Birth Scene from my audiobook

I drove into work this morning listening to my audiobook.  I’m not a big fan of driving and so one of the things that makes my thirty minute commute more tolerable is listening to books on cds.  On the day we moved to the house in the suburbs where I live now, the first thing I did once the movers left was head to the library and get a library card.  I was pleased to see they had a huge collection of audiobooks.  When Chris and I went on that trip to the Outerbanks, I was nervous about the long car ride.  I picked up an audiobook that I hoped we would both like- a reporters story about a New Orleans hospital’s struggles without power or transport in the days after Hurricane Katrina.  I was riveted.  Chris slept through the first part but got snagged later on.

This morning I was listening to a memoir (my latest obsession) about a man’s life growing  up on a farm.  He bounces between childhood memories and his current life on the farm he lives on as an adult.  Lo and behold, his wife is pregnant and they have a home birth.  Earlier in the book when he was describing the pregnancy, I fastforwarded.  But today as his wife is in labor, I forced myself to listen.  I am a midwife after all.  I have to do this in real life soon, I needed to start exposing myself.

I sat there in traffic as he described his wife’s contractions, her perseverance, the homebirth midwife attending. When the midwife asked if he wanted to see his baby’s head, moments before birth, I let out a choked sob.

A beautiful moment, ruined by my memories too convoluted with difficult emotions. I can’t help but relive my moments when confronted with these images of childbirth. Simply hearing of this beautiful birth made me grieve my loss of normal birth. The moment- my baby’s head crowning, about to enter this world- was supposed to me my happiest moment. It was and it wasn’t. I was terrified of what would happen next, to finally know after months of uncertainty if any of the hope I held would be realized. It was the moment my baby began to live and the moment she began to die. I could no longer protect her. As I listen to the narrator describe the moment of happiness as his baby is born, I felt taunted. This is what you wanted but did not have.

All this from listening to a birth scene described. What will happen when I am faced with it in real life?

I arrived at work just as the birth scene finished. I wiped away the tears that had fallen, but they continued to drop despite my efforts. I walked up to my building feeling the streaks of saltiness on my cheeks where they dried. By the time I walked through the door, it was over, but the tears stayed close all day, ready to peek out with the slightest provocation.

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12 thoughts on “Birth Scene from my audiobook

  1. I don’t want this to sound like a platitude because it is not, but a truth I tell myself when I feel the urge to run away from the pain: the only way out is through. You are going through. I don’t mean that ‘out’ is the destination or that there is a goal. Hope this makes sense. Thinking of you and learning from you.

  2. That’s the kicker of the babyloss grief, that we are not only grieving our children but all the “should haves,” like a happy pregnancy and normal birth. Some days, the grief for that (for me, never being able to have a vaginal birth) is more potent and painful than the grief of losing my son (I think because it adds to the “this, too?!” pile). Also, as you know, I love audiobooks. Do you have Audible? Does your library allow you to rent audiofiles onto your cell phone (my old library in DC did).

    • the secondary losses. I still grieve my medicated birth (hello, I’m a midwife I’m supposed to have natural childbirth), though I’d go back and do it again the same way. People tell me not to be so hard on myself- afterall I was birthing a baby that was likely to die. ANd I’m grateful for the peaceful birth I had, the hour of sleep that allowed me more time with my baby’s body after her death, the slight clearheadedness I had while she was alive. I know people can think it crazy to mourn the loss of the birth I had always dreamed of, when I have such a bigger loss, but it’s all part of the process. The secondary losses.

      My library does allow some sort of audiofile borrowing, and I’m ashamed to admit I havent figured it out! i tried one day when I though my car’s cd player was broken and I was lost in the how. SO for now I’m old fashioned and do th ecds!

  3. I just don’t know. You will need to make sure that you have tons of support and opportunity for small breaks, when the day comes that you are again part of delivery. My hope for you is that by some circumstance, the first several mothers you help deliver will be beautiful and gracious and (as much as possible) fully appreciative of the work you do.

    • there is one mother who I actually want to be there for her (i think). I delivered her first two babies- the second of which was a full term loss, expected but devastating nonetheless. Emotionally I want to be there for her when she delivers her third in september (and I know she wants the same).

  4. Oh, there was so much here. The experience you describe vividly is familiar — i spend hours weekly listening to story and podcasts (and occasionally audiobooks). But i cannot imagine what it must be like for you to face returning to accompanying labor and birth as part of your work. I hope writing about it makes it a little more bearable.

    • thank you. I hope so too. the feedback I get has been very validating, that returning is hard and it makes me feel less guilty about my dread and relunctance to do so.

  5. Meghan, I’m so moved that you had the bravery to listen through this podcast even though it was hard. I’m at a point now where I feel a bit relieved when I cry because I know I’m working something through and really allowing myself to feel it – so that it will be easier the next time, and so that I’m honoring the experience – instead of just freaking out and shutting down. Although having to go through a whole day afterwards is not quite ideal, to say the least! I think you did really important work and I hope you can feel proud of yourself for doing it. ❤

    • Yes, there is some relief in crying. After going through a few months where my tears were at bay for most days of the week, there is some relief in crying. I find myself doing it almost daily again, not sure what that means in my grief journey, but I’m just trying to go along for the ride! The timing of it all wasnt ideal, with a full work day after, but then again, we cant always control when the grief hits, right?

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