Monday, April 15, 2024

Ask Aunt Dorcas: When Birth is Traumatic and It's Not Ok to Say So


Aunt Dorcas, Amy, and Ben--1993
in the hospital, soon after Ben was born.

Dear Aunt Dorcas,

  I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy about two years ago. Prior to his birth, I heard many women share their birth stories both online and in person. Their comments about the pain level ranged from "I would describe it more as pressure than pain" and "It was intense but definitely manageable" to the occasional "Labor was incredibly painful." I averaged all these comments and decided that the birth process must be fairly painful but not terrible.

  I found labor to be shockingly painful and transition felt almost unbearable.

  I have two questions about this.

   (1) Why is it so common for women to downplay the pain of childbirth? I realize that so many factors play into the intensity level and I believe there are some women who truly don't find it to be that painful. But I don't understand how someone can experience the level of pain I did (or worse, in some situations) and consider it "uncomfortable but definitely manageable."

  I want to view birth as the beautiful experience it is, and I agree that we as Christian women should be among the most positive voices when it comes to talking about babies and birth. What does it look like to be honest about the hard aspects of birth while fully appreciating the beauty of it and the miracle of new life?

  (2) I've heard many conversations about the practical aspects of childbirth but very few about the emotional impact of birthing a child into the world. One of the factors that plays into many events that are considered traumatic is the powerlessness to stop the unpleasant event (in abuse, an accident, etc.) While labor is different from those incidents in the sense that there is a purpose for it and it is expected, it still feels as though there can be something traumatic about the very nature of contractions- wave after wave of intense pain that you are powerless to stop or escape from. I've never really heard anyone talk about this so I'm not sure if this is a real thing or if the only trauma that can come from birth is from complications such as emergency c-sections, hemorrhaging etc. I had a fairly short and straightforward labor so I struggle with feeling like I don't own the right to be traumatized by my experience.


Dear Lydia,

Yesterday my daughter was talking to a new mom about her baby’s birth. She said she figured she’d be fine having her husband with her as the only non-professional support. However, she soon realized that when you’re having a baby, you want someone with you who’s also had a baby.

In her case, that was quickly arranged, luckily for her.

Paul said, “As the husband, you take all the classes and you think you know what to do. Then it turns out not to be what your wife wants you to do.”

In our case, he had perched eagerly beside the bed while I was gasping in mortal pain, leaned over me, and said cheerfully, “Ok, breathe! Come on, breathe!”


Can you imagine me yelling at him like that? Probably not. But labor brings out what you didn’t know was there. Local legend has it that one of the sweetest young women in Oregon threw a washcloth at the nurse during labor.

Labor is an experience that takes you to the edge of reality. For many of us, it is a tunnel of pain and overwhelm that feels like the valley of the shadow. Lost in waves of pain and pressure that we are powerless to stop, we lose track of who we are, what is going on, who is with us, and why we are doing this. We become someone else, a wild woman with no filters or tact, both weak and strong, fighting and conquered.

With a couple of my five births, I completely forgot I was having a baby or that this would not last forever.

Of course it’s traumatic.

And then, in an instant, we are taken from the depths of agony to the heights of joy. There’s nothing in the universe to compare. One second, we are bearing down in the middle of the hundredth contraction, lost to reality. The next, the pain is instantly and entirely gone, and there is a baby! A new little person, come from heaven, red and slippery, the most wondrous creature you have ever seen. If you’re like me, you think, “Oh that’s right!! This was all about a baby! I forgot there was a baby! And there she is!” You feel a joy that is surely a glimpse of Heaven and feel like the veil between is sheer as an organdy curtain and the light is shining through.

If you’ve been through it, tasting the worst and best, you have a story to tell. Childbirth and stories are connected like salt and pepper, like thunder and lightning, like frogs and puddles.

Eve didn’t have women to be with her or to talk to afterwards when she birthed those first babies, poor thing, but ever since then, women have supported each other in labor, and they have told each other their birth stories.

