There is no real authority on birth other than who ever it is in our lives that seems to be a great mom. I have many such examples in my own life, and I am looking forward to sharing their testimonies and birth stories with you in my book, Among the Children, due sometime in the next 15 years. Until then, I am continuing my research, interviewing women of all dispositions, hearing their unique thoughts and being a listening ear. Everyone wants to share about their birth, no matter how long ago, and I am by far the worst.
I have had one baby on vacation, two at home, and three in our local hospital. I also have a very tall and handsome bonus son, and I am ever grateful to his mom for keeping him, loving him, and raising him well! With all of these experiences and Doula training under my belt, I feel that I have had just enough experience to say, I don’t have the answers, and I don’t know what’s best for you when it comes to birth. When I was pregnant with my first-born, I thought I knew how it was to be done. I thought there was a formula for having the child: be tough, deliver at home, naturally, no drugs. I didn’t even have an ultrasound with my eldest because I was convinced the radio waves would mess her up.
Having had several more babies since then, and watching my friends and relatives have lots of beautiful children, I have changed my mind on the all-natural declaration. It’s simply not a one-size-fits-all world we live in, and little tiny people do not easily fit into a box, either! I have witnessed beautiful births where the mother needed an epidural to rest up before she could really be present at the time of pushing. I have seen a homebirth where until the mama laughed out loud, there was not going to be a baby. Having a baby is a type of release that must be felt in the heart, and then in the body! The laughter that a mom has in her mouth can be the ticket to the cervix opening! I have also witnessed in a most profound juxtaposition, a mom in labor one moment, and the next, five layers of her stomach tissue being splayed across her lap, and a feisty little newborn being ripped out of her! That c-section was an eye opener for me. There are times when neither preparations, good intentions, nor a healthy mother can change the facts: sometimes emergencies happen. And sadder and more realistic still, there will be times when the baby ceases to be before we got to hold, know, and love them.
What should I do, the first-timer asks….I say, get ready for a life of unexpected bliss, heartache, and wonder. When God commanded us to be fruitful and multiply, He wasn’t saying this so we could have lots of children to help out on the farm, He wasn’t saying it to punish us, He was wishing that by co-operating with His will for our lives, we would experience JOY. The same joy He has in us, His children.
If you know a young lady (or an older one for that matter) who is going to have a baby, do us all a favor and smile at her and tell her “CONGRATULATIONS!” If you can offer to help, do. If she already has children, be sure to tell her she has a wonderful family. And if she happens to be one of the lucky ones, and had more than a couple of children, please, still remind her of the beauty of her children. There is nothing you can say about how outlandishly large her family is that she doesn’t know already. Don’t you think she is aware of the enormity of her commitments when she feeds them, or washes their clothes?
If she is a first time mama please don’t burden her with your unfortunate stories! Advise her to read anything by Ina May Gadskin, self-taught midwife who writes about birth with a positive voice. Do not under any circumstances give her a copy of What to Expect or any such foolishness outlining the possible tragedies that may befall her! There is something to be said for understanding what is happening with your body, and how to care for yourself, yet generally, I find in most situations the difficult part about being pregnant for the first time is the anguish and anxiety about the birth. Ina May will help with encouraging and demonstrating through the power of storytelling how each mother encounters her birth differently than anyone ever will, and the outcome is very much related to the constant support and love of her partner and friends surrounding her during the process.
In peace and hope I offer this: Your time of childbearing may be over, your time may be up and coming, or you may be in the middle of poop and grocery-getting and sleepless nights at this moment, regardless of where you stand, even if you never have child, the same love that Christ asks us to offer our neighbor can be applied here. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.