The Beauty of Being Born
by Ashley Weeks Cart
As many of you know, this blog began three and a half years ago, prompted by the birth of my first child, Sunny. During those postpartum days when I was trying to make sense of a challenging, overwhelming and inspiring birth experience while figuring out my role as a new mother to this unpredictable, amazing, squirmy, squishy new person, with all the biological drama and craziness that goes hand in hand with maternity, I turned to this space to process my experience. I sought community and feedback from fellow mothers, parents, friends, strangers, whoever might lend an ear and the proverbial shoulder of support. But I also wanted to make my experience public. We are all here, every single person on this earth, because a woman went through some version of this experience. It’s one of the few universals that connect humanity. And yet, there is still so much mystery, confusion, misinformation and fear or discomfort in talking about pregnancy, maternity, childbirth, and the realities of postpartum life. I wanted to share not only my journey, but what I had learned from that journey, in an effort to dispel some of the myths, empower other women who may walk this road, and to show what a truly beautiful, empowering and important experience was at stake with the birth of a child. We all recognize that having a baby is a life-changing experience, but there is less acknowledgment of how the very process of bringing that person into the world is equally as pivotal.
I’ve known in the back of my mind that I needed and wanted to connect myself more meaningfully to maternity and childbirth. Especially now that those days are behind me (at least for the next five years, and even then I may decide that I’m really done), I wanted to start something that might more broadly and consistently showcase the power and beauty of birth.
An idea I’ve had brewing in the back of my mind for over a year. I have so many ways that I envision this project growing and taking shape, but I needed to start somewhere. So today I am launching TheBeautyofBeingBorn.com. A space that now holds snapshots of my own experiences with Addison and Courtland, but will also hold the experiences of other women. The first voice comes from Mel, a longtime reader of this blog who has been a constant voice of support and motivation as I’ve made my way in this space. She recently gave birth to her first child, a healthy baby boy, and when she sent me her birth story, I knew it was time to get The Beauty of Being Born off the ground.
In a mere 2 hours, I dilated from 4 to 10 and was ready to push. These two hours were among the worst in my life. I shook, I barfed, I cried, I swore. I tried to remember that this wasn’t a pain that would injure me but that it was productive. I tried to remember all the helpful little reminders I’d highlighted in Ina May Gaskin’s book. Mostly I just cursed her stupid hippie princess Leia buns, hung on to the bed rails like they were going to disappear, and rudely demanded cold washcloths.
I didn’t get the unmedicated birth I wanted, but I did deliver my child without any pain meds. When he came out he was screaming, kicking, awake, alert. He wasn’t doped up from meds. He nursed within 7 minutes of his birth and received the highest APGAR scores he could. All a reminder of why we choose to go without meds. It isn’t some “feminist machoism” —- it’s for the good of your child. The fact that I walked myself to the shower and showered unassisted within an hour of birth and then promptly ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the cafeteria (becoming a mother hasn’t changed my diet, I still eat like a 5 year old! ) is proof positive to me that I made the right decision in abstaining from pain meds. And everything I’ve read and heard was right: after birth the pain just stops. immediately. HOW?!?! Amazing. In-fucking-credible.
Head on over here to read her full story and to see the new site. I have many more birth stories, photography and video to showcase. And I hope that this space will be the motivation I need to finally launch my own career? hobby? project? in birth photography. I now have the equipment and knowledge to do justice to such an experience. I just need to put myself out there and start doing it. So hey, if you’re expecting a baby and live near Southern Vermont/The Berkshires/The Albany Area, email me. And please, tell me what you think. I’m always looking for feedback.
It’s been an amazing thing to revisit my experiences with my girls. They changed me forevermore. In the most profound and important ways. Thank you for sharing in that.