Friday, March 7, 2008

Worthy of Its Own Post...

This post is in response to a topic that has been bugging me lately. It is in part a response to a particular point of view of one of my dearest friends, which I admire (both the friend and her philosophy) but also and more pointedly in part to a general division that I think is ridiculously pandered by way too many people. I'm tired of feeling that the natural birthing camp in general thinks less of the experience of those of us who choose to have a doctor instead of a midwife, an epidural instead of pain, etc....

And it goes the other way too. Many others think our "natural birthing" sisters are totally crazy for the unnecessary pain they go through, but is it really painful for them? Not according to some of my best friends who fully embrace their ability to have a baby and get through it on their own.

Now I know that I'm no expert because I've only done one way and don't really plan to try the other, at least not this time, but it really gets to me when we inadvertently, or not, rob each other of the joy of motherhood and mothering. Unfortunately, it seems that the nature girls are often more outspoken in this regard and it drives me nuts. I don't mind how anyone chooses to deliver their children but it seems to me that a lot of "natural" birthing pros often discount or think less of the amazing experience the rest of us have in the delivery room.

Let me illustrate my point:
A while ago I was sitting in church and a new dad got up and shared the wondrous experience he and his wife had recently had in the birth of their child. It was nice to see a father so in love with his wife and their new baby. The Spirit was strong and tender until he topped it off with one of those nasty little cherries that seem so sweet but leave you with a nasty taste in your mouth..."I'm so proud of my wife for going through this experience the way nature intended so that our baby could have the most healthy chance at life possible. I know it was painful and trying for her but she did it for him, he couldn't have a better mother than someone who would put aside her own comfort for his wellbeing." Blah, Blah, BLAH!!!

Seriously people we don't live in the dark ages. Typical epidurals do not affect babies. They don't make the baby groggy, and as far as my baby's birth it didn't even take away the feeling of my baby moving through the birth canal. I felt everything except pain and I could still walk too!!!! I felt just as empowered, and spiritually connected to myself and to my husband and especially to Michael Anne as well as to Heaven when I gave birth to her as any mother who is having a child she has wanted and waited for her entire life. Why must we feel superior to one another at such a personal time? It is beyond me.

I also just spoke to a woman who adopted a baby and was there for the birth as well, taking him home with her straight from the hospital. She described the experience that she and her husband had with the birth of this child as an incredibly rewarding, miraculous, and spiritual experience (she & her husband have 4 of their "own" children too). It is a blessing and a true miracle to have a baby and no matter how that child enters our homes it is a glorious occasion and an amazing chance to love an nurture a sweet little spirit.

Anyway, I'm sure my particular friend didn't mean to sound the way her comment came across to me because I know she loves me and we've been friends our whole lives but it kind of did & I keep hearing other people say similar things so I had to say something.

The funny thing is though, that most of us don't try both ways because we are comfortable with how we've done things before so who are we to know and profess the differences if they even exist. I'm betting that moms who have done both love and cherish the birthing experience just the same for each of their children. I can't imagine feeling more in tune or connected to one vs another simply because of the mode of delivery.


stuckihouse said...

Hi there

I hope your family's colds are better! How miserable to be sick on top of being full-term! I kind of cannot help but make a comment because I also know the person very well who made the comment that put you over the top, and because of my background and training. I have trained and assisted women through childbirth as a doula. The doula training, although it leans towards unmedicated births, encourages doulas to embrace whatever methods the birthing mother chooses. Doulas work to educate about choices and to protect birth memories and help make birth to be a more joyful and pleasant experience for all involved. Doula training also taught me something that applies well to any medical decision. We need to always look at the risks, the benefits, and the alternatives. There are many, many pros and cons on both sides of this fence. As some women feel guilty that they were unable to birth "naturally", others experience PTSD from over-medical births.
In the USA only about 14% of women succeed in achieving an unmedicated birth. I believe some are so vocal about it because, as you said, so many people think unmedicated moms are crazy. When we are up against nearly 90% of other women and pretty much the entire medical establishment, it is difficult to have people dismiss your opinion, which can breed stronger opinions. I am very grateful for my first son's birth. I did not have as much as a tylenol in my system, progressed well and even fell asleep between contractions. I was able to trust my body and let it get the work done. I also had great support and years of preparation. However, I celebrate birth however it comes. I wish we as women could find more common ground where we could talk about this issue and not just feel dismissed and offended.

Again, sorry you feel this way and I very much hope for a peaceful beginning of life for your new little girl! May you both have great health and a speedy recovery. I would love to talk about this more, but maybe we can come over and see the new baby when you are feeling up to it. (Or I am fine to not talk more about it also, it would be fun to catch up sometime though.)
Take care! Ann

Julie said...

Thanks Ann, your comments are very appreciated. I just feel that we all have different experiences and wish, like you said that we could just let each other enjoy the paths we are comfortable with.
I was a bit apprehensive about writing this post because I know that no harm was meant in the comment left on my other post but I needed to validate my choice. Not because it is invalid to begin with but because I've often felt dismissed for no real reason like I'm not as much of a mother or a woman. Maybe I just have a lot of friends that do the "natural" thing so that's what I hear a lot but I truly loved Michael Anne's birth and have felt so robbed of the amazing accomplishment in bringing her into this world whenever I hear these "if it's not natural it's not for real or as real..." comments which abound, and like I said, I know it goes both ways.
We all ought to think about each other's feelings before we assume to know each other's experiences. And I hope people know that I don't despise natural child birth or my friends that do it I just like you said was "pushed over the top" by one too many comments to that end.
And, would be really fun to see you again. I'll post pictures of Addison after she arrives and maybe we can find a time to get together a little after that. I'll probably talk to TL either before or after the baby is born and I'll see if she's going to be around sometime too. It would really be fun to see Alisa again as well but who knows when she'll be up to traveling again! She looks so happy and content in her prego photos :)
Talk with you later. Julie

Anonymous said...

