Vulnerable TMI stories are often the most important to tell.

Darcy Reeder
Sep 1 · 4 min read

How exactly does one tell a birth story without mentioning body fluids?

I recently published the story of birthing my child at home, and I didn’t hold back on the details. All the fluids showed up: blood, pee, throw-up, tears, amniotic fluid, poop (both mine and my baby’s), breast milk, and snot. I left semen out of it, but we all know how the baby got there.

Look, birth stories aren’t everybody’s cup of red raspberry leaf tea, but I was still disappointed when an editor grasped their pearls and told me not to share such a graphic story with anyone outside of my loving family.

When we fearlessly share our experiences, we will be told time and time again to be silent. But I will not be silent.

This advice came in the form of a critique from the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association. Before publishing my birth story here, I entered it in the PNWA’s annual writing contest. My entry fee paid for two professional critiques from anonymous editors.

There was a lot of positive feedback (yay!), but one of the editors told me I needed to get rid of “some of the more graphic details” if I wanted to share my story with people whom I don’t know. This editor wrote,

“…some details are simply too personal for strangers to absorb, and do not need to be shared outside of one’s loving family.”

When we fearlessly share our experiences, we will be told time and time again to be silent. But I will not be silent.

Why do I feel the need to share personal stories with those outside of my loving family? Because when I share my vulnerable truth, I let you know you don’t need permission to be more honest with yourself, to know you’re not alone, to share your stories too.

I write vulnerable stories so you and I will both gain understanding and acceptance.

Others’ birth stories were hugely important to me during my own pregnancy and labor. There’s no way I could’ve done my home birth if I hadn’t read the stories in Spiritual Midwifery and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. It took reading many, many stories to really believe what I should’ve been told my whole life:

Birth is natural. And female bodies are powerful.

Critics of homebirth sometimes say homebirth stories are too rose-colored, but I made sure to include the decidedly unrosy as well — the poop on our white pillows, the blood clots in my hands, the feeling of abandonment. These gory details are real, and so is the beautiful person I made and the strength I discovered in myself.

If we don’t honestly tell our birth stories (whether in conversations with friends or to a worldwide audience on Medium), we are letting the dominant narrative take over, the one that tells us that at exactly 40 weeks, our water will suddenly break, so we’ll drive right to the hospital, lie down, get hooked up to an IV, and wait for the doctor to tell us when to push.

Never mind that, unless you’re induced, the average for giving birth for the first time is over 41 weeks. Never mind that only 10–15% of people start labor with their water breaking. Never mind that your back is generally a lousy position for laboring. Never mind that, when that push urge comes, you’ll know just what to do.

People have been giving birth since there were people, and other animals were doing it long before that. The narrative we know is not the only truth.

When I share my vulnerable truth, I let you know you don’t need permission to be more honest with yourself, to know you’re not alone, to share your stories too.

And so I tell my story; I give another narrative. And I want you to tell your story too, of when you actually made a human in your body and then brought them into this world. Or when you tried, but things didn’t work out how you expected. Or why you made the choice to never give birth.

Birth, of course, is not the only topic like this. We need new narratives about every- and anything. But when I think about all the nonsense people talk about, and then I think about birth…

Birth is real. It’s not just some topic we make up to have something to talk about. It is life. Creation. The beginning. Everything.

So don’t let someone else tell your story for you.

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories, and share our lives together. We will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.

Darcy Reeder

Written by

Empathy for the win! Top Writer— Essays on Feminism, Culture, Relationships, Sexuality, Veganism, Politics, and Parenting. ko-fi.com/darcyreeder She/Her/They

Fearless She Wrote

This is a space to empower differences, tell our stories, and share our lives together. We will not be silenced. We will be fearless. And we will write.

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