Friday, March 30, 2012

My Life Story: Birth Matters As It Turns Out

A million things I want to say this morning, a million things but The Chief needs to be fed and I need to pull Ever's hair back into her rooster tail pony tail (so she can see, the poor darling) and give my Erin some nourishment before I get to my ten o'clock meeting. Then, there's the part about getting dressed myself, the worst part of the whole day, every day...
I grew up never thinking much of birth, never connecting myself with those long, laborious moments that prefaced my first breath, or what came after, the elation my mother felt of having a pink, screaming baby in her arms.
I always imagined myself a screaming baby, but I'll have to fact check that as well.
Then, after years of trying for a baby, and stints with the latest infertility opportunities I started to think about our births--Chup's and mine--and I wondered if maybe these undiscovered stories were having a play in this unexplained infertility. We went to a clinic where we were hooked up to emotional feedback machines and with a microphone we talked and talked to a therapist about our stories, our heritage, our family, our pain and our joys. When we mentioned certain experiences our bodies would give immense bio feedback posting spikes on the machine's red inked output. This experience opened gateways for us, made us start to wonder how much things matter, that our bodies knew things our minds forgot long ago.
This week as I discovered the truth about my own birth, I spent some honest time crying it out. Feeling discouraged and relieved to know where all this anger started from. I cannot lie, I distrust almost every thing I hear about the nature of women as it pertains to our limits (every I Can't . . . or My Doctor Told Me I Can't . . .) I am so tired of not knowing the truth about us and our bodies, our functionality, our power. I am so tired and so angry, and I've tried the dispassionate route but it's slowly eating away at me. This week proved that to me in a very powerful way.
Which is to say, our stories matter, and to that end, birth matters. Our first story, our arrival here, the day our lives began, may be the most important story, but because of gigantic emotions surrounding our bodies and our births there is a temptation to convince ourselves that births don't matter.
If this sentiment were really true it wouldn't be such an impassioned issue for women. If that were true, I could've posted my birth experience and ideas this week without so much as a whimper. I have over 100 comments on my first birth post of women who are hurt, angry, hopeful, frustrated, confused and lonely (not even including facebook discussions) which prove to me that birth matters.
Can we agree to that at least? We'll have our babies however we'd like, we'll believe what we need to believe about our body and our abilities, we'll fight fear, we'll be proactive, we'll get that epidural, we'll speak of drug-free births, we'll wear our c-section scars like trophies on our skins, but let's all stop saying right now that our bodies and our babies don't matter. Births matter. BIRTHS MATTER.
How could they not matter? And why would we want them to be just another experience? Certainly births can be the every day miracle that they are, not necessarily shrouded with dramatics, but they our mortal rites of passage and they influence us forever. Don't tell me they don't.
These things we hear, these limits we feel, these reasons we aren't achieving what we want--from a healthy medically assisted birth, to an unassisted home birth--let's say these choices matter, they are important and they carry with them our pride as women and as babies. And every time we feel judged or hurt or empowered or tempted to become indifferent let's agree it's because all of it ALL OF IT MATTERS BECAUSE WE MATTER.
The day my grandmother told me I was too fat to conceive, the day my doctor looked at a chart and told me my weight was too high for a healthy birth, the day I went into labor and was told my posterior baby would never come out on his own, the day I pushed a posterior baby out of my body--larger than it has ever been, a baby conceived in a weight my body had never known. ALL OF IT MATTERS.
The reasons my posts hurt you this week? It's because YOUR STORY MATTERS.
Don't tell me it doesn't, that's a lie.
And if you are ever tempted to believe it, come talk to me. I'll tell you the truth no one told me, or my mother, or my mother's mother that our bodies, our choices, our heart matters. And with that power you go and do whatever you'd like, you go to your doctors, your midwives, your husbands and you feel the strength of knowing you matter. Get that epidural, get that induction, foster your own birthing opinions, own that high risk situation, feel the quiet resolve to educate yourself on hynobirthing, whatever, just do it because you matter, because we all matter, because births matter.


Note to Amelia, typos abound I am sure. Go easy on me.


Stacey said...

Awesome C Jane! Awesome. I am more often a lurker than a commenter. But you said it just right in that post. People need to remember also, that these are YOUR experiences, YOUR choices, and YOUR opinions. I applaud you for your honesty and willingness to share and to keep the comments open. Peace to you as well.

Dana said...

I love, love, LOVE this post. Thanks for enriching and uplifting me today. I needed it.

Jennifer Gibbs Kambourian said...

