I don’t really remember ever thinking about birth. I grew up hearing about how long my mother’s labor was with me, and that she had all three of us naturally. Later to find out that her ‘natural’ was more so the ‘natural route’ with a couple epidurals and some pain relieving medication thrown in. So naturally, I assumed I’d have an epidural too. I’ll try for the natural process, but if I need meds, then sure! Because you never know what can happen.
Except that all changed one California evening when a few friends and I thought it would be fun to watch some documentary Ricky Lake produced. I’m a child of the 90’s. Anything with Ricky Lake in it and I’m in.
Within the first 10 minutes, I was hooked.
I was angry.
I felt betrayed.
I couldn’t believe the system women fell into.
But unlike any other documentary I’ve ever watched, instead of getting emotionally high for a night and then forget about the dying dolphins over in Japan, question after question piled up in my head. I couldn’t get this injustice out of my headspace. So I started looking for answers.
It didn’t help that my closest friends were also on this birth kick. Every other night we spent watching more documentaries or discussing the statistics we found in an Ina May Gaskin book (the badass queen of midwifery). Natural family planning, periods, placentas and cervixes became conventional topics of conversation. Even the dudes started understanding what was what.
When it was finally my turn to incubate, the choice was simple.
with a midwife.
Except once I made this natural decision, I never realized how much controversy it would immediately provoke. It was this look...
head tilt-wide eyes, lowered brow-puckered lips-roll of the eyes
“Good luck with that!”
“Are you Crazy?!”
“But what if something goes wrong?!”
I might as well have said I was giving birth to a chicken.
I caught on quickly that my choice was unconventional and I needed to educate myself even further to be confident enough to silence all the fears pointed directly at me.
Even family members looked at me like I was crazy. At first, I took it extremely personal. Obviously I was making an educated decision. But they didn’t see that. They saw the terror-filled woman screaming down the hallways of a hospital in desperate need to numb the pain. They saw the panicked doctor ordering an emergency c-section as if it was the only option. Think about every movie you’ve ever seen with a labor and delivery scene. Heart racing terror...nail biting drama. Exactly.
Sometimes I would just lie. Just to avoid their attempt to scare me into changing my mind. I just couldn’t deal with it.
But not anymore.
I’m here to deal with it.
That’s why we are here. To find the truth about labor, the truth about delivery, the truth about motherhood. And the funny thing is... your truth may not be my truth. And that's ok.
All we can do is look at the statistics, listen to the stories, embrace the process and the choice will be simple. We don’t have to choose fear. Not for ourselves or for the woman standing next to you. The only choice we DO have is to educate each other with an extended amount of grace.