My mother used to repeat the stories of how the six of us were born. “Oh, girls, it’s just the most TEEEEEEERRRRRIBLE pain! Oh, you just can’t imagine. Oooooh, I can’t even describe it, it hurts so bad.”

My sister Rebecca and I found out, years later, that in large groups of people we both used to look around wide-eyed and think, “For every one of these people, some poor woman went through the most unearthly, unthinkable pain.”

However, as I got older I realized my mom’s stories didn’t really make sense. She also told of having a chemicalled cloth laid on her nose and being completely unconscious when she gave birth and also presumably during the worst stages of labor. How did that compute with the insane pain?

By the time I had my first baby, times had changed. We went to a little hospital one night a week for probably two months and learned all about pelvises, dilation, contractions, exercises, and Lamaze breathing. We ladies lay on the floor and breathed long slow breaths in our noses and exhaled out our mouths with earnest hoo hoo hoos and ha ha ha’s while the hovering husbands coached us.

We were taught that the perception of pain changes when we are informed and prepared, when we have support, and when we feel that we have choices and volition.

That, I was convinced, was why Mom’s births were so agonizing. She was completely at the mercy of the medical system and especially Dr. Sattler, a sadistic man who scoffed at weak American women because, as a refugee in Germany, he had marched with a flood of desperate people and had seen women drop out of the line to give birth and then get back on their feet to keep going.

[Edit--That was what I remembered from Mom's stories, but I saw an article online that indicated Dr. Sattler may have been with the American military and observed refugees in Europe, rather than being one of them.]

When Mom was 8 months pregnant with her first child, Dr. Sattler decided the baby was breech and needed to be turned. He called in a helper, and the two of them pushed on Mom’s stomach as hard as they could. The pain was unbearable. That didn’t stop them.

The baby didn’t move for 24 hours, and then Mom went into labor and was taken to the hospital.

She woke up all alone in a room. No husband, no nurse, no baby.

She thought, I must have had my baby, and it died.

After a while, a nurse came in with a bundle. “Would you like to see your baby?”

Oh! She had a baby? And it was alive?

Well, yes.

No wonder Mom was traumatized. I feel like her daughters were maybe not the best audience for her tales, but I hope we bore witness to her hellish experience. Certainly, we wanted something better for ourselves.

As I see it, there are three factors to a good outcome with childbirth.

1.      Skilled care: someone present who knows how to deliver a normal birth and who has resources when things go south—breech, bleeding, and a hundred other complications.

2.      Volition: a sense of choice, control, power, and ownership for the mom. She gets to choose place, position, people, interventions. She can make requests and they are granted.

3.      Support: people who are there for the care and keeping of the birthing woman, who listen to her and grant her wishes. Also, people who will listen to her story afterwards and validate it all. And people who will care for her in practical ways.

We are always trying to find the perfect combination of these three ingredients, and we are always reacting to the generations before.

In the late 1890’s, when my grandmothers were born, women gave birth at home, in familiar surroundings, and had support from other women. New moms stayed in bed for six weeks, fed and cared for by others.

However, many of them lacked skilled care, and every family has stories of women who died in childbirth. We still see this in places that don’t have access to medical care.

The reaction to that was to maximize hospital care and completely minimize the mother’s choices over what happened to her, as well as the support from others. By the 1950’s, doctors called all the shots, women had no options, and husbands were relegated to waiting rooms and ushered in when Mom was all cleaned up and tucked in bed with clean sheets. I’m told my father-in-law was always skeptical of his wife’s descriptions of childbirth because, after all, she looked pretty good when he finally got to see her. Some of us are still annoyed at him for that.

In that era, women like my mom survived births that might have killed them in earlier days, but they had lasting emotional scars from the inhumane methods of the medical world.

Maybe my generation had the best combination. We were allowed to put together the birth plans we wanted, we could have husbands and moms and friends in the delivery room, and we could tell our stories to other women and be affirmed and believed. I’ve been at many women’s gatherings when the conversation wandered into childbirth and we all told our stories, while the rest of us laughed or gasped by turns.

