I just gorged on thirty birth stories, and my head is spinning. I remember the first couple of birth stories I ever heard, pregnant with my first baby. Tearing skin, stitches, blood and mess, pooping, all things I had not ever associated with these women I thought I knew. And yet, those stories helped me through the pregnancy and helped me to see both the variety and the sameness of each childbirth. These birth stories included here provide much the same reminder.
Each story is different, although they all blend together. They address first births, miscarriages, c-sections, inductions, lovely medical professionals, horrid medical professionals, dashed expectations, pain, support, struggle, strength, and so much more. You could fill libraries with more stories that would all be as unique, and as much the same as what's here.
Would recommend for people interested in other people or in medical stories. Honestly, I feel like anyone who's ever been at a birth should be at least nominally interested in this... and that would be everyone, right? After all, someone labored to bring you into the world.
Some bits that resonated for me:
7: "I felt awed to be a portal through which another would enter her life." [Yes.]
44: "If I didn't fear the pain, I wouldn't feel it." [Perhaps more accurately, if I didn't fear the pain, I could endure it.]
92: "...for all of our careful planning, no matter how our birth experience turns out, we cannot prepare ourselves for anything or protect ourselves from disappointment and heartache."
117: "I didn't want a reward for pushing out my baby. I wanted the story of pushing him." [The story... you don't just get a baby, you get a story.]
130: "...real female power is nothing less than the power to risk death to bring forth new life.'' [Thinking of those two recent Ranger graduates. Females are built, literally, to fight for life in the midst of suffering and sometimes death.]
139: "Every single one of these people had a mother who brought them into the world, just as I am doing now." [One of those facts that boggles my mind.]
145: "...childbirth...had nothing on the vastness of parenthood, just as weddings have nothing on marriage."
151: "I had never felt the urge to push with my [first] birth; the midwife and the nurse had had to instruct me to lie down on my back, pull up my knees, and count as I pushed for as long and hard as I could. It was a tremendous effort of physical and mental concentration, and I was never sure I was pushing at the right moment. This was different. I felt something..." [This could have been excerpted from my own experience: birth one featured no urge to push; birth two featured an intense and surprising urge. The familiarity of some of these stories was comforting, astounding, delightful.]
157: "I was both more and less myself as a pregnant woman." [One of many paradoxes that pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting usher in.]
213: "It's hard not to make comparisons, and I felt these stories as a judgment about my choices, my capabilities." [And it doesn't stop with birth.]
227: "Isn't that why the natural-birth movement has taken hold...? Pregnancy is such a vulnerable and mysterious state that it's comforting to focus on what you can achieve instead of what you can't know. Easier to blame any... disasters on a medical establishment you can sidestep instead of on fate, which is beyond your sway." [I have always thought of the 'natural birth' folk and the 'medical birth' folk as being opposites. This statement shook that perspective and made me think that both 'natural birth' folk and 'medical birth' folk are each trying too hard to control something that is utterly capricious, they just have different ideas of how to exercise that control. What has become increasingly apparent to me, however, is that there is no need to pick a side and narrow your options. Why there is not more collaboration between 'natural' and 'medical' I am unsure.]