In a picture I saw today an adorable toddler in tidy overalls and a sweet smile that just shows off a row of perfect baby teeth is holding a picture of her own messy birth. The picture inside the picture is taken from an angle slightly higher than the mother's hip aimed in such a way that the baby and midwife are framed by the mother's legs. I know how it sounds, but actually, the mother's part in the picture is almost demure. The midwife's face is great with an expression of tired elation. What made this picture stick in my head and take me to my laptop at 12:45 AM is how in a very quiet way if represents the profound nature of birth. Together this mother, child and midwife complete a triangle of strength, so that when I look at the photo the first word that comes to mind is Life.
This experience was beyond my grasp when I had my daughter via c-section.
During my pregnancy, I often thought about the birth process, and it was never in fear of the pain or the unknown. I was excited. I knew that nature must balance the scales, and the pain of labor would be a small price to pay for the bond of a child. Also I knew what an amazing support system I would have, starting with my husband, who I knew, would be there for me every second, completely focused on me and the baby, suppressing his own fears and concerns to get us through.
And I was also anticipating how female the experience would be. With the exception of my husband, everyone else involved would be a woman. I was going to see that same look from the picture on a midwife's face as she held up my daughter for me to see for the first time. The world over since people started forming communities birth has been the womens' domain. Even with the advent of male dominated western medicine, in the grand scheme of human evolution, women have banded together to bring children in to the world for only other women share the secret. All women whether they have given birth, will give birth, will never give birth or even desire to give birth, are bond together in the knowledge that we are the only ones who can. We alone have been given the strength to endure through labor to nurture our children.
Then at 32 weeks, the midwife said the baby was breech. Nothing to worry about at this point. But she was still breech at 34 and 36 and 38. I tried the music, hot and cold compresses, trips to the chiropractor, different position, but to no avail. I think she just missed her window to get her long self turned around inside my not long body, so I never got to experience the birthing plan I had in my head.
Now I am glad that I live in a time and place where there was an option that allowed my daughter to come into the world in a safe manner for both of us. Her very existence was a miracle I had given up on years before she was conceived, so I didn't dwell on the lost of my birthing experience. But I do think about it every now and then like when I saw this picture today.
I know there are women reading this thinking I am nuts. I know there are women reading this thinking I am totally right on. While it is on the basic level the same for all of us, each of us has our own ideas about our experiences. These are just my thoughts on mine. And no matter how any woman and her child come to meet, even though adoption (which I have also been lucky enough to experience), the moment of meeting is what makes us fight for the best world possible.
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