Monday, July 9, 2012

Emmett's birth

I wrote Oliver's birth story quite a few months after he was born, when I first started blogging. I remember that writing it all out was a little emotional for me at the time, but there was distance and space between me and the experience and mostly it felt good.

Writing about Emmett's birth has been on my mind since he was born, but seems overwhelming, because there are so many aspects of that story that are complicated and difficult.

How do you capture the joy of giving birth when you know that you have to acknowledge the devastation of unforeseen medical complications that followed so closely after? And how do you respect that devastation while acknowledging that in the end, everything was OK, great even.. when you know that there are stories that start the same way but don't have happy endings? When does a "birth story" end - when the cord is cut? When the baby is taken to the NICU? When the days drag into weeks? When baby comes home? And how do you tackle the hard stuff like guilt and self-doubt and anger about the experience?

I thought I was going to get on the computer and break the whole thing up into parts, to work through the experience and share all of those complicated feelings. But when I sat down to write I realized that I really don't want to. Because I don't need to right now.

The experience of birthing Oliver was earth shattering in and of itself because I had never given birth before, and because it was the greatest trauma I had ever experienced, and because it left me a little bit physically shattered. What I notice about that sentence is how many times the word "I" appears.

When it comes to Emmet's birth, I feel like the "I" is irrelevant. The basic details are that it was quick (about three hours), painful but not unbearable, and left me in pretty good physical shape. Good enough that I was physically capable of handling the 14 day marathon of Emmett's hospital stay.

When I was pregnant and full of angst over my desire for a home birth, it felt so important to me to manage any aspects of my labor that I could, to have a peaceful and comfortable experience. And although I did labor in the hospital (ultimately willingly) in every other respect I had that experience - the labor was as peaceful and comfortable as a natural vaginal delivery can be (ha). And when it was over and Emmett was resting safely in an incubator, on a ventilator in the NICU, I didn't give a shit.

I'm not going to say it was wrong of me to care so much about my birth experience before Emmett was born, because of course, that is something a person is going to stress about when they are facing it. And I certainly don't think it is wrong for anyone else to put thought and planning into their birth experience (although I have some recent reflections on birth plans that I might eventually want to share). Labor is crazy, and anything anyone needs to do to get through it is the right thing to do.

The point is just that you and your baby get through it, and in the end, that's all that matters.


  1. Im so happy Emmett is home safe and healthy :) you're one tough cookie! You have so much strength!

  2. I'm scared as shit for my labour with number #2.... mainly because with Seba I ended up having an emergency c-section after several hours of getting nowhere with his heartbeat dropping with every contraction. I have no idea what to expect with a vbac. I hope I made the right decision to go for it. I constantly worry about it. I'm so with you on the end goal of mother and child getting through it being the most important objective in the whole experience.
    love this post.

    1. Lisa, I know exactly how you are feeling. I was so SO afraid of labor with Emmett. When I started having contractions the night he was born I broke down in tears and sobbed, just with the sheer terror of it all. But like I said, the labor itself was so different from Ollie's.. not even close to as bad. I have heard so many times that the second is an all around smoother experience and I am sure it will be for you!! I hope you have a nice and easy VBAC, and no matter what, a healthy little boy!

  3. Meg - I'm so happy to hear that the labour went well and that you're at peace with how things turned out. I know so many women that struggle to come to terms with their birth experience for a million different reasons. We'll have to chat more on your thoughts on birth plans. I'm on the fence about them to. I think they help a lot of couple thinks through different things in a really purposeful way, but I can also see how they can set couples up for disappointment if things don't go the way they planned.


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