I know that Lyn has heard a lot of great feedback on the birth story that she wrote from the NGP perspective (see part I and part II). I was also excited to read the story, but I didn’t really expect to learn anything I didn’t already know. I was there, after all, and Lyn and I have talked ad-nauseum about both births because that’s just our way. But I was surprised by her story, and I found that it illuminated my own experience in unexpected ways.
First of all, I realized that I hadn’t actually known as much as I thought about what the birth was like for Lyn. I knew it was “hard,” that she felt disconnected from me, and that she regretted not having more support for herself, but until I read her whole story, I didn’t realize just how lonely she was. Before Lyn was even pregnant with Ira, she told me we were getting a doula primarily for me. And while I was grateful for that doula, it wasn’t until I read this post that I really understood in my bones why she was so adamant about it.
I also saw through Lyn’s eyes how hard it was for me when I was stuck for so long, nearly complete. I think up until the minute that I read her post, I still believed that Leigh wasn’t born at home because I hadn’t been open enough or relaxed enough or a good enough birthing mom. Reading Lyn’s words, I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me! I sang for, what, 16 or 18 hours? And I think I wasn’t enough of an earth-mother-love-hippy to get the job done?!” Apparently I did an amazing job giving birth, only there were things that were out of my control.
I clearly remember the moment that the epidural took effect, even though much of the birth is very fuzzy for me. During the last hours that we were at home, my whole world was pain that never stopped (I remember hearing in birth class that some women with long labors would sleep between contractions, but I don’t remember there being any “between”). I’m fairly certain that if a nice doctor had told me that the only way to stop the pain was to cut me open that I would have signed up then and there. But once the epidural kicked in, I realized what I had done, that I had landed us in the hospital, wrecked our homebirth, and placed the weight of the world on Lyn’s shoulders. I loved that damn epidural, and I knew I had done the right thing, but I hated myself. Somehow I think I always believed that all of those things were going on for Lyn as well. Reading her story I realized that they weren’t — she was dealing with her own set of difficulties and wasn’t spending any time at all thinking about what a failure I was. Instead she was trying to keep her own head above water while protecting me.
I guess that brings me to the last thing I realized. Because of all of the craziness that came with the hospital and, oh, having a newborn and all, I think I forgot something important. I forgot to say thank you. Luckily this story made me remember. So, thank you Lyn. Thanks for singing with me, and spending hours in the bathroom with me. Thanks for keeping me hydrated and making me eat that damn pineapple. Thanks for stepping aside when you couldn’t hold me steady, because that nurse was awesome and gave me just what I needed at the moment. Thanks for taking all of the hospital worries on yourself so that I could rest and feel safe. Thanks for catching Leigh and for not dropping her. Thank you for taking the crazy risk to build a family with me, and for working so hard to make that family strong and to keep all of us safe.