think I was in labor.” “Right now, 9 years ago, I started to push.” My kids love it! I tell it all, not just the pretty parts. I tell about throwing up in the subway grate in NYC in transition, about my midwife not believing I was in labor and telling me I was too loud, about pooping in the tub, about yelling. My daughter isn’t fazed by the ugly parts of birth. Even when she once witnessed a shoulder dystocia and hemorrhage, she stayed totally calm and trusted that it would work (and it did).
I remember a client telling me that she couldn’t ever tell her daughter her birth story because it was so traumatic. We spent a lot of time reframing that idea, and by the time her next baby was born, she could tell both stories from a place of triumph. She told her daughter about how scared she was, and how she didn’t feel in control of her body, and how the doctor made her think her body didn’t work. But she also told her of the excitement of the first contractions, how proud she was to have labored naturally for many hours, how daddy had held her hand and rubbed her back for hours, and how when she saw her for the first time, she fell in love. Then she told her of the journey to a different way, of all she taught her about being a woman and trusting her body. Her daughter got to become part of the story of her mother becoming an empowered woman. And I’m sure when the time comes, no matter where or how she births, her daughter will have an empowered birth.