Courtney, I've been reading your blog for a few years now. In that time, I've seen your writing go from funny/entertaining/touching/good something else. In the past few months especially, your writing has been at a level that is so intelligent, wise, deeply moving and important, that I now have your blog marked as one of my necessary daily activities. Your style is refining to something beautiful and true. You have a gift. Thank you for letting us benefit from that gift. Thank you for speaking truth fearlessly, and saying things that need to be said, and haven't been said enough. I've been touched to tears, provoked to new thought, and educated by you, in these past months especially. Bless you, girl.

CJ said...

As a highly sensitive and frankly, pretty judgemental gal, my mother used to tell me that I would "judge less and care less" as I got older. Many times, especially in the 2 years since her passing, those words have crossed my mind and I have thought that she was wrong...always, of course, when I was offended or judgemental. But, as so often happens, I found through the reactions to your posts, that she was right. That also happens more and more the older I get!

I LOVE your blog. It is a favorite part of my mornings. I think you are a wonderful writer and brave for what you write. But I found as I read the comments this week that as much as I enjoy reading your blog and hope that you continue to write it forever....I really don't care what you think about the choices I made with regard to the birth of my children---as I imagine you wouldn't really care how I felt about your home births. Its not specific to you. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn't care what ANYONE thought about it. Further, I don't think that most of the commenters really care what you think about their choices. I am as surprised about their need to comment as I am about my own. Like many women, I love to share my birth stories which are as unique and special to me as anyones are, but in the end they are really personal-nobodies business but my own. You mentioned at the beginning of Erin's birth story that there was a temptation not to share. After this week, who would blame you?

I hope you will continue to share and wouldn't blame you if you disabled the comments. Thank you for continuing to be a part of my day. I really appreciate it!

Laura said...

Well, I agree that birth matters, but frankly now that I am past that stage of my life, I find that it matters less. I have teenagers. What matters to me the most, now, is prayer and that precious gift of Mother's Intuition (which is really just personal revelation). Couldn't raise my kids without it. No matter how they were born.

Ann said...

I totally agree with Jennifer k's comments - this blog has become essential reading.

Celeste said...

It matters. It mattered to me. My first child was a c-section due to her being breach. They let me try to birth her naturally for 12 hours. It was not going to happen. I swore to my uneducated self as I lay there recovering that would be my last c-section. The day I walked out of that hospital I began educating myself about V-backs. Pregnant with my 2nd child, my son was posterior. I labored at home with a mid-wife for 32 hours. Six of those were with my knees firmly held up to my shoulders because every time i relaxed after every contraction he slid back UP the birth canal instead of progressing downward. If I had been in a hospital, they NEVER would have let me labor that long. That's not the end of the story, but the bottom line is I birthed him myself. No meds, with the power of my own body. It changed my life. I felt empowered as a woman. It has been one of the moments in my life that most defines me. that's my story and i'm stickin' with it. That birth defined my son too.

Red Clover said...

Wise woman. I have always felt that birth - your own experience on up - does matter, capital M. You body retains a remembrance of things. Your cells and tissues carry your history. And it contributes to your journey. Thank you for all your thoughts this week. I hope you can absorb all the positive feedback your insights and perspectives have sent out.

au said...

Wondering if you have ever read Annie Dillard's "For the Time Being". She has the most incredible essay about birth. She mentions how, where ever there is a birth, there should be a burning fire, fog, a priestess, and music, etc. Because it is such a mystical, reverent and transcendent experience, bringing another being to the planet. I highly recommend it. Love your thought provoking posts.

Christine said...

My daughter's birth was a joyous experience shared only with my husband but at nearly 64 years of age I have never given my own birth much thought and I'm not sure I even want to now. I have enjoyed your thoughts on the subject and look forward to reading what's ahead.

Wisdom + Understanding said...

Hi Cjane! I just read the birth posts and want to say - I don't think the women were ever saying birth doesn't matter. I felt that, especially Heather, was saying - what matters is that her children are here, and she gets to be their mother, and they're thriving. To assume she is saying birth doesn't matter would be absurd, as it's the very incredible process by which they are here. Similarly, it would be just as absurd for someone to think that you only think that the birth matters. That is, that you live for the birthing process, and don't really care that your kids are alive and thriving and on earth now.

I am with you that women can ultimately choose whatever form of birthing they want - and think it's awesome that you are so fear-free and were able to take control of your last two births. I applaud you for that. But I also applaud the woman who bravely undergoes emergency c-section. Birthing is this incredible phenomenon, very personal, and for a long time, something that quite often took women's lives (if not the actual birth, post birth infection!) I also recognize that many many women survived births at home and quite probably had incredible experiences, my grandmothers included.

I just feel you were unfairly harsh to Heather, and owe her an apology... as I'm sure any woman who did try to trust her body and had a birth like Erin's at home, and died, killing herself and/or the child, leaving behind babies and a husband, would not be so quick to say that she hopes Heather's advice never reaches her babes ears. The thing is, we hear from people like you, the survivors, and feel encouraged and elated. But we definitely don't hear from the women who die, now do we?

just my two cents!

