I am a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to birth stories because I can’t really participate. Get a group of women together who have children and you can be certain that at some point the topic will come up and the story swapping will begin. What can I offer? “Oh, my surrogate pushed for 5 minutes and almost didn’t have time to get an epidural!” Yeah, that’s a bit of a conversation stopper.
Women bond over their birth stories. It’s the female version of a war story. And I get why they are important. I do. Birth is an amazing, beautiful, terrifying experience and the end result is literally life changing. It’s just that after spending 4 years being mute during discussions of pregnancy symptoms, delicious babies and birth stories as well as dreading baby showers, I was looking forward to being in the club. And I am, sort of. I failed to realize there was another level of membership, of initiation, and I can’t join. I am silent again. You don’t realize how much the discussion of motherhood revolves around the physical aspects until you are unable to participate, to contribute.
Contribute. Maybe that’s what bothers me. I am unable to contribute to the larger narrative of pregnancy and birth that is unique to the female experience. Does that negate my experience? Make me less of a member? Perpetually a junior member of the club Mother?
But then again, 4 years out from my son’s birth, I am wiser. I’ve realized over the passage of time and (sometimes painful) experience that there are always clubs to which we cannot belong. There are new clubs I didn’t realize existed until recently and clubs to which I belong that others may envy.
So ladies, I do not begrudge you your birth stories. You earned them. My story may be a bit more unconventional with me hyperventilating in a chair and wishing for a Valium, but that’s OK. The end result was the same.