My friend and neighbor had her fourth baby on Tuesday. She was induced one week early and had an epidural, just as she did with her other three kids. She just likes it that way. The whole idea of scheduling a birth, going to the hospital without any labor pains and having a baby a few hours later, just boggles my mind. It is so strange to me that I can’t stop thinking about it. I know that it is very common for women to be induced as well as for women to have epidurals, but this time, with this friend, it bothers me more. What bothers me? It’s hard to say. I have had many conversations with this friend and we agree about many things, but we do not agree on birth methods, and somehow that is a big thing. It is such a big thing that it’s almost as if it drives a wedge in our friendship, distancing us and preventing us from some more complete measure of friendship. This is the case with other friends as well. The opposite is also true. Many times I have learned that a new friend or acquaintance has natural births and immediately there is a connection, a pull toward friendship. There is a feeling of “you have felt it too!” For some reason birthing methods makes a big difference in the strength of understanding and friendship for me, probably because it’s something I am passionate about.
Yet there is something else that bothers me. What is this feeling that I get when I learn of someone’s medicated birth? Is it a feeling of self-rightness, a sense of “I’m right and she’s wrong”? No, I know women have their agency (and I wish more of them would use it instead of letting “health care professionals” make personal decisions for them! But that’s another topic). It’s not right and wrong; it’s just different. Then what is this feeling? Is it jealousy? Am I jealous that she had an easy, pain free experience when giving birth is so difficult for me? Is it that it’s not fair? But I know I have the choice, too. It’s just that I’ve done the research for myself and I know it’s statistically safer to do it naturally without intervention, and that is what I have chosen. Is it self doubt? Do I doubt my choice? I find myself thinking, “am I insane?” Why do I choose to suffer when there is a pain free option? I remind myself of the many reasons, but then I wonder if it’s worth all the fear that I feel. I never want to go through that again, and I think about it every day. Have I really made the right choice?
I watched my friend return home from the hospital today. I felt a great distance between us, despite the close proximity of our physical persons. I do not understand what she just experienced. And she does not understand what I have experienced at the most excruciating, life changing moments of my life. As I see it, she has not experienced the culmination of being a woman. She is choosing to miss it! The birth of my babies will be forever etched in my memory; moments of pain, yes, and also of relief, strength and power. I am a woman. I birth my babies the way God intended it to be. That makes me powerful. I watch my friend walk with her baby to their door. No, I do not comprehend what she just experienced, and I guess I never will.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Today I share a guest post from my sister. She has also chosen unmedicated birthing, but her experiences have been quite different from mine. Here she shares some of her thoughts and reflections on her birth choices.
Talkin' about birth