Picture from Dr. Momma
As I enter my second trimester of my second pregnancy, my mind is heavy with thoughts. I'm sure this is normal for a lot of women. Time to consider the implications of adding another to the nest. I really wonder though, is it normal to have so much guilt weighing so heavily?
My first birth experience was traumatic. I know there are women who have gone through worse, MUCH worse. But there are women who have gone through less and still feel wronged. It isn't the degree of unnecessary interventions, or the number of strangers who used your nether-regions as a learning tool, or even if or where a scalpel was used... It's about how the mother was effected by a natural event turned medical emergency.
I have been seriously concerned that I might end up loving my second child more. I know a lot of mothers worry they won't love their second as much. My fear is that I will feel more bonded to my second simply because the birth experience will allow for more immediate bonding. (At least, the birth experience as planned...)
These are fairly subconscious fears. I don't really know how to explain it, really. They aren't fears that I sit around thinking up.. more like little mosquitoes buzzing around my mind making me think, "What if?"
Realistically, I know it's not true. I bonded with my son quite nicely. I love him more than I ever thought I could love anything or anyone. Maybe it's more the fear of attaching more positivity to the birth experience with the second.
I don't 'complain' about my first birth experience. I do talk about it. It was traumatizing. I felt
wronged and was left empty. My son was taken from me before I could really learn his face and tell him I loved him. I blame the hospital for his stint in the NICU. But I made damn sure I was there for my son as much as I could possibly be (barring eating and sleeping in my birthing suite).
I hate that I have long-qualified my story about how traumatizing my birth was by saying, "But my son is healthy." Although super important, and in actual emergencies, this is the best possible news, this should not be the justification for a completely natural event gone wrong.
For several months, when I would tell my story, I would include the "but he's healthy" part because I felt like someone would say it to me in response anyway. I did it for the sake of others. I eventually started doing it for the sake of my son.
I witnessed my friend's homebirth last December. I was so amazed... I drove home on a high that I'd never known before. After I talked the fella's ear off about it, I saw my son sitting there and my heart broke. I held him and cried. I apologized to him over and over. I wasn't the only one wronged, he was too. But it was my job to protect him. I will never stop feeling that guilt.
But, my son's birth does not define him.
We overcame the separation and bonded over the weeks following his birth. We are as close as any mama-baby team that had the opportunity to bond the way nature intended.
I don't connect my son with his birth. When I tell my story, I now note that my son is healthy for a completely different reason. He is now a happy, healthy, thriving little man in spite of his birth. I never want my son to connect the negativity I associate with my birth experience to himself. It was not his fault, nor is it his responsibility to make up for what I lost. He must remain separate from the event. I won't deny that the trauma happened to both of us, but I will bear the grief for the rest of my life, not him. I'm sure he'll one day come to understand and know what I experienced bringing him into the world, but he is truly the light at the end of that tunnel, not the tunnel itself.
We are planning on sharing our next birth with our son. We both feel it is important for him to experience a natural, peaceful birth. Although I'm sure he has no memory of his own birth, and may retain no memory of his sibling's birth, I'm hoping, on a subconscious level, he'll retain a feeling of positivity towards birth in general. Our next birth experience is promising to be a healing experience for all three of us and I think will ultimately bond us all closer as a family in a way our first birth experience could not.