Monday, August 9, 2010

One year later

Has it really been a year since Will was born?


I've had a lot of time by this point to reflect on his birth. I am so thankful for how it all turned out, but going through it was definitely awful. Awful, awful, awful. I looked back on the birth so negatively for such a long time. And I felt so mad, because I had done everything right. I had done everything Ina May's Guide to Childbirth said to do. Why had it ended up being such a thing of terror instead a thing of joy? Why had it left me feeling so defeated instead of elated? I was angry at the hippies in the book for describing contractions as "waves" or "rushes." Those words just didn't do it justice. It was more like a tsunami or being run over by a train but somehow managing to stay alive only to feel the impact over and over again. I think Rob is still sort of scarred from the experience, and he wasn't even the one directly going through it.

I never want to be pregnant again. I never want to go back to that horrible, horrible dark, place of never not feeling like I was going to vomit, of never having any relief from the nausea, not even for a moment. And I never want to have a newborn again. Not one that cries and cries and cries all the time. Nobody understands how much he cried (and still cries), not even Rob. I was the one who was home alone with him, all day, every day. I don't know what was wrong with him. I guess I never will.

But the thing is, I think I could give birth again. I want a do-over. Even though going through the experience was completely awful and terrifying at the time, I can look back on it now and think of it as truly amazing. I still kind of can't believe that I did it. Nothing in life will ever, ever compare. Everything else is just so pale. Instead of remembering the terrible, defeating moments when I was sure they were going to cut me open before I could muster, "I do not consent," I remember the hugely immense power of the contractions. Power like a volcano erupting or like an earthquake ripping the earth in two. I remember how some sort of primal instinct took over, how I intuitively felt the need to stay vertical and how I knew how to hum, moan, breathe through the contractions. I remember how I let go, just completely surrendered to it. Each contraction felt like being thrown from a cliff, hitting the water some thousand miles below and feeling it break every bone in your body. But you just don't fight it, don't struggle against it. Keep your shoulders and jaw relaxed and you'll float up to the top and get a breath of fresh air before the whole thing happens all over again. And again and again. How you manage to live through it is a mystery. At some point during transition, during a deathly calm between contractions, I remember looking at my doula through heavily lidded eyes, and whispering, "I can do this. I can do this." And I remember a look of pride washed over her and she said, "You are doing this." I was. I had to. The only way out is through.

Thanks for reading.

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