“Before I had children I always wondered whether their births would be, for me, like the ultimate in gym class failures. And I discovered instead…that I’d finally found my sport.” –Joyce Maynard
“Our body-wisdom knows how to birth a baby. What is required of the woman who births naturally is for her to surrender to this body-wisdom. You can’t think your way through a birth, and you can’t fake it.” –Leslie McIntyre
This week I particularly enjoyed a saucy post by my friend, colleague, and doula, Summer. Titled Bragging Rights, she talks about her own experience birthing a very large baby (nearly 12 pounds! I enjoy bragging about her baby too!) and whether or not she really “deserves” bragging rights on birthing a big baby. I absolutely love her concluding thoughts on the topic:
“…Frankly, I think all mothers get bragging rights on their babies births. Birth is awesome and amazing and power-full. Every mother must face it. Sure, she may face it differently than me, but it IS a labyrinth we all go through. This is the way of life. So, mothers, brag away. Brag about whatever part of your labor and baby’s birth made you feel empowered….find that piece, even if it’s just a tiny moment, and cling to it. Shout it from the rooftops!…”
What a great idea that all mothers deserve “bragging rights.” What are your bragging rights moments from your births, however they unfolded?
I immediately thought of one for each of mine, reflecting that each birth does hold a key moment for me, the first thing that comes to mind when I think about that birth, a moment of being power-full.
First birth: my moment was arriving at the birth center fully dilated after having worried I was “only two centimeters.”
Second birth: having a two-hour labor—it was a train ride and I DID IT. Wow!
Third birth (miscarriage): coaching myself through labor and being brave enough and strong enough to open and let go of my little non-living baby.
Fourth birth: catching my own baby! By myself! With my own two hands! And, she was ALIVE!
“…the stories I see of birth in the media don’t reflect the intense emotions, the physical power, or the immense impact of the experience itself. Women screaming, fathers fumbling about, doctors doing most of the heroic work–these images don’t do justice to my experience. I felt empowered, strong, heroic in my efforts to bring my daughter into the world yet, I am painfully aware how little others see the heroism in my birth experience.“ –Amy Hudock (essay in Literary Mama)
“...if you want to know where a woman’s true power lies, look to those primal experiences we’ve been taught to fear…the very same experiences the culture has taught us to distance ourselves from as much as possible, often by medicalizing them so that we are barely conscious of them anymore. Labor and birth rank right up there as experiences that put women in touch with their feminine power…” –Christiane Northrup