A reflection with experts from The Longest Shortest Time podcast.
Motherly has partnered with Hillary Frank and The Longest Shortest Time podcast to bring you insights from their five years of publishing stories from the front lines of parenthood.
In episode #27, “Rewriting Your Birth Story,” Frank faces the story of her own daughter’s birth, and interviews the midwife who gave her an episiotomy after more than three hours of pushing.
“When your birth story is traumatic, it doesn’t just have an impact on the day your child was born. It has an impact on your mothering, it has an impact on your feeling of self-worth, your sex life, your relationship with your partner. Maybe as long as you live. Women with Alzheimer’s are reported to still remember their birth stories so no wonder we go back and ask ourselves over and over. ‘Could I have done something differently?’”—Hillary Frank
The physical and emotional trauma from her daughter’s birth has haunted Frank for years, and in the episode, she explores what, if anything, could have been to improve the outcome.
Like many mamas, Frank has questions about the way her birth unfolded, even wishing for a C-section instead of a prolonged vaginal birth and subsequent episiotomy that caused long-term nerve damage.
“I’ve been wondering all of these years, Should I have gotten a more aggressive intervention?’
After talking to her midwife about her birth story (the details of which turned out to be a bit different than Frank imagined), Frank then turns to maternal care researcher Saraswathi Vedam to explore how she can reframe the story of her birth in her own mind.
If you’re struggling with your own birth story, listen to the podcast and try some of the techniques suggested in the episode.
“The best thing you can do is educate yourself about your options. You can change your story. Whether you have another birth and an opportunity or whether your daughter gives birth or your friend. You can change your story,” Vedam explains.
“We all experience different losses in our life. We may not get the partner we want We may lose the partner. We may not get the job we want. We may be far from our families. Every person experiences certain losses and disappointments in life. That doesn’t mean that has to end the story.”
Let go of regret.
“There is no ‘should.’ You made the best information you could at the time with the information that you had.”
Be the change.
“Exploring [your story] and using it as an opportunity to educate other people so other people don’t have to experience what you did. That’s a form of healing as well.”
Listen to the episode: