Some time ago I was talking to a mother whose birth hadn’t gone as planned. She said that she knew that she needed a cesarean, but that she also knew she had missed out on a “very cool experience in life.” I think it is definitely possible to accept the need for a cesarean, while still honoring/recognizing the profound experience of giving birth vaginally. I also think it is possible to acknowledge the magnitude of becoming a mother, regardless of the what happened with the birth–having a baby is a big deal no matter what! Though I’m obviously a huge advocate of natural childbirth, I truly believe that cesareans are often an act of personal courage. I also think that all births are rites of passage and are profound transformations and initiations into motherhood. So, though while some women may have missed out on the sense of personal power that often accompanies a natural birth, they’ve all taken significant and meaningful journeys of their own.
Then, I came across a poem by an anonymous writer in the book Open Season. It reminded me in part of my thoughts above.
For Those of Us Who “Failed”
And what about us who “failed”?
The ones whose birthings were not the finest hour
of their womanhood?
The ones who did not defy all medical intervention?
Those who have no heroic defiant story to tell?
Where do we fit in?
We can’t all be the ones that change the system,
but are we less a part of the sisterhood of those
who have given birth?
To those that have shone at the hours of birth
remember those of us who have not.
Will we, like the Vietnam vets, be recognized
too little and too late?
We experienced giving birth too.
Less nobly than some maybe,
but a noble experience nonetheless.
You say you honor choices.
Can you really honor mine?
I will always honor the process which
brought forth flesh of my flesh.
I honor your births too.
Can you ever honor my experience, or will I
forever be a part of your statistics on
the way things shouldn’t be?