Twenty six years ago there were no reality television shows and certainly none dealing with childbirth.
I know that may be difficult for some younger readers to imagine, but it is true.
No one howled their way through their birth experience with a room full of cameras committing it to permanent memory and the filmed versions of labor and delivery I watched while pregnant looked nothing like my experience.
In the tidied up childbirth videos I saw prior to my labor, women breathed their way through the pain seemingly without fear or loss of control. Babies were delivered straight into the mother’s waiting arms before the umbilical cord was even cut and happy tears were always present as the mother cuddled her child for the first time.
Those were the stories I saw and I expected my own would mirror what I viewed in class.
I chose a physician who had used midwives ten years longer than any other medical group in town and did everything I could to prepare for the big day, but despite all of my reading and preparations, nothing really went as I’d planned.
Let’s gloss over a due date that came and went, waiting until ten days had passed. I was prepared for that as first babies are often late. And let’s just skip past the 52 hour labor that everyone says you forget, but my daughter would groan that I never have.
Let’s talk instead about fear.
Let’s talk about what happens to the happy tears you expected when your first glimpse of your baby is from across the room surrounded by medical staff instead of looking down at her in your arms.
Or when they say things like ” She looks pretty good, but her Apgar score is not a high as we’d like.”
Of course fear is not an emotion that disappears when you learn the issues have resolved and your baby is fine … every parent knows that getting them here safely is just the first step.
Parenting is a bit like a complicated recipe where adjustments have to be made all the time to keep the cake from falling before it’s finished or the soup from being too salty.
Add too much of this or too little of that and it can be easy to make a total mess of it.
There have been loads of resources to help guide me along the way, but without knowing it the most useful may have been some of the breathing lessons I first learned in childbirth classes.
I have shared my daughter’s birth story many times over the last twenty-six years and I have always talked about how those deep breathing lessons let me down.
It’s funny that only now can I see how they important they have actually been.
Learning to pause and breathe in and out deeply has been a huge part of my journey and those happy tears that were so elusive on the first day … somewhere along the way I discovered that one must let go of fear to make room for joy.
After being out of the country for her last few birthdays, I am ” over the moon ” excited to be in Atlanta to share some of this special day with my daughter.
Happy Birthday, Miranda.
There are links to Miranda stories on this date for each year that I have been blogging. This one from last year has links to the earlier years. The one titled, 8:03 can be found here and it is probably my favorite.
These photos were taken by Miranda’s father.