Stories matter. They are one of the fundamental ways in which we learn. In pregnancy and childbirth, “horror stories” are to avoided. To be ignored. To be drowned out by the empowered. Why does empowerment need to come at the exclusion of a whole spectrum of knowledge?
One of the ways in which the birth trauma I experienced came to be traumatic was the lack of knowledge. I have no wish to consider how Juniper Junior’s birth may have been different; I can’t change how I birthed him. I can see how a lack of knowledge impacted my experience. The encouragement was then what it often is now: avoid the “horror stories!” How could I have been empowered as I prepared to birth my child if I wasn’t thoroughly informed?
Being informed and prepared for all possibilities does not mean cultivating a fear of birth. Being informed and prepared is to arm oneself with knowledge. That knowledge becomes a foundation to empowerment. Ignoring the “horror stories” means ignoring the experiences of real people. Drowning out the “horror stories” is to debase those who tell them.
This evening, I had a personal turning point. I have often referred to birth stories (like my own) in the way many others do, as “horror stories.” And I’m going to stop. They’re not horror stories; they are real, they are valid, they are important. They are birth stories just as much as non-traumatic birth stories. They are powerful. And there is time for them to be told, too.