I was having lunch with some girlfriends the other day when the subject of giving birth came up. I'm not sure why, but we went there. My friend, Sondra told us about how she went to a hypnobirthing specialist.
If you're not from California, hypo-anything might sound a little airy fairy to you. But here, it's like going to get a haircut. Although I've been to a hypnotherapist, I never used hypnobirthing during any of my deliveries, so I was intrigued to hear about her experience.
She told us about her first visit and how they discussed her birth story. The story she had in her head about the day she was born. Now, most of us probably don't remember being at our birth. What we do remember are all the stories that the people around us (Mom, Dad, Grandma, etc.) told about the day we were born. Some of those stories get more fanciful every year, at times even mythical. Mom's labor was 400 hours long of Dad had to drive 90 miles per hour through traffic so that mom wouldn't have a baby on the side of the road. The reality might just be that mom popped you out in a day and dad only had to drive two mile to the hospital.
Still, it's their story.
But their stories, just as their habits and colloquialisms, do become part of us. Your birth stories, the story of the moment you entered this world, can have a strong impact on how you perceive yourself. I know mine did. I didn't realize it until we were talking about it at lunch that day.
My Birth Story
I was supposed to be a boy.
My dad had plans for me to be president, so I just HAD to be a boy. My mom, drugged up on who-knows-what-all thought that my umbilical cord was my penis and argued with the nurses that they were wrong, I was a boy! Nope. Sorry. Girl. I always joke around that from the moment I was born, I was a disappointment. It's meant to be funny, and truly, I can laugh at it now, but wow... thinking about how that realization shaped my life really hit me like a punch to the gut.
Besides the disappointment of not being a boy, I also had a lot of guilt. Before my first birthday, my parents separated, then later divorced. I always assumed it had to do with my lack of penis. Now that I'm older, I know that it was just that they were nuts. But tell that to a little girl who wonders why daddy didn't love her.
And tell that to a twenty-something idiot girl that is trying to fill that daddy void with a string of idiot boyfriends.
My Kids' Birth Stories
I had to do a little contemplating this week. Without influencing their answers, I asked my youngest two what their birth stories were. "If I was a girl, I was going to need therapy." That's what my son remembers. He also remembers that I jumped up and down with joy when we found out it was going to be a boy and that I yelled, "I make boy parts!" My daughter said, "I was the only kid you planned."
Their responses were pretty funny, and possibly therapy worthy. I haven't yet asked my oldest two what their birth stories are. I'm really nervous about that. I'm actually thinking about sending them both letters retelling their birth stories from the perspective of a mom who has learned a lot since being their too-young-to-know-any-better mom.
If you've got a jacked up birth story, don't worry, there's hope!
You could go through a hypnotherapist (which I would recommend), where that person will guide through imagery, rewriting or retelling a story in a way that doesn't shift from reality, but that holds a more positive, empowering message in your subconscious. If you don't want to go that route, take some quiet, undisrupted time to imagine your adult self retelling your eight-year-old self all those silly stories in a way that would let him or her feel good about who they are. You might also want to journal your thoughts to do some more noodling later on.
We can't travel back in time to fix the silly things our parents tell us, but retelling the stories and myths of our life can have a significant impact on how we approach life's nasty little obstacles... like a father's disappointment.
What's your birth story?