Tuesday, March 04, 2014

After giving birth

Since Jonas's birth, I've thought a lot about his delivery. It was the most intense, physically and emotionally challenging experience of my life (granted, I've had a pretty easy life). But there was really no time to process it because, when it was over, everyone's focus immediately shifted to the baby. I found myself really wanting to talk about the birth. But it's a little awkward. I think most people prefer not to think about how babies enter the world. It's messy and painful and scary. When I was pretty close to my due date, a friend told me the stories of her two babies' deliveries. They were somewhat difficult deliveries and a little frightening. At the time, I wondered why she told me. But now I think I see. There's this compulsion, at least for me, to share the details with others even if it is uncomfortable.

The delivery is in sharp contrast to the actual pregnancy. For 9 months, everyone sees your belly getting bigger and bigger. There are constant questions about how you're feeling, what you're craving, whether you have morning sickness, etc. It's basically unavoidable, as the reality of your condition is glaringly obvious. Then, you deliver the baby. And what you have been building up to for the past 9 months is over in a matter of hours. Very shortly after giving birth, I looked normal to outsiders. But I felt so far from normal. A couple of weeks after Jonas was born, I went to the store without him. When I got home, I told Darby, "It's so strange. No one knows I've just given birth. I feel like I want to shout, 'I just had a baby.'"

I have this strange need for others to recognize the life-altering event I just went through. On the one hand, I know women have babies every day, and there's not really any special skill required. But, on the other hand, I'm really proud of what my body did. When I look in the mirror now, I do sometimes feel a twinge of self-consciousness over my new baby pooch and stretch marks (note: don't start bragging at 8 months that you don't have any stretch marks - they will come, oh, they will come). But, mainly I feel amazed that this body carried and delivered over 9 pounds of baby.

So now I'm that woman unintentionally scaring other pregnant women with stories of her difficult birth. :) But I hope I'll also be that woman asking the new mom about her birth and listening if she wants to talk about it.


Mica said...

It feels silly to say "I'm proud of you!" when I had literally nothing to do with Jonas' birth, but I still am! What you've done (and are doing every day!) is amazing. If I'm ever pregnant, you can tell me all the stories you want. :-)

Kalyn Gensic said...

I'm a birth-story junky. I love hearing them. I know that is probably pretty weird, but they're fascinating to me. And your story is definitely one of my favorites. It's like a really compact dramedy/thriller with a happy ending. Definitely a story that should be told.