When Evie described her un-medicated home birth as the most beautiful experience of her life, my first thought was ‘ew.’
Birth began with a mucus plug and things got more disgusting from there. But it was the way she said it that irked me most of all. Her peaceful smile and unabashed use of the word ‘beautiful’. Her long, undone curls cascading past her breasts, just so.
Evie had birthed her baby without needing medical intervention. She was the epitome of woman, and I was not, and she was being so goddam nice about it, it made me sick.
WATCH: Thoughts you have while giving birth. Post continues below.
On the scale of traumatic births my first daughter Dee Dee’s was reasonably mild (Syntocinon–fetal distress– episiotomy–vacuum–everyone basically fine), but the emotional impact was off the chart.
I blamed myself for the induction and the danger it caused her. Had I not been so anxious, she would have glided to safety on a morning dewdrop, my body doing what it was designed to do, i.e. opening resplendently like a water lily in bloom.
At least that’s what a lot of the non-medicalised birth books said. Instead, my body became something Dee Dee needed to be rescued from, a broken elevator in a bad action movie, the trapped young starlet’s oxygen supply running out just as the doors were prised open and she was pulled to safety.
My second pregnancy unlocked everything I was too busy and overwhelmed to process during the first eighteen months of parenthood: my lack of faith in my body’s ability to keep my baby safe, my fury at the medical system for fuelling my fear, my hurt over the Evies of the world for making me feel like a failure and the depth of unkindness I had towards myself.
In an attempt to ease my anxiety, Evie left a book about hypnobirthing on my doorstep, which she believed had greatly attributed to her beautiful birth.
A chubby baby smiled over a misty pink background, the words ‘natural’ and ‘birth’ emblazoned across its forehead. I would have preferred a flaming bag of dog sh*t, but I didn’t know Evie well enough to tell her that at the time.