Days after my son was born I began penning his birth story. I say, “began,” because I didn’t finish writing it until his first birthday. Initially, writing was not as crucial as resting or staring at my new baby while he slept. One week postpartum I had managed a couple of paragraphs, but then I felt I was too emotional to write. More days passed and the thought of writing just seemed too exhausting. My son turned one month old and then I worried that it was too late. I scribbled a few details in the notebook I had by my bed and vowed to get back to the birth story soon.
I was making excuses. I thought that if I wrote anything at that point, and it was not completely accurate, it would tarnish my memories. Being a writer made writing my birth story even more difficult – I put too much pressure on myself to write a perfect piece from beginning to end.
Let go of any judgment and get something down on paper.
Not sure where to start? Try answering questions such as these:
What were you doing when you realized you were in early labor?
What did contractions feel like?
When did you call your midwife?
Continue asking yourself questions until you can let your writing flow freely. Don’t worry about missing something – you can always go back and fill in the gaps. And, save the editing for another time. You can change wording and rearrange content later. Just write.
If the task of writing in full paragraphs is daunting then try something else. There’s many ways to go about writing birth stories. Here are some ideas:
Create a list or write short notes – weave them together later
Draw pictograms or start by storyboarding
Make a timeline and fill it in as you remember details
Use a voice recorder to capture the story
Attempt to write uninfluenced first. If you need help, use sensory cues such as music you were listening to during labor or a scented candle you had burning. If you still can’t remember or want more specifics then look at photos or talk with your partner, midwife or someone who attended your birth.
Just recently I asked my husband to record his recollections of our son’s birth. The result was a poignant depiction of what happened that August day.
One of the many bits of good advice Genevieve offered me was to write my birth story. Mine does not include the particulars of every minute, but I don’t know that it ever would have. Through happy tears I was able to capture some very raw feelings in the few notes I happened to jot down very early on. The portion of the story that I wrote later is equally as beautiful.
All of our birth stories are unique. Is yours still unwritten? Get to it - it’s not too late.
By Stephanie Bazan
Stephanie is a mama, and freelance writer and graphic designer from Austin, Texas. She enjoys adventures with her husband, 1-year-old son, and shepherd pound puppy.