I suspect that my boys are more interested in pregnancy and childbirth than the average 2 and 6 year olds, which is probably a lot to do with my job and their exposure to various birthing videos and stories etc.
It’s something I’m really proud of and I’ve always tried to be open and honest about where babies come from and how they make their way earth-side; they are under no illusion that there are two possible exits, one being the vagina – and yes I use the word vagina.
So their interest means that they ask a lot of questions about their own journey in to the world. Flyn loves hearing the story about how he poo’d all over me when he arrived on our sitting room floor and it doesn’t matter how many times he hears the tale, his enthusiasm never wanes.
I love the stories too and each time I relive it like it was yesterday. The difficulty is when Noah, my first baby wants to hear about his arrival.
I find this challenging and not for the reasons that may have once been so troubling, but because I feel guilty.
This was a guilt I wasn’t ready for; I’m no stranger to guilt – I had/have it for many other reasons, but I didn’t see this coming after my second baby and I don’t see it leaving anytime soon either.
It took my second birth to highlight some of the subtleties of my first; Stand alone, Noah’s birth was traumatic for many reasons, but until I had this comparison, I was able to reflect on how wonderful my labour was and how much I enjoyed it –
YES I DID ENJOY IT
and of course overriding everything else, I fell so deeply in love with him - the other stuff had to be bearable.
The two stories have one very strong common denominator and that is the love I felt for each of them.
I have no trouble conveying this part to Noah, but the details, the subtleties that he’s searching for are in stark contrast to what he knows of Flyn’s arrival and that has left me with guilt that no therapy or reflection can abolish.
I feel robbed of not being the first to hold Noah. I felt robbed of looking at him, breathing him in, gazing in to his little eyes in those first scary moments of his life - when instead he was whisked away to do I don’t know what. I felt angry that his little head was marked by those forceps and his little eye was swollen.
And then 3 years and 9 months later came Flyn; the labour was much shorter - intense, wonderful and was dictated by his back to back presentation (like Noah), so a long and powerful second stage – but with all of the love and support of my dream team, my little star gazer appeared and was placed gently in front of me where I scooped his little slippery body up on to my chest and I breathed this little miracle in with all my senses.
It was magical, it was triumphant and it was healing; I felt reconnected to my body for the first time since that was stolen from me and the physiological experience confirmed to me the amazing power I held. The intimacy, the celebration, the gentle beginning, the lovely photographs serve to tell the tale of two very different stories.
Noah is intuitive and wise and he knows that it was different.
We were robbed of lots of the happiness that a baby brings and the connections with others that were interrupted because I couldn't face being with other Mum's. The physical pain was so much at times that I know it meant that he had to learn to amuse himself. Our breastfeeding relationship came to an abrupt end when I was in hospital in London for 5 days for my 2nd reconstructive operation.
And we are lucky because I know how terrible it can be for others. Despite the hurdles we faced, our bond was strong and undamaged by the external forces - and this provided all of the ingredients for our strong attachment.
But the guilt still seems to reside in me in a new way. By its very nature, being a mother evokes guilt and as I said, I'm no stranger to this. And whilst I feel completely deserving of that healing birth, I can't help but feel that Noah deserved more.
Which is why I am so passionate about ensuring that couples approach their birth as informed as possible. Not because hynobirthing insures you against challenges, but because my own experience is the best evidence I have for the benefit of education and of options. Had I known there were options, I would have never agreed to the things that I did. Henci Goer, Childbirth Author says,
"You can't be said to make a choice when you only have one option."
And my first birth was a common case of not being offered options. There was no emergency, until of course there was and I was caught in the cascade of intervention. This first birth left behind some pretty hideous side effects. But for me it was as much about the subtleties as it was the less subtle side effects of the trauma we experienced.
The subtleties are almost always what I hear from couples when they talk about past experiences and they are the very details that are ignored, minimised and often denied.
Hearing your story is so important. It is one of the most important parts of my work and I would urge everyone to write their story and even better - tell it! Perhaps you too are carrying some guilt or you just simply need to surrender; this is me surrendering step by step and hopefully this post might take me one step closer to relinquishing some of this guilt I carry.