By this point, almost a year out, I’ve constructed a pretty whitewashed story of the birth. The story is compressed in time, and all the hard stuff pales in comparison to the feelings I had right after he was born, of giving and being surrounded by amazing love, and that feeling that if I could do this, I could do absolutely anything.
But a stomach bug worked it’s way through our family about a week and a half ago. While I spent an absolutely miserable night laid flat by this thing, other memories came back. I remembered how awful I felt the first trimester and beyond, and viscerally remembered the experience of transition, that I’d apparently been all set to completely forget in the story I’ve retold myself about the birth. It was like my whole body remembered. My right hip, that was extremely painful during labor, began to throb. I couldn’t figure out why my hip would hurt, since I actually had a stomach bug. That hip pain, combined with nausea, and suddenly there was almost a “click,” and I felt like I was suddenly back in the worst part of labor. Honestly, I think I would have been fine not ever remembering that.
This isn’t meant to be some sort of birth horror story. I stand by my story that Ira’s birth was absolutely amazing, against all odds. All the hard stuff, all the good stuff, it was his birth and it still astounds me. But it was disconcerting to suddenly and deeply remember the awful parts. I still have this fantasy that someday maybe I’ll get that home birth, that the parts that were hard about Ira’s birth might magically disappear if I got another chance. But in bed that night, for the first time since he was born, I actually thought I might not be willing to do it again (well, less my insistence I was never going to do it again right after he was born, but doesn’t everyone say that?). (Also, all the caveats apply here. These are much more thoughts about birth than about actual reality of extending our family, which obviously entails way more than just birth.)
It’s like one of the ways I concocted to forget the hard parts was to pretend they wouldn’t happen again if I got another chance. By leaving that door open, I got to skip those memories. Actually having those memories though, I got a little more to the place where I know his birth was just his birth. Fantasies (or even realities) of “another try” don’t actually change the reality of his birth at all. I’m not sure exactly where that leaves me. But this hip is still hurting a couple weeks later. I’m a scientist in my “real life,” but I’ll freely admit to a bit of a mystical bent. This lingering ache, starting so near Ira’s first birthday, feels like it means something more. I haven’t quite figured out what it is yet.