birth, babies, bodies, breastfeeding, incontinence / Friday, December 10th, 2010

So this is the start. I was prompted to start blogging after reading a piece in today’s Guardian about birth injuries. The piece is both upsetting and startling, and the posts in response similarly fascinating, moving, political, and to some, it appears, terrifying. Here it is:

I am a dreadful gore whore when it comes to birth stories and birth injuries, of which much more later I’m sure, and I’ve recently given birth for the second time. The Guardian piece made me want to start a blog because I realized there is a lot not being said, and certainly not being normalised about birth and birth injuries despite birth and birth injuries, along with motherhood (and all the political issues therein) being a newspaper feature and online forum hot potato at the moment.

I find my own birth injuries, which are by no means the worst I’ve come across in my webchat travels, are a strange part of my personality now, as well as a part of my anatomy. I carry them round, some days wearing them proudly as a badge of honour, others hiding them, sometimes at peace with them, others raging against the light about them. But whilst it sometimes feels that they define me, at other moments I want to kick them aside and be the woman I am despite, in spite, regardless of them.

On the one hand I feel there should be more talk about incontinence, physiotherapy, scars, the wounds and tears and tears and wounds that some women wind up with – that if there were more talk, they’d be more normalised and accepted, there would be less stigma and, crucially, more help available.

On the other hand, who wants to be a poster girl for post birth incontinence? The role’s there for some of us to be brave warriors acting unembarrassed and all grown up about the prospect of potty training again alongside our kids, but who needs it? Who’d take it? Why would anyone want to be defined by their soggy knickers? Who wants to be THAT woman?

And on the third (what multitasking Mummy wouldn’t have a third hand?) I don’t like the culture of scaring women about childbirth or about feting childbirth as a defining feature of being women – I haven’t the space to list the wonderful women I know who are incredible, inspirational, whole, amazing and will be till the day they die though they aren’t Mothers for whatever reason.

Which is a longwinded way of saying the process of motherhood, of becoming a mother is so many things – physical, psychological, emotional, financial, social, political, gynaecological. It is defining, and yet not the only key thing about any woman, even that woman with a broken snatch whose life is disrupted and sometimes determined by having been mangled along her way.

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