*Trigger Warning* – I just want to give an upfront warning to those struggling with infertility who might not be in a place where they want to read about another person’s experience with birth. This is that kind of post.
It was 3 years ago today that I went into labor. Well by this time I had already been in labor since 2AM. My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow. So, yes, it was a long labor. About 32 hours. Each year since her birth, these two days have given me pause. They bring up such a mix of intense emotions – many of which are hard to name. This is the first time that I’m actively trying to conceive again during her birthday, and it seems like that is adding another twist to the emotions.
Like every good student, I studied up on all my birthing options and put together what I considered to be the best plan for supporting the beautiful, natural birth I had envisioned. I found an excellent team of nurse midwives who could deliver at my chosen hospital. The nurses who generally worked with the midwives were on board with natural, flexible birthing options. They were backed up by OB’s who respected their judgment. My doula was caring and experienced, and was studying to become a midwife herself. I wrote both a birth plan and a baby plan. I had practiced hypnobabies diligently in preparation. My bag was packed. My mind was filled with images of strong women crouched down, birthing their babies into their own arms. I knew to be flexible despite my planning, because things don’t always go as planned. I wasn’t that naive.
But I truly did not expect what happened. I spent thoughtful time after her birth processing what had happened. Long story short, although I was completely dilated, pushed for 4 hours, and could see the top of the baby’s head for quite some time, she simply would not come out. Due to the lengthy session of strong pushing, she was so tightly lodged in my pelvis that they actually had difficulty getting her out during the emergency C-Section. We later found out, informed by the OB who performed the C-Section, that the bone opening the baby had to pass through was 1.5 inches to small in diameter. It wasn’t that my child’s head was too large, it was simply my structure. He said I would never be able to birth a full term baby. My midwife actually agreed that there was nothing we could have done differently to have a different outcome. And we had tried every natural option and strategy they could think of. I felt okay at the time, knowing that the C-Section really was medically necessary and not a result of a cascade of medical interventions. While I was at peace with that knowledge, and felt grateful for the advances in medicine that helped me both conceive and birth my child – neither of which would have been possible years ago – that didn’t take away the birth trauma. I talked to both my midwife and doula at later appointments about what happened. I processed the trauma successfully.
Now, at this time of year, I light a tealight in a goddess candle holder that I only use for this purpose. For these two days I honor that birth. The birth of a daughter. The birth of a mother. I acknowledge the unbearable pain that I found the strength to bear. I remember feeling let down by the team I built around me who were supposed to give me support. I remember feeling alone, scared, and confused. I remember speaking up for myself even when I only had a few words. I honor my voice. I honor my body for all that it did despite the parts that it could not do. I hold space for both the sadness and the joy.
Many people are quick to say, “as long as she was born healthy – that’s all that matters.” I am grateful beyond words that my daughter, who had to be revived three times after this traumatic birth, came through it healthy and safe. I would have endured anything for that. But it’s inaccurate to say that that is all that matters. Birth matters. A woman’s experience matters.
I feel blessed to have gone through that transition into motherhood. And I honor it in all the chaos that it was. I hope beyond words that I get to experience birth again in all it’s raw beauty, power, and pain. I know many women on this path never get to give birth to a baby, and I am grateful that I have. And yet, still my heart yearns for one more child.