Gracelyn is now five weeks young, doing exceptionally well, and blessing our lives in innumerable ways. During this time, I’ve gotten to heal from the process of giving birth. Though some of the recuperation has been physical, my larger share of healing has been emotional.
For those of you who know me well, you are likely used to me describing myself as a “recovering perfectionist.” I’m revising that to “relapsed perfectionist,” given how I struggled with some parts of Gracelyn and my birth journey. Bruce and I had envisioned a birth process free of medical intervention and drugs. Not achieving that end, that perfectionista inside assailed me with judgments and criticisms, leaving me believing that I had failed due to weakness, unpreparedness, and general insufficiency. No one else condemned me in this way, nor could their praise provide permanent salve to my self-inflicted mental wounds.
A new perspective fosters healing
On one of my walks the day of Gracelyn’s “5th week birthday” I was sharing with her what I knew about becoming “free.” Using some of the accusations from the birth, I told her that you first start by refusing to believe any lies you’ve been telling yourself. After listing aloud numerous judgments and then verifying them as either true/false/don’t know, this truth popped into my mind: “I used the epidural (anesthetic) and pitocin (contraction strengthener), but I didn’t ask for them.”
What this meant for me is that I did everything I could to have my envisioned birth experience — I educated myself about labor and birth, I developed coping strategies with Bruce, I enlisted the very best support team, I kept myself healthy and strong through my pregnancy, and I gave my all to laboring for my daughter’s birth for well over a full day of chronological time — and when that vision seemed to be fading from the realm of possibility, I listened to my wise physician and accepted the support of medical assistance. Rather than being “weak,” I saw that I had been strong, giving my very fullest measure of effort AND being humble enough to use medical tools when I physically could give no more.
Of course, my experience is solely my own. In no way do my path or my choices reflect on the “rightness” of others’ birth journeys. We each travel the route we end up on — for therein lie the gifts destined for us. Gracelyn and I (along with all the other members of our birth team) had the labor and birth we did because it was perfect for us. I’m learning how this journey was ideally suited for me and I hope that one day Gracelyn and I can explore why it was her ideal path too. (I guess some kinds of perfectionism are okay. :-))
“Did you say it? Did you mean it?
Did you lay it on the line? Did you make it count?
Did you look ’em in the eye and did they feel it?
Did you say it in time? Did you say it out loud?
’cause if you did hon, than you’ve lived some.
That feelin’ inside, that’s called ‘satisfied.'”
~ Jewel (“Satisfied” on Sweet & Wild)