Holly Decker said...


ClancyPants said...

I've always joked that birth is my favorite topic (but the sarcasm is half truth... or 3/4...), and I think you've just enlightened me as to the why of that statement.

We, as women, can tell our stories over and over again and never grow tired of it. I've often wondered why and I think you hit the nail on the head.

Thank you for enlightening me.

Dia said...

I love, love, love your blog. It just keeps getting better! I love hearing birth stories. Every one of them is a 'story' of a miracle.

MaWowEee said...

I don't have the word prowess to express how much I love what you write. As a 'fertility' challenged woman your words empower me.
Thank You.

Amy said...

I had never thought about going into labor as the beginning of our agency. What a fascinating thing to consider since I am currently very interested in the topic of agency! I am loving these past posts and look forward to them every day! Thank you.

Christi said...

Love this post, as well as all of the others.

Charlotte said...

I believe that births matter. Absolutely, without question.

I also firmly believe that what I do with my child(ren) over the days and months and years after the birth matters infinitely more.

Donna said...

I agree birth matters and how it happens is less important. I'm glad your so proud of yourself and your experience. It never makes me sad when a child is born.

I'm years past birthing babies and I don't think much about it at all.

Sarah Jane said...


Runnin said...

See - THIS is exactly why you need to write a blog, instead of a book - your posts/thoughts are nothing short of amazing as you go & are spurred to dig deeper by comments/feedback. We definitely would not benefit from the "fire" that you so ably build up to, if we were simply reading your initial thoughts presented in book format (not that the book wouldn't be fab, but this is so much better/richer, for sure)! Thank you for your insight & forcing all your followers to grapple with their own beliefs and values.

Kimber said...

Thank you for this post! God made a woman's body to give birth--who is anyone to say she can't do it without an epidural or even at all? I'm frustrated with the birth norms in our society--people like you are helping to change them to something better!

CSB said...

Bravo, bravo. Love the conviction and honesty. You tell it, sister!

I happen to agree 1000% about the message too, but mainly I wanted to thank you for simply HAVING a message, which it seems like so few women want to do publicly anymore for fear they will offend someone.

I personally feel so muted, even somewhat sheepish, about "admitting" that I wanted, planned, and HAD drug-free births ... and why? It's because of this culture we live in, where birth stories seem to be shrouded in defensiveness and preemptive reasons as to why they had to do this or that. So, I'm on-board with the just own it message. Thank you.

Ashley said...

Courtney, thank you for writing every day and sharing your story with us-It is so valuable. Thank you for allowing us a window in to your humanity. Thank you for being real enough to nail it sometimes, and trip and fall other times, without the need to edit out the mistakes to make your life look like a photo-shopped magazine cover.

Megan commented in your last post and summed it up perfectly- you are doing us all a favor by allowing us to understand ourselves better through the medium which is you. This is so desperately needed by so many women. And while the process may not always be pretty, it is essential. The conversation, the differing perspectives, the expectations and's all worth it- because we grow together as a female community.

Give your self a big hug because you are doing the best you can. We love you for that. And your best is good enough! Every time we hit a bump in the road we can be grateful for the life lesson that is just making us that much more wise. We love that you are real...just like the rest of us.

One thing that I would recommend is letting readers "like" or "agree" with poster's comments, kind of like you can on facebook (I have no idea if this is possible) but it would be really cool for your community to be able to dialogue that way. XOXO

Dale Smith said...

Wow! At 66 years of age, whenever I think of my birth, I still experience feelings of blame and loneliness. This post has helped me to acknowledge those feelings and not to see them as irrelevant and self-pitying.

Is it any wonder that our children LOVE to hear about the day that they were born?

Thank-you C. Jane. I know that your words, today, have struck many readers, to the core.

Victoria Blanchard said...

Yes, Yes, Yes! LOVE THIS!

Janie said...

YES YES AND YES AGAIN... you don't owe a soul an apology. The saddest thing about the whole response was how many women turned to direct attacks on your character because they couldn't choke down the simple message. It happens all the time and like I said before the Advesary is good at keeping valid messages down. I am glad you discussed your weight too. One of the biggest sources of empowerment from my natural birth was that I did it as a woman of size (substantial size) but I am healthy and my body is not broken. That's why women saying over and over that they couldn't do it a certain way because of what someone said to them, me like you wonder... what if... what if...

Ange said...

