I was just telling someone the other day that I wasn’t sure I even cared this time around if I was going for a natural birth. I have a very play-it-by-ear attitude because I’ve seen enough of these to know that they go however they go, so there’s no use trying to control it.
But I was all about it during my second pregnancy. I switched providers for a holistic birthing center (which I have never regretted, the midwives are amazing and I’ll stick with them forever), I went all 41 1/2 weeks on all-natural methods for everything, I practiced all the yoga, but when it came down to it, I labored at home on and off for 3 days before I made it to the hospital, and when I wasn’t progressing, I opted for an epidural anyway.
I needed the rest. I’d had it for my first delivery so I knew the drill; I got that epidural and I took a well deserved nap. 3 hours later, I pushed maybe a handful of times, and my son entered this world.
So, after I found out I was pregnant this third time, I began thinking about my “birth plan,” right? I watched my sister deliver my niece completely drug free and with next-to-no assistance, and it was inspiring. But was I going to shoot for that again?
For the first time ever, I considered my ‘why.’ Why would I choose a natural labor and delivery over a medicated one? What benefits and risks are associated with each?
What motivated me during my first, when I told the nurse, “I’m no hero, bring me the drugs,” after just 14 hours of labor at home, versus what motivated me during my second where I was driven, and even did successfully labor naturally for 3+ days, 8 hours of which were spent in the hospital?
The first time, I was afraid of the pain, obviously. I was barely 20 years old, I had no idea what I was doing or what to expect, and I’d been up all day. I wanted relief and I wanted to sleep some. Fear is not the best reason, I admit that, but it’s the honest answer.
The second time, I really think I was motivated by keeping up with the Jones’ more than I was by going or living naturally. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m into so many holistic and natural things still – like I don’t use tons of soaps, or regular deodorants, and I still do all the yoga, I still take supplements before medicines, and we buy some organic foods. But I’m not trying to force myself to eliminate everything just because some mom-blog says it causes cancer and autism).
But back then, everyone I knew, and truly do admire, was doing everything naturally, and spoke so highly of their experiences. So, I think that was my prime motivator over anything else, and again, competition isn’t a positive motivator, but it sure is an honest one.
After that, I even considered why anyone pursues a natural labor and delivery, ever. And the top reasons I could come up with (throw some more at me in the comments if you’ve got different ones) were:
1) Fear of chemicals/modern medicine/medical intervention/etc. While I recognize anyone who prefers not to pursue a medicated labor and delivery (or anything else for that matter) as completely legitimate in their right to choose, I’m just not at a place where I’m either afraid of it or willing to be pushed by fear into anything. And,
2) Empowerment. So many of the women that I know that went through with their natural labors and deliveries have spoken quite highly of the feeling of empowerment that they experienced because of it. There is undoubtedly a certain kind of strength and willpower necessary for a natural labor and delivery, and I do believe they deserve to be proud.
With that in mind, I was prompted to ask myself, did I feel any less empowered because of my choices during my first two labors and deliveries, or even my first two pregnancies? Did caving and opting for the epidural, or even defaulting to it, take anything away from my birth experience? Was I somehow less than, weaker than, or less powerful?
And the answer to that question is a big, fat NO.
Nothing about any pregnancy, labor, or delivery is ever easy.
No mother bringing another life into this world is ever weak.
Nothing about the entire process is anything less than a miracle and a freaking marvel of nature and science combined.
It’s fascinating, astounding, and no matter which road you take, it’s empowering.
Today, I stumbled upon this picture from late in my second pregnancy. And do you know what I see? MFin’ strength. That’s what I see. I see an empowered mother, doing her thing – which doesn’t have to be yoga, by the way. Or anything physical at all. The mere act of growing a human makes you a force of nature, mama, own that shit. Be proud. You’re amazing. We’re amazing.
And just knowing that, that’s empowering enough for me.
More than that even, though, I’m not in competition with anyone this time and I’m not afraid. Resting in the peace of knowing there’s no one to keep up with, knowing there’s no shame in anything at all here, and moving forward without fear has me overflowing.
To the mama’s in waiting, and the adoptive mamas, you are warriors in your own right. Please do not let my words of encouragement and empowerment to birth moms discourage you. Your will power and your open heart is a force all it’s own. You are just as incredible and just as valid. But I do not know your journey personally, and so, I would never try to tell you how it is. It would be inappropriate of me. That is yours, and while I have such respect for you, I know my words as someone who has never walked in your shoes, would rightfully mean very little. I just wanted to add a little note here for you to tell you that you’re loved and you’re respected. You’re frequently on my heart, and I’m always leaning on God for your blessing. You’re amazing.