We recognized that every woman’s experience is different. I have a sister-in-law who just “loved that feeling of puuuuusssshhhing the baby out!” Others of us, in great contrast, were ripped from stem to stern pushing the baby out and didn’t know if we’d ever have a normal bowel movement again.

It was all valid and validated.

When I was having babies, there was already a trend to minimize the danger of childbirth and maximize the normality of it. “Your body is made for this,” those midwives said. “Welcome the pain. Breathe through it. We are here for you.” This was far better than what my mom endured, but had its own pitfalls.

My impression is that that movement has expanded in the 25 years since then, accelerated by Instagram and a young-mom peer pressure that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. My guess is that the pressure to minimize the pain of childbirth is a wish to maximize a sense of control over the process. This is your body, your choice, your quest, and you are strong and brave and you can do this amazing thing.

Unfortunately, this can cut off the other two legs of the stool. An unrealistic perception of your control of the process often means not making contingency plans for medical emergencies.

It also means, as Lydia said, that women downplay the pain, presumably because if you had a hard time, that means you “did it wrong.” So stories aren’t told, heard, or validated, and the trauma isn’t healed or processed. It wasn’t supposed to be more than discomfort and pressure, so the unbelievable pain must be their own fault. If all the other ladies in the hot tub felt empowered and strong all through labor, how can you admit you were asking for a knife to kill yourself? [True story of someone I love.]

We all make birth decisions based on the stories of sisters and friends. Maybe we choose their midwife, doctor, or hospital. Or we take castor oil to get the process underway when we’re overdue, as my one sister-in-law swore by.

I had heard glowing reports from friends about the wonder of giving birth in a tub of water. “I hardly felt anything,” said one.

What a gift that would be! So I planned on a water birth at home for my fifth baby. We placed a new stock tank in the dining room and filled it with warm water. Paul was there along with three professional midwives.

It was horrible.

The pain was beyond all endurance, and then when it was time to push I didn’t feel the slightest urge, and I was so far gone mentally that I couldn’t think which muscles to activate and how to make it happen. Things got a bit desperate and dicey for all of us, with Paul and the midwives leaning over and practically yelling at me to push, before Jenny was finally born.

So the water birth was a bust, but I felt good about the home birth, the midwives, and all that. My friend Rita Baker came over soon afterward with a pot of chicken soup, and a few hours later Paul went and fetched the other children at his parents’ house, and we all snuggled that amazing baby.

I had made my birth plan based on real people, reading, and my own experiences with previous births.

What’s troubling is when pregnant women make high-stakes choices about childbirth based on persuasive social media characters and online information with no connection to real life, such as a young missionary overseas making a birth plan based on advice from Instagrammers in the US.

Here’s my advice to women having babies:
1. Acknowledge the high stakes of childbirth. Yes, it’s amazing and life-affirming. It’s also dangerous. It can be traumatic. It can be the highest and lowest points of your life. Be honest about this.

2. Seek a balance of skilled care, personal choice, and support from others, in your birth plan and afterwards. Be aware of the risks of every approach.

3. Get information on preeclampsia and stretch marks online, but learn about birth options from real people. Sisters, friends, aunts, midwives, doctors. They know how far it is to the hospital and what the weather might be like around your due date and whether or not your husband will make a good coach. They can also tell you real experiences with birth centers, midwives, and epidurals.

4.Own your own story. Choices, mistakes, feeling empowered or guilty or defeated. It’s yours, it’s real. You don’t need to change it to sound good.

5.  Listen to each other’s stories and affirm and validate every one. Every woman is different, every child is different, every birth is different. Each deserves affirmation. Ask young moms questions and listen to the answers. Don’t say everything you might think. Affirm their story even if, like one memorable young woman, they say giving birth was really awful, and no, actually, they can’t say that it hurt, but it was terribly miserable because it was just so much pressure. [True story. To my eternal credit I didn’t slap this woman but nodded and listened and affirmed her experience without telling her about mine WHICH HURT LIKE BLAZES, JUST SO YOU KNOW! “Just so much PRESSURE!” WHAT EVEN???]

