It's something that I know I'm not "supposed" to talk about. I had the natural birth I wanted in the hospital setting, but somehow, weeks later, this feeling of disappointment cropped up and it turned into sadness. No, it was not postpartum depression; it was only related to the birth experience. I had this festering sadness that I felt unable to process or speak about. And then I felt ashamed... because there are so many women who don't get the birth they wanted. Because some babies aren't healthy.
I am not those women, and I am very lucky...but I was still sad. I felt like it wasn't okay to talk about it because who was I to complain when, in fact, I got what I wanted?
The thing is, I felt the same way in pregnancy. Because I had a healthy pregnancy, relatively free of complication, I felt it was somehow selfish to give voice to any portion of my experience that felt negative. I grappled with the question of what was acceptable to complain about and what wasn't. In the weeks after my daughter was born, I felt very similar about my birth experience.
What was funny about the whole thing was that when I came home from the hospital, I was in a really positive space about the whole birth experience. In fact, I still maintain that the hospital (for a hospital setting) did a good job, and was very baby friendly, as their certification boasts. It's a great option for lots of local women and their families. However, even knowing that, I still felt this deep sense of sadness whenever I thought about the birth.
For weeks, I was crying in private, almost not knowing what about it was making me so sad. Finally, I confided in my girlfriend Jenn, who is also Ruby's godmother and attended the birth, about my feelings. Her response was a deep exhale out as she said, "Oh thank God! I was happy you felt satisfied with the birth, but I couldn't believe it! I thought it was just so strange being in the hospital, and I didn't feel the same about it as you did, but I didn't think it was my place to say anything!"
So maybe I wasn't crazy.
Finally, I was able to talk about the duality of the experience; yes, it was beautiful in many aspects (my god, there was nothing to compare to the moment when we met our child), but there were some things that were just not what I had envisioned. There was the fact that I had to stay overnight, even though I was really and truly ready to go home. And that I didn't get to sleep in bed with my husband that night...there was never a night where I felt more bonded or closer to my husband. I wanted to be held all night by him, and instead we had to sleep in separate hospital beds. Is it the biggest deal in the whole, wide world? Of course not. But it was a beautiful moment that I wanted to share with him, and I couldn't. There were other things, too; things that are a bit more private that I would like to keep for myself.
The truth of the matter is that the hospital could have been the best hospital in the world and it still wouldn't have been the right place for me. I knew that going in, but tried very hard to simply "get over it." I would have rather been at the birthing center or at home, but a small piece of me still felt safer in the hospital and so that was where I went. That was the choice I made.
The strange thing is that even though I know I would have been happier at a birthing center or at home, I'm still okay with the decision I made to go to the hospital. There were some draw backs to it, but I don't regret it. And even though I got what I wanted for the setting I was in, I have given myself permission to be a little sad about certain aspects of it. I figure that if I feel this way, there are other people who feel this way too.
Some this just has to do with the trauma of birth itself. Even the best, most natural birth is a feat and a trauma to the body. There were nights that I woke up from nightmares about being labor again. Or dreams I had about being pregnant again, which were equally as scary! Now that my daughter is about five months old, I am really beginning to be able to put the birth experience behind me, which is why I am able to talk about it more openly.
If you find yourself sad about your experience....or embarrassed about it, as many woman can also feel, just know that the freshness of the situation lends itself to that thought process. It does go away to a certain extent. For me, I also found that some of what I was labeling as sadness was just pure emotion, and we often don't have accurate words for that. Birth is a raw thing chocked full of so much emotion and even the most perfect birth where things go as planned can leave a woman feeling her emotions very keenly.
I think that by acknowledging that there were things I was disappointed about, I was able to heal very quickly from them. Giving emotions a voice is just so important that when we sweep them under the rug, we find ourselves unable to deal with them. I know that there are many people who have had far worse things to deal with surrounding their births, and can only imagine the healing that has to take place for them. We all have our journeys, and I am grateful for mine being as easy as it has been. I am not comparing my experience to anyone else's....but I think it's important that we all share these hurdles (big or small) as they arise.
How did you find the birth of your child to be? Did you have small disappointments in hindsight? Was your journey a bit more tumultuous and upsetting in a big way? Share your story (free of judgments) in the comment section below. You never know who you might be helping by sharing your story!