Who doesn’t love a good story? We read, watch, tell, sometimes even write them down. Our tale-telling spans from the personal experience to the farthest fetched imaginings. I have yet to find someone who has no interest in stories of any kind. But for some reason, it was not until recently that I came to appreciate the need we all have to share our stories.
It was a sunny Tuesday morning in late September, I was 41 weeks pregnant and noticed clear liquid dripping from my body….my water had broken. There was something else though. A dark stain let me know that meconium was in my water, a sign that my baby might not be okay. I texted my husband, who was in a meeting (with his remote job) just downstairs, that I thought my water had broken. He was ecstatic. I was in shock.
My preparation and hopes for a fully natural, peaceful, hypno-waterbirth did NOT come to fruition. As most women will tell you, labor is no picnic…hahaha….. to say the least. Due to the signs of fetal distress, I was constantly monitored, induced with medication, and unable to move nearly as freely as I had hoped. All that being said, after feeling like a ravenous beast was devouring my internal organs for 9 hours, the midwife checked and found I was only 2-3 centimeters dilated (i.e. this state could have potentially continued for days). Immediately and shamelessly I requested an epidural and 8 hours later had the most beautiful, peaceful birthing experience I could have imagined.
For a couple of weeks after my daughter’s birth, I felt an overwhelming sense that I needed to share the experience in great detail with people. It mattered. Not to everyone I talked with, but it mattered to me and with each telling, I seemed able to process my experience a little more fully and feel more settled and comfortably distant from it.
About six weeks after becoming a mother, I finally got to visit a friend who had given birth just a day after I had, and in the same hospital no less! I had been so eager to hear her birth story, and originally really wanting to share mine as well. By the time we finally got together, the details of my own experience seemed far less significant. My friend, however, was still in a place in which she grew lively recalling her own birthing time.
It was in this moment that I fully realized how important it is that we give people the space to share their stories, and truly listen with care and curiosity.
I was reminded of experiences with my beloved Grandma Laurie and “Bumpa”, my step-grandfather. They were both storytellers: my grandma loved to share family history. She was an avid genealogist who travelled the world to meet distant relatives she discovered. I’m talking across oceans to meet 3rd cousins twice removed. The woman was one of a kind! Bumpa, on the other hand, shared stories of his dust bowl era upbringing on a farm in Kansas. Their stories were so different, but the common factor was their love to recount these tales.
Whether you are a lover of sci-fi films, news junkie, or any other type of story-telling, I hope the next time you have a story on your mind, you will share it. And when you sit by a stranger on a bus or come home to your family after an exhausting day, I wonder if you will make space to truly listen to those who are ready to share.
We all have a story to tell.