Sometimes women keep talking about experiences that don’t sound that traumatic on paper but seem to have left a lasting, haunting, impression. Listen, make sympathetic noises, and, if the woman seems stuck there for a long time, refer her to a professional. Any part of the process can be traumatic, whether it’s the lack of control over the process, complications, medical interventions, or an unmet need for support. Sometimes we need extra help.

I wish my mom could have seen a therapist to talk through her birth trauma.

We are strong women, and we can do this unearthly task of bringing a new human being into the world.

Let’s erase the expectations and gather around and support and affirm. Most of us in Mennonite communities have the best possible combination of medical care, plenty of information, community support, and the means to choose what works best for us. Let’s celebrate these resources and not complicate an already complicated process with expectations that most of us can’t meet.

Birth can be traumatic for many reasons. We can bring healing by supporting other women and allowing them to share their stories.



  1. I was very impressed with how you described child birth. It is an experience that only a woman that has actually gone through it, can explain. I have always wondered why so many women continued to have babies, when each time during the delivery process the pain can be unbelievably intense! So much pain. Then we go right back and do it all over again and again etc.
    Back in the day there wasn’t a lot a woman could do to keep from getting pregnant. However times changed and preventing unwanted pregnancies has been a lot easier. Planning for a baby is a wondrous time for a couple.
    I have been thinking a lot about my deliveries and the babies I brought home! The pain was forgotten as sound as I held each baby in my arms for the very first time! There’s nothing like it in this whole wide world!

    1. That was true for me as well, that the pain was forgotten [mostly] when I had the baby in my arms.

  2. My worst birthing story was 12 hours of induced hard labor for a baby I already knew was dead. There was no joy at the end.

    1. I'm so so sorry. Huge hugs! I've often thought about this kind of pain because I had a tiny touch with my firstborn, born far too early. I am sure to have the pain of full labor, full term, through the grief of loss, is one of the hardest things any woman can endure. I'm so sorry.

    2. I feel pain for you, and wish I could hear more of your story.

    3. What a heartrending experience. I'm so very sorry.

  3. Your description of women turning into something rather wild during labor and delivery, made me smile. Before giving birth someone relayed a story about a team Mennonite woman who attempted to bite a nurse during intense labor. I thought to myself, there is no way that a woman could so loose her composure to actually bite someone during labor. However when in labor with our second baby, the nursing unit I was in, was full and you could hear screams being emitted from other rooms. You could tell the nurses were very taxed and stressed. At the very end I joined the women in the other rooms with my vocalizations. The stressed and harried nurse scolded me and said I am expending to much energy at the wrong end of my body. Then she proceeded to hold my mouth shut!! I hate to admit it, even though I didn't bite her, I sure felt like it. And at that point it wouldn't have taken much for me to do so.

    1. My. Stars. She held your mouth shut???!!! She deserved a lot worse than a bite from you.

  4. I love this! I would recommend the book Holy Labor to Lydia. It talked through some of the less practical sides of bearing children and more of the emotional and theological aspects.

    1. I'll make a note of this. Thank you.

  5. I love birth stories of any kind and have had 5 children with varying stories. I know a lady that felt almost no pain when she gave birth so she exacted that same kind of chillness from her daughters. She told them that she had six and never cried and they needed to buck up and stop snivelling. With my third one I had the most fun you can have during childbirth. It hurt but I was relaxed and the midwife I had was amazing! I was laughing and talking in between contractions. The next birth I had in the hospital and it was the worst. Not because they treated me bad but after I had the baby they were forever coming into my room to check me or the baby and didn't let us sleep all night. They even came in to take a blood sample at midnight!!! My last one I tried the water in the tub. It was so bad. The water was way too hit and it made me sweat. My husband couldn't put pressure on my back and I was having terrible back labor. I had believed that I could make it a painless birth and when it didn't work I just rebelled at the whole pain thing and I didn't relax. It was a fairly quick labor but I am grateful that it's 4 years behind me!!

