Getting Real With Veronica Ibarra

It happens to us all. We engage in these conversations where we share our stories of motherhood with other women. This can be a wonderful bonding experience between women, learning that we are not alone and that others understand. That is sharing at its best.

But there is a dark side to talking to other mothers. Sometimes it is unintentional, sometimes it is purposeful. Instead of sharing they engage in what I call trumping. In trumping there is no validation of your experiences, only minimization, as if your experience is nothing compared to theirs or something they’ve heard.

I’ve experienced the trumping effect most often when I share my birthing stories. With my first I had a stadol drip, which I’m not convinced reduced the pain whatsoever, and afterward my daughter developed what the doctor called feeding apnea resulting in a hospital transfer and three days in PICU. My second birthing was done with no pain medication intervention at all because I was progressing so quickly–I was not trying to be brave–and I had a serious hemorrhaging issue that resulted in a two pint blood transfusion. Once I was stabilized my son was diagnosed with jaundice and put in a box for phototherapy.

No birth story is without some interesting and often scary details. It is amazing how we survive the whole ordeal, but none of the complicating details seem to matter once I say that each of my children was birthed in less than two hours. With that one detail suddenly my experiences are rendered as not nearly as bad as it could have been, and I am so lucky. Really?

Comparatively neither of my birthing stories may seem as interesting as some, but they are my experiences and they are real. Yes, I am lucky, but not because I can give birth in under two hours. If anything that may be the reason for the complications my children and I experienced.

Sharing our stories should be about just that, sharing. We shouldn’t try to trump another woman’s experience with our own. Our experiences are our experiences.  I like to hear about other women’s experiences because they are all different. I have no desire to trump another. It can be so discouraging when I share and someone says, “Well, that’s nothing…” or something similar. Validation should not mean having others see our experience as being the best or worst comparatively, it should be about recognizing our experience as our experience, nothing more.