On “Birth is no time for war stories”

Being pregnant is an intense time. In reality though, if it all goes well, it’s only 9 or so months out of decades of succeeding years of child-rearing.

On reading Tara Moss’s 2012 post “Birth is no time for war stories” tonight, I was reminded of something that I had been meaning to reflect upon and write about for a while. And yes, as Tara says, this is probably my Big Truth, but I personally found the birth stories of other women wonderful – scary, hopefully, anxiety inducing and inspirational.

When I told people (and when I say “people” I mean women) around me that I was pregnant, 90% of the time they would give me their birth story experience. In the beginning it was interesting, by the second pregnancy I was probably a little over it, but by the third and fourth pregnancy, I realised that I was receiving a gift.

Many of the women, some in their 70s and 80s would tell me of their births, or offer their child-rearing advice. A lot of the advice was dated and irrelevant, and by modern standards, to be absolutely avoided. But I learned to see, and receive the stories, as gifts.

I marvelled at how an 80 year old women who has seen her own children grow up and go on to have their own kids, could so clearly recount her experiences of being pregnant and giving birth.

Being pregnant is incredible (yes, yes, my Big Truth). It’s so difficult to capture the intensity of having that little creature inside of you for so long.

I was laying in bed the other night and I was thinking that babies and toddlers are like little parasites (? not sure if this is the right word here) that latched on and remained latched til at least ten years old. I used to love how they could be busily playing in the same room as me, then when I would get up and move to another room, they would gradually, with little fuss or bother, follow me, and start playing again. Crazy little ducklings. I remembered how they all “owned” my breasts for years. My body was never my own during that period. I was food, comfort and the centre.

I for one am truly grateful for the stories – even the gory ones (and there were some!).

I felt like I was joining a club – of old aunties. By listening to and acknowledging their stories respectfully, I hope I too gave them a gift – the opportunity to bring back old memories, reminisce, laugh and have a little cry.

I may be 45 years old and well past my reproductive years, but I still remember each of my four births like they were yesterday. I will always remember the sisterhood of stories, even from women who have now passed on, as part of that wonderful crazy period of my life.

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