Why Giving Birth Was The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me
Up until a year and a half ago, it was very difficult for me to pinpoint the one, truly pivotal and monumental moment in my life. I had a few prior to 2014, sure. The year I blew out my knee playing basketball in college, for example. It was the beginning of a long road that included seven knee surgeries, years of physical therapy, and an overwhelming feeling of loss and personal confusion that took me almost a decade to sort through. There was the moment I had an abortion and, for the first time in my life, unapologetically took control of my body and my future. Though it was a difficult moment, it was also freeing and cathartic and forever changed the way I viewed my body, my reproductive rights, and the idea that there were things I unequivocally deserved.
There was the moment I met my partner. He was sitting at the end of a bar with a glass of whiskey, an intoxicating air surrounding him that whispered confidence and promised sincerity. Even though it took me far too long to admit it to him, or even myself, I knew I loved him the moment his eyes met mine. We talked for seven hours that night. It was the beginning of our forever. But there was one moment that changed everything: Giving birth to our son was the best thing that ever happened to me, by far, hands down; no questions asked.
It wasn’t until I was holding my partner’s hand, bearing down, and pushing my son into this world that I realize that I am worthy and I am able and I am everything my father had convinced me I wasn’t.
Not because it brought my son into the world, although, of course, that was a very important and crucial piece of that moment. No, giving birth was the best thing to ever happen to me because in that one freeze-framed memory of my ongoing, evolving life, I was reminded of my strength, my value, and my ability to always persevere.
I did not grow up in a healthy environment, as a child or young adult. My father was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive; putting my mother in the hospital and putting me in a constant state of longing. I wanted a father I could never have, a man that didn’t exist, and the unhealthy environment fostered a sense of self-doubt that I am still working through, even today. I was told that I was useless, I was a whore, I was stupid, I was a mistake, and anything else that a toxic parent would tell their child in an attempt to hurt them, and my father was fantastic at evoking pain. Since as early as I can remember, I was constantly told that I was lacking and less than by the very person who should have been convincing me I was worthy of love and capable of anything. Eventually, his sharp words cut a hole into my brain, infecting every corner of my already-tainted mind. I was convinced that I was nothing, and I acted accordingly for far too long.
When I gave birth I was exposed and afraid and emotional. I was crying and laughing and joking and serious all at once, and I experienced every emotion on a spectrum that was fluid and unapologetic and raw. In this forced state of honesty, I realized that there was no reason to put walls up and keep people out in an attempt to protect myself from inevitable pain. I can be open. I can be scared. I can be all the things that I was told make me weak and still be strong.
It wasn’t until I was holding my partner’s hand, bearing down, and pushing my son into this world that I realize that I am worthy and I am able and I am everything my father had convinced me I wasn’t. It wasn’t until I went through 10 hours of unmedicated labor, and then eventually demanded an epidural, that I realized that I don’t need to endure unwanted pain to prove I am owed compassion and understanding and love.
It wasn’t until I had to take care of myself and my body in order to give someone else life that I realized I don’t need to downplay my importance in order to highlight the importance of someone else. My son’s vitals weren’t the only ones being monitored the day he was born. My body mattered, my heart mattered, and my mind mattered. I was reminded that I had to be OK if my baby was going to be, too, and even though that seems obvious now, it was a revolutionary idea for someone who was convinced for 27 years that she didn’t mean a thing.
And it wasn’t until I was completely vulnerable that I was reminded of my unbelievable strength. When I gave birth I was exposed and afraid and emotional. I was crying and laughing and joking and serious all at once, and I experienced every emotion on a spectrum that was fluid and unapologetic and raw. In this forced state of honesty, I realized that there was no reason to put walls up and keep people out in an attempt to protect myself from inevitable pain. I can be open. I can be scared. I can be all the things that I was told make me weak and still be strong.
I’ve had many wonderful, and many hurtful, things happen to me in my life, and they're all lessons I keep close to the chest. And each of those moments, no matter how difficult, are memories I'd never, ever replace. I’ve had knee surgeries and an abortion and I met the love of my life and I’ve had countless adventures in between. But it was my son, and his entrance into the world, that redefined who I am as a woman and a human being. I gave life to someone else, and in doing so I was finally able to value my own.