    1. Thanks for sharing your very varied experiences!

  6. I think reason I didn't want to admit to the pain was because I didn't want to have, "Low pain tolerance". 🫣 Like that was the worst was admitting that yes it was extremely painful. Might mean admitting I was not as strong as the many others who went before me😜

    1. Kind of sad, isn't it? Of all things that shouldn't be pressuring us in such a moment.

  7. With my second child, the most traumatic part came immediately following the birth, when I hemorrhaged to the point where a big team of doctors and nurses thought they were losing me. I was in and out of consciousness. When I came to, I thought about leaving my husband alone with a newborn and a toddler and hoped he would marry again. Obviously, I lived, but the recovery from that was long and slow. A full year lafter the birth, I lapsed into serious depression and again considered leaving my husband, hoping he would recover from my death enough to marry again someday. I wanted my kids to have a mother, even if it couldn't be me. I don't tell this story to first-timr moms-to-be, in part because I don't want to frighten them. When others start sharing birth stories and it comes to my turn, I simply say I had one birth that went as smoothly as could be expected, and one that was a bit of a rough ride, but either way, I got a wonderful child out of the deal, so it's all good. Should I be sharing more detail? I don't know. Thank you for tackling this necessary topic, friend.

    1. Sherry, I appreciate your honesty. I had post-partum depression after all three of my births and with my first one, it was terrible because nobody I knew in real life had ever talked about PPD. I felt so alone and confused! I made a vow to always tell the truth about my mental health and not be ashamed. I don't go into great detail unless the woman I am with really wants to know. I am grateful for other women/parents' honesty, and I have been thanked for my honesty too. So, yes, I think you should share more if you can!

    2. That sounds really really hard. I'm glad you recovered, and I think you have a valid story for young moms, if only to give a word of caution about PPD and what symptoms they should be aware of, and what to do then.

  8. By the way, the comment above about nearly bleeding out and struggling with depression was published as anonymous. I hadn't noticed if there was a way to add my name until after it published. I am not anonymous. I am Sherry Chidwick, a writer friend from Facebook and Substack.

  9. The inhumanity of the medical profession never ceases to astound me - the more honour to the exceptions, who defy so much bad culture to be exceptions.

    Thanks very much for this. I have never given birth, but I have a medical condition which involves untreatable chronic pain, and I recognise some of the emotional reactions. I assumed for many years that everyone suffered the same degree of pain and could deal with it, while I couldn't, and wondered why I was such a wimp. I'm still trying to learn not to think like that. It was never logical, in that it would not have been my fault that I happened to be the one who couldn't deal with it for some reason, but it was just how I felt. And since it was diagnosed I have been through a lot of really unintelligible survivor's guilt because my pain is not as bad as that of a lot of people who have the same condition. It's difficult to talk about pain in any circumstance, not just with regard to childbirth (though childbirth may have particular issues with it; I wouldn't know).

    Traumatic disorders are odd, and the model is not correct that supposes that it requires something awful beyond a certain degree to cause it. Apparently, in post-traumatic stress disorder, the memories of pain or grief or whatever don't process properly out of one part of the brain into another in the normal way. They stay in a part of the brain that is emotionally current. Though there are certain types of bad experience that are more likely to cause this than others, it can happen over anything, and often not at all the obvious things. I actually heard (distantly) of a case where a husband was left with PTSD after his wife had a painful and dangerous birth. And of a police officer who had helped a colleague in what was actually a comparatively minor attack (someone had pushed her over, and she was totally fine and he knew that) and won a bravery award for helping, and then had relentless and overwhelming nightmares for ages and eventually needed medical treatment.

