I want to clarify some things. This post is first and foremost my opinion. Yes, it's a strong opinion. I am not fighting against women. I am fighting against maternity care in the U.S. and the silly notions society tells us of natural birth. I am not scrutinizing individuals but the whole, the stereotype, and I want that stereotype to change. I do not think mothers and especially children are any less of a person because they had or were born of a medicated birth. I do not think that women who have medicated births love their children less. I do think that there is an "experience" to natural birth that stands alone. It's that experience that I encourage women to have. It is true that I have not had a medicated birth to compare, and I have realized this long ago, but I still feel confident in saying that natural birth is just different than medicated births. This is why I included CJane's reflection because she is one who has had both. I want to support those who are thinking about natural childbirth. I want to make people aware of a way of birthing that they might not have considered, including those who have given birth and want something different the next time.
My personal spiritual experiences are very personal to my experience. I am not saying that I understand better or less than the next person. I was only comparing within myself. I am not saying you can't have any spiritual growth or understand certain principles unless you have natural birth. But I am saying that through trials, no matter what they be, will create growth. My message is not blessed like the missionaries, they are on the Lord's errand and they are set apart with that calling. I am only paralleling sharing something that means so much to oneself, and sharing it with zeal no matter the reply.
I am sorry if I have offended anyone who reads this. It was not my goal. I wish I could be more sensitive in listing the things I have mentioned above but this is simply about laying to rest what can be read between the lines that are not, and never were, implied.
All I do is think, talk, and breath about babies, pregnancy, and childbearing, and how joyfully spectacular it all is (when it's all said and done. It's rough while in the midst of it.) As silly as it sounds, I feel as though I found one of my callings in life: to be an advocate of natural childbirth. Some people feel the need to share bold speech on the topic of food, health, or lifestyle choices. They do this not to make others feel bad, but to shed light on how society and normalcy keeps us from realizing important information. So I want to share my raw yet refined thoughts on childbirth and what it can be to every woman. Perhaps I feel this way because becoming a mother changed my life, and not just in the obvious ways, like being unable to go on spontaneous dates with your spouse. No, my baby has changed me much more than that and in a positive way too. I am the happiest I have ever been (even though I get much less sleep than ever before!).
OK, so where am I going with this? Well, the other day I was at a wedding reception and I saw some old friends from high school. It was so wonderful to see them. While talking to a few of them I thought that this is the perfect opportunity to talk to them about natural childbirth because they are all married and in those prime childbearing years. Many women my age, or any age, don't realize that they have more options than the epidural at the hospital that can be so much better. So, I built up the courage and put the potential responses out of my head and just said it...
"When you have children, you should consider having a natural childbirth."
Their reaction wasn't surprising. They just laughed out loud and said, "Yeah right!" I sometimes forget that I am of a small demographic who would like to stick it to the man (or pitocin in this case).
Walking through my front door I felt defeated, rejected. Boo hoo.
But then I thought, "Hey! I did it. I got past my fears and shared something that means so much to me. And though they laughed, they don't think I'm dumb. They just don't know all the facts and see it the way I do. Perhaps they think it's all poppycock now, but maybe I planted the seed." It sounds like I'm trying to share the gospel. Which in a way, I am sharing what I believe to be 'good news'. I actually felt what it would be like to be a missionary. Now if only I can find the zeal in sharing the gospel as I have in sharing my thoughts on childbirth. Moving on.
Now, to tie in my personal experiences with the gospel and childbirth, I just want to share with you some of the "a-ha!" moments following Juniper's arrival.
1. I better understand Eve and being a woman ~Though beguiled, Eve understood why she needed to eat the fruit. She knew that wisdom and joy come through, and trumps, sin and sorrow. As an endowed member of the church, I understand.
2. I better understand scriptures and gospel principles ~I have shared this before but I will share it again. This scripture D & C 121:7 stood out in my mind. My son, peace be unto thy soul; Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; I realized that if I can go through labor I can do anything. At the time it felt so hard and that it would last forever. But it didn't last and I ended up so much more afterwards than when I started. And that is how it is and will be for every trial in my life.
3. I better understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ ~As women, we are so blessed to have the capability to experience such a sacrifice of ourselves by giving birth. I think no matter what kind of birth a woman has she has sacrificed so much of herself for another being, but feeling it all just solidifies it that much more. Of course we will never fully understand what Christ has gone through, but this will surely give you a glimpse of his pains and his joys. You can actually feel that you are giving your live for another. That your pains are surrendered for the life and physical body of another. Christ did it for our souls and women do it for our bodies.
4. I better understand myself ~I believe this is different for every birth experience. For me, it is something I can't really put into words except that it was healing and has given me a confidence I never knew I had. But what I want to share with you is this beautifully written reflection of a natural home birth done by Courtney of C Jane Enjoy It. I just love her.
Now that I look back on Ever's birth I see things a little more clearly.
Hmm. Yes it hurt.
Hmm. Yes it hurt.
It was pounding and brutal. Then there was the part when
I felt my body split in two . . .
I felt my body split in two . . .
But it wasn't the physical pain that astounded me about that experience. For me, the pain? Meh. It was shortly lived and gone the second the baby left the (fleshy) building.
The pain coupled with the metaphysical?
It was the stretching of my spirit that really shook my core. The psychological impact that comes from going to a place where earth meets heaven and tiptoeing along that blurry line of life and death. It was the part where I felt the weight of something so huge, so much bigger and more fantastic than anything I could have ever imagined. It was closing my eyes and seeing a checkerboard sphere rolling around like I was viewing pure energy at a molecular level. It was completely psychedelic and strange and completely awe-some.
And when I think the physical feeling of my body splitting open I also think my spirit was doing the same. In that process, my spirit made more of me to be able to contain all of that experience. Like a hand inside a latex glove, I was filled with humanity, expanding, extending, magnifying. I was more. And I will never get over the residual memories--they still astound me.
Are you kidding me?
I can't wait to do it again.
Wow, this post has developed. I feel like I want to share this with you because my birthing experience was so glorious to me. From so many women at work, church, school and even friends and family I hear of how stressful, awful, not fun and exhausting that giving birth was to them (and they were all medicated!) So why wouldn't I want share with them the possibility of having a happy, positive birth as I did and so many other women who did it naturally?
It is time to take a look at what society tells us about birth and change our expectations. As women, we use the knowledge we have to make the best choices for us and our baby but we must be knowledgeable on more than one kind of birth. Why believe the comments of people who haven't experienced natural birth. Don't let them scare you into thinking it is a stupid wasteful idea and that you can't do it and will be begging for the epidural. There are plenty of women who can testify of the amazing grace of a natural birth and want to do it again and they are all like you!!! They aren't Wonder Woman. Look them up, there are a lot out there.
It is time to give the power of birth back to the laboring mother. Your instincts are real and there for a reason and you give a lot of that up when you are strapped to a bed and take that epidural. Childbirth is a true gift from God. Without it we wouldn't have the added light and knowledge we are so desperately searching for.
One thing you must understand is that I am not saying that any mother of a medicated birth has not grown in wisdom and love. She definitely has. Only, she can have it bursting out of the seams, more than what she could imagine, if she takes back what is rightfully hers. Childbirth.