By Patrice Nichole Byers
When I birthed my baby this past January I thought I’d be dying to write about the birth and share it with everyone I knew, but it’s been five months and I’ve yet to really share it with anyone. Yes, I’ve given a few details here and there to a few choice people, but something has been holding me back from really putting the experience out there. I’ve been telling myself, it’s being busy with my work, research, four kids but the truth is it’s been fear. I’ve been fearful of sharing it for two reasons: I’ve been worried what affect my birth story might have on others and I’ve been concerned about negative feedback.
If you know me, those fears probably sound crazy to you. I am after all the woman very fond of using the quote: “Opinions are like assholes; every one has one and they are usually full of shit”. Yet here I am, fearful of sharing my story. The really crazy thing is I am beyond proud of my birth. I am extremely happy with it, as it was the best birth I’ve had and I think that is the big problem. For you see, I am not afraid of scaring other women with a horror story of a birth, but instead somehow shaming them or worse, giving them false hope with a story of what was in my mind a perfect birth. I know, I know. It’s ridiculous. First off, nothing I can say or do regarding my birth experience can cause shame in anyone. If there is shame, it’s already there, it comes from within. I strongly believe in this, but somehow that notion still had a hold of my heart. The idea that something other than good, positive feelings could come from sharing my birth just held me back.
So we come to the false hope part. When I stepped out of the fake illumination of denial and really allowed myself to address why I hadn’t shared my story, the idea that I felt this way horrified me on many levels. If I really thought that sharing my wonderful story would be perceived as giving some women false hope, what did that mean? Could it be that deep down I didn’t believe in home birth (or natural birth) as much as I thought? No, that wasn’t it. It’s a different issue. I believe that somewhere deep inside, I was worried that sharing my birth was wrong because I might be hurting the feelings of women who can not do what I did. Then I also wrestled with the idea that somehow I may even be bragging.
I’ve seen this fear when other women share their stories. It manifests in the “if’s”, “ands” and “buts”. How many times have you read a wonderfully inspiring story, but at the same time see it qualified by the author with the “I know not every woman can”, or “natural birth isn’t for everyone”. Worse still are the comments that often follow the story of those women who want to defend their births that are different than the one they read about: “But if I’d birthed at home my baby would have died”, “I had to have a c-section, epidural, pitocin, because…”.
So where did these feelings come from? Is it a need to sugarcoat things? Be politically correct? Or is it bigger? Is it a part of the fear indoctrination culturally ingrained that surrounds birth? Is there a part of me that feels lucky that I birthed my baby at home and everything was okay? I really feel deep inside that isn’t case, but I can’t deny that I’ve felt afraid to share? Maybe I am just being a control freak by wanting everyone to feel inspired by reading my story. I can live with that explanation. It’s very silly of me, but what the hell, nobody is perfect. Whatever the case, I threw the shackles on myself, and so I can remove them. I am proud of my home birth. I will not qualify any of it with any kind of warning or disclosure. I will share it because I was inspired by others stories and I want to do the same. I will share it because I want to make my mark in the world of home birth advocacy. I will share it because I am proud. I will share in hopes that other ladies will also share their experiences as well. Good or bad. It’s how we learn. It’s how we grow!
My birth story can be viewed here.