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.