Friday, June 25, 2010

A Balanced Outlook

Is it possible to look at childbirth in a "balanced," unbiased manner? I just thought it worth asking that question. I am inside myself as I've posted on this blog, and so I cannot completely view my writing with total objectivity. Do I come off as a die-hard? Do I sound judgmental? Am I sane? (Actually, I already know the answer to that third question, so let's focus on the first questions.)

The fact is, I DON'T think that it's possible to be completely unbiased about childbirth. At least, it's impossible to be completely unemotional. Childbirth is a life-changing experience. It's the time when you meet one of the most important people in your life. It's a complete transformation physically, spiritually, and emotionally. However positive or negative your experience is will unavoidably affect your feelings about the care providers, the birthing location, and the method you chose (or had to accept).

I can't speak for other women, but each childbirth experience has left me altered forever. Beside the obvious physical changes (like a profoundly widened pelvis and ribcage and some seriously droopy breasts), there are so many emotional changes that have come with childbirth. Humility, feelings of inadequacy, frustration, humility, elation, and humility. Childbirth is the beginning of motherhood, and motherhood is one CRAZY roller-coaster ride. Really, I'd mention the importance of humility, but most who stumble upon this are mothers or mothers-to-be. And if you haven't already discovered the need for humility as a key component in motherhood, then you will before long. :)

Motherhood is also fun, and I think that childbirth can also be kind of fun too. Like, how often can you be stark naked in front of a bunch of people and yet know that you're doing something completely wholesome? How often does such an impossible task become a reality? It's just kind of neat.

Okay, I'm rambling. I guess I just wanted to say that, while I might come off a little die-hard on this blog, I do not believe that there is only one right way to have a baby. I speak passionately about the benefits of natural childbirth, because it was a wonderful way for me to have my last three children. But I love to hear birth stories of all kinds, especially ones where the mother and father could look back and know that they were in good hands and were blessed.

Most labors will come with surprises, even the smoothest of labors. Some go faster than expected. Others drag on forever. Some are very frightening, while others are surprisingly very peaceful. There are complications that can bring great risk to mom and baby while a room away some lucky lady is having the perfect hypno-birth or the perfect epidural. (Sheesh!)

While all labors may not be equally satisfying, all mothers are created equal and deserve to be respected for their experiences and their decisions. I've often looked back at my first labor and judged myself very harshly for not having pursued a Bradley method childbirth sooner. And yet, I still went through all of the sickness, carried the baby for 9 months, gained lots and lots of weight, did the best I could with that labor and with that lovely little person. And though I've learned some powerful things about myself and about childbirth, I loved my first daughter as much I've loved each other child I've given birth to.

So, for the record, if you stumble upon this and love epidurals, please don't think I'm judging you. I'm glad you could have a positive experience. If you have had one or more cesareans, please don't think that I pity you, look down on you, or think that your OB is a monster of some sort. If anything, I just hope that you had a terrific recovery, and I'm slightly jealous that your pelvic floor is in better shape than mine. And if you were unable to give birth to your own children and were only able to adopt, I have deep respect for the journey you have been on and I rejoice in your family. (I'm also touched that you would even read this.)

I will always be an advocate of education about childbirth, though. I don't think that is in conflict with having respect for varying viewpoints and experiences with childbirth. The couple who does their best to learn about pregnancy and childbirth may not have an easier birth each time, but they will understand better what's happening. And hopefully that understanding will help them find peace sooner.

I have a good friend who recently had a gorgeous, healthy little baby. She had hoped and prepared for a natural labor, but she was instead faced with a very complicated delivery. I know very little detail except that she went through a difficult, painful, and somewhat frightening ordeal. And yet her serenity about the experience is such a beautiful gift and example. She has deep gratitude for her little love, and she has seen the blessings surrounding the trials. Above all, she is filled with one great emotion - love.

And that, my friends, is what motherhood and childbearing and rearing is about. It's about loving someone else in a way that is beyond comprehension. It is about loving to sacrifice for another, and (eventually, at least) seeing the sacrifice as really a gift to the mother even more than to the child.

I don't know what kind of woman I will be in the end. I can only hope that through these years of fun, frustration, excitement, elation, anguish, anxiety, and affection that somehow the gift of being able to give of myself to these amazing human beings will mold me into something more than I currently am. Somehow, I hope that on this imperfect journey, love will see my children and me through to building some meaningful, loving relationships that will last forever.

Today I am humbled to bear the title of mother. I honor all who share the name.

1 comment:

  1. I don't find your tone judgmental at all, which is why I've appreciated what you've had to say. I ran across your blog some time ago while researching the difference between Bradley and Lamaze, and your writing was a valuable resource to me because you sound like a reasonable person without an agenda, which is so difficult to find in conversations about childbirth! So thank you very much!