Long before I uttered those two life-changing words, “I’m pregnant,” to my husband I knew I wanted to give birth naturally. It just felt “right.” I didn’t always feel that way. In fact, I had never really wanted children or at least I never had a driving desire to have them. Other people’s children were cute but after a few hours I had my fill and was thankful to come home to my dogs. (I acknowledge on the flip side that many people like my dogs but after a few hours they’ve had enough and are ready to go home to their children, or to quiet, either one!) I thought the idea of homeschooling was odd and I couldn’t understand why a woman would choose not have a job.
But the Lord had other things in mind. After healing me emotionally of some nasty baggage I had carried into the marriage and working out a few kinks in our relationship (there are more to be worked out but we are a long way from where we started) I suddenly saw things in a whole new light. I now felt free to desire having a child. I had a whole new appreciation for wanting to home school and work inside the home verses outside. Suddenly the glasses which I looked through tinted everything with a motherly mindset. Finances, political policy, world events, and my faith – everything I saw now looked different. I saw the resulting consequences that my future children would reap from my (our) actions.
My husband was agreeable to having a child and while I wanted a baby I knew that if it was the Lord’s will for our lives it would happen when it was supposed to and after two years we finally got pregnant. Once I found out I immediately started reading books on pregnancy, child-birth, birthing option and the like. I talked to my friends who have children and scoured the internet. Of the latter my husband has mixed opinions. He is thankful that I try to educate myself but is of the opinion that not everything on the internet is trustworthy and legitimate (to which he is correct). The most heated debate in our house with regard to internet and baby is the whole “vax/no-vax” debate (which is a subject I am not brave enough to tackle just yet).
I knew that natural, drug free childbirth would be painful. I was aware that it would take me to a level of pain that I had not experienced before yet knowing we would most likely have one child I wanted to experience child-birth and know what it felt like to birth forth a child. I prayed the entire way through my pregnancy for guidance and protection and strength, especially during birth. My midwife was of course an advocate of natural child-birth and had explained the various things we would do while I was in labor. With all of that, I thought I was mentally prepared.
Then, along came September fifth. My midwife was on vacation, not scheduled to return until the following Friday and I was in labor eight days early. My husband and I thought my water broke while we were at church so off to the hospital we went. Upon examination they confirmed that my water did broke but because I was not having contractions they put me on Pitocin. Without my midwife there I felt totally lost. We prepared for nine months with her and now I would have a doctor I’d never met before and the entire process would be completely different that we had anticipated. Due to the Pitocin I was not allowed to walk the halls or use the birthing ball. I could sit or lay down, that was it. Fast forward eight hours and there I am, still not contractions. So after another examination they determine that my water really hadn’t broken I just had a high tear. They broke my water and then the contractions began.
The Moment of Failure
It was at that point that I realized silently that I was not ready for what was about to happen, nor was I going to do it naturally. I didn’t say anything at first, I felt a like failure and I didn’t want to let anyone down, who I’m not sure. My husband would support whatever decision I made and in the end that is all that mattered.
Initially I was given a drug in my IV but all that did was make the wall border in the room dance around and slurred my speech. I was basically stoned as I saw it. So then came the decision for the epidural. I know my husband told me it was totally up to me and reassured me it would be ok although I can’t remember exactly what he said. I do remember my doctor saying “We don’t give metals for doing this without drugs,” and something clicked. “If I want an epidural it does not mean I’m a bad person,” I thought and so I had one.
Four hours later, with a cd of worship music playing and my mom, mother in-law and a dear friend with us, my husband and I met our precious little boy for the first time. It was a very peaceful moment. I was able to feel the urge to push and could feel enough to know he was moving down the birth canal yet I was not in pain. It was the second best moment of my life next to walking down the aisle toward my bridegroom.
Reflection and Realization
I remember when my friend, who pastors our church with her husband, walked into the room I was ashamed that I was not strong enough to endure child-birth. I had felt like I was letting her down. After all, she had given birth to four children without drugs. Most of my friends had given birth naturally. I was a failure. Things got hard and I gave up. I felt as though I had just set myself up to be a “give in” kind of parent. You know, the kind that gives in to the whiney kid because they can’t stand the difficulty in standing their ground and making a firm decision.
The next morning as I watched my men sleep, my son beside me in his crib and my husband on the pull out sofa, I realized that my decision for pain medication was not a set up for future failures but a lesson in the hard,” no one right answer”, decisions that I would be making for the next 18 years. Some folks may not agree with my decision, some of my friends may not even agree with it. That’s ok. It was not their decision to make, it was mine. After a few days and a few prayers I realized that I had unconsciously saw “natural childbirth” as a place reserved for only the best of mothers; an elite group of women who had more will power, more strength and more faith in the Lord. I wanted to be in that group. It does take determination and will power, especially to turn down drugs when offered after those first few contractions. If you gave birth naturally, I applaud you. With only a glimpse of the pain that you probably endured I have a great respect for you.
But why did I want entry in this “elite” group? What did it gain me? As the doctor said there were no metals handed out, no trophies given out in this lifetime or in heaven for “Best in Childbirth.” It was a perception that I had and the subsequent guilt I allowed to creep in, albeit momentarily, was not what the Lord wanted for me. He knew long before I had my son how it would turn out. He had a plan and everything went according to it. There was a reason I was a week early and my midwife was out-of-town. When I said I couldn’t handle the pain and the doctor made her “no metals” comment God knew I needed to hear. I did not need to feel guilty or ashamed at my choice. My birth experience was exactly what God intended and I am thankful for how everything turned out.
Did you struggle with your birthing decision? Did you birth naturally? Why or why not?
Until Next Time,