Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Media Storm

Last week the lovely Hannah of Mums Days shared my birth story again via her Facebook page. It is one of over 100 birth stories shared by mums who have had every birth imaginable. 

My story isn't that unusual. You can read it here in full. The brief story is that due to an awkward presentation my labour failed to progress and it was felt that a caesarean would be the safest way to deliver baby. 

However, when Hannah shared this story again what followed was a media storm. Some ladies read my post and took umbrage with it. It was a sob story, it was overly dramatised, it was unnecessary to share the details, it was all me me me and they didn't need that in their lives. 


Thankfully I am strong enough in my birth story, strong enough in my self confidence, to read the comments about a highly personal story and not be too distressed. And the comments turned personal on both sides of the argument. As the passive person in this situation I was blamed for their dislike of the topic of birth stories. I didn't remain as passive as I should. But tried my best to remain fair and kind to others.

I chose to write my birth story, I chose to share it not only on my own blog but on some one else's blog. I thought that I had brought this on myself and it was justifiable that the public response could be negative as well as positive and that I should suck it up. And that this response could have come from any one of the 100 birth stories shared over this past year.

And then I realised that actually this story has helped many ladies. And that even if it hadn't helped others it's helped me. And yes people may not like to read birth stories, I respect that. For a long time following L's delivery I couldn't read, watch or think about anyone's labour and delivery without falling apart. It was deeply distressing for me to think about. But actually it has served a purpose.

With time, with talking, with sharing I was able to move forwards to a place where I am at peace with it all. And for me this is vitally important if I am ever to become pregnant again, but also just for my life generally, to see my scar daily and not be sad about it. 

The discussion, after turning personal, was ended when the objectors to it were drowned out by many many other stories of dramatic births, or sympathies with our experience and with expressions of sadness that women had turned against women at such a uniquely female experience. 

The thought of the female experience does lead me to think of the experience of men in these things. J, like many men, felt helpless watching me in labour, he felt his only moment of true despair during my labour when the epidural wasn't going to plan. He prayed to a god he doesn't know if he truly has faith in that it would work. And it also makes me question if men would turn against men if they were sharing their birth experiences on Dads Days facebook page. I hate to think that we as women belittle our own experiences by showing a lack of respect for each other's stories. 

And this is where I think the Birth Stories feature on Mums Days is so important. It allows women, be it bloggers or not, to share their own birth stories, to give voice to the deeply personal experiences which left them changed. As the midwife in the opening credits of One Born Every Minute says we go from girls, women, ladies to mothers. It's a big life changing event and be it smooth and peaceful and as planned or completely unexpectedly unplanned it is dramatic for many of us and some of us need to talk about it, a lot. 

I hope that women continue to share their birth stories not only on Mums Days but with their friends, with their families, with their partners and with the health professionals whose job it is to help women through the sometimes difficult process of birth recovery. 

The scars left are not only physical but emotional, and we all need to find our ways to deal with these and make peace, feel happy, move on or it can have implications far wider than those on the delivery. It had implications for me, my baby and husband and you can read some more about those here

I am sorry my story caused offence to some but I am not sorry for my story. It was dramatic for me because it was my story no one else's. I am now at a place where I am happy and at peace with L's delivery through the process of sharing this story. 

And finally, if you are reading a newsfeed and you see a post about emergency caesareans you can pretty much guarantee the post will contain details of births, possibly dramatic details, and if you follow a page from a blogger the chances are that many of the posts will be from at least one blogger. We make choices in our lives with what we read and with how we respond to things we don't like, agree with or actually really didn't want to read in the first place. And as Hannah said when she valiantly intervened we need to be kinder than we need to be in such a public but impersonal discussion place as Facebook can seem.  

3 Children and It
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  1. Honestly have some people got nothing better to do?! Why bother reading, its clear what 'A Birth Story' entails. Each and every birth story is unique and we can choose to write about it in whatever way we wish. I agree having a blog and sharing personal experiences leaves us open to negative comments but I don't know why people are so mean sometimes. As you said sharing your story helped you and I'm sure has/will help others :) x

  2. I've just read it and I really, really struggle to understand why anyone would react negatively to it! They know it's going to be a birth story before reading it and if they then choose to read it surely they should have enough empathy to react kindly to it?! I've never been the biggest fan of birth stories because I'm a total wimp and I've only ever been brave enough to watch one episode of one born every minute. I had a similar experience to yours seven months ago (my waters broke, I was immediately pretty much forced on a drip and had constant contractioms so they had to take me back off it, then back on, had a baby who simply wouldn't get into position, finally begged for an epudural 10 hrs in then I had to wait a further 2.5 hrs for it and when I finally got it it only worked down one side. Then I had a spinal block and c-section). It's only now I feel like talking about it and only now that I actually get some comfort from reading other people's birth stories and knowing that other people can understand what I went through. So, thank you for sharing it. Ignore the negativity and just remember that sharing these experiences really does help others. Xx

  3. It is horrible the way women seem to turn on one another, when actually on most occasions it is support that's needed. I never thought I'd read birth stories, but I enjoy reading them, as it makes you more empathetic towards every mother, and appreciate that whatever birth you had, birth is different with every single person and it's all childbirth.

    I've written my birth story for my local NCT newsletter this month. tbh, it's probably pretty boring as there was no pain, nothing really happened after being on a drip for 13 hour, then ended up in the easiest and calmest unplanned cs that could have been imagined. I was so lucky compared to so many other people, but I hope my story will help pregnant women know that not all inductions are as scary as many you read, and that not every emergency cs is a blue light flashing style end to the story.

    Good for you for sharing yours, and here's hoping the moanings move on and stop reading things they're going to judge or argue about.