Having a baby is the most wonderful thing a woman can do. There is nothing like the feeling of a new life growing inside of you, sensing its development as the weeks go by, marveling at its strength when it kicks in the middle of the night.
And then there is the pure pleasure of preparation. What is more satisfying than creating your new baby’s room, choosing sheets and blankets, and picking out darling little outfits? It is the one time we can indulge all our pure nesting instincts.
That’s the fun side of pregnancy. Then there’s the other side.
Sit around with a bunch of mothers, and you will hear it all. Mothers love to recite their pregnancy and birthing stories. I guess it has something to do with the fact that mothers have been to a place where only they can go. In spite of all the obvious similarities in the stories, each one still seems unique. Like veterans of an armed conflict, we are a band of sisters with one common theme. These are our battle stories.
We listen to each other in amazement, we compare notes, and we shake our heads in wonder. There is the tale of the thirty-six hour labor, the classic story of the birth in the back of the cab. Even when you feel you have heard them all, you still listen with respect. These stories are important. They need to be told.
Because I have four children of my own, have taught Lamaze classes, and have been a birth coach. I know many stories, all very different. I would love to tell them here. All of them, but of course I can’t-maybe that will be another book.
What I can tell you is that everything you have heard is true. Some women do crave pickles and ice cream; some crave tomatoes and sauerkraut. Others would kill for a steak. Some cry ten times a day; others eat twelve times. Occasionally, there is even a woman who never had a single problem, who loved every minute of the whole nine months. We know she is lying.
Most of us can say with certainty that no one has ever had bigger stretch marks. And when is comes time for delivery, in spite of all our best intentions, many rational women do want drugs. In the transitional phase of labor, we do blame our husbands for everything and say bad words we have never said before. And we even, quite rationally; refuse to have the baby, just about the time the baby is coming out.
Why do we go through these things gladly, even thankfully? For the reward at the end, of course. For the sheer bliss that comes when our baby is at last wrapped and delivered into our arms. For the moment when we can lean down and kiss that downy forehead and smell the sweetness of our newborn child.
If you are a newly expectant mother, don’t worry. Everything that is happening to you is normal. Crazy as it sounds, it all makes perfect sense. Just go with the flow. That baby is running the show. It knows what it needs and it is trusting you to get it there.
And if you are an old pro at the business of childbirth, lend an ear. Listen and sympathize; reassure your young friend. Share your own story, if you think it will help.
After all, we are all in this together.
Excerpt from The Quotable Mom edited by Kate Rowinski
What's your birth story?