Rewriting Your Birth Story - A Podcast for Those Who Have a Traumatic Birth

After my post last week about coming to terms with Eli's birth, an online friend of mine, Olivia of Lovely at Your Side, sent me a link to a podcast by The Longest Shortest Time. I'd never heard of the website before, but I clicked over to find a podcast about "rewriting your birth story." I hit play while cooking dinner and before I knew it, I found myself bawling over a half-prepared bowl of Tabbouleh.

After I wrote the post about having a traumatic birth, so many of you commented, emailed and messaged me about how you have felt similar feelings, or worry that you may with an upcoming delivery. And while I am so sorry to hear that these feeling are common among you, I'm thankful to find others that have related to my experience and felt encouraged about what I shared. I think no matter how you came away from your birth experience, all moms wonder a few things about certain parts of their birth: "Did the Doctor/Midwife make the right decision?" "Did I make the right choice?" "Did it have to be that way?" "Could there have been an easier way?"

It's normal to question how your birth went, even if it was an "awesome" experience. And if you related to my previous post in any way, or have just wondered, "what if?" then I'd encourage you to take a listen to the podcast. 

The woman telling her story, Hillary, had a birth that in a lot of ways sounded like mine. Her thoughts and experiences are strikingly similar - she prepared for an all natural child birth and ended up with 25 hours of labor, an IV drip, Pitocin, epidural, episiotomy and more. She's recounting the tale four years later because she's still wondering, "Was there anything I could do to have made my birth less traumatic?" In the podcast, she goes back to interview her Midwife, as well as a few other medical professionals to see if her birth went the way it "had to go." She gets answers from her Midwife as to why she did the things she did, and asked experts if they agreed. I'll cut to the chase and say while she didn't get a perfect, clear cut answer, she did find that her experience likely could have been better under different circumstances and - yes, she may have walked away less traumatized.

But it wasn't. And she didn't.

That was her story. And while it's sad that child birth wasn't what she, or I, or some of you, want it to be, that doesn't mean it's the end of the story. We can change our story going forward. In the podcast, a maternal care researcher recommends mothers learn from their experience and use it to help their next birth be better. And if a mother is done with children, to use her knowledge to help a friend or family member, or even their own daughter's child birth someday. And while that is good, I think it's important to find a way to heal, outside of your or someone else's next birth experience.

Your story is your story, and what happened, happened. It might not have been perfect, or even remotely close to "good," but it brought your child into the world - and if there's anything mom's can agree on, it's that their babies were worth it - whether or not it takes you one minute or one year to be able to say that. While you may always wonder if your birth was the way it "had to be," I hope you can at least find a way to accept that and move forward with the "way it was."

At least, that's what I'm working on.

4 comments:

  1. I absolutely LOVE The Longest Shortest Time podcast, Laura! I listen to the episodes on the way home from work and I'm crying all the way from Minneapolis to St. Paul during almost every episode (and laughing during some, too!). I'd highly recommend listening to all of them if you can.

    I was particularly fascinated with her podcasts during the month of April, as they were geared toward natural childbirth and I had just had a natural childbirth a few months earlier. I can say that I was so thankful to have the birth I wanted at a beautiful birth center with support from the most loving and caring doula and midwives (and husband!), but even I was left feeling disappointed and a little cheated after my daughter's birth due to a few unexpected challenges I faced after she was born that were a result of my labor. I was constantly questioning certain aspects of those hours and left wondering, like Hillary, if there was some part of those events that could have helped to change the outcome.

    Although it's not quite the same, I wanted to let other mamas know that in my experience, it's not just those whose birth plans don't come to fruition who experience some frustration and disappointment with their birth. My daughter will be six months old this week and I've had to actively work through those feelings and have a lot of grace and patience with my body and know, like you said, that I was capable of bringing my sweet girl into this world and she was definitely worth all of those challenges I faced after she arrived.

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  2. Exactly! I'm thinking I need to start writing my blog posts on paper, then scanning them in. :)

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  3. Awesome! I'm so glad to hear you love The Longest Shortest Time too! I'm working my way through them and am loving them so far, such a great resource. That's so interesting you still felt disappointed in your birth, even though in all regards you feel it was what you wanted, none of us are left untouched I guess. I'm glad to hear your working through it, give yourself time and grace, there is healing!

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  4. Hi Laura! Just catching up on your last few posts, thanks for sharing your story and this link... I'm excited to listen to this podcast! I have had similar thoughts brewing as I've been thinking about my experience with James and prepping mentally and emotionally for take 2 (in just 6ish weeks, whaaaaaaatt?!?!?!) I didn't realize how much I'd need to process through my beliefs going into, during, and after my last experience and how they affect my beliefs and desires this go around. Maybe I need to write my own post about it once I get my thoughts all sorted out! ;) anyway it's always nice to know someone (or many someones) going through similar things, so thanks for sharing your thoughts and the resource! We miss you guys, hope the pregnancy is going well! When do you find out boy or girl?!?!

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