Wednesday, July 11, 2012


my last lucid moment. 



I've been trying to finish up writing about giving birth (part 1 is here) but as usual, it's slow-going. My memories of the second part of the whole two-babies thing is hazy (opiates will do that to you) and I can't write the kind of detailed 'birth story' telling you exactly what time I was dilated how much (thank god) that I read all over the internets. What I have managed to write is a very long and slightly irritating stream-of-consciousness style telling of my memories of being completely drugged up and giving birth twice in one morning. It's about a million words so far and I haven't even given birth to Puke yet. 

Aside from self-consciousness (I feel like a tit when I write, that's why everything I post is short. Or wordless), I'm struggling to convey just how I felt about birth. Some of you know that I found the whole thing remarkably positive, that a couple of minutes after Amelia was born I leaned over to Nye and said 'lets have more', that when people ask me how it was the word I most often use is 'amazing.' Some of you have asked me to write about it, because you want to know how birth could be amazing, you want to hear about the bit where it was empowering. And I worry that I can't do it justice. Because it wasn't a case of revelations of strength, or embracing my maternal power or feeling deeply connected with nature and my womanhood (gag), it was all a lot more pedestrian than that. A lot more 'hey! I'm giving birth! Wow!' I worry that you're expecting me to write something powerful and inspiring but really what I've got is 'mmmmm, the drugs feel niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. Are those paediatricians flirting while I squeeze a person out of my vagina butt-first? They are, they're flirting.' 

But maybe there's power in that? My friend Cate posted a link on twitter last week to a project that partners up pregnant women with women who have a positive birth story to tell. It sounds minor but I don't think I can over-stress just what an impact this could have. I think that the reason I describe the girls' births as amazing, despite a fair amount of medical intervention (induction, epidural, episiotomy, forceps, theatre) is because I wasn't scared. I mean beforehand there were times when I was absolutely terrified, days when I cried all day and shouted at Nye ' You don't understand, YOU don't have to give birth'. But by and large I had faith that it was all going to be fine. I never imagined scenarios when things went wrong, I read many many positive birth stories and I pictured the best and happiest outcome continuously. I hadn't realised how rare that was. It turns out that almost no one in our culture has head a positive birth story, that that's why people are so fascinated when I tell them that I loved giving birth and why women are so scared going into labour, they have never heard anything other than that it was terrible/agony/horrifying and they've sure as shit never heard anyone say that they enjoyed it. 

Which is why I feel like I owe more than a crappy, drug-addled recollection of the girls' messy, flawed, medicalised birth. I owe an inspirational fable, the kind that makes you cry and rally and feel empowered. But I worry you're just going to come away from reading about W&P's birth slightly nauseated and thinking 'I really must score some pethidine.'