Thursday, October 30, 2014
what I want you to know about giving birth
I feel like I went into my first birth super naive. I mean, don't most of us? We've never done it before. And sadly we live in a culture where birth has become a bit shrouded and there's a lot of fear surrounding it. Ya, we see it in movies but we all know how inaccurate those portrayals are (at least I hope we know that). Seriously, almost no one's water breaks at the grocery store. In fact, most women's water doesn't break until well into labor (was that even grammatically correct?). And we read birth stories on every blog. But we all know everything isn't shared and it's not like we are sitting right there in the room to experience birth live, in the moment.
If there is one thing that I have learned through giving birth to babies, it's this:
have absolutely no expectations, except trust in the Lord.
Now, I'm not saying don't get educated. Please be educated. Please prepared! Read every birthing book you can get a hold of (and while you're at it, skip What to Expect While Expecting, Pregnancy Week by Week and anything published by Baby Center). Take a birthing class (not at the hospital) from a birth professional - Bradley Method, Lamaze, Hypnobirthing, Christian Childbirth, anything taught by a Doula or Midwife. Hire a doula and talk to her a lot. Ask a zillion questions of your care provider. And if anyone you know will let you, attend a birth. Seriously, do it.
Because here's the thing-
Every mother is different.
Every pregnancy is different.
Every baby is different.
Every circumstance and situation is different.
Every labor is different.
Every delivery is different.
I've now given birth 4 times [Isabella, Isaac, Eli, Stella]. And they were 4 very different births. Each one was so incredibly unique. And unexpected.
To enter into labor expecting anything in particular will only rob you of the unique experience you are going to have and any lesson or growth you are purposed to learn and endure.
Can we just talk for a minute about the difference between plans and expectations?
Am I saying don't have a birth plan? No. Obviously there are things you want. That's a given. Please have a plan. You should know what you want. But don't expect everything to go exactly how you want. Instead, be as prepared as you can, surrounded by people who support the things that you want, ready to follow what your body is telling you as labor progresses.
There is a difference between expecting things to happen that are completely out of your control and being prepared for what is going to happen. Your birth plan should be focused on the things you can control: the environment you want to be in (home, hospital, dark, light, aroma, music, water, etc), the way you'd like to labor (moving around, in a tub, lying down, squatting etc), how you'd like to proceed if something does arise and your care provider wants or needs to intervene, and what you want and don't want for your baby when he or she is born. Absolutely have that in place.
But you can't go into labor expecting it to be x-number of hours, thinking your water is going to break at this exact point (say, while I'm in the shower), expecting your body to give you plenty of time for rest in between contractions, hoping you'll only have to push for 15 minutes. Those are unreasonable expectations. Believe me. Been there, done that.
I have a rule - read or watch absolutely no birth stories within 6 months of my due date.
None. No exceptions. Not even just "the good ones". None.
You know why? When I say have no expectations, I mean I don't want any good ones or bad ones. If I hear a really "good" birth story, I'm likely to start thinking, "hey maybe that will happen to me!" and then when it doesn't, I get discouraged. If I hear a "bad" birth story, I start thinking, "oh jeez, what if that happens to me?!" and then if it does I'm totally discouraged.
If I'm going to stay encouraged during labor, it's not going to be because I read a really good birth story. It's going to be because my focus is on the task at hand. And because I'm trusting in the One who designed my body with the ability to endure the task at hand.
Instead of reading birth stories, I spend all of my time preparing for labor and birth in prayer and in the word. Lots and lots of prayer. Lots and lots of reading scripture. Lots and lots of journaling. Lots and lots of recognizing sin in my life, repenting of it and growing closer to the Lord. Lots and lots of simply trusting God.
I desire to get out of my labor exactly what God intends for me- nothing more, nothing less. I don't want to walk away from my baby's birth disappointed because it didn't happen the way I had expected. But I also don't want to walk away from birth prideful because I did everything right. Because I didn't. God did.
So if there's any piece of advice I would give to a mother-in-waiting, whether this is your first or seventh birth, it would be, have absolutely no expectations. Instead simply trust God. Because you can expect Him to strengthen you, help you, uphold you and give you peace.
fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10