Are you nuts?
I’m sure you’ve heard this question, or at least gotten the barely-veiled look that means the same thing, if you’ve chosen the path of going for a natural birth.
Actual quotes from people I’ve talked to:
“Would you hit yourself in the head with a hammer if you didn’t need to?”
“I’m not even going to have kids because I don’t want to go through that.”
“Why do you need to be a hero? Just make it easy.”
“I don’t even want to be in the room.”
I’m sure you have heard some doozies, too.
Why, oh why, would you choose this path?
Cue the banjo.
As I reflect on the state of birth, and just about every other thing we humans do in this society, I keep coming up with a line from a song that has nothing to do with birth… but it’s profound in its simplicity, and I think it sums up the state of affairs.
“Somebody thought of that
And someone believed it
Look what it’s done so far…”
Yeah, I just geeked out on “The Rainbow Connection.”
Kermit was singing about wishing on a star, dreaming, and magic. Believing something so much that it changes things. Because that is what belief does. It changes things.
The truth is, somewhere along the way, people began believing that birth is broken. It goes right along with our idea of human bodies generally being broken. The cure? Well, handily enough for the parties involved, we need medications of all sorts to right what is wrong. We need to buy lots of things. Guess who thought of that? Guess who believed it? And yes, just look what it’s done so far.
Believe me when I say to you, my dear wise friends, that we have been lied to. The gossip is wrong. The cure is the disease. And our friend birth, she has been sickened, but she’s still strong.
It’s time to think of birth in a different way.
Birth is the beginning of a journey, a journey that will call on your last reserves of strength and determination. This journey will make you cry. It will also bring you joy, more joy than you ever thought possible.
I have seen birth like this:
A mother so dedicated to creating peaceful birth that she works harder and digs deeper than anyone thought possible. A mother who says, “This will be my strongest day.” And it is.
A father and partner so dedicated to his family that he focuses and guides his partner with power and grace, protects her fiercely, and connects profoundly with the energy of his child entering this world. Even though his past didn’t necessarily give him the tools to deal with the intimacy and vulnerability and the raw power of pain, he finds his way and emerges more ready to be tender in his strength. More ready to be the kind of father he wants to be.
Hour after hour, they work together in a primal dance, through exhaustion, through struggle, through elation and hope and the realization of dreams. This is not an easy path. But what is gained is worth the struggle.
They are both confident in her body and each other. They can face any challenge. They remember why they made this choice. They guard their peaceful birth. They choose their thoughts. They choose peace.
In the absence of experience, faith is what guides them. Very often they get their peaceful birth in spite of, not because of their surroundings. This is a continuation of the act of creation. It is based in faith — faith in a body’s design and a mother’s abilities. It exists because it has been created, because it has been cultivated and believed in.
They create a powerful space and amaze everyone around them. They embrace the journey as a path to change, and they turn and face the challenge, ready and willing to take each step in power, holding on to each other and feeling more human, more alive than ever before. This is their marathon, their mountain, the culmination of years and moments. There are few moments this powerful in life. Clarity and purpose and the very essence of life are shown to us here, in this place of raw emotion, and life is begun again.
The birth I know is powerful and primal. The birth I know is safe and calm and peaceful. It is also challenging and it is hard, and it will rock your world. It will change you. It is profound. And it is supposed to be all those things.
What did you think you were signing up for with this life business anyway? This whole parenting thing is not for wimps. But you have what it takes. You were built for this.
I once heard someone say that only birthing mothers and soldiers in war know the depths of their strength. Knowing your strength is something worth fighting for. Parents arrive at their destination knowing more about each other and themselves, and what they are willing to do for their child. And that is a wonderful way to become a parent. In this world, miracles happen in plain sight and heroes walk among us with no medals except the golden titles of Mommy and Daddy.
So why natural birth? Because we’re up for it. We’re ready to show up and we’re ready to put everything we have into what we believe. In a world that tells us we’re broken, we must trust that small voice inside that says we’re not. We must give her a chance to prove what she can do.
We can grow a whole person in our bodies. We can nourish that person and protect that person and we can sure as hell bring that person out of our bodies and into our loving, waiting, and strong arms.
Believe in this. Believe in yourself. Beliefs change things. Beliefs change people. Beliefs create a space for miracles. Do what you know you can do.