Let’s Talk About Birth

 . . . {and then however we may choose to do it, let’s cheer each other on}

Let's Talk About Birth | Denver Metro Moms Blog

Photo Credit: Rachel Crawford

I answered the phone and heard the voice of my youngest sister, who was almost 9 months pregnant with her first child. As we talked, I sensed a seriousness in her voice and then, there it was, “So, I just have to ask you, {long pause}, I’m thinking about getting an epidural when I’m in labor, and I guess I just want to know if you’re going to judge me if I do?” My heart dropped. It saddened me to think she thought it even a possibility that I might judge her. I never wanted my hopes for my children’s births to cast a judgmental shadow on the birth hopes of someone else, and yet, I was fearful that somehow they had.

I immediately responded, “NOOOOOO. I absolutely and positively will not judge you, at all. Not one bit. I made the choices I made for my births because those felt like the right choices for me. I fully expect and encourage you to make the right choices for you.” To this day, my sister and I agree, that was one of the best and most connecting conversations we’ve ever had. I’m so thankful she had the courage to ask me that question, because it allowed us to engage in honest dialogue, setting a safe stage for future conversations about topics on which we may have differing views. My sister went on to get an epidural and experienced a beautiful, wonderful labor and delivery. She made the absolute right choice for her and I’m so glad she did.

I tell you this story to highlight the trepidation with which I write about birth and my personal preference for natural childbirth, or unmedicated birth. To be honest, I’ve grown weary of the mom wars, the ways in which we attempt to elevate ourselves by sending the message that ‘our way is best and everyone else should follow suit.’ When the truth is, as moms, we make a million tiny decisions every day. And nearly every decision brings with it some complexity in which we’re considering a multitude of factors. So clearly there cannot be a one size fits all way of doing things, especially when it comes to childbirth.

That being said, I think it’s safe to say we all have our own hopes and preferences for how our own labor and delivery might unfold. When it came to my sons’ births, I had high hopes for a peaceful, unmedicated, much-time-spent in the tub kind of labor. Why did I hope for this? I like pain. Ok, so that’s not entirely true, but I do like to watch how my body responds and adapts to pain and I like to discover what pain has to teach me. That’s why I run marathons and up mountains – on purpose. It’s hard and painful, but it’s that very challenge and difficulty that brings me joy. So as strange as it may sound, when it came to birth, I really wanted to see what my body was capable of doing and I desired to feel every last bit of it.

Unfortunately, complications with my pregnancy led to a Perinatologist recommending that I be induced at 39 weeks or risk a the baby being stillborn. She had me at stillborn, so we scheduled the induction. Following my initial dose of Pitocin, I labored for 27 hours, without much progress Let's Talk About Birth | Denver Metro Moms Blog{you may be thinking, well, you said you liked pain, so…}. Exhausted {and suggesting to my husband that we just go home}, I reluctantly decided to get an epidural. While it did not go well {I’ll spare you the details}, it was the right decision. And after 45 hours of labor, my body finally ushered our sweet little guy into this world.

This birth reinforced for me the importance of educating yourself about birth, understanding your preferences, holding out hope, and then holding loosely to all of it. I learned how to let go. My son’s birth showed me that there’s a time to fight and a time to relax. While the birth was not what I had hoped for, and learning these lessons was neither pleasant nor easy, I am grateful for the process.

I had the same hopes for an unmedicated birth with my second son and had planned to deliver him at a local birth center. This labor more closely mirrored my hopes – a mere 24 hours {it’s all about perspective, right?!} of unmedicated tranquility. Ok, tranquility might not be the best descriptor. There may have been a cuss word shouted uttered when my husband had the gaul to leave my side to thoughtfully refresh his breath with a mint. And I may have warned the midwife, “if this kid doesn’t come out in the next 10 minutes, you’re going to need to go up there and pull him out of me.” But overall, I loved this birth experience, and to deliver at the birth center was the right decision for us. Lest I fail to mention the added bonus – my son was born on Thanksgiving and 5 hours later, I was home in time to enjoy a phenomenal Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixin’s!

Two different birth experiences, beautiful in different ways, and I learned from them both. In writing this, my hope is to encourage us to create safe spaces for us to freely dialogue about birth, open to hearing other women’s stories and hopes, and willing to share our own.

Whether you’ve brought your baby into your family via vaginal birth, c-section, adoption, or surrogacy, I think we can all agree, birth is only just the beginning of the challenges, uncertainty, and complexity that arise on this wild ride, otherwise known as parenthood. And I don’t know about you, but I need all of the help and encouragement I can get.

So, what do you say we listen to one another, share our hopes, and cheer one another on in our journeys, no matter how our opinions may vary?

What’s your story?

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2 Responses to Let’s Talk About Birth

  1. Gina Fontaine
    Gina Fontaine September 24, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    You make some great points, Melissa. It is great to have a plan, but we must also be willing to let it all go when we are giving birth. I created a fitness program to prepare the body for natural childbirth but I place strong emphasis on the fact that you are NOT a failure if you choose an epidural. Sometimes it is the only way to relax enough to give birth.

    thanks for sharing!

  2. Trisha F September 24, 2015 at 6:53 am #

    I love hearing about other labor stories, and though I like to shock with my 37 hours of labor, it’s not to sound better but just to get a reaction. 🙂
    I haven’t noticed the mommy wars with birth stories.
    What I have noticed is moms sounding guilty for not nursing their children. I hate that my friends feel guilty about it- you brought a healthy baby here and you’ll be a great mom by giving it nourishment, no matter what nourishment it is!

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