Waiting for Birdy and My Son's Birth Story

I loved Catherine Newman’s memoir Waiting for Birdy, which describes the year she was pregnant with her second child, who they call Birdy, and then her first few months after her daughter is born.

This book made me laugh out loud- which is a rarity for me- and gave me a lot to think about for motherhood and life in general. I absolutely loved it.

There was one passage in particular that really resonated with me because of the way it captured my feelings about James's birth. Here it is:
“She [her doctor] asked about Ben’s birth too, and I told her the shortest verison of it I could muster- twenty-four hours of labor, an abrupted placenta, the loss of the baby’s heartbeat, and an emergency C-section (I skipped the part about how I made this creepy didgeridoo sound for sixteen hours straight, said “Kill me”, and then barfed into a trash can)—and she was watching my face really closely, really paying attention, and when I was done she smiled and said, “How wonderful. How incredibly lucky.” Which is exactly how I feel! I was expecting her to be like, “How awful. How tragic for you.” Which is what everyone else always says, and even though it comes from a kind place—and even though, obviously, Ben’s birth was no exercise in natural grace—it sort of drives me crazy…Every single day since his birth, I look at my beautiful Ben, and I look at my silver crescent moon of a scar, and I think, “How wonderful. How incredibly lucky.”
This passage perfectly explains how I feel about James’s birth. My labor with James lasted 29.5 hours, with hard contractions from when I woke up on Thursday morning at 7:30 until he was born the next day at 12:53. I went 15 hours without an epidural, only to have it wear off in my back about 4 hours before he was born. My water had to be broken by the doctor, I had to go on Pitocin, and it turned out his head was turned and he was unable to fit through the birth canal. I threw up multiple times, once all over Brock's hand. I put so many heating pads on my back that I ended up with a huge blister that has scarred my back to this day, almost a year and a half later. The doctor started planning for a C-section before James finally turned his head and was able to come out on his own.

When I tell those details to people, they grimace and moan on my behalf, and tell me how awful it must have been. They’re right, of course. It was awful, and scary, and so so so so hard. Yet it was also wonderful. I had one of my most poignant spiritual experiences during his birth and have never felt closer to God in my life. I knew, without a doubt, that He knew the pain I was going through, and I believe that I witnessed a miracle with James’s birth. The hour before he was born was such a sacred experience and I treasure every memory of those twenty-nine (and a half) hours.

So like Catherine, every time I think of how James came into this world, I think, “How lucky I am, how blessed to have this beautiful son.” And it’s true- I am luckier than I could ever appreciate.


  1. Oh I've never never thought of that! How wonderful! How lucky!


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