    I think this also raises an interesting question: how can, and how should, we meet pain with faith? I'd emphasise that I DON'T think it is correct to except Christians to be emotionally serene in pain: for one thing, the Lord wasn't, either in Gethsemane or in the "My God, why have you forsaken me," cry. However, I feel faith should be part of our theories and thought-feedback loops. If God allows pain, he must have a good purpose in doing so, and he put himself in the middle of it, so we presumably cannot just take it as a wholly negative thing in the way the secular world tends to; on the other hand, we also can't sideline it as something that doesn't exist or doesn't matter, or none of the commands to charity make sense.

    I think perhaps, that part of the reason we don't talk about pain is that we tend to be lulled by our culture into seeing it as something hopeless that diminishes humanity, rather than something which belongs to the development of humanity back into the glory of the heirs of God. Or we go to the opposite extreme and think we somehow ought to like it because of that, which I'd argue is absurd! A study on the way the Lord met suffering and pain, both other people's and his own, and what that means about what constitutes faith in the face of suffering, would be very interesting.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences and perspective. You have some really interesting points, especially--"how can, and how should, we meet pain with faith?" I don't have answers but you made me think.

  10. After each birth, I really felt the need to share the experience with my mother who always listened so patiently and I could share the pain, the fear and yes the joy. I had plenty of pain and a feeling of no control. My Mom died at 69 from complications of Parkinsons. And then I was suddenly pregnant with my last one. This was the biggest baby, and the first and only baby that was overdue. I swear she came out ready for preschool and it was the first and only time I had to urge to push so I had to push and hold like the classes taught. Who knew that I could loose all that muscle memory. I had no Mom to share those stories with. I still think about that and I have always been willing to listen to anyone's birth story. Because, I know how important it was for me to share. Thank you for such a wonderful post.

    1. I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. But I love the legacy she left, that you are now the person who listens to birth stories.

  11. I bless whomever asked you this question… my experiences giving birth were very traumatic and I would have this utter relief that it was over (can we spell relief?!) but would mentally already start dreading the next child we might have… back labor and oh my… I felt like no one else went through what I did, and would feel i was being over dramatic.
    I appreciate a listening ear from someone who actually cares and tries to understand… it can be soothing or help us process. (Just don’t put it on YouTube 🤪. Thanks!!)

    1. If you had back labor, you have my fullest sympathies. I understand the fear of sounding too dramatic, but honestly, many of us tone it down for the listening audience, just because it was unbelievable.

    2. So i was re reading my comment t and your reply and thot, ummm, I think it could sound like I meant YOU shouldn't out this on YouTube. What I meant was I have seen much "over sharing" on YouTube by moms even Mennonite ones, and I think a more private place for them to share is more appropriate? Just my opinion. 🙃

  12. I wish I could have read this article before birthing my first child 43 years ago! And again before every one of my other children. I did not fit the delivery picture of my peer group ladies in those days (like home biths, etc.) , and I found mine a lonely world. My birthing experiences should have been 100% fulfilling - at least according to my hurting infertile friends. Thankfully, my labors were all short, but intense - with so little notice, would we get the 50 min. drive to the hospital accomplished in time (several times I actually had as much as 3 or 4 hours from the very start to finish, but never more then 1 or 2 hours in the hospital before delivery!! ); I had a caring husband coach with me; my mom lived hours and hours away; all the pre delivery work was crammed into 1 or 2 hours - no wonder it HURT! I comforted myself (this is true!!) with thoughts of: Jesus endured so much physical pain on the cross for me, not to mention His extreme emotional pain along with it, and so I can endure this temporary pain for my child; one week after my first delivery, hemmoraging demanded re-hospitalization which cemented my "hospital delivery only ever" feelings; all this, to say that more than any other time in my life, I enjoyed feeling most wonderfully and beautifully femine in pregnancy and delivery - well, maybe delivery lacked a bit in enjoyment!! Strange but reality - giving birth is an awesome and traumatic experience!

    1. Wow! You are a courageous woman and you tell your story well.

  13. Wow, this is so good. Women everywhere Thank you for sharing and encouraging us to own our stories. So much solid advice here. I really appreciate it.

