Family Magazine

Reminiscing About My Imperfect, Completely Unnatural Birth

By Melody S
I have posted about this before (see McKenna's Birth Story), but the past couple of months, it has been weighing heavily on my mind. I had a shitty birth experience. I am not alone in having a less-than-ideal birth experience, and mine certainly wasn't as bad as some stories I have heard. But it is my experience, and one that I am still struggling with.
I am tired of hearing people say "well, your baby's healthy, that's all that matters", because that's a lie. Of course it is important to have a healthy baby, but that doesn't mean that the birth experience is nothing more than a means to an end. For some people the birth process is incredibly important. I was one of those women. I had read all the books, hired a doula, practiced mindful birthing and self-hypnosis. I couldn't wait to finally meet my daughter, but I was also excited for the experience of birthing her. No other moment in my life has been, or will be, as monumental as giving birth. And then came the news: She was breech, and I was not a candidate to try and birth her naturally because my body was "inexperienced". My heart stopped (metaphorically, of course). Never had I considered the possibility that my daughter would quite literally be ripped from my uterus. I had envisioned this peaceful, quiet, serene experience, where I would lie back in the tub while sipping Gatorade and munching on granola bars to keep my energy up. Never had I considered that I might be paralysed from the chest down (the scariest feeling ever!), strapped to a table, and deprived of seeing my daughter's first breath. I wasn't the first one to hold her, I didn't get to supervise her newborn exam, and I wasn't able to emotionally bond with her right away. Thinking about that night still brings me to tears.
Has it harmed our relationship? Probably not - I was able to nurse her within the first hour of her birth, we co-slept from a very early age, and our bond is as strong as it could possibly be. But I have not been able to move past it. Sometimes I think about having another baby, not because I am ready for another child, but so that I can have a do-over, so that maybe this time around I can experience the "real thing". I listen with thinly-veiled jealousy to friends speak of their birth experiences, no matter how painful or uncomfortable they might have been. I gaze longingly at photos of homebirthing couples, trying to recall feeling some of the wonder and joy that I see in their faces. But it was never there. There was nothing magical, joyful, or remotely peaceful about the way that McKenna entered into the world. No amount of reading could have prepared me for the trauma of having to be a helpless, passive observer in the birth of my child.
It has been nearly 14 months since my precious girl made her appearance, and I am still struggling with the circumstances of her birth. When and how I am to move past this experience are questions that I still don't have the answers to. Hopefully someday soon I will.

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