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A blog-friend wrote about her birth story - not horrid, not the best - but wanted to share with me and process a little. This is what I wrote back:

I think in our time of the Internet, introspection and retrospection have become commonplace. I really believe that while our grandmothers and great-grandmothers might have had spiritually rapish births, their lack of hearing alternatives kept their mentality of sheeple-dom strictly in line. It will be an interesting study one day as anthropologists study the impact on a variety of life experiences in light of Net interaction.

So, was your birth horrid? Did your baby have pulmonary issues because of being induced too soon? Did you have exams you screamed no to? Was your daughter rendered blind because of the eye ointment you wanted to wait on?

Does it matter?

I hear women who've had the most horrific births tell me how beautiful they thought their births were the first few months. Then, when they begin to awaken, they wonder what could have possibly been in their heads.

I believe that the mind and spirit take a place of child-survival and put mom's physical and spiritual issues aside until the child is certain to be okay as mom cries and mourns. Very, very few women "get" that their births sucked right from the moment the baby is born.

If you told me your story, I would certainly know there were things you might want to change next time (if you came to me as a client or a new friend), but I wouldn't have cried and thought "that woman needs some serious therapy" like I do many others. It doesn't mean that there isn't reason to be sad, or even mourn, but I am hoping that you will see the birth as I think much of what your psyche sees already: that it wasn't ideal, but that you can 1. change it next time if there is a next time 2. help others in your wake "see" before their own births.

I thought my first baby's birth was fabulous until I was half done with the second pregnancy. I learned there was another way. I thought my upcoming DiTY birth (what UC was called back then) would be the epitome of perfection and then she nearly died. I learned from that birth, too. And my third. And even my fourth (that was my partner's). And Julia's. And Patricia's. And Consuela's. And Summer's. And even Petra Grace's. I learn from every birth.

Even yours.

And I believe, as trite as it is, that we learn from everything we do or see or hear about or we are no longer living. If you weren't wanting to change something, I would be supremely worried.

Your question - Is it possible to mourn the loss of something you never had, never even knew about - is something I hear a lot, sadly. I think that the question is the basis for change - in our own lives and in the lives of others as doulas or midwives. Shedding a few tears of regret are certainly appropriate, but showers of sadness would come if we didn't change because of our inner reflection.

Reader Comments (3)

Thank you, Navelgazer. Even though this is an old old post, and I cannot BELEIVE you got no comments on it, this really hit home with me. Extremely important.

November 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHousefairy

Amen to that. Especially the part about mourning what you never even knew existed. I missed so much with my first two children. Did so much that can never be taken back. But their younger brother and sister thank them for going first.

November 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterCNH

I went home and wrote down 'Worst experience of my life', just in case the happy amnesia that everyone talked about kicked in later. I wanted to remember just how awful things were, even though everyone was telling me that I had a healthy baby, and that was all that mattered. Two months later, and I still think that my experience mattered, too.

December 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTamsyn

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