I thought of all the women throughout time who have done this,
including my friends, my mother, my little sister.
I felt vaguely, oddly betrayed. We have a secret in our culture, and
it's not that birth is painful. It's that women are strong.
People give good reasons for not revealing the realities of childbirth:
It's messy; it might scare pregnant women: nothing can prepare you for
the pain anyway. These are all true. But in telling our stories, we find
the places where they intersect and gain strength and support by that.
It's not so much a question of how graphic the details as how true the story.
Truth is, I feared the pain of labor both before seeing the video and
after. If I become pregnant again, I'll fear it again. It's pain worthy
of awe and respect. The difference is that after seeing the
video, I had witnessed women facing birth and surviving. I saw strength
and courage in their faces, and I knew I could find that within myself too.
I do remember the pain of childbirth. I also remember the first time I
held two healthy babies, still warm from my womb, against my chest. If
you want to hear the story, I'll tell you.
--Laura Stavoe Harm
©Karen N. Kilson