I am writing this on my son’s first birthday. Today is all about him, celebrating this first, big milestone with his brothers, who are super excited for him. Today, though, I can’t help to feel a bit nostalgic. I would happily go back to last year this time, feel the excitement of labour starting and do it all again.
To a lot of people this might sound crazy, but I’m sure there are also people who will agree with me when I say that giving birth is amazing. And not just because you get to meet your little one for the first time, but because somehow, on that day (or ‘those days’, if you’re lucky enough do it more than once) you feel like a super-hero. I cannot forget the sense of achievement, the pride, that feeling of being on top of the world and being able to do everything and anything. My husband at this point will be wondering whether I’ve forgotten all about the pain, the crying, the complaining when I was in transition… Well, no, I haven’t, but none of that made the experience (or the experiences) of giving birth any less amazing for me.
I gave birth 3 times – the births of my 3 children were all different, and all 3 times I felt so so proud of myself, and I describe all 3 of them as amazing. It’s not about the pain relief you take or don’t take, it’s not about where you give or don’t give birth etc. There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ birth on the books – they are so many variables and variations of a ‘good’ birth. You just have to look at how many women share brilliant, positive birth stories and see how different they are all, as unique as the mums, babies and families that are involved in creating these stories. If the birth felt perfect for you, it was a perfect birth, and despite being all different, the births of my children were all perfect and amazing to me.
Call me crazy, but I’d like to do it again, and again and again. Personally, it’d happily skip the pregnancy, the post-partum healing and having a few dozens of children running around the house ;), but I’d definitely take the giving-birth bit again, despite having to admit, if I’m honest, that at the time I didn’t enjoy every single little moment of my labours. Those were the times when my mind was losing control, and I felt scared for it. That’s just a sign of the power of the body, I guess – the body takes over, the mind loses control, and it’s scared for it, but the more it loses control, the more the body does a better job at ‘doing its own thing’, and you can just be in awe of that. Our bodies are amazing. They grow babies. And they give birth to them.
Of course I know that I feel this way because I was lucky to never have any complications – I was fine, my babies was fine, and I never needed any particular intervention. This is a blessing, and I’m aware of that. Medical intervention is sometimes welcome, needed and saves lives, and THAT is also a blessing in itself. I’m aware that there are women out there who had traumatic experiences or have simply had different journeys or made different choices, and may not always look back at the moment of giving birth with the same desire to do it again (or maybe not in the same way), and that’s fine, because we’re all different and we all have our own set of unique circumstances. So there will be women who think I’m crazy in calling my birth experiences amazing, but I’m pretty sure that there will be others who have had slight complications or interventions and still enjoyed their birth experiences just as much and all the way through!
So I don’t think that I’ll give birth again, but I’m allowed to feel a little bit jealous of the women who are about to, and all I want to say to them is: “enjoy!”. My sincere wish for them is that they have the best experience they possibly can, that they walk away feeling elated, knowing that they (and their bodies!) have just done something amazing. On the days when they are meeting their precious little bundles and starting a new chapter of their lives with a new addition to the family, I wish that women can walk away from their birth experiences with a huge sense of achievement and pride in themselves, that they can almost ‘bottle up’ and take with them for the rest of their lives. Giving birth can change you, and I wish for women to walk away feeling confident, proud, and so happy that they end up missing that feeling when it goes away.
That’s how I feel today. It’s my boy’s first birthday, and we’re looking forward to all the milestones and achievements yet to come, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m also looking backwards, at that day one year ago when I felt invincible and nothing seemed unachievable. (No need to talk about the state I was in on day 5, when I could hardly get out of bed, but somehow that also doesn’t matter!).
So I guess my hope here is that I’m not alone in saying this. I *miss* giving birth. I’m not necessarily saying that I’m broody or that I want another baby; I’m just saying I wish there could be more days in my life when I literally feel like a super-human again.
Sara is a mum of three and BabyNatal teacher for West London.