Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I've been reflecting on Margaret's birth. I've been reflecting on Rixa's post from last fall, Thinking, No Conclusions Yet where she poses the question of how important is birth in the life of a mother- and "how would I say that my children's birth ranks in importance in my life?"

Does the birth of your child affect the way you'll parent them 10 years later? Does it affect the person you are 10 years later?

Pregnancy and birth is obviously an emotional time- important even. Elsewise would women be able to recall the "little" things said to them during it? I once listened to a woman, well into her 80s, recount her memories of the birth of her children. It may not have been in the forefront of her mind when they were growing up, but even as she now has great-grandchildren, she remembered those specific days. On some level, it was important.

For me, Margaret's birth was the highlight of a pivotal time for me. The years leading up to Margaret's birth and the months surrounding it helped me become the person I am now. Does that affect me on a day to day basis? I think it does. The thoughts, ideas, and emotions that came from that journey remind me daily what my relationship with Margaret is.

But that was Margaret's birth. I'll have another baby this summer. Will this birth have the same power? I don't know. I don't feel my life is at a point so pivotal. Yes, we are moving and making a big life change, but yet... I don't think it'll be life-changing in the way Margaret's was. Maybe it'll just be one of those silent, every day births. And that'll be ok, too. It'll be life-changing, no doubt, but in a different way. And chances are, 50 years from now, I'll be able to recount the details of this birth just like Margaret's.

What I'm trying to say is that birth does matter. Each birth may matter to the mother in different ways, but to play down the importance of the journey is to deny the importance of the mother. It is a journey and each journey is different, but very very important.


  1. Birth definitely matters!

    With my son I had a delayed start to our attachment and while that didn't permanently change our relationship it did cause a bit of stress in the early days. But because I was pretty unstressed during the birth (despite the forced induction and subsequent c-section) it didn't seem to have any effect on him.

    With my oldest daughter's birth I was effected far more than I realized at the time. Some days I worry that it will have a permanent effect even though we both work hard at our relationship. I was extremely stressed during her birth because the midwife really didn't seem to want to be there and she had a history of threatening to transfer care if things didn't go just the way she wanted them to. As a result our daughter is a very high strung person and firmly believe it goes back to the stress I was under during her pregnancy and birth.

    My youngest daughter's birth was the most untouched by outside influences because it was a UC (with mostly UP) and she and I have had the very easiest relationship of all of my children.

    Mothers can repair damage done by interrupted births and stressful pregnancies but it is so much easier to just start with a natural uninterrupted birth to begin with!

  2. Interesting, I am reading a book that asked this same question at one point. I might blog about it when I finish.

  3. I considered elaborating about the extent that Margaret's birth changed me- it really is a "coming of age" story for me- but it got long and personal, so I didn't. Maybe I'll write it up in the future.

  4. YES! It IS important. That's why I would get so upset whenever someone told me the only thing that matters is a healthy child. That may be the most important part, but it's NOT the only thing that matters.

    My son's birth was a traumatic event for me, which I am still healing from. Of course it affects me. It does affect the way I parent. In the beginning of his life I tried to "make up" for the traumatic birth that he had (which, really, is that possible?). No, it's not in the forefront of my mind, but I've had to learn how to parent in a more balanced way. I think I would have started off better if I had a type of birthing experience that gave me confidence instead.

    But despite how it happened, it still made me stronger. It IS life changing, and not just because you get a baby out of it. If I ever get the chance to have a natural birth I am sure it would be every bit as pivotal as my first (non-natural) experience, because I believe that nothing can replace a natural birthing experience.

    I wish birthing was more valued in our culture.

  5. I've thought a lot about this because it seems like to some women the birth experience isn't as important as it is to other women. I've come to realize that one thing that makes a HUGE difference in the birth experience is your attitude and perceptions of it. If you are ready and open for a spirtual life changing event you will get one... with every birth. If you are ready and looking for a quiet 'normal" birth... you will get one. When we are open to recieving miracles we get them.

    And I think that a woman is reborn with every child. I know that my second birth experience was SO different from my first and that it changed me in a completely different way than my first did. I was a different woman after my son's birth and now I am a completely different person and mother after my daughter's birth. I wouldn't expect anything less than an amazing experience with this new child.

  6. my first was emergency c/s, breech at 31 weeks, I didn't even know I was in labor and an hour later I was fully dilated in an O.R. being sectioned with my street clothes on and without DH who was en route. LIFE CHANGING!

    my second was a very fast (accidentally) unassisted full term hbac with DH making it minutes before the birth, just in time to catch. LIFE CHANGING!

    I am very excited to see how #3 goes this summer, I'm hoping to get in the pool so I can see what a water birth is like.

  7. My Baby's birth was amazing. It was life changing for me.Before I became pregnant I didn't trust my body, now I have enormous respect for it. I trust myself more, I have a lot more self confidence...
    Will that affect how I raise her? I don't know, but it has already affected how I think of myself and my body.

  8. What I meant by the birth affects our day to day relationship is that in my journey to UC, I had to determine a lot of things. One of those things was that my family's- and most importantly, my parents'- approval or opinions of what I do don't matter to me. Having grown up in a very authoritarian and manipulative house, I didn't really get to exercise my agency and at the time of Margaret's birth, I was doing that to the extreme. My parents' opinions didn't matter, McKay's family's opinions didn't matter, the ward, the random anonymous people on the Internet, even McKay's. I felt like God was testing whether or not I could hold my own. This happened in lots of different ways at that time in my life- but the birth was the overwhelming example of that. It made me an individual.

    But it still makes me think on a daily basis, "My parents' approval doesn't matter to me... but I'm the parent now. Do I want Margaret to care about my approval? Is what I'm doing manipulating her into wanting my approval?"

    So ultimately that time in my life was a "discover my personal philosophy" time.

  9. I think I get what you are saying. I had to go through a lot of "finding myself" when I was pregnant with Michael. Sadly, I didn't get to assert my desires because of a perceived medical complication. I feel I'm still prepping myself for birth, I'm still on that journey (even though I'm not pregnant right now I hope to have another one in the future). Next time I plan to assert myself more. I believe that being in charge of your own birthing experience would be very empowering and life changing. And if you can have confidence in that, then I think it would help you to have confidence in your other parenting choices.

  10. Birth Matters! It can empower a woman or can diminish her power.
    No matter if a woman gives birth at home, or in a hospital-- if she feels she is supported, and HEARD, it will make a difference in her life!
    Great blog!!!! you may enjoy

    I'll be back!


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