On the Day You Were Born....

Soon after we discovered I was pregnant with Vivi, my husband bought me a copy of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. Like many women who are pregnant for the first time, I was afraid of giving birth. I had only heard horror stories from other women who described birth as "absolutely unbearable" and appeared profoundly traumatized by the experience. No one seemed willing to tell me what I could reasonably expect and the mystery scared the hell out of me.

Ina May's book changed all that. The first section was full of positive birth stories. None of the writers omitted how painful the process was or minimized the strength it took to deliver a baby and I really appreciated that. Instead of feeling afraid, I began to feel empowered. I started to believe in my body's ability to birth without intervention. Over the next seven months, I found a wonderful midwife, read as many books as I could, and even made flashcards to remind myself that "the pain is for a purpose" and that I need "to work with nature and not against it." It was hokey but it worked!

Since that time, I have loved hearing and reading people's birth stories. It doesn't matter to me if the birth was a vaginal or Cesarean, happened in a hospital or at home, induced or spontaneous. They are all compelling and they are all miraculous.

A few weeks after Aviva's birth, my husband and I each wrote our version of her birth story. It was interesting to see the differences since he remembered things I hadn't and I relayed the physical sensations of birth that he could only have imagined.

With my ever growing belly, these stories have been especially useful. Vivi asks me several times a day to tell her about the day she was born. Sometimes I skim over it and other days I tell her all the toddler-appropriate details. She thinks it hysterical that she was born naked and loves to tell people that she "almost pooped on the nurses when she came out."

Just the other day, we had this conversation:

Vivi: Mama, when teddy was trying to come out of my belly, my water broke.

Me: Really? Did it hurt?

Vivi: Yes and I go in my room and I sittin' on yoga ball. That helps my tum tum.

Me: That's good. That really helped mama when you were trying to come out of my tummy.

Vivi: Yes, but teddy was pushin', pushin' to come out.

Me: Really?

Vivi: And Mary (my midwife) saying, "I see dat baby's head!"

Me: Wow!

Vivi: Mama, and teddy came out nakey and he almost pooped on the nurses!

Of course, Vivi's birth story and Teddy's are pretty darn similar but it is great to see her little two-year-old mind processing the whole thing.

For those of you out there who would like to share your birth story, I'd love to read it. If you'd like the specifics of Aviva's (as told by an adult), let me know and I can post it on this blog.


  1. I loved how you said that no matter how you gave birth, it is miraculous. Some of us didn't get to choose how our little one came into the world - they chose for us.

    I had a severe case of PUPPS in my last weeks of pregnancy and since the only cure is delivery (which is not entirely true but is a story for another day) my doctor scheduled an induction for 38 weeks. Kevin and I arrived at the hospital that night at 7 pm and I was put on a monitor. Turns out, I was already in labor so they couldn't enduce me and since I wasn't dialated more than 2 cm, they sent me home to rest. I thought - this is labor? Piece of cake. And we went home.

    Ha. Come 11 pm, I was in so much pain that I couldn't stand up straight. My contractions were irratic and very close together. We made the trek back to the hospital and were checked in. Within minutes, and I remember very little of this as it was so scary and such a whirlwind, I was told that Jake's heartrate was dropping every time I had a contraction and according to the monitor, my contractions were right on top of each other. But I wasn't dialated more than 3 cm. Basically, I interpreted that to mean that Jake wanted the heck out and my body wasn't ready to let him go yet (even though my brain certainly was!). Within moments, I signed my life and his life away, had a catheder inserted and was wheeled into the operating room.

    I can't express the fear in a situation like this in words. Reliving it in my head makes me feel ill and has really prevented discussion of another child as of yet. I was given a spinal and while the nurse comforted me and told me this happened all the time, that Jake would be just fine, I didn't believe her and couldn't believe this had happened to us. Kevin stroked my hair and held my hand while he commentated the entire surgery (your stomach is outside of your body now) to me.

    When Jake came out, and cried, I felt relief and honestly, feelings I cant describe. They took about 10 minutes (an eternity) cleaning him up and Kevin waited to see him until they brought him to me (the sweetest memory from that night of my strong, wonderful husband).

    Once we all went into the recovery room and I got to feed my son, even though I was heavily drugged, very scared and shaking uncontrollably from the oxygen, I knew that we were ok now and that we were a family - we had been through something so tramatic together already and that bonded us even more.

    Thanks for wanting to hear that. I'd love to read yours.



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