Second Labor: Mothers Share POST-Birth Stories: Twenty-Four Mothers Write Bold, Honest Accounts About Life with a Newborn
Chaya Kasse Valier, editor (anthology)
THERE IS ALWAYS A POST-BIRTH STORY. Everyone asks about your birth story, but what about after that? The postpartum period – the time frame after giving birth - can affect mothers and families as much as the birth itself, if not more. Yet post-birth stories are not given a forum in our culture. SECOND LABOR gives voice to these stories, featuring twenty-four mothers’ unique, personal experiences after having a baby. Some examples of topics include the breastfeeding-versus-formula quandary, not loving the baby until after a few months, razor-at-wrist postpartum depression, “rebirthing” a baby with Down syndrome, homebirths, C-sections, vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), a baby “so good you could have ordered her from a catalog,” and many other enlightening and touching stories.
“Mired in the hardship of the ‘fourth trimester’ ” after giving birth for the fourth time, Valier, a doula, was inspired to compile the stories of postpartum mothers into this sometimes hard-going but heartfelt collection. Her reason for embarking on the project came from her discovery that, while birth stories are freely shared, postpartum stories are relatively hard to come by. The resulting testimony doesn’t sugarcoat the problems women can face. A first-time mother recalls, “it took me four months before I felt like myself again.” Another new mother, exhausted and depressed, flew with her three-week-old baby to another continent to be with her mother so she would have a support system. Those support systems, the book shows, are vital—one woman, “tired and confused,” joined a mom’s group that proved so helpful that, 33 years later, the group still meets monthly. The emotions described vary widely, from overwhelming grief to enduring gratitude, as do the contributors, who include a 16-year-old anxious to return to high school, a 40-year-old feeling “blessed” to have had her first child, and a woman in her late 30s riding out the emotional ups and downs of the adoption process. Women who can relate to the experiences shared here may well find Valier’s collection cathartic. (BookLife)