As a mom to a first child who was stillborn, at times I feel as if people don't want to hear Nora's birth story, as it is also a story of death. People don't want to talk about death or be reminded that life holds no promises, even in the happy times of pregnancy. But in order for me to grieve and heal properly, I believe my story, like any other mother's, must be heard. That is why when Anna from The Birth Story Project published a version of Nora's birth story on her blog, tears flooded my eyes. By posting Nora's birth story with other mother's stories of live successful births, Anna validated my experience. She had shown me that even though Nora is not with me, that my birth story was an initiation into motherhood just like other women whose babies lived. I thank Anna for that.
For a few posts this week I plan on exploring my experience with birth, both in my dreams and in my life, in different ways. Re-shaping and discovering what it is like to frame the story with different words and a different lens to see if the words I chose to use change my emotions about it. Stories have power and when we tell our story over and over again we not only processes it more deeply but we also subconsciously change parts of it and reshape the story to fit our reality. I look forward to reshaping my story in an effort to heal and integrate the emotional pain and beauty of Nora's birth into my life.
Below is the story I submitted to The Birth Story Project. It is a different version of her birth but told from a place of beauty and joy.
At first there was hair. I could not believe there was hair! It was fine, like cobweb silk, and dark, the color of chocolate, like her father’s. Her head was coned shaped from passing through my birth canal after 12 hours of labor, with 3 hours of arduous contractions and painstaking pushing. How I worked so hard to meet her, not just this day, her day of delivery, but also the 9 months leading up to this moment. I had sacrificed my youthful figure and moments of comfort for her. I had suffered through moments of anxiety and the long 9 month journey that was a test of my patience. I would do it again in an instant. I would do it again for this day, when she entered into my arms and the cold cruel breath of this world brushed against her skin.
Her skin. Oh, her skin. Never have I felt such softness, as if my fingertips were passing through a gentle cloud from the heavens that one could fall asleep on. As they laid her on my chest for the very first time, her skin to my skin, felt like such pure joy. Even being cold to the touch, her skin was gentle, smooth, supple, divine. As the tears of joy and fear wept down my face, I touch my lips to hers.
Lips. Luscious, voluminous lips that caught a tear of mine as it rolled down my face and onto hers. I couldn’t believe it. I had created her. We had created her. The sweet chocolate hair, the silky skin, the stunning lips, the button nose, perfectly shaped as it curved out from her forehead to gently point up perfectly protruding from the center of her round, heart, shaped face. The previous hours of unbearable moments of pain, radiating like fire trapped in my loins, circling and roaring through my body as she sat, shoulder stuck between this world and that of the womb, caught on my pubic bone, keeping her in limbo, with her eyes waiting to open to meet the world.
Those eyes, framed by perfectly arched brows on top with dark, long, flowing eyelashes on the bottom. Her eyelashes encapsulated what whispers in the breeze should materialize as. The physical agony and pain I had experienced moments before had melted away as I stared at her eyelashes and took in her full beauty. Never have I experienced love like this. How could I. A millisecond ago I was staring Hades in the eyes and in the next I was at heaven’s door, floating on a cloud that, little did I know, would soon dissipate beneath my feet and I would fall oh so far back down to earth. But in that moment I just stared at her strikingly gorgeous eyelashes and eyes behind them.
Her eyes. The moment I had dreamed about, when my eyes were to meet mine, here it had come and here it shall never be. For I never saw the color of my baby girl’s eyes, and my dream of our eyes meeting each other in our bodily forms, never came to be. My daughter’s eyes never opened to see the light of this world, because she was gone before she was ever to be born.
My daughter was never born, not how you and I are born. She lived her whole life inside of me. I was her life. Not metaphorically or symbolically. No, I can really say, that I was her whole life, without trying to be self-centered or egotistical. That was the extent of her existence and my only memories of her outside of me, were the short minutes that I held her in the hospital room where she was delivered into this cruel, cruel world.
My daughter’s birth story might not be one of success. She did not thrive in this world. She didn’t get the chance to. But, my daughter’s story is still full of beauty and love. Maybe, even more so, because her moments were fleeting and love was all she ever knew.
She was stillborn and I was still proud.
She was stillborn and I was still proud.