I want to write a little about some topics that might sometimes be considered to be a little bit taboo. Well, taboo is probably too strong a word. Perhaps the topics I’m thinking of would be better described as awkward or uncomfortable rather than completely taboo.
To explain the background: the idea for this upcoming “Taboo” series came to me while writing my previous series “Home, heart”. I wrote and published those posts with a fair degree of trepidation because, well, people don’t generally share birth stories publicly, especially and rather strangely, not the positive ones. It seems to me that stories of child birth and labour that go smoothly and well are generally considered private, personal and well, oddly kind of taboo.
I thought about it for a long while and decided to publish them in any case. There are probably quite a few reasons why I did this. The first reason is probably due to a slightly perverse personality quirk of mine (that I happen to share with many of my family members!): if someone says or suggests that perhaps I shouldn’t do something…well, sometimes it might kind of make me just a little bit more inclined to want to do it! So when it feels like maybe I kind of shouldn’t share birth stories online, I kind of end up feeling like I want to!
The second reason, was that I wanted to record the experiences as stories that my children could read for themselves when they are older, as a little gift to them in honour of the day they were born. I also wanted to simply record my recollections for general posterity! And I just wanted to celebrate the incredible fact of complication free delivery!
Why share my birth stories publicly though? Well, this gets to the heart of this new Taboo series. The reason I decided to share those little stories publicly has much to do with my mild frustration that good birth stories are hard to come by. We, as a culture, seem to have a very hard time celebrating the normal and natural process of childbirth. It just isn’t something we discuss or talk about publicly, or even privately among friends and family. And to me, that doesn’t seem quite right.
Normal labour and birth are so common place and obviously essential to the existence of the human species. By not talking about regular, normal, complication free labours, horrific and tragic or just complicated stories tend to hold sway in our collective imagination and narratives. And while labour can and does go wrong or cannot safely even be attempted sometimes, this is not the case in the majority of births.
I worry a little that by hiding these normal and regular stories away, confining them to the space of personal and private, we unintentionally feed a perception that labour is dangerous and scary. Which it is sometimes, and we really need to hear those stories too. But it isn’t usually dangerous and scary. So I think we need to hear both types of stories along side each other so that our perception of reality has a hope of being more balanced. I personally went into each of my labours knowing both types of stories and I found that to be hugely helpful.
So, this is perhaps the theme behind this Taboo series. Rather than avoiding difficult things, I want to explore or raise controversial, uncomfortable topics in the hope of sharing stories of all kinds that are, in the end, helpful in some way at least by way of providing balance of some kind.
This series, more than any other posts I’ve done here so far, more naturally invites comments and reflections from you dear friends and readers. So please, if you would like to, go ahead and add your comments or thoughts or email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
First cab off the rank: ‘Labour – the other story’.