I was talking to my cousin for the first time yesterday. That sounds pretty lame, but I have about seventy first cousins and this was the wife of a cousin several years younger than me. She is almost due with their second child, and it turns out she is seeing the American Fork midwives like I did and that we have a lot of the same interests and hopes for natural childbirth (by which I mean “least-intervention-ed, un-epidural-ed” childbirth).
As I described Molly’s birth to her, I felt this warm wave of good feeling and my heart stood up and twirled around as I re-lived those moments last September. When I got up off the hospital bed, after pushing an 8 pound 15 ounce baby into the world, snuggling her at my breast, downing two celebratory and hard-earned percocets, and walked, all by myself, to my recovery room one floor down.
I haven’t felt that victorious, relieved, goddess-like, I-can-do-anything, show me a mountain . . . ever. Before or since.
Which tells me two things: 1) I need a new goal, some big, hard, rewarding thing, and 2) I need to do something in support of natural birth in the world. (even if that starts with something as small as this blog post).
My cousin is getting really close, and I was trying to think how to express my best encouragement. When I was fretting over my inconsistent mental preparations, it helped when Andrea told me her epiphany that there wasn’t any one thing she had to do and do right, but rather, she just needed to experience, to allow, to surrender. It helped to know that when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore, I didn’t have to because it was almost over, and I was already doing it anyway. It helped to know that by the time the pain was something I’d sell my soul to avoid, it’s too late to find a black market buyer. (and it was almost over.)
It helps me now, to remember that night and think: If I can do that, I can do anything. If I can do that, anyone can do that. And the thing about not doing it, but allowing it? That also helps for if things go wrong. If something goes wrong and intervention is needed and you have to allow something else to happen, something that wasn’t in your birth plan, that’s okay, because it turns out that was the thing you had to allow, to experience, to submit to. It wasn’t something you failed to do right, it was the thing that was supposed to happen. You can do this. Or that, or whatever you have to.
Giving birth to my baby, naked, lying on my side and indignant that I had to hold my own knee up and out of the way, feeling every stretch and burn and push and fire and thrust and swell and release, that was ecstatic. That was living deliberately, that was building my cabin in the forest by a pond, that was a luxury of wild nights! wild nights!, and squeezing the marrow out.
That was (every expletive you can think of) amazing.
Molly’s birth story
What to read when you’re expecting
Thinking about natural birth after thinking I had miscarried
An old one that shows how far I’ve come