Birth Stories: From Pregnancy to the Page

Now, I’m not a mom, but I hear the same thing from new parents everywhere: 

[insert Baby’s name] graced our lives with [his/her] presence on [insert Baby’s birthdate]. [S/he] weighed [insert Baby’s birthweight] and was [insert Baby’s height] inches long. Mom and Baby are doing great. Our hearts are full. #Blessed. #SleepySmiles
— All new parents ever
A nest full.

A nest full.

Usually, this announcement takes the form of a Facebook post. Often, it’s been preceded by monthly photo updates on the growing baby bump, and typically, it’s followed by monthly photo updates of Baby [next to a sign/banner, or wearing a shirt/pin] showcasing his or her age.

These “soundbites” are a wonderful, low-stakes way of keeping friends and family in the loop. Taken together, they recreate a priceless timeline of Baby’s life, from conception to First Communion.

… What about the rest of it, though?

What about the parents? 

How did they meet? When did they fall in love? At what point did they know they wanted to become parents? Did they conceive on the first try? After two agonizing rounds of IVF? Was it even a choice? Perhaps an accident? A Knocked-Up-like-Katherine Heigl-but-it’s-all-good-cause-they-lived-happily-ever-after-style story?

What about the pregnancy? 

Was there morning sickness? A hormonally-induced skin rash? Do stretch marks scar Mom’s body? How does she feel about it? What did the first sonogram show? What did Baby’s heartbeat sound like? Was there a gender reveal party? When did Baby kick the first time?

What about the delivery? 

Midwife, or middle-of-the-night trip to the hospital? Pain or painkillers? Mirrors or phone cameras? Frightened or with family? Complications or smooth sailing? First skin-to-skin contact. First cry. First fingerprint. First and middle names. The moment a parent becomes a parent.

What about the postpartum recovery? 

Or the postpartum depression? Bleeding and breastfeeding and new sleep schedules. A family that’s grown by one. An infant to fit into car seats and introduce the dog to. One that smells like poop and new life. How are the parents handling it? What hopes and dreams do they have for their little one?

What about Baby? 

How is s/he adjusting to life in the big, wide world? What happened on the day Baby was born—in the news, in pop culture, the stock market, the weather? What’s happened since?

… I’m not a mom, but all new parents share a few things in common. Besides having no idea what to do with their brand new squirming skin sac (aka, Baby), they want to tell their story. To be heard. To feel encouraged and validated. They want to remember it: because the next 9 months go a whole lot faster than the first 9.

When you have your Birth Story ghostwritten, you leave a legacy for your child. When you gift a Birth Story package to a new parent, you give the world another story. And as Tahir Shah said, stories are the communal currency of humanity.