Friday, April 16, 2010

Lessons of Birth

I can't help but feel this blog has died. I've been suffering from fairly severe wrist pain. From carpal tunnel or repetetive strain injury, I'm not sure. I'm pretty sure it's CTS. My wrists were especially painful when I was working at the law firm, which resulted in me using an ergonomic keyboard, two wrist braces and a special chair. All of which simply kept my wrists from hurting while I was at work. When I was at home, I was in agony. I can't lift a pot or a baby without flinching. It really sucks. It also makes typing less than ideal and not recommended, either. I've been laying off, dear reader, in the interests of my health. So I hope you forgive me.

It also means, while I can't type, all sorts of ideas for blog posts have been percolating through my mind.

One of which being, the lessons of birth. As Ender's first birthday approaches, I am nostalgically looking back at the journey Ender, Mike and I have all taken together. It has been rough, wonderful, and undoubtedly life changing. While it could be argued that it all began in pregnancy, the crisis/miracle of birth is where I personally trace the beginning of my life as I now know it.

I doubt that anyone can really reach a conscious state similar to the mind of a labouring woman without the assistance of psychotropic drugs. You are all at once focused, and not of this world. You don't care about your nudity, or the needs of those around you. You need to be alone, but with the hands of the ones around you.

While I was labouring, I didn't let Mike leave my side for more than a few moments. It was so important to me to have him there, looking at me in a way that told me he trusted me with this massive responsibility of bringing our child into the world safely and effectively. I had spent my whole pregnancy informing myself about the politics and language of birth. Its medicalization, its naturalization. I had a clear image in my mind of how I wanted it played out. I wanted a home birth, I wanted my husband, my mother, my midwife and my baby there. That was all. I wanted to lay, exhausted on my own bed after successfully accomplishing what I viewed as the most natural task of all.

As I laboured, it became very clear that the baby was not moving. He was wedged in my spine and causing severe amounts of back pain. My midwife told me to let it all go. I began to sob. I told her that I was sorry. She asked me why I was sorry, and I told her it was because I wanted to do it right. Now I was doing it wrong.

This was straight out of my subconcious. I don't think anything could more succinctly describe the way I feel about life. I want to do it right. I want to rebel right, and conform right. I want to be the right measure of maternal and agressive and beautiful and political. I'm not sure where all of this pressure to do things right came from, but it has dominated me for many years. So, at that moment, when doing things right was not an option, when my subjective view of right was being dictated by my body, and not myself, I had to be set straight.

There is no right way to do this, my midwife said. There is doing it, and that is the right way.

I'm not sure if she realised that that, in itself is significant. There is no right way except getting it done. Living out your life is the right way to do it. So simple. Perfectly nihlistic. Perfectly Nicole.

That's the lesson of my birth, which helps me go forward with my life, and with my motherhood.


  1. My Dear Nicole - you might try changing your mindset to "doing the next right thing." That way, it might have been less traumatic for you to go to the hospital... because that was the next right thing to do for your child and for yourself. As Maria and I always say, God didn't save you from drowning so you could beat yourself up on the beach!

  2. You have your way.
    I have my way.
    As for the right way,
    the correct way,
    and the only way,
    it does not exist.
    -- Friedrich Nietzsche