You hear birth horror stories all the time. Terrible pain, terrible doctors, lack of respect, loss of dignity. It all seems synonymous with childbirth these days, and from birth to birth trauma to birth rape, the range of experiences mothers go through are as varied as the mothers themselves, and the babies they birth.
From time to time, you even hear about wonderful births. Home births and water births often fall into that ‘wonderful’ birth experience. And every now and then you’ll find someone talk about a perfect birth.
Mine was a perfect birth experience. It was long, 48 hours from the first contraction to the birth, but it was perfect. It brought out the best in me, and showed me the best in my husband. It brought out the deepest dark in me too, which I’m grateful for because I’m a massive advocate for home birth and no one can say ‘but of course you are -you had such an easy birth.’ I didn’t have an easy birth. I had a back to back baby, a back labour. It was long, it was tough, and it restored me in so many ways.
It showed me what I was made of. And the birth – it was perfect. The forty or so minutes of the final stage were transcendental. I would give anything to experience those – the clearest, purest, strongest, most peaceful, calm and gentle 40 minutes of my life – again.
The birth healed me in many ways. A part of my womanhood that had been taken from me many years before were given back to me. I was on a high for weeks. I was powerful. I was strong. I was WOMAN. I ROARED.
And the thought of having another birth terrifies me.
How can a second birth live up to the first? What if something goes wrong? What if my expectation is so high that the reality doesn’t live up to it?
While there’s no end of women who go into their second birth wanting something better, hoping for a nicer birth, a birth where they’re more in control and a birth that can bring them better memories and healing from a previous experience I have never heard anyone express fear for a second birth, because of fear that it might not be as good but does that make the fear any less real?
When I was pregnant with Ameli and planning a home birth, a large number of people suggested that I should plan this birth in a hospital, since I don’t know how my body ‘handles birth’, and then could have the next at home. It angered me at the time and thinking I’d only ever have one child, I’d respond that this was my child, no my trial run.
I have no regrets from that experience, but I can’t possibly be the only person in the world frightened of having a second child in case the birth doesn’t live up to the first? If your first birth experience is a bad one, you can only compare it to the picture you had in your mind, and many women go on to have a healing second birth. But if your second is bad after a good first experience, is it harder to deal with, having a real frame of reference?
Does anyone have any experience of this? I really would love to know.