I've never commented on here before, or anyone's blog that I don't personally know. But man, this subject has made me feel some strong emotions of my own. Especially while skimming through the comments section. CJane, I love checking this blog - I love your writing, I love that some of your posts make me ponder and think and form my own strong opinions, whether agreeing or disagreeing with yours. I even enjoy the fact that you come across as being so full of yourself sometimes (or self centered or in want of humility as you describe it :); it's entertaining. But this is just a topic that no woman wants to feel judged on. Women will react when you say their way of birth makes you "sad" or "mad" or that you have a hard time believing them when they say "I can't because . . ." Ouch.

I feel like this whole post is missing the point your readers were trying to make to you. Except for maybe a few commenters, no one was saying birth doesn't matter. The majority seemed to say that it does matter, that being educated matters, that their bodies are amazing. Most were simply sharing their own beautiful, scary, heroic, sacred experiences . . . very passionately and in response to what you were saying.

***I believe the hurt and upset commentors were not saying that birth doesn't matter. They were trying to say that "CJane's opinion of birth doesn't matter to me" because they are at peace with their own birth experiences and precious babes, no matter how it happened for them. Which, I think, is a good thing.

I think it's great you're sharing your own opinion and convictions on the subject of child birth as part of your memoirs, whether I agree or not - especially when being so encouraging about women educating themselves. That is awesome. But it did make me sad to read that you seemed to totally miss the point all those women were making. I don't think you need to apologize for your beliefs or rewrite your memiors for anyone, but you could try to understand your readers better when they react to your opinions/story. Since you are choosing to write this on a blog setting. (I love that your comments are open because I love to hear what your community of readers has to say - the good and bad.)

PS Everyone was sharing their own personal birth stories so here is mine: My three births were all c-sections. Being in a major car accident the month after I was home from my mission, including fracturing my pelvic bone, made me (and doctors) pretty sure I would end up having c-sections when the time came. I'm sure that made it emotionally and mentally easier on me when that became the reality. I was not disappointed. I did not feel cheated. I did not feel like I messed up my babies arrival into the world. I am always sad for women who are so dissapointed when their births don't go exactly as they were expecting (or their mother's births for that matter), although I respect their need to work throught their own emotions. I think that's because I completely agree with the commentors who said that yes, birth matters. It is important. But what you do after with the precious spirits you were given is so much more important.

Fresh Hell, Texas said...

Birth matters, of course. Yet I think it matters much more when you have recently given birth or are in a stage of your life where you might give birth again.

My son's birth story used to always be on the tip of tongue. Now that he is nearly 20, I have to stop and think back.

Birth matters, but it's what happens in the moments, days, years and eventually decades post-birth that made me a mother. And to me, being a mother matters far more than being a woman who gave birth.

Hillary said...

Love your your thoughts.:) Not everyone has a choice with their "birthing experience". My twins were born 12 weeks early into a very full, not so calm and relaxing room. I think for those of us that didn't have a choice, it makes us feel guilty and like a bad mom from the start. Just my thoughts...keep on rockin', CJane!

Kat said...

Amen and AMEN ! I love the passion in which this post is written . Much food for thought for me which is why I keep reading this blog because you have often written posts that have gotten the rusty wheels in my brain turning .

Unknown said...

I really don't think any of your commenters were saying that birth didn't matter. It seems a little self-serving to imply that only you and those that agree with you really "get" what birth is all about. I have a neighbor who had a home birth and, after hours in labor and her husband calling 911, ended up being rushed to the hospital where both she and her baby nearly died from infection. Luckily they both lived...but all we heard about for the next year is how she didn't get to have her baby the "way" she wanted to. I honestly don't get that. It's easy to say it all sucks when you're holding your baby in your arms...I can assure you that it sucks more when that baby is in the ground.

What your commentors are saying is that getting a healthy baby here safely is what matters - and while the method by which they arrive may or may not have an effect on the baby's life, getting a baby here ALIVE so they have a CHANCE at life is what REALLY matters. To imply that your children are going to be so much better off because of your method than the emergency c-section babies is seriously pretty...I'm not even sure of the right word.

It also makes me "sad" when I hear women say that they have "failed" when they don't have what you view as the perfect birthing plan. As if women need one more thing to feel guilty about. I have always felt that when you are pregnant it is all about the baby...not about YOU.

Realize that you've been very blessed to have never had too much, if any, scares with your births. If you had, your opinions might be a bit different. Maybe you'd use more caution before placing blanket statements out there and then being clearly annoyed when people let you know that you're being a little bit narrow minded.

kameron leigh said...

Cjane. I love reading your blog so much. It brings a smile to my face and thoughts into my head everyday. I really appreciate your insights. I am not a mother yet, hopefully someday, (if marriage wasn't so scary....even at freaking 30.....) But when that day comes, I hope that i can be the type of mother that is as in tune with my body, my spirit, and THE spirit to make the kind of choices that are right for me. As you have done. Thank you so much for writing

Morgan Lee said...

