Friday, August 21, 2009

"They just say, 'I know I can do this. I don't know how. I just know I can.'"

The Baby Catcher, by Peggy Vincent

My god, what a beautiful, beautiful book. There was something in almost every chapter that brought me to tears, so many things that reminded me of my son's birth, so many awe-inspiring moments. I rarely buy books, preferring to borrow them from the library, but this is one I'll be adding to my bookshelf. There were just so many pages that I wanted to flag, passages I wanted to underline, that I must have my own copy.
I wish I'd read this when I was pregnant, because 99% of the accounts in this book were exactly the sort of positive, beautiful birth stories I was craving. If you have any interest at all in midwifery and childbirth, if you're pregnant and hoping for a home birth or natural childbirth in any other setting, you will love this.
You know, ever since a well-known blogger recently gave birth to her second child and shared her natural childbirth story, I've seen a lot more discussion in blogland about birth and the birth experience. Some good, thought-provoking, level-headed discussion, but also a great deal of finger pointing and name calling and defensiveness.
There are women who take issue with the term "natural childbirth," feeling that it indicates that any other experience is therefore "unnatural." There are women who have had C-sections who wonder if they can say that they gave birth. There are those who think that women who share stories of natural childbirth are bragging or trying to compete in the "Mommy Olympics," and still others who do make it seem as though epidurals and C-sections are the work of the devil. The range of comments and feelings relating to birth show that it can be an emotionally complicated endeavor.
There are lots of people out there, men and women, who say that so long as there is a healthy baby and a healthy mom at the end, that's all that matters.
For some, that is all that matters, and there's not a single thing wrong with that. They couldn't care less whether their births were "natural" or not, at home, in a hospital, via C-section, or in a field full of wildflowers in the middle of nowhere. Birth can be amazing and thrilling no matter how it happens, I'm sure. But for others, while the outcome of a healthy baby and a healthy mom is undeniably important, it isn't the only important thing. Surely you can understand this by reading the numerous posts and comments on the topic: the detailed accounts of what was hoped for and what was actually experienced, the joy and pride of reaching a goal, overwhelming love and appreciation for beautiful children, mingled with regret.
I can only speak from my own experience. I had a dream for my son's birth, and with some preparation and some faith and some luck, it was realized. Had things gone differently, I know I would have mourned the loss of that dream. I don't think I would have been, like, fall down and die sad, but yes, I would have been sad. So I can only imagine that being told, "Forget it- you should be grateful to have a healthy son. That's all that matters!" would have felt like having my deepest feelings thrown back in my face.
The way Lion got here matters. My way wasn't only way to have a beautiful birth, it wasn't the only way to feel empowered, it's not any more or any less amazing than anyone else's path to motherhood. But the experience mattered to me. And that should be enough.

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Blogger Bearette24 said...

It's funny, I did read that book before giving birth, and it cemented my decision to give birth in a hospital (though my labor was not a particularly happy experience). There were just so many chapters where the midwife was racing with her clients to the hospital, and I think a few where things went wrong, that it freaked me out.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Interesting. I didn't do a count as to how many normal births there were v. how many emergencies, but while the racing-to-the-hospital ones were exciting, they didn't stand out as much for me. It hink the vast majority usually go just fine.

But I do remember the one mom who had a prolapsed cord begging the doctor to start the emergency C-section without anesthesia. Wow.

3:01 PM  

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