Monday, October 15, 2012

The Perfect Birth - Does it Exist?

I received these thoughts from a former student - turning Birth Boot Camp Instructor - and wanted to share it here.  I think many women can identify with her point of view.  I'd have a dozen babies if it was all about the birth and breastfeeding.  Those little ones become big ones with opinions and attitudes!  While my 4th birth was my favorite, there are still things I would change or do differently if I could.  For example, I wish I wouldn't have said "Make him come out!" when I was pushing.  (We were convinced Darcy would be a boy.)  Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing your thoughts.  You are not alone, my friend.

"While playing on the beach in Daytona during our Florida vacation, I was taking pictures of the kids.  I took dozens of the same activities- playing in the sand, wave jumping, boogie boarding- looking for that “perfect” shot.  You know, the one that looks like it came in a new picture frame, or that you would see in a magazine ad for a beach resort.  Later, when talking with my husband in the pool, he said that he didn’t know why I wanted a perfect picture instead of a real one. One that shows the personalities of our four kids: their movements, their expressions, their quirks; one that shows what the moment was actually like.

It dawned on me, at that moment, that I have had that same view of my births.  You see, I have been struggling with not having another birth experience.  Partly because I want to do it all again (Ok, not really.  The four months of morning all-day sickness and early breastfeeding struggles are not necessarily moments that I wish to relive).  But when it comes to birth, I am consumed with wanting another birth.  A big reason for this is that I still want, and feel like I have missed out on, my “perfect” birth.  I have had (mostly) wonderful experiences delivering my three sons and daughter, and was blessed to have finally accomplished my natural water birth with my 4th child.  But, I tell myself, it wasn’t a home birth… I went to the birth center too soon, and didn’t labor at home as long as I’d liked… the midwife was more hands-on during delivery than I would have preferred (we had planned on my husband catching the baby, but when her shoulders got a bit ‘stuck’, the midwife was quick to push him out of the way and take over).  Don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderful, life-changing experience- all of my births were- but it wasn’t perfect.  I find myself dwelling on that instead of relishing the amazing experience that it was.  I fondly remember the way my husband was my rock and encouraged me every step of the way.  I love remembering the way my three sons rubbed my back in between contractions, and how excited we all were to learn that they had a baby sister.  I am still amazed at what my body was capable of doing with the proper preparation and the resolve to succeed in my quest for a natural birth.

Was I perfectly poised throughout my labor?  Much like my squinty-eyed, goofy-grinned children, no.  But, just as my camera captured who my children were in the moment, my birth captured who I was at the time- all of them did, actually.

Were there things I would do differently if given the chance?  At the beach, as well as during my labors, yes!  But that does not take away from the amazing experience we had.  I will forever look back fondly at our Daytona vacation, and am glad I have pictures that show who my family really is.   I have decided to look at my birth experience in the same way.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was real, and it was perfectly mine."


Hannah said...

I agree. I would call my last birth "perfect," but I realize there are a couple of things I would "do over" if I could. I am 100% at peace with it though, and thank goodness because although I, like you, long for another birth experience, the chances of that actually happening are slim to none.

Laura Anderson said...

My daughter's birth was a medically necessary 37-week induction for ICP. I had prepared for an unmedicated birth; I went to CNMs, chose a NCB-friendly hospital, hired a doula, did Hypnobabies...I was prepared!

20 hours into my induction and only 2 cm dilated, I consented to an epidural. I am convinced it saved me from needing a c-section for sheer exhaustion.

It took me a while to fully accept my daughter's birth. I knew everything that happened was necessary, but I kept having the "what ifs". Now, I can look back at that day and know that it was a wonderful birth, even though it wasn't perfect. I was treated with respect and kindness, and my daughter had a safe arrival.