There I was, standing with a small group of women, sharing birth stories with a soon-to-be first-time mom, watching her face go from complete joy to utter panic in a mere 5 minute time span. What just happened? What did we do to this mother to take the excitement and joy from a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Then I realized she was completely terrified. Terrified that those emergency cesarean sections and barely making it to the hospital stories were going to become her fate.
Every birth story is powerful, yet why do we feel the need to use them to compare with other mothers?
Think back to when you were pregnant with your first child. There were an array of emotions going through your head at all times. Pure giddiness to plan and decorate a beautiful nursery while putting teeny tiny little clothes on miniature hangers. But reality did set in at times, and a wave of concern overcame you with what your delivery would look like. How bad would it hurt? How would the recovery be? What if I don’t know what to do?
And what did you want in return to ease your anxieties? At least for me, I wanted to talk with other women to empower myself to go through this uncertain experience with eagerness and confidence.
After reflecting on my own first pregnancy experience, I realized if I shared my story with another soon-to-be mom, I would completely crush any confidence, joy, and preparedness she had. My son’s birth story was scary, uncertain, and unpredictable at times. I pushed for three hours and went into an emergency cesarean section. I knew telling the story to other pregnant women would not be helpful. So what do I do? Instead of shutting the conversation down completely, I turn the tables and ask the mom-to-be what questions she has. This allows her to guide the conversation. Some women want to know all possible outcomes and situations before getting into that scenario themselves. But that’s not all women.
I started wondering why women aren’t uplifting other [future] moms. Why do we feel the need to compare stories or be a “one-upper”? We purposely tell these moms-to-be stories to scare them or show our own bravery. There is a time and a place for these stories, and we aren’t doing it right. So…how can we change this?
The first thing is to realize that every birth story is powerful. You earned that story through 9 uncomfortable months of pregnancy, the potential struggles of infertility leading up to that pregnancy, and your delivery story. It is yours to share but do it wisely. Maybe with other experienced moms? We need to use these heartbreaks, victories, and life-changing experiences to embrace each other’s stories at appropriate times, learn from them, honor the path, and just listen. No one gets an award for the best delivery story/experience.