I don’t know when the birth story is going to come. I’ve written down most of what I can remember, but I seem to be lacking the strength or motivation required to finish it. I gave myself a deadline of Elliot’s three month “birthday” but that’s two days away and it’s not looking good.
The honest truth is that I hate thinking about Elliot’s birth. It makes me feel moody and sad and angry. It wasn’t like that at first. Initially I felt really in touch with that whole “a birth plan is destined to change and you have to be flexible because the only thing that matters at the end is a healthy baby” business, and I was also too consumed by caring for our distinctly unhealthy baby (thanks to the birth from hell) to feel much more than gratitude that he was alive. Now that our lives have settled down and our little family is moving through days and weeks and months together, I’m finding myself stuck. I’m just not getting over it the way I want and need to.
My bitterness about my birth experience seems to have picked up right where my bitterness about my infertility left off and the cumulative effect is killing me. First, I couldn’t get pregnant on my own and I had to find a place for all of the shame and anger associated with that, all the while watching others around me sail right through without a hitch. (I know there isn’t supposed to be shame in infertility. Whatever. If you’re reading this blog, I suspect you understand that – right or wrong – that is one of infertility’s core contributions to the human spirit.) Then, in the space of a couple of days, I had everything I dreamed and hoped and planned for in a birth experience taken away from me, one chip at a time until there was nothing left except for that healthy baby, and I didn’t get that right away either. Elliot was born at 4:48am and I didn’t even get to see him (for more than 30 seconds and without a post-surgical haze) until that afternoon, and then he was so covered with tubes and wires I couldn’t even tell what he looked like. Just writing about that day has me tearing up right now.
Reading others’ birth stories brings about a physical response not unlike the one I used to have when reading about someone else’s BFP. My chest tightens and I’m flooded with the same mixture of sadness and jealousy. When I was off work waiting for Elliot to come, I watched 2-3 hours of those silly TLC and Discovery birth shows a day. I haven’t watched a single one since he was born. Not one. Just seeing their titles as I’m scrolling through the program guide causes my blood pressure to increase. I feel like my own birth experience has robbed me of the joy of celebrating others’ in the same way my infertility prevented me from feeling unqualified joy at others’ pregnancy announcements. One of my closest friends is pregnant and due in a couple of months and I’m already bracing myself for the hurt I’ll feel when she has the uncomplicated, unmedicated, vaginal birth I’m positive she’s destined for. And once again, I’m mad that I can’t simply be happy for someone I care so much about. Once again, I’m mad that a past experience holds so much power over my emotions and keeps me from being the person I want to be.
I know I’m supposed to be able to let go of the route and be grateful for the outcome but I just can’t do it. Not yet, at least. I’m the girl with the horror story. Again. Always. I was a TTCer long enough that I should know not to expect fairness but I’m going to say it anyway: It’s just not fair. M and I took the hypn.obirthing classes, handpicked birth companions and a doula, and reserved a birthing tub. I dutifully practiced the relaxations every night and we did perineal massage. I spent days crafting my perfect iPod playlist and packed the most well-equipped hospital bag this side of the Mississippi. And you know how much all of that mattered? I ended up with a 52 hour labor, every intervention under the sun, a uterine infection, and a frigging C-se.ction at the end of it all. No wait, there’s more: I can’t even remember the second half of my labor because I was delirious from pain, hunger and exhaustion, and our baby still spent the first week of his life in the special care nursery due to birth injuries. I’ll be grateful for my amazing son, but I’m also claiming my right to be mad as hell about the rest of it.
I’m going to finish the birth story. It may have been a complete disaster, but it’s my disaster and it’s all I have. I don’t know when it will happen. I’m still flirting with the idea of getting my medical records and maybe that will help, if I do. I’d like to finish it sooner rather than later. I just don’t know how to do it at the moment.