This past week I’ve been remembering 4 years ago when we got to be at the births of 5 babies. Five babies, 4 labors in 5 days. If anyone’s doing the math, yes two of those babies were twins. It wasn’t as crazy as one might think, since labors tend to bunch up so we had a couple days to sleep in between. But it was very special to be there. This year I’m again waiting for twins to make an appearance!
But 4 years ago, my girls were almost 4 years old and I was trying to help them connect with me being a midwife, so I began telling them birth stories from the births attended.My girls particularly loved the story of the twins, since they are twins themselves. I was trying to give them a real sense of what it meant to be in labor, that it’s ok to feel multiple physical and emotional feelings at once. Often people feel the intensity and sometimes pain of labor, while also feeling the joy and excitement of soon meeting their baby. You can be exhausted to the core but unable to sleep, hungry but too nauseous to eat, loving everyone on your birth team but mourning the absence of someone special. Labor is a time of condensed, strong emotions and physical sensations with no way out but through.
I think labor is a particularly difficult thing to imagine if you’ve never been through it before because each story is so personal. But telling those stories to each other helps. When I teach a labor and birth class, I try to tell little stories of my experiences, good and bad because it’s ok to feel multiple emotions at once, and it is healing to talk about our experiences. Birth stories make learning about birth real, like applying skills you learned in school in the real world.
Soon I hope to be telling my girls the birth story of this year’s twins. I hope my girls can find something they can relate to in these stories, and maybe if they go through labor themselves one day, they might remember how complex labor can feel like, and yet that it’s simply one of the most natural things we go through.