Birth of Jeremiah
When people find out I actually have the desire to do birth drug-free, and have had another child the same way, the reaction is usually the same. Why in the world would I want to do that? Why would I put myself through the pain when it is unnecessary? Some people look at me like I'm crazy. Modern medicine is there for a reason after all, so why wouldn't I take advantage of it? In a nutshell, people in general do not understand why in the world someone would pick the hard way when there is a much easier way.
I am not a masochist. I don't love pain. If I have a bad headache I take ibuprofen. I'm not against drugs to help alleviate pain when I am sick. It's just that a woman birthing a baby is not sick, she's in labor. I think that might be the difference for me. Honestly? I think there's a lot of needless confusion and fear about giving birth ( I recommend renting "The Business Of Being Born" for more on that).
I've had a drug-free natural childbirth before when I had my son, and if I'm being completely honest, my reasons were less than noble. I did it because my husband wanted me to and I wanted him to be proud of me. He saw the value in the experience back then. I didn't fully, but still I wasn't opposed. My need for approval can be great. It makes him sad to know that's why I did it now because we both know his love for me is unconditional and I don't need to prove anything to earn it. Ah, human flaws! I went in blind, trusting there was some value to be had somewhere, but not really understanding what or why. It was...hard. I remember gritting my teeth and barely getting through the whole thing. At the end I felt accomplished, like I had achieved something to be proud of, but just didn't know what. I was proud of my natural childbirth for years but I couldn't fully articulate why. I didn't feel superior to anyone else for having done it, but a part of me felt sad for the women I knew who didn't have the desire or get to experience the same, but I couldn't tell you exactly why.
I have an tendency to get very curious about certain things in life. When it happens, I become very well read on whatever it is and seek to understand it fully. Childbirth is one of the things I got passionately curious about. I like this about me. To me, it means I am alive and finding my own way in life, instead of living and doing things the way someone else says I should. For me, it allows for living life intentionally and purposefully which takes effort and work but also means I have a real reason and understanding for making the decisions I do, which I think is responsible. Sure, I can live life more passively and not ponder the questions that arise when I get curious, but that's not for me. I want to know why. I want solid reasons and belief for doing the things I do. So, why would I pick the hard way instead of the easy way in childbirth? Because it's worth it.
Because deep down, I believe I can do hard things. And I think going through life's hard stuff is what shapes us as people. Character if you will. Can I trust and be brave and strong enough to get through them? And if so, how well? What was the condition of my mind, body, heart and soul throughout the process? How scared was I? Did I need to be? I think these questions are worthwhile. It's one of the questions in my Christian life that gets raised again and again. I think embracing childbirth for all that it is (scary, hard, messy, beautiful, work, unpredictable) is a rare opportunity for growth. Because when things get hard down the road, when it really hits the fan, I can be confident in knowing, really knowing I can do it because I've already overcome in my hardest moment. That freedom and confidence throughout my life is totally worth it to me. In natural childbirth, every woman faces their darkest hour. You get to a place where you'd just assume die than go through with the rest of it. To choose to trust your body and endure, be steadfast, surrendered and determined is crucial. If you can do it then, in that moment when you're at your weakest, taxed and tested to the very depths of your soul...you can do it anytime you need to thereafter. That's pretty bad ass I think. Personally speaking, the only person I cheat in choosing the easy way is myself.
Feeling it with Olivia before the epidural
Is this for everybody? No, probably not. And any woman who has taken the time to evaluate what is most important for her at that time in her life has my utmost respect with her decision. Twice I've decided I just didn't have what it took to birth naturally and that's okay. Sometimes, being humans, we are just plain tired and our road has been too weary or we're not ready for such a thing. For my first baby, going au natural wasn't even an option. I would have not seen the point just like all the people I mentioned in my first paragraph. I didn't know the value to be had yet, and that's okay. I was twenty years old. Had I been forced to birth naturally back then, I can't say I would have been able to translate the hardness into anything beautiful or beneficial. I had to first be aware of the value to be had which came with time and life experience. As time went by, I started to see more clearly what exactly I had gained through my natural childbirth with Jeremiah.
A few years ago I had to do a two-month long sugar cleanse (basically vegan, no wheat, dairy, fruit, or anything that turns to sugar in the body). For a foodie like me, with no prior experience with limiting any particular foods, it required determination, steadfastness, endurance, trust that I was doing what was best and a will to choose to stick with it day in and day out and not give into temptation and no-no foods. It seems lame to compare a cleanse with childbirth but I'm telling you, each day on that cleanse I was tempted to eat something I shouldn't and would get discouraged thinking about how long it would be before I could have normal food again (two months is a long time!) I felt very defeated, so I would tell myself this: Don't think about tomorrow or how long this will last, just focus on today and this meal. Determine to choose the right thing today and win this particular battle, and eventually, before you know it, you'll win the war. Dramatic? Yes. Effective? You bet. I realized at some point that I probably wouldn't have had the willpower to see the cleanse through had I not gone through the experience of natural childbirth. If I had, it would definitely have been a lot harder with many more "cheats". As the years have gone by since then, I've experienced and been put in several situations where I can directly correlate how successfully I handled myself or had a victory over something using what I learned I could do in natural childbirth. The list is endless. I've had enormous benefit even though I initially went in not knowing what I would come out with. And? At my husbands suggestion we gave our son the middle name Ethan, which means strong and enduring, after me in childbirth. Pretty nice perk if I do say so myself.
I chose an epidural with my third baby, Olivia. I went into labor not knowing if I wanted to do it naturally or not and that's ultimately what sealed my fate. When I arrived at that do or die moment, I wanted relief. You'll always choose relief and comfort if your not determined otherwise, and you know what? That's okay too. There's no point in doing something hard for no good reason at all and at that point in life I was tired.
If everything goes my way, this baby will be the first time I choose to go into a drug-free birth knowing exactly what I am doing and why. Barring any complications, I'm glad I get the chance.
I am really curious as to what I'll learn going into it willingly this time. I plan on taking it a step further and not just trying to "get through it" but be present and not shaken as well. My body is able to deliver a baby naturally and women everywhere have been doing it for centuries. The calm and control it will require will almost bury me, I'm sure of that. But I'm determined to take it one contraction at a time. One small win at a time...and eventually, I'll win the war. In the end, it may not be as gracefully or as picturesque as I see it in my head, but that's okay. There are lessons to be learned everywhere and places to be revealed to grow and I welcome that. My goal is to do the best I can with what I have. That's all anyone can hope for, right?