For the same reason, I avoid mother’s groups and the Parents Asscociation and even tuckshop duty. Its not that I don’t like other women or mothers or babies but simply that I don’t like talking about it. That and, because I have five apparently well adjusted daughters, I do tend to attract a lot of commentary on parenting and children.
When I say commentary what I really mean is judgement, complaint, opinion and advice. But mostly just comments – which range from pure amazement to the verge of insult;
“how do you do it? You’re so calm!”
“so are you trying for a boy??”
“oh my god! Your POOR husband!”
(I JUST do it, I have to be calm, no I’am happy with girls, yes, thanks, he’d be the luckiest man on earth.)
Especially the birth. People really want to talk about birth.
Recently I overheard my baby’s grandmother describing how I ‘just popped the baby out nice and easy’ and couldn’t help but snap back that ‘it was Childbirth you know – and it hurt!’. I also couldn’t help but be a bit upset that something I’d drawn a circle around had been so casually diminished.
It could be time I started telling people and commit to my experiences without buying into the ideal – if only to keep the grandmother from spreading propaganda about my incredible baby-popping abilities.
So if I tell you about this birth I want you to bear in mind that every story is a fiction – even the true ones. By this I mean that I can only tell it from my point of view and no one elses. Perhaps the midwife would say ‘oh yes, she had a strange labour and quite unexpected’ and my four year old who sat by me would talk about the water in the bath and the red candle and how I sounded a bit like a cow.
Also, because of this birth the next two births would be effected so this is really the beginning of a much longer story.
I suppose I am getting to my point. Even as I sit here ready to write it I’m still not sure there’s a story to tell. There wasn’t a labour because even though waters had burst and there was a mild pain every hour, by the book that isn’t labour.
But there was, at that time and for various reasons, pressure to get the baby out of me and I felt it. I couldn’t stop weeping after two days of waiting – an entire cosmos seem to conspire to test my limits. I’d tried long walks on the beach, yoga, everything possible and had reached the point of despair that it would never begin.
Eventually the words ‘You’re crying for your broken waters’ sent me back into myself from the height of panic about going to hospital or the baby being at risk. It had crept up on me, inevitable and strange. My body had been doing its thing quietly and in its own time and could only be trusted, as it turned out I was ready.
There are no words that can accurately describe what happens to a woman as a child is about to come into the world through her, but I can still distincly recall telling myself that no one was able to do this for me, for us. For a while there was only me and my womb, the water, a red candle burning and a red moon above. And the laughter which bubbled up from some depths I didn’t know I had and spilled out into the air with each contraction.
In hindsight I admire the bravery of that midwife who allowed me to hold my own as my body and baby did their work, a push and then twenty minutes later another push, with me mooing and laughing in the dark. Then when there was a head already born under the water and we waited endless minutes for the next contraction, she held my hand and kept quiet.
So Edie emerged into the bathtub of my friend’s house by the sea during a total lunar eclipse, after two days of leaking waters and an hour of intense euphoria. I sat in the bath as if turned red with the blood my body had made to sustain the pregnancy, the blood of separation, holding this little scrap of child. Then she smiled.
(I’m not comfortable with my own birth stories, probably because they’re so gushy and terrifyingly strange.)