Writing Birth Stories… Or Not

The blog world is full of birth stories. It’s weird, isn’t it? It’s so personal and intimate that you’d think people would just tell it to their best girlfriends.

But certainly I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s so universal and moving that it makes the perfect story, and while you perhaps don’t want to go into gory details with your own best girlfriends, especially face-to-face over a fancy coffee with friends without child, for some reasons sharing it with people you don’t know but can’t see, and who are going through the same life-changing event as you is something liberating.

Or is it?

I am very good at forgetting things. I thought I’d gotten over it nicely, and in part, I have. My oldest is 6 years old, and although I have never written at length about his birth story, I am at peace with the events of that day, the way it turned out, and the emergency C-section I got 6 years ago. If I decide to write his birth story one day, it will be for his sake, not for mine in a therapeutic viewpoint. But whether a young boy or young man needs to learn about his birth in details remains a question for me to ponder.

When my doctor told me that I was most probably heading for another C-section down the line, due to the same causes, for my second birth, it was a genuine surprise, because I had managed to put it so much at the back of my mind that I hadn’t come to that conclusion by myself. I had stuck with what one doctor had told me, that one C-section didn’t need to be followed by another, but of course as the medical reasons for the first intervention were linked to me, I should have understood that his phrase didn’t really apply.

I signed for a scheduled C-section. I was not even pressured to. I preferred a scheduled one over an emergency one, with very little odds to have a birth without medical intervention. It was supposed to be uneventful.

Clearly it wasn’t.

Over the spring and summer, I had managed to obliterate what happened and concentrate on my sweet little baby, but as winter is coming back and we’re heading towards my baby’s first birthday, it all comes back to me. Rather more forcefully than I wished.

Last week I read a blog post over at Longreads about a birth story by C-section, and I couldn’t detach myself from the screen. In fact, the post was long so I couldn’t read it all in one go, and I was obsessed by this particular story.

Within a few days it had completely gone out of hand. I found myself crying over stupid things and having flashbacks and depressed thoughts.

I was thinking about writing this particular birth story, then I feared I would relive stuff and feel even worse. I would once again go over events and choices that I can no longer undo.

As I felt my feelings recede and started to feel better, I didn’t get writing.

One day I will.

Perhaps.

Any thoughts?

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4 thoughts on “Writing Birth Stories… Or Not

  1. I didn’t know this at all! Duncan’s delivery was awful, resulting in five days in the NICU, and I still can’t bear to spend much time thinking about it,even though we are all happy and healthy now. Personally I think writing about it would make you feel better, even if it’s for private consumption. Here in the states we have counselors who can help you come to terms with difficult birth experiences…is that something you have access to in France?

    • I knew a bit of the NICU through FB, it must have been so stressful! No wonder you don’t want to think about it. I thought that would work out fine this way too, but now I’m not too sure. At any case I don’t know of such counsellors here (unless I embark for 10 years of Freudian psychoanalysis 😉 !).

  2. As someone who’s never given birth, I probably shouldn’t comment, but I will. I have mixed feelings about birth stories (I read the same blog post you did). On the one hand I find them fascinating, but on the other, I wonder who the audience is and how that child is going to feel when he/she reads it (which, inevitably, will happen one day). If I were pregnant, the Longreads post would’ve terrified me, and I find it sad to think that some woman might go into labor more terrified than ever because she’d read something like that. On the other hand, your post makes it sound like support from other women who’ve had a traumatic birth experience might be good. Maybe that’s what inspires people to write them — to help find others like themselves? It seems to me that sharing such stories in a small group, rather than with the whole world, might be a good thing to do.

    • Thanks for your comment! When I was pregnant and after my first baby I actively looked for such stories because I found some kind of community with other mothers and because medical books are very impersonal. But it was only a season.
      There’s the writing, and then the sharing. Both are delicate matters, in my opinion.

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