I didn’t expect to have an unmedicated labor. I was petrified of the pain of childbirth and figured I’d get my epidural soon after showing up at the hospital. But something strange happened: the sensations I was feeling when I went into labor didn’t seem to warrant anesthesia. It was more painful than anything I had experienced, but not scary painful or unbearable painful. It felt healthy, something my body wanted to feel, was meant to feel.
How weird does that sound? Even now, almost 13 years later, I can’t believe I’m describing labor that way. But that’s how it went down.
Those clarifying hours left me with something more than my son: I felt a primal connection to other mothers. That day, I became aware that mothers throughout time have felt as I did. Even if our physical experience of motherhood differed, we shared something fundamental.
In honor of that connection, I’d like to introduce you to two women who are speaking for mothers who can’t, either due to postpartum depression or to fatal (but preventable) complications during childbirth.
Katherine Stone is the creator of Postpartum Progress, a blog devoted to helping mothers who suffer with mental illness due to childbirth.
Christy Turlington Burns is the founder of Every Mother Counts, an organization devoted to education and advocacy about worldwide maternal mortality. Among other things, Christy has directed the documentary film No Woman, No Cry to raise awareness about the topic.
Both of these women felt the same remarkable connection I did, and it has inspired them to use their voices to save lives and bring hope to mothers around the world.
I had prenatal care and doctors on hand when complications required my labor to end in a hasty c-section. I had the postpartum support of a lactation specialist, a therapist and a wonderful extended family. I was lucky.
I hope you will visit Katherine’s and Christy’s websites to find out more about them and their work. By learning more about mothers everywhere, you strengthen the bond that already exists among all of us.
Happy Mother’s Day, friends.
Every Mother Counts is asking mothers to take time on Mother’s Day to remember those who can’t celebrate. While the message is important, not everyone agrees that silence is the best way to raise awareness. Find out about the story behind No Mother’s Day campaign in Catherine Connors’s interview with Christy Turlington Burns at Bad Mother Confidential.