@Fresh Hell--" being a mother matters far more than being a woman who gave birth"

Boy, that sums it up!

@CJane - I don't remember anyone yesterday saying birth doesn't matter, and I am positive that no one said that BABIES don't matter (heavens!), but I think birth matters way more to the mothers than it does to the babies... and it is only in *that* way that how a baby is born can affect its personality. I understand you disagree, and that's fine with me. I took no offense to that post whatsoever.

As an example of what I am saying, though: there are women who are so upset by their c-sections, or painful episiotomies, or the ill-mannered doctor tending them, that they literally cannot bond with their babies in the aftermath, for months and sometimes years. You said you're heartbroken for babies born via convenient inductions, well *my* heart breaks for the babies whose mothers take their disappointing birth experiences out on them... babies whose mothers have made their own feelings during childbirth the central, defining moment of their and their babies' lives, something which, hell yes, will affect your baby's personality.

In the long run (says I, a mother of one merely-18-month-old), the important thing is to be a mother who is in the present with my baby. I need to be a mom *right now*, not a mom who lives perpetually in September 2010, for better or worse.

I was not induced, but if I had been, I may well have been put off by your remarks in that post. You essentially implied that their babies were to be pitied, and moms feel condescended to when other moms say they feel sorry for their kids. Imagine someone came up to you and said, "Courtney, you let your kids eat sweets? My heart breaks for them." Or, "Courtney, you gave birth on the same bed where your baby was conceived? Gross. I feel sorry for your kid. She is definitely going to be messed up from that!"

See what I mean? FTR, I give my baby the occasional cookie, and I think Erin's birth story is awesome and beautiful, but you see my point, I'm sure.

P.S. Your blog is great, and reading other people's comments is great. I hope both things stick around.

Rachel said...

Thank you for being so open, honest, and bold. The words you share MATTER and serve an important purpose. Thank you for being you, the true you!

Malia said...

@Morgan Lee

Amen. Perfectly put and you just saved me from commenting something similar but definitely not as eloquent.

I agree with @Ashley that "like" or "agree" buttons would be awesome.

Cheryl said...

Yes birth matters but like previous posters have said it is what we do with those miracle children for the years afterward that matters the most. I don't agree that our births define who we are, that's like saying the fall of Adam defines who we are.

The Bears said...

After two years of not being able to get pregnant, multiple tests and no explanations and a few different medications, I was telling a co-worker the story of my birth-I was born at home, my dad delivered me, my umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck twice, I was the grossest shade of gray/blue and the only sign I was still alive was my fingers were slightly bent. My dad rubbed my chest and got me breathing and beating after a couple minutes.... anyway my co-worker said, "Wow, I bet that's why you can't get pregnant. Your body relates birth to trauma." I had always been proud of my birth story, like I was a fighter overcoming great odds, but when she said this, my body got so hot and tears rushed to my eyes and every cell bristled and I knew it was true. I went to a kinesiologist (an energy plumber of sorts) to release these fears and boom- my next cycle was pregnant. Our births MATTER! Every experience remembered or forgotten matters, because our bodies remember and we could all benefit from remembering this. Thank you for your words... I get so tired of hearing nothing matters as long as the baby is healthy... yes that is the most important thing, but the rest matters too and if it was traumatic to you, it was probably traumatic to them and maybe they could benefit from some energy work.

ltk said...

Wow, I am not sure where your reaction is coming from. It's as if everyone is speaking another language and no one can understand. I did not get at all from reading the comments that anyone was saying that birth doesn't matter. We all carry our own personal pain I guess and it sounds like you were told some really cruel and insensitive things when you were having trouble conceiving. I didn't go through that and I never got the message that my body was dysfunctional so when induction was suggested to me it didn't push any buttons as it it does for you.
I do love your writing but I do feel this post is a bit over the top, a bit preachy--who the hel said birth doesn't matter and how you can then go on to suggest that people were saying babies don't matter?
I have a really hard time with your trusting your body theory--sure I know there is a time for it and I certainly go with my gut or intuition a lot when parenting but do you really think you have the power to know when something is going wrong? That suggest that the women who experienced bad outcomes and tragedies somehow didn't trust their intuition or their bodies?

Jen said...

Yes. Absolutely, yes. I think about my mom's story of having me and things just make sense. I think of my story of having my daughter (and how I sometimes wish it was different) just a little over a year ago and so much of how we raise her--and so much of her personality--already makes sense. Birth matters. Our relationships with our bodies matters. Having people trust us to make our own decisions *matters* so very much. Thank you.

Bits and Pieces of Me...Emily! said...

I appreciate your post. The past couple of posts have been great to read. I experienced a different birthing story with all four of my children. I loved hearing yours, and how personal they were. It was brave To write something that is so very personal and spiritual. It is your story, and yours alone. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Jessica I. said...