Julie - I LOVE you tons and tons! I too have heard oh so many opinions on what they is "best" for mother and baby. I think you are totally entitled to do whatever the heck YOU want! I am totally looking forward to my epidural! It brings me comfort to know that I have that option. The blessings of modern medicine! No matter how you deliver it is a miracle. No woman is more or less tough either way. Labor is labor! It is hard work! There is no weakness involved! I have a hard time when some people totally refuse to have even things like an IV that if an emergency should arise is a way to quickly help. No woman should feel any less accomplished or guilty for medicated help. I know you are a wise and educated woman and wouldn't do anything to harm your baby. I think sometimes when we make the decision to have an epidural people don't realise that we too have done our research. Everyone has options and should not decide what is best for anyone else. You do what you need and what you want. I totally enjoyed my birthing experience with Ruby. I was so gratful to have an epidural, especially when I had my complications with my placenta. My sister -in -law just had her 6th. She went natural with her first few and then had epidurals. She didn't know any other way for the first few but, once she had her first epidural she said the laboring experience was much more enjoyable and much calmer. She's done it both ways and I think she has been tough throughout all 6. I guess I just get mad when someone doesn't allow you to have your own opinion or treats you like you are dumb in the decisions you have made. It is a tricky subject but, just like how you raise your kids it is your decision and we should support eachother and not criticize. Good luck on Tuesday. I think you are super tough!

jungleprincess said...

I didn't mean to make you mad with my comment and I'm sorry (and a lifelong friendship isn't worth dismissing over a difference of opinion). I also want to let you know that I don't consider myself more of a woman just because I birthed naturally. Before I experienced it, I thought it was all about being tough, but having experienced it, my reasons for being a "crusader for natural birth" have changed. The reason I now feel so strongly about it is because experiencing it was so amazing for me (more amazing than finishing a marathon or traveling the world, etc.), and I wish every woman could feel that way. I hear almost everyone speak of their medicated birth experiences in such a negative light--"oh, the pain," "oh, I just wanted it to be over," "oh, the complications..." and I KNOW that it doesn't have to be that way. While I do consider both of my labors to be work (intense work, actually), I don't consider them to be painful. I believe this is the reason for the differing opinions--the medical world says there's no reason a woman should have to suffer through all that pain, and the natural folk say there doesn't have to be pain. I wouldn't be as passionate about natural birth if it was something that caused women to suffer. The "father of natural childbirth," obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read, said that women should not have to suffer during birth, but should have anesthesia available should they desire it. He also taught that in the absence of fear and tension (of the uterine muscles), PAIN DURING LABOR AND BIRTH NEED NOT OCCUR! He provided anesthesia for any of his patients who desired it, but almost none of them did (unless there was some kind of complication) because he had taught them not to fear birth and had given them methods for breathing and relaxation which they used. I don't "tough it out through the pain" in order to achieve natural birth; I use breathing and relaxation techniques, and as Ann said, trust my body and let it get the work done. Just like Ann, I had excellent support and preparation (without which I couldn't have done it).

You are right--having a new spirit join your family is a celebration no matter how it happens, and I plan on rejoicing with you when your girl arrives!

Julie said...

Thanks T. It was nice to talk to you tonight. I'll give you a call after Addison makes her entrance!!! :)

The Stratton Family said...

I have enjoyed reading everyone's comments on this obviously "heated" topic. I had my first child when I was 21. I was young, naive, not too informed and pretty much just did what everyone else was doing , that is to have an epidural.(I don't have difficult deliveries, I seem to struggle more with the pregnancies.) With my second child, I decided I wanted to experience what it was like to go natural, so I studied breathing techniques and prepared myself for the experience. However, I did not have a husband that was super involved in the process, so it was pretty much up to me. It was funny because we were living in Logan, Utah at the time and it is very pro-epidural there. When I came in, already dilated to a 6 they asked if I wanted an epidural and I said "no". They continued to insist but refused. I was only in labor 3 1/2 hours and my contractions never were closer than 7-8 minutes until I was fully dilated and needed to push. That is where I truly felt the pain, but I was able to push through it and delivered a healthy baby. People told me the recovery for going natural would be much better. I have not had that experience. Both my 1st and 2nd recoveries felt pretty much the same, I was sore. I chose epidural with my 3rd because I was lazy and really just wanted to get it over with and not have to "work" I guess. I am now pregnant with my 4th and I am again contemplating a "natural" birth. My choice to go natural or use the epidural have never been based on the assumption that one is more womanly or I am a stronger person or anything like that. I just choose whichever method seems appealing to me at the time that I am pregnant. I just look forward to having a child and I don't get too worked up over how I am going to deliver. I prepare for it however I want and then just do it. I look forward to life after delivery, since delivery is only a short time compared to the many years I have ahead to love and raise my child. I believe giving birth is a rewarding experience and it doesn't matter how you choose to do it!!