When Your Birth Story Follows You

A few days ago, a woman shared her birth story with me. (shared here with permission)


​It happens often when I say that I’m a doula, because every mother has a story. And I love to hear them!
Here’s the short version: 25 years ago she was pregnant for the first time. She read all the books, and couldn’t wait to meet her precious baby. On her due date, her water broke! Excited and nervous, she and her husband headed to the hospital. It turns out the break was not a full rupture, but a high tear that left her with a trickle, no contractions and admission to the hospital.
That afternoon, they decided to try an enema to see if that would kickstart her labor. It didn’t. So they started her on pitocin. For three days, she barely ate, was not encouraged to move around, and endured extremely painful pitocin-induced contractions. Finally, at around 7pm on the third day, she was given an epidural. At 4am the following morning, her son was born via vacuum extraction. He was brought to her for a kiss and then whisked away to the nursery where he was under observation for 10 days due to fever.
This sweet woman shared with me a secret. She said she has always felt guilt for not falling in love with her baby. The book said she would immediately be overcome with feelings of love and devotion. And while she certainly loves her child, she felt cheated out of that experience. To the point where she found herself lying about it when friends would describe their birth euphoria. “Oh yes, of course I felt that too!” She would say, all the while wondering what she did wrong.
​We didn’t have much time, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to help her process the whole experience.​
​After listening intently without interrupting her, I asked her one question. “If I were to show you​ the physiological factors – scientifically – that caused you to ‘miss out’ on the experience you expected, would that help you?”
​She said yes.
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