My head has been full of thoughts of birth this week. Friends who are about to birth their first and second sweet babes, and the collection of handmade things I am slowly accruing for them. A new series of One Born Every Minute. Most of all, my own birthing story which I am writing out for the next issue of York’s NCT.
Like most stories, a birthing story gives us the feeling of being both somebody and everybody. Afterwards, we talk about it with other Mamas, openly, in secret, sharing this magic and weaving into our own story. And we need this. We need to bring it out of ourselves, for moments at a time, and make it foreign. We watch the words hold in the air just long enough to give us some glimpse of the whole event that is not our own.
it was not a dream, it was not one long, red dream. it happened. it happened to me.
Perspective here, is difficult. We are always the same character. We want to see it a little differently, as if the film can be slowed down and studied, but we only have the impression, however clear, that something huge has happened and that it has happened to us.
My birth story, for the sake of the NCT magazine, is focused primarily on explaining the benefits of hypnobirthing, but it is, of course, not so simple, and I have been considering the whole process and thinking about what I might do differently next time, and what I would try to do the same.
Like homebirthing, which I was not allowed to do last time for several reasons, but which I would absolutely do next time and anytime after if I could. And birthing pools – how I couldn’t imagine, now, birthing a baby and not being in the water, remembering those few contractions outside of the pool, how much more painful they were, how natural it felt to be in the warm water, how calm and peaceful Ava looked surfacing, how even now she is calm and happy in the water.
And yes, hypnobirthing, which I am sure I would do all the way throughout my pregnancy next time, since now I really know just how helpful it is.
Then the other things, like, do more yoga, swim more, relax more, eat more kale (this should perhaps be a life mantra though, no?) and I would find it so much easier to be confident in my decisions next time around, to absolutely refuse any form of induction unless it was really necessary (I refused last time, but she came on the day I was due to be induced so I didn’t have to dig my heels in too much)
I would keep that next little baby in bed with me all the time, from the start. When I think of the Moses basket that sat hopefully at the side of our bed (always empty), the swinging crib at the end of our bed (always empty) and the cot we had bought for Ava (which now is attached to our giant bed for even more room), I laugh. That just didn’t happen, and although I tried, for a while at least, I wish I had not even bothered. I do so love our Family Bed. I do so believe in bedsharing and the incredible benefits for everyone involved.
But perhaps the most important difference would be that time after birth – that hazy, crazy time of near-constant feeds – I think I would cherish that so much more and be far more protective of it, keeping at least two whole weeks just for us, just to snuggle up and absorb the loveliness of newborns. A babymoon indeed.
A good friend said to me recently that she is excitedly anticipating the birth of her second child because she knows what to expect and is up for the challenge. I get that. I only hope that I feel so calm about it in future, and that I am lucky enough to have the kind of more or less amazing labour that I did with Ava (oh, I might try to circumvent the occasional throwing up because that was definitely the most unpleasant part of it for me, and perhaps the back labour, or the 36 hours, if I’m being picky)
I do hope that we can have any future births in the comfort and normalcy of our own home, with Ava present, in a tub full of water, whilst some nice music is playing and a little low level lighting is on. And I hope that no matter how big my babies get (eeesht) I can have the kind of natural and calm experience I had with Ava. I know how lucky I was, and I know that sometimes things don’t always go that way, but I also believe that most of the time, the way you approach labour and birthing affects it dramatically, which is why I was excited to be writing this article on hypnobirthing.
But all these thoughts on birthing make me think about how that first birth of mine, like all I may have in the future, was such a transformative experience, so essentially life-changing, that it seemed like the most appropriate start to parenting a Little. And then I think about how far I have come since then, how much my thoughts have changed or solidified, how clear we are on matters I wouldn’t have even acknowledged before, and again it seems pretty clear why birthing a baby is the way it is, the way it can be, because nothing has the power to change you as much as being a parent.