It went on for pages. Exacting descriptions took the reader minute-by-minute through the entire 28-hour process. Though the story was written over several weeks, the narrator would tell you she remembered every detail because she'd been exultantly present in every moment. The journal pages filled more than four years later were more like notes on a dream. The writer lingered on the result, not the road that got her there. When you finally do find out what really happened, entire hours are summed up with “I was lost in the torturous, incremental progression of it all.”
Though the stories were written by the same hand, it would be hard to say that the same woman gave birth in 2009 and in 2014.
After my first daughter’s birth, I considered myself a force of nature - triumphant and ecstatic at the power of the female form. When I survived the second, I was a deeply humbled creature who contentedly swore “never, ever again.”
In truth, the second birth was probably the safer one… transition was a long, brutal hell, but I pushed that baby out in the space of eleven banshee-screaming minutes. The first time around I flirted with “failure to progress” and I’m sure the story would have ended very differently if I wasn’t in the care of trusted homebirth midwives.
Both stories were rooted in my truth as I understood it, but none of it was necessarily true.
Birth is ascending to the stars and falling to your knees. It’s all hope and despair, euphoria and desperation, and the words on a page can only offer a distant view through a cloudy glass. For something so sacred, that is just as it ought to be.