"My husband was holding my hands and trying to calm me down, rubbing my hair, as I started pushing. Her head came out with the ring of fire, which burned badly but was nothing in comparison to the release of pressure on my spine, and I was still in such denial that I could keep going that I didn't even believe them when they told me to touch her hair. Someone placed my hand on her warm head, and that was enough motivation to push the rest of her out at 4:35am. To FEEL her slippery body and every limb come out, to feel her body against the inside of my flesh, to completely FEEL it - was an AMAZING experience. All I could feel was relief in that moment that the back pain was gone, and process that my husband was crying and saying she's here. [....]
Baby was immediately placed on my chest, covered in thick vernix and warm slime and it couldn't have been better. She had fluid in her lungs but gently and slowly worked up a cry and coughed it out on her own. Within 5 minutes she latched onto my right breast completely unaided, much to my shock. [...]
We kept rubbing her to coax her to cry out the fluid, and about 20 min later the cord stopped pulsing and my husband cut it. We had a beautiful picture of me holding her on my stomach, looking down at her, with all the assistants/midwife's hands holding her limbs and the tools, and my husband's hand cutting the cord - I love it. [...] I didn't have ANY tearing thankfully, so no stitches. About an hour later, we did the newborn exam, took her sweet little footprints down on the certificate and also into a "Im a Big Brother" book we bought for our son. I was helped into the bathroom, then cleaned up a bit and enjoyed a plate of my homemade spinach pie I baked earlier in labor. Then we snuggled into bed after some paperwork and my husband walked the midwives out the door."
- excerpts from my daughter's birth story that I wrote in 2011, one week postpartum. Sounds beautiful, right? I have to admit, I haven't read these words in three years until I started prepping for this post. I am so thankful that I captured details in writing that I've otherwise since forgotten. But more curiously, I hear so much in my words (especially the ones not shown above) now that I didn't realize I was saying at the time.
The truth is, you see, these are the sugarcoated sweet parts. These are the things you're supposed to say. These are the wordporn fantasies of mystical, natural birth that midwives and crunchy mamas feed pregnant women because it's what we all want to hear. We are strong, powerful birthing machines and our bodies were made for this. And see how perfect an unaided labor and birth story can be without intervention or unnecessary treatments? See how perfect it sounds? Worth it, right?
Well, let me tell you something: Perfect does not exist. All that glitters is not gold. And there is another side to the movement of women being pressured into all-natural mothering and the do-it-yourself health culture. Did I do it, and am I proud? Sure. But am I doing it again this time? No way in hell. Let's back up a little. Stay with me.
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