I have yet to see any comments from adoptive mothers, or from an adopted person (at least, none that identified themselves as such here). As a woman in the adoption process, I will have little control over how my child enters this world. I do believe it matters. But I fervently pray the pregnancy and birth will not have more lifelong impact upon my child than the lifetime I will spend loving them. Just my two cents as a woman who must feel empowered to mother her child, regardless of the decisions made surrounding his or her birth. (And as a longtime reader and admirer, C. Jane! Keep the thought-provoking posts coming!)

Emily said...

Your post moved me today, and inspired a post of my own. I adore your willingness to share all that you hold close to your heart.

Dollymama said...


Jen said...

I think my favorite thing about your blog is that I don't agree with everything you write. It's the way you write and the response your words evoke (in me and my fellow CJane readers) that keep me coming back.

And shucks, how can I tell my boyfriend - recently home from Afghanistan - that I can't wait to get married and have babies so that I can truly weigh in on this matter? For my sake, I hope your comments section is open for years, because Lord knows how long that'll be.

(No really, Lord knows.)

Heather said...

Someday cjane I will bring cookies to your house, I only live 20 mins away.

StickyLittleFingers said...

Something that we do not have control over does not define who we are. I cannot control where or how my mother decided to give birth to me. My whole life defines who I am, not the first introduction into the world. Speaking as someone who suffers from high anxiety and has a very hard time with making decisions without worrying if I am doing EXACTLY the right thing for me and my child. The last thing we women need (especially those who suffer from anxiety, depression etc) is for more pressure to be put on us. Medical advancements are inspired by God. And I highly doubt that at judgment day he will tell me "oh you induced....(sigh) don't you know that BIRTH MATTERS?!!!!!!!!!"

Kellie said...

Amen Sister.

ltk said...

Someone commented about not hearing from mothers who have adopted--I did post a comment previously and mentioned my three children-- two were born to me or of and we adopted my daughter from China. I don't favor one story over another but I will say the day we met her I was so physically and mentally present (not having my body involved) that the experience was something I can't put into words. I know not everyone feels that way when they adopt or give birth--that instant bonding and in some ways I did not when I gave birth because the process was so physically intense-- but with my daughter it was a feeling of pure grace, of immense gratitude, the fact that we found each other, the gift I was given, it was just so beyond me and beyond words to even explain. I think being not physically involved in the process elevated it in a different way if that makes any sense.
Of course she did not experience what I did. She was just a frightened and stunned little baby, a little excited to be wearing new shoes that squeaked. Anyway, she was one when we adopted her and I know nothing about how she was born and view the scant information we received as to where and even the actual date with some skepticism. I am sad for her for this, I wish I had details. She is 7 and wants details, craves them.I think it is an almost inborn instinct to want to know from where you came. So we mourn that a bit--she does and I do but as other say it is the other days and moments that fill are lives, that are the meat of it all just like the birth day hold meaning it is just the beginning and it was happens from there that truly matters.
I can't help but think of death, another important passage. Some of perhaps will have beautiful peaceful deaths surrounded by family when we are very old and very satisfied with the lives we have lived. But many of us will die under tougher circumstances without a lot of control of the process,perhaps with pain and fear. That passage is also important but we have only so much control over it and it does not determine the sum of our lives. My father died a difficult death from a very swift and cruel disease. It took quite a while for the horrible details of his last few dies of life to become part of the greater landscape of his life in my mind but in time I was able to reflect on all the other parts and remember that those days were a very tiny part in the grand scheme of things. Maybe we should remember that about the birth stories we have.
Anyway, I guess my daughter's story of how she became part of us will always be on the tip of my tongue just like the stories of her brother's births but there is so much more that and I think it is a bit intense or even dangerous to assign too much belief or meaning and to project too much from all the details.

Amy said...

All of my kids were induced. The firstborn probably prematurely but as I had strep B and leaking it was deemed wise to step in. Most painful labor, was quite willing to have an epidural :)

With the twins my liver was shutting down, I was yellow and so itchy with hives I was scratching my skin raw. All it took was the breaking of my waters and 2.5 hours later of easy labor my first daughter was born. Her sister 9 minutes later (longest 9 min of my life as she was breech and the doctor turned her manually. Read inserted his hand in my womb and turned her. OUCH!)

I was not offended by your post as I have had induced labors and am perfectly fine with it. I think you just stepped on toes with those who felt slammed for choosing/having to have them for reasons you will never begin to understand.

Peace to you :)

the Brunsons said...

Amen. Love you, keep it up.

