25 January 2012
No Birth Story
This is not a birth story. I don't want to write what happened at the birth of my baby. I would rather forget.
People, I feel betrayed. I spent nine months reading nothing but birth stories. I couldn't wait to write down how I "birthed" my "babe". I read so many books on yoga birth poses, hypnobirthing and "breathing out the baby", and watched documentaries about arse-kicking feminist who give birth in the bathtub in the name female empowerment, and I could not wait to join them. I was obsessed with the many blogs detailing the lives of beautiful ladies birthing on yogaballs whilst muttering affirmations.
I wanted to be like them, and feel at one with the world, finally. This birthing experience was going to kick some arse.
Then I went to hospital, I somehow, I don't know how, gave birth to a 4,65 kilo baby, and I felt violated. Birth, people, was not my moment to experience self-realisation by means of connecting to mother earth in a powerful way. It was not empowering to feel the labour pains. I refuse to call them "waves". They were earth-shatteringly crippling pains that I was sure I'd not be able to handle for longer than 2 seconds. And I am no a wuss. I am built like a solid Germanic horse, and I could not believe my body was letting me down. I had gas, pain relief, and finally, thank you lord, the epidural. In my mind, I'd already failed. The yoga ball remained unused in the corner.
Then it was my moment to shine. Push! Push! I thought I'd experience the magic moment that I'd later remember - like a well of strength I'd be able to draw from for the rest of my life. Instead I thought I was going to die of fear. It is not empowering to be cut open like a christmas turkey and have a quarter pounder ripped out of you. And I don't think I'd say anything different if I'd given birth at home in a bathtub, to a normal-sized child.
And it was over, and she was out. Finally I was going to feel that giant rush of love when that wee wet bundle of joy would be chucked on my abdomen. Matilda was born, her heartrate had dropped and she was thrown in the emergency incubator and doctors were shoving oxygen on her face. I did not feel a rush of love. I felt my heart open wide when I saw her, briefly. I literally felt my heart open, and I heard myself screaming for the baby, I thought she was dead, and in that moment my newly open heart was torn into a million pieces.
Then the baby was fine, but I was bleeding, and medicated, and so, so sick. I felt like a tractor had been parked on me. I couldn't even hold the baby. I did not want to. I did not feel a rush of love. I did not feel empowered. I felt like a failure. And a bad mother. The world had suddenly become a terrifying place.
I felt I had let myself down, and the baby. And I kept looking at her, and urging myself to feel that joy that I'd read so much about, but for me it remained unreachable.
How sad for me that I spent nine months not following my own instincts, and believing that I needed to have not a birth, but a BIRTH EXPERIENCE. It needed to be calm, spiritual, amazing, and my favourite word of all time (not): NATURAL. A natural birth please, for me! I wanted to show it to the naysayers who'd tell me with that evil glint in their eyes that I'd scream for an epidural the second the contractions hit. Which I did (that doesn't make the naysayers any nicer though).
Well screw all that.
I wish that prior to giving birth, someone had told me that it's ok to be terrified, scared, upset. That birth isn't a concept that sits somewhere between yoga and discovering god.
Lucky for me, my friend Erin saved my life when I told her, in tears, that I did not feel a rush of love for my baby at all. I did not feel a huge "bond". I simply felt that the earth had stopped moving. All I could feel was extreme terror that something might happen to her, or me.
Then Erin said: "you didn't meet the baby at birth, and you didn't need to bond with her. You met her when she was in your belly, you bonded with her then, and you already knew her when she came out. You didn't need to fall in love with her. You were already in love with her".
And it was true. And we are ok, now.
PS: This is what a baby looks like just after birth. Not that pretty. Take note, movie makers.