Friday, April 4, 2008

Two Sides, One Fence, We All Get a Baby in the End

A friend in the blog world is hoping to have a home birth. This means, of course, she's hoping for her son to be born naturally, unassisted by drugs. Her post about it has placed natural childbirth on my brain. As I was reading yesterday, my thoughts were turned to the birth experience again.

This is a topic that seems to really get women going. Opinions and defensive thoughts abound. There are all kinds of things to say about it- good, bad, and ugly- but that's not what I want to talk about today. I'm sure a quick Google search can give you plenty of information from both camps if you want to participate in the debate. This has been a "don't touch" blog topic for me for some time. I think of it often, I'm passionate about my own experiences, but even my best efforts to avoid offense will still irritate someone. It won't help if I say it, but just so I know I did-I, in no way, want to offend anyone. I just want to share what this has meant to me.

I've experienced both sides of the fence. Grace's birth was completely, completely, pain free. I mean free. The worst part about it was that I was really thirsty the whole time. I thought that was great. Then, when Patie was born, I endured the entire experience without drugs, due to a long story set of circumstances. This brought me closer to the feeling of being run over by a truck than I ever would have cared to know first hand. However, hours of pain were over in an instant, and as I reflected on the horrible/wonderful experience, it was incredible. So much so that I chose to not say yes to the needle with Lily, and again with Hudson. In short, the experience of natural childbirth has been an extremely empowering, amazing, thrilling thing for me. It was like all the intensity of 18 years of motherhood packed into a few hours. Horrendous pain in the darkest night of labor broke forth to an amazing mountain top experience. In the darkest parts of labor, the hope of new life gave me strength and perseverance to hold on. It's helped me find a deeper part of myself I previously didn't know existed. It's somehow made me a much more confident, secure, empowered mother, and brought me closer to Christ in a way I wasn't before- knowing His great love for me, to endure the pain of the cross, which I know was far, far greater than anything I've known, and He did it with the hope of my new life on His heart. The experience is so difficult to put into words, but it is something I'll always hold as precious. It's just joy- not happiness, not comfort, but pure joy.

Many, many people think that choosing to go through the experience is crazy, when a pain-free option is readily available. I agree that if you don't want to do it, don't. And, many women have chosen a natural birth, only to wholly regret it and never go that way again. My feelings are not universal to all mothers' birth experiences. The entire event of having a child is amazing in itself. I wouldn't have been robbing myself of any of the joy in my child's birth if I'd choosen to use a drug of choice, or had a c-section.

So, why didn't I go "painless" again? I often find the best way to describe my choice for a natural birth is to compare it to other "extreme" experiences. I will never run a marathon, I will never climb a mountain. I mean never people. Never. Swine could take to the air, and I'd still pass on that one. But, I can understand why people do it. John Piper, in his book Desiring God, speaks eloquently about the joy found through suffering and the sometimes harsh and difficult act of loving others, and he said it so much better than I ever could, so I'll leave you with this:

"...don't jump to the conclusion that there is no joy in things that are 'harsh and dreadful.' There are mountain climbers who have spent sleepless nights on the faces of cliffs, have lost fingers and toes in sub-zero temperatures, and have gone through horrible misery to reach a peak. They say, 'It was harsh and dreadful.' But if you ask them why they do it, the answer will come back in various forms: 'There is an exhilaration in the soul that feels so good it is worth all the pain.'"


Andrea@Sgt and Mrs Hub said...

This is such a hot topic! And you are right, people sometimes get super defensive and can become so close-minded. It's really too bad.

I am so glad Daniel and I chose to bring our children into the world through homebirth. Am I so arrogant to think it is the best way? Nope. (For goodness sake - as if I enjoy allowing tremendous amounts of pain to overcome my body for hours at a time!) We chose this way because it fit our family best. I NEVER ever push my way on anyone else. I have always held to the simple fact that you have to do what is right for your family. Some women would be incredibly stressed and uncomfortable, even scared to have their babies at home - that would not make for a peaceful, welcoming birth experience. I, on the other hand, would've felt terrified to have my babies in the hospital.

Having a homebirth was very empowering for me. I needed to know that I could do it- that I could chose the way of pain and still come out on the other side victorious. Perhaps that was the wrong way of looking at it, but I just needed to know. And I wouldn't change a thing!


*sorry for the droning on.... :)

kelly said...

You said it much better than I could, but from one who has also experienced both "sides of the fence", I totally agree.

I also credit Bradley Childbirth for preparing me!

(uh, but I totally could never have a homebirth!)

Lisa said...

I am right there with you. The end result is a beautiful child, and however you get them is the perfect way for you - whether that be through a home birth, an epidural happy labor (that'd be me!) or even adoption. I told both of the anesthesiologists that gave me an epidural that I loved them & I meant it, and I love my birth experiences, but there is part of me that wonders if I could have done it on my own....

Unknown said...

I LOVE the quote you closed with! What an insightful post. Gives me courage that I can have the same type of experience...

Oh and how do you go about having a pain free birth like Grace's? I'd really love to go that route ;-)