“One of the most important things I have learned about birthing babies is that the process is more of an unfolding marvel than a routine progression of events.” –Tori Kropp
Lots and lots of tidbits on my mind this week! It has been a while since I’ve done a proper Tuesday Tidbits post and it has caught up with me. To avoid making this too loooong, I’ve split it up into a series of loosely connected thematic posts to release over the next couple of days/weeks.
First, a beautifully touching story about a family’s decision to have another child after parenting a child with very serious special needs (for which they have no diagnosis).
“…I, alone, would have to make the decision whether or not to have another baby. If we did, I would be like any pregnant woman–following doctor’s orders, cutting out questionable foods and praying for a healthy baby; everything I had done with Joy. This this time, though, I would have an intimate knowledge of what most moms-to-be only fear in the ‘what-if’ scenarios they play out in their heads. Eric had made his decision. Was I willing to jump into the darkness with him? Would my marriage survive if I didn’t? Would it survive if I did?…”
Then, some thoughts about birth and pain and sensation:
“You may be able to feel baby pressing on your cervix. You have never felt anything like this. You may be able to feel your pelvis flexing and be acutely aware of where your thighs join your hips. You may be able to feel your uterus flex in a way that feels exactly like a really tough workout. But the bottom line:
You have never felt anything like this…”
While there is a simplistic understanding reflected in this post that doesn’t seem to accurately embrace or even grasp the wide, staggering array of women’s experiences during the childbearing year, I do totally agree with this premise: labor is like nothing you’ve ever felt before (or will since). That is why people use the frustrating term, “birth mystery” to describe it, because it is full, total, complex, complete, and all-encompassing, and you may never, ever be so fully present in your body during the rest of your life. And, it is different every time (though more “familiar” the more babies you have, there are always surprises in birth).
Some past posts from me about birth and pain:
And a gritty, real (and painful) postpartum story from a real-life friend:
My vagina winced. She had been through so much. Held together by medical stitches, she felt so fragile, vulnerable, broken. Like Humpty Dumpty post-fall. (How embarrassing. Could she go lower? She had been so glorious). The king’s horses and men failed to reconstruct Humpty, and I wondered, despite my OB’s expertise, if I too would never be put back together again. Humpty Dumpty was just an egg. Who gives a rip about an egg? My lady parts were much more important…
A short, funny story from the news about a student getting trapped in giant vagina, “Gateway to the World” sculpture.
“…Police confirmed that the firefighters turned midwives delivered the student ‘by hand and without the application of tools’…”
And, speaking of honoring mothers, my sweet sister-in-law has a blog post up about her belly cast experience following the mother blessing we had for her in June: The Mossy Stone: My Belly Cast.
Returning to difficult stories though, here is one with a **trigger warning for child loss**. This is a beautiful, touching story about the death of a son and the decision to have a second child.
I know lots of women avoid loss stories while pregnant. I can’t avoid them, even though I think about it and maybe it is mentally better for me not to read them. I have to hold/honor/hear these stories too—they don’t need to be hidden away.
“The pregnancy progressed smoothly, as my first pregnancy had. When I began to show and people began asking me if I was pregnant with my first child, I was determined to remember Ronan in my response, no matter how uncomfortable it made the asker. “No,” I replied. “I had a son and he died.” The conversation often stopped here, the narrative halted. When the questions first began I scrambled to make the awkward exchange a bit easier for the other person. “Sorry to throw that on you,” I’d say, smiling. But now I don’t. My new policy is: asked and answered. Or, as a relative of mine used to say, if you don’t want the answer, don’t ask the question. I don’t elaborate on how or why my first child died when some people go on to ask those questions (and they occasionally do); at that point I tell them that I prefer not to say any more. I don’t want to offer up the details of Ronan’s illness like the pieces of a tragic tale. But I want it to be known—to strangers, to everyone—that he was in the world, that he was fully loved, and that he was my first baby…”
Why is this? Because stories hold power! I saw this quote this week on The Mother-Daughter Nest:
Telling our stories- while being witnessed with loving attention by others who care- may be the most powerful medicine on earth.
Some of the stories that want to be told are joyful.
Some are sad.
Some are painful and make us feel vulnerable and afraid.
Some are full of hope and inspiration.
Some of our “story doors” take courage to open.
Some we may not be ready to open and that is okay.
But the telling? The telling brings healing, understanding, and connection.
(This is also why Red Tents are powerful)