  14. I love this post and its honesty, sympathy, and humor. I love telling my birth stories with all their emotions. . . my sister, a nurse, was with me each time and she said when I would wail "I can't do this anymore!!!!" she knew the baby was almost born. Ha! Good thing she waited for a few years after my last baby to tell me that.

    And I love hearing other women's birth stories with all their emotions too. I find honesty to be healing and stories are so compelling.

  15. I think one aspect that is so difficult to navigate when we tell our stories is all the comparison. In fact, my easiest labor sounds lovely when I tell it in brief (dilated without pain, baby born two hours after we got to the hospital, I had a great doula, we went home yet that night etc etc.) but was actually a great grief to me emotionally. I had what would have been the perfect home birth at a foreign hospital because I couldn’t find a midwife. The moment we stepped in the door, the doctor became the center of attention and did whatever he deemed best without my consent. I realized later that “natural birth” to me, meant birth that isn’t interfered with, just supported and observed. To him it meant “not a c-section.”
    Then a friend in the same country managed to fly over a lovely midwife for a peaceful home birth, and I cried. Another friend had her third emergency c-section and got her tubes tied, and I cried again. We all had valid experiences but it’s awfully hard to hold them in the same heart. When the home birth friend expresses wonder at God’s provision, I wonder “why didn’t God answer my prayers for a midwife? Why did God give us clear peace about a local hospital?” When the other friend talks about the fear and drama of her hemorrhaging, I think “Why can’t I just be grateful for an easy birth and healthy baby?” Indeed, those who compare themselves among themselves are not wise.
    I had a few intensely weepy days postpartum but I handled them by talking: to my husband, to the doula, to my mom and sisters, to some close friends, and even a zoom call with an older friend who had a traumatic experience with “birth rape”. I still feel sad about it, but it’s a cleaner grief now and only flares when I think about another baby.

    1. Thank you for sharing this. It's a great illustration of the wide variety of experiences and emotions with childbirth. "We all had valid experiences but it’s awfully hard to hold them in the same heart." AMEN

  16. All my babies were born by C-section there are times I feel like I was robbed of pushing my babies out. Recovering from a surgical delivery was hard for me. I was on post surgical pain meds and those things made me loopy. The nurses wanted me to place a pillow on my belly if I needed to cough because if I didn't oh did it hurt. One thing I almost forgot tomention was i was awake for all three. My second birth was fine until the doctor started putting me back together. The anesthesia was starting to wear off and I did everything I could not to yell. I don't know why I didn't say anything. After my births I was in the hospital usually around five days. Surgical deliveries recovery does take a long time to recover from but to hold that sweet baby makes it all worthwhile.

  17. I've always loved this from one of Elizabeth Goudge's books:

    “One more little girl,” pleaded Sally. “For you when Meg goes to school.”
    “Oh, Lord!” groaned David. “Don’t let’s think of that until you have quite forgotten having Christopher.”
    Sally smiled and said nothing. Men always thought that women forgot about the pain of childbirth. Even Christ had thought that they did. And no woman ever undeceived them.

  18. Louella Martin4/29/2024 7:02 AM

    I find this question interesting though not in the least doubting it's legitimacy. But interesting because in my experience in the circles I rotate in, the more traumatic a birth story, the more legitimate it seems. As in, those are the ones with the most 'telling power ' and the stories that circulate the most. All my births have been relatively 'easy' all beautiful and traumatic in their own way. In my experience there is almost always something to grieve in every birth. Not necessarily because it went horrible but because it didn't go according to some plan or thought I had. And that to me is grief - the loss of some expectation, however small. Maybe that is because giving birth pushes us to the limits of what we think we can do, and then some. It's a very vulnerable snd surrendering journey and when you open yourself to great love , as in meeting a new baby, you also open yourself to great sorrow in the same moment. I have learned that there is space for all our stories but evidently we feel these things very strongly!

    1. I love how you describe birth and also grief.
      Interesting about your experience with people telling traumatic birth stories. When the question was first asked, I was kind of dumbfounded. Really?? So I asked my nieces and other young moms and they corroborated all of it. We live in strange times.