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Where the story begins, a blog post by Taylor

During my practicum for my master's degree, I was fortunate to bear witness to many stories in the safe and confidential space of my supervisor's office. It was there I saw the power in the sharing of stories of the trials and tribulations of parenting, the amazing moments, the grief and loss, birth and the power in owning one's story. The power of reframing the story and the lessons learned by each person we met. 

When I was pregnant with my first, I became extra aware of how many women in grocery stores, doctor's offices, and work meetings who would strike up a conversation that quickly started discussing birth and their unique story. I was used to these conversations in my counselling office. In the beginning of this new phase of my life, I found myself connecting with others outside of the therapy room through their stories. Sharing in the bliss and the struggles that felt comforting, encouraging and somehow also absolutely terrifying. I'm going to have to do... What!?

Now before I continue, it's super important to acknowledge reproductive and birth trauma. Not every story feels safe or good to share and it is not always comforting to hear how beautiful birth can be (especially thanks to other societal narratives I'll address in a later post). If your particular story is difficult to share and or hearing other's is hard, I'm here to help. As a good rule of thumb, it's best to ask the person you're talking to if they are able to hear your story. This can feel strange, but can really go a long way for those who've experienced trauma and may not be ready or able to hear your story. And that's ok!

I'm a therapist, we love metaphors. Especially a good plant metaphor! 

I like to think of this in terms of planting a tree. 

How the story plants a seed of connection: 

Many different cultures share their knowledge and teachings through story. The art of storytelling provides us an opportunity to connect with each other and to find where our stories resonate and differ from one another. It's in these shared experiences that we find deep connection. As mentioned previously, there is something to be said about pregnancy, birth and parenthood that is unlike any other shared experience. Most people (if you live in Regina anyway) could connect to the shared experience of being stuck at a train crossing Ring Road. But not all people can connect with the aches and pains of pregnancy, the nausea. Not all people can connect with the difficulties of infertility and loss. And not all people can connect with the societal pressures that come with every. Single. Decision you make as a new parent. Having the space to open up and share in the story of becoming a parent can provide the opportunity to ascribe meaning to your unique story and an opportunity for deeper self-reflection through both sharing and listening to others.  

Whether individually or in group, telling your story allows you to process this journey. If you find yourself stuck on any particular part of this story, there are some really cool things we can do about it! 

Telling your story allows for connection with others, and a deeper connection to yourself and your story. For this journey at times can feel isolating, frustrating, rageful, beautiful and rewarding. Being able to share in the range of feelings can be both validating and empowering. Planting seeds of connection to others that can bloom into a bouquet of beautiful and supportive buds. (See what I did there?)

The opportunity to repot (reframe) your birth story: 

It's a natural part of the human condition to scan for the negative and for us to primarily remember the hard and bad parts of a story. Especially when it's happened to us directly and when a birth plan has been set and it really doesn't go to plan. This can be said for a lot of different aspects of this journey and the many different ways guilt, shame and disappointment can wind up planting themselves like weeds along with your sprouting tree. 

Retelling your story from start to finish can be equated to repotting your tree into a bigger pot with more nutrient soil. Through this process, we are able to step back and look at the story as more of an observer and seeing where there were moments that weren't apart of the original narrative. Where we can begin to see aspects of resiliency, strength and positive memories to add to the previous narrative. This is not meant to discount the struggles and difficulties that are inherently present but a reminder that without the dark parts we could not know the light. 

The legacy of a planted tree: 

The beautiful thing about a birth story is that no two birth stories are ever truly alike. Some common themes occur but oftentimes down the road this can even become something to share with your child when they're older. Something to look forward to!

Although there are some aspects of becoming a parent that no one can ever truly prepare you for, sharing in the experience of birth can help normalize what a future mom could actually anticipate - rather than what's left to the imagination thanks to the media interpretation. Especially if you are someone who resonates with the statement "why didn't somebody tell me..." it can be beneficial in the opportunity to share your experience and pass along the "Next time I will..." or "If I could tell myself then what I know now...". Through this, we can help everyone to feel better prepared and able to cope with the transition that it becoming a parent for the first time or even navigating the addition of another. Helping take our planted seeds and watch them grow into a beautiful tree to share with others. A reminder of a story of resilience that could bear any kind of storm with strength. 

Wherever you are in your journey, your story deserves to be heard and held with grace. Join us today at our Root and Grow group or connect for an individual session for support today!

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