2/17/2006

birth story aftermath

Sharing Melody's birth story was relatively easy. In the weeks after she was born I was able to journal a lot. Referring to the pages of my sleep deprived handwriting gave me a skeleton on which to build the story. Figuring out how to be honest and complete while remaining tasteful and private was the hardest part of the process.

The difficult part of the story comes after the birth. This is the when things got hazy and strange. There was so much going on inside of me. I was overjoyed to finally experience Melody with all of my senses. Seeing, smelling, watching, hearing and touching her captivated me. Caring for her was easy.

Several times a day someone would comment on how little Melody was. I had a hard time acknowledging this statement. Each time I'd look at her head, tears would spring to my eyes. I would look away and recall the pain of pushing her out. Never before had I thought of a newborn as big. My new perspective bothered me, but I didn't know how to change it.

I was stunned and shocked when I thought about the labor. I felt betrayed. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but the pain was more than I had expected. I was angry. I thought about the books, authors, teachers and friends who had taught me about natural childbirth. Had they lied to me? Was it propaganda? How could they have glorified such a painful thing? How could they have used words like beautiful and wonderful while talking about childbirth? On the other hand, maybe there was no way to really know until afterward. How can you describe that kind of pain to someone who hasn't experienced it? How can you prepare them for it? I was dizzy with confusion.

As I struggled with these thoughts and questions, one thing was certian. I was different. For the first time in my life I was not a girl. I was 100% woman. A chasm separated me from those who were not mothers. I had been inducted into a new phase of human nature and it made me feel old. I don't mean old in the sense of wrinkles and frailness. No, it was more of a soul thing.

Have you ever met someone who's eyes were different because of their life experiences? I visited Africa two years before Melody was born. I became acquainted with a few widows from Sudan. Their eyes possessed something I'd never seen before. There was strength, depth, and understanding in them. Not only had they been through the birthing process; they had also experienced the death of their husbands and the destruction of their homes. Most of them had lost children as well. Despite the ongoing heartache, they were joyful, loving, warm, and kind. Their eyes show truimph over the horrible things that had happened to them.

After Melody's birth, I felt a hint of this aging thing settle inside of me. Without realizing it, I began searching for a way to make my painful experience a better thing. My bewilderment slowly turned into understanding. Now, nearly fourteen months later, I am able to say that Melody's birth was both beautiful and wonderful.

Someday I will meet a girl who dreams of being a mother. When she looks into my eyes, I wonder if she will notice anything different?

2 comments:

Laurel said...

I think this is a beautiful conclusion to your birth story. I know this conclusion was a long time in coming but sometimes the things that take a long time to realize are the most beautiful.

Lee said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with such eloquence.