Making peace with your birth story: Motherly + The Longest Shortest Time

A reflection with experts from The Longest Shortest Time podcast.

Making peace with your birth story: Motherly + The Longest Shortest Time

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.

Get educated.

“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.

Accept imperfection.

“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:

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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