Fultmeyer Clan said... hit a nerve right there. Mother of two here, both C-sections. Surgical PA by trade. Complete wanna be home birther by night here. Surgery was the last thing I desired. I live 50 miles from a hospital, but yet that is what I ended up with. I tried the hypnobirthing vbac method for my beautiful #2 but it wasn't meant to be, for many many reasons, many having to do with my own career and my head. But cheers, to my own choice to have feelings and wants...Thankyou!

Liz said...

Beautiful post, Courtney! I'm well past my childbearing years, but it touched something deep within me. Thanks for reminding us all of the need to find and, if necessary, heal the meaning behind our sometimes troubled births and birthing. I took your post as an invitation to find the same beautiful healing you experienced--no condemnation intended, I'm sure, and none taken. Invitation accepted. I also loved seeing your accompanying baby photo which made me smile. So much of who you are now can be seen in that beautiful little face! The strength to face everything that was/is coming is all there. :) Love it. Love you. Love to all.

Lindy said...

I agree with Cheryl in believing the specifics of our birth defines who we are and will be is like saying we are defined by Adam's fall. Our birth was our fall into mortality but it most definitely doesn't determine who we can become. Thus we are given our agency to decide for ourselves what we do with our fallen state. Births matter in that we are birthed and have our chance at mortality. Just as death matters as to our end of mortality--but the specifics of it don't determine who we become in the afterlife. It is rather a means to an end. A birth to begin mortality, a death to enter immortality. My afterlife will not be determined by the specifics of my death--it will be determined by the actions of my life. That is the gift of agency given to me by my Heavenly Father--not a gift by my earthly mother according to her decisions/knowledge at the time of my birth.

:pG said...


Lee-Ann said...

It definitely does matter. How many memories will follow you to the grave? Women can remember specific things told to them 20 years later from the births of their children. It matters so much.

SuiGeNeRiS Speaks said...

I read all your recent posts, but not many of the comment except for the ones on this one - it got me thinking about birth - surpise!- and the impact it has on us and our children - surprise again...I had this thought though, that maybe birth is like a clashing of the babies will/personality with the mother's body...maybe that is where the trauma comes from for those being born.

For example you say in previous post being induced was really against your controlling nature (have I got that right?), being forced into the world made your mad....maybe. Then there are others where the clash isn't so huge ie, my son was induced 13 days over, but he is a pretty cautious guy, maybe he was cool with a bit of a nudge. My daughter came 7 days late totally on her own, and came so fast the nurse didn't get to catch her - she is so stubborn maybe that was her way.....I don't know, thought it was an interesting concept...

I am thinking maybe I will save your posts up for once a week so I can be a little greedy in my reading!!

Allyson said...

Thank you!! For saying all of this! For saying that our birth experiences are our property and ours to choose. I have VERY strong ideas about how birth should be. I would not have done any of my births differently because I knew - for me - they went how they were meant to be. They flowed and climaxed how they were meant to. And no one had a right at all to tell me what decisions to make or how to steer my labours.

But I respect fully when women make other choices. When they choose things I very proudly said no to. Because they will get their birth. They will bring their child into this world their way, the best way they know how. Just as every parent parents to the best of their abilities (yes there are exceptions to this but I like to believe most people really do the best they can!).

I only stumbled upon your blog within the last month. I have been reading nienie for years (ever since she appeared on Oprah) but just clicked a link to here not that long ago. I admire a lot of what you say. Your gritty honesty is amazing and inspiring. Life is not always pleasant but in among the pain and hard times are beautiful moments that remind us of why we continue this journey.

I think more women need to speak up and share their birth experiences, their stories of infertility, pregnancy, postnatal. Future generations really need to understand that having a child is a journey that starts long before that baby is birthed into this world. And the impact of that birth on the mom's is huge. I cannot imagine ever feeling complacent about my children's births or what I learned or became afterwards.

Thank you for being amazing!

hi said...

I just think it is dangerous to put too much weight on something you can't control. Your mom chose to have you induced. My mom chose not to breast feed for no other reason than that she is painfully shy. You can judge her all you want but she was a good, loving mom. She knew that breast feeding was something that would make her so nervous that she would dread feeding me, now what would that do to a baby? Instead she chose to hold me close, look into my eyes and feed me a bottle. How does your mother feel about your reaction to her choice? Mine would be heartbroken. She did her best just like I am with my kids. I sincerely hope that none of your children ever come to you with judgement over the way you chose to deliver them. The chief upset that you wanted an epidural, or Erin becoming an MD and feeling disappointed by your choice to deliver at home. We are all doing our best and I hope my children will appreciate that one day and not judge mistakes too harshly. You are postpartum and chose a very specific type of birth for your baby, something that took a lot of preparation and strength no doubt, perhaps you hope that one day Erin will appreciate that but feel you can only expect her to if you put great importance and a little shame in the way your own story compares.
And as it seems you are collecting birth stories, I was induced a week early by choice with my first ( I really dislike the assumption that every woman who chose induction was somehow tricked into it by her doctor or simply chose it because she wasn't educated enough about her choices). With my second I lived in a European country, i was induced one week over my due date with some kind of bean inserted inside of... . I delivered in a hospital by a midwife, not because that was my choice because that is the way everyone is delivered here.  I wanted and asked for an epidural which I was told beforehand I could have and when it came down to it was refused (and I am not the only one being refused, this story is very common where I live).  Both births turned out fine, my babies were healthy, but I preferred the one where I felt I had a say in what happened.  Choices are not only "limited" in the case of hospital/doctor/medicated births, it can go both ways, in the end a healthy baby  and mother is the most important goal. Every person on earth was grown and reaped in the same of a few basic ways, and each of us gets to decide how much "birth matters" in our lives.

zannyzoozoo said...

Thank you for these posts, Courtney. I don't like to think about my own birth story. I don't know much about my own birth - except that my mother chose to give me up for adoption. I don't know why she made that choice and I am forever grateful she gave me life and did not choose abortion. But I still have feelings of abaondonment and I often feel profound sadness when I think of the day I was born. My relationship with my adoptive parnets is strained and perhaps that is one of the reasons I struggle in this regard. Your posts regarding our birth stories has given me the courage to face my fears and seek answers regarding that day. I may not be able to find and talk with my birth mother but I know the Lord can also answer many questions for me too. Thanks for encouraging us to examine the impact our own births have on our lives. Obviously, as emotional as I get thinking of my birth story, it is having an impact on my life even today. P.S. I have 4 beatiful children - all born via c-section (tried for a natural birth witht the 1st 2 but those poor babies kept getting their shoulders caught up in my narrow pelvis, ugh) and I loved hearing the many unique birth stories shared on your blog and in the comments. Love your writings!

I am LoW said...

I missed this when you posted it. Wow!! Awesome post!!

I wish I could chat with you about how much I KNOW that our bodies can do amazing things, and even about the time a doctor told me after baby #5 that I was right and he was wrong, and how mom's usually ARE the ones that are right.

But I know it will get lost in all the other birth stories.

Carrot Jello said...

“He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool.”
― Brigham Young

I don't understand people.
I've been induced.
I've had c-sections.
I've had one naturally.
I've never been offended when people want to share their birth story.
I've never felt pressured to breastfeed my baby until it is six, because someone wrote about their experience doing it and how great it was.
The longest I've ever breastfed is FOUR months.
Who the heck cares?
Knit your own tampons!
I'm not going to!
I like mine prepackaged in a box.
You make your own granola bars?
Good for you!
I'm going to Safeway and buy mine!
The cheapest, most unhealthy kind!
I'm not going to cry in a corner because you pushed a baby out in your room and didn't wake anyone up (and you dared write about it). No, I'm going to have mine cut out of me, and I'll probably make lots of noise!
Who cares!
We don't have to make the same choices.
No one can make you feel guilty.
You allow people to.
It's your blog and you are allowed to write what you want.
There will always be people that will be uncomfortable, or offended.
I really think there are people that just walk around waiting to be hurt or offended.
That's their problem.


Like Dieter F. Uchtdorf said...

Blog on, Granola girl.
Blog on.

Keya said...

I really needed to read this today. Thank you.

SoulFull Mama said...

Thank you thank you thankyou for this. Your little Erin was born towards the beginning of my current pregnancy. I was in the middle of frustration concerning insurance and the "right" way to birth this baby. was it wrong of me to care where baby was born, as long as he or she was healthy? But your bravery in posting that story...and the sheer beauty of it...inspired me. I have a month or so to go yet, and I don't know for sure where it will happen. My Honey is ready and willing to bemy birth attendent, here in our own home, but we are also waiting for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Just, thank you for sharing this.I needed the reminder that regardless of how this plays out it does matter, beyond that wonderful goal of a healthy baby.

Sprouts Mommy and Daddy said...

wow, amazingly put. thank you for this!

Natasha said...

I just wanted to echo the readers asking for "like" buttons or the ability to comment on another person's comment.

And you are right BIRTHS MATTER.

Alina said...

Love this post, it is amazing and so very TRUE!

Jannifer said...

I thought I'd share this post about the importance of birth from a spiritual sense: I know the author, who is a very deep thinking, cool guy. It goes along with what you talked about in this post.

Amy Coontz said...

This is why I became a Doula! Because birth is such an important part of a woman's life. Something she will never forget. I tell all my clients that my goal as their doula is to make sure that in 20 years when they look back and remember that day, it is a positive memory. And I know that it seems creepy, but I am constantly amazed at how alike we are!

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