This is part 1 of Isla’s birth story. To read part 2, click here.
I should have written this sooner. After each of my children’s births, I am filled with an adrenaline rush that I can’t describe, but it’s something to equal the intense euphoria of giving birth. Creativity, like electricity, tingles through me and I lie awake when I should be napping with my babies. Words and stories and moments that I never want to forget buzz around in my head and I know I should get up and write before they are gone. It’s an irony for sure that this spurt of creativity is most present when I’m also the most physically and mentally exhausted of my life. I wish I had remembered all this from the boys’ births, but time dulled my memories then, too. Alas, I did end up writing each boys’ birth story as I am writing Isla’s: tired and hurried, and listening for her to wake up from her nap. I guess motherhood doesn’t get any more realistic than that.
Birth stories in general fascinate me. I’m guessing most women feel that way based on how many times I’ve overheard moms exchanging stories at the playground while their kids swing, or how many conversations dance around these particulars when meeting new mom friends. My own friends and I eagerly share in the story exchanging, feeling a mixture of empathy, horror, and excitement while listening and comparing.
I’ve shared a little about my own trepidation going into Isla’s birth. My pregnancy with her, and our daughter before her, was emotional and anxiety filled. My labors and deliveries with the boys were days (days!) long, and still make me shudder when I remember the particulars. I’m not kidding when I say that I think I developed PTSD after them that took me a long time to work through. But, like many women do, I let the intoxicating smell and longing for a new squish blur these fears, and Tom and I decided to try one last time for our last baby
.My pregnancy seemed to go much faster with her, likely because the boys and their constant action kept me from dwelling too much and made the days fly by. Nights were more difficult and I found myself writing inspirational quotes and scriptures in my journal and on note cards taped to the bathroom mirror and beside my bed to help bolster my courage.
“Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.” Ina May Gaskin
James’ birth was a VBAC, which I’m incredibly proud of, although it did not go as planned. The preparation, praying, research and learning that I did leading up to his birth put me in a battle mindset. I approached my due date how I imagined an athlete would to prepare for the event of her life. We hired a wonderful doula who coached us through the long (thirty two hours, but who’s counting?) labor and our son was born successfully in the way that I wanted. For that I was grateful. However, our adrenaline rush at our beautiful VBAC was shattered when I had a post-partum hemorrhage two hours after labor. Those scary moments and the rush into the OR were not part of my vision of healing from Jackson’s equally traumatic birth, and it took several years to feel strong enough to feel able to do it again. My legacy of childbirth was not one that I liked and, as much as I wanted to change it with our last child, I feared that it could be worse.
To continue to Part 2 of Isla’s birth story, click here.