Birth…..bringing a new life into the world. Think about it, we women are capable of bringing life into the world, how amazing and empowering is that!!! We carry a tiny being inside of us for up to 40 weeks, and at the end have the greatest gift one could ever be given….a child; a little piece of us, wrapped in a tiny blanket, who already has us wrapped around their little finger. There is nothing more beautiful, and of course, nothing more debated amongst women….this I will call the birthing debate.
In years gone by, women gave birth, while in fields, any place that was convenient at the time. There was no epidural, there were no inductions, no pitocin, no nitereous oxide, none of these fancy little things that have made their way into sterile hospital settings in the 21 century. If you found yourself in the unfortunate position of having a breech baby, chances are the end result would be the death of the mother, the fetus or both. Birth was hard (hence the term labour), it wasn’t a kodak moment (even if there had been a Mr. Kodak). Women congratulated their friends and acquaintances on the birth of a child, as it is a time to celebrate. They knew the pain and hard work involved in producing the baby, they respected it and they respected the woman who had just gone through the entire experience.
Welcome to good old 2013….how the times have changed. Put a 100 women in a room and you will hear 100 different opinions on giving birth the “correct” way: natural, under water, c-section, epidural, hanging from the ceiling, Doctor, Doula, Midwife. I am not sure when, how or why women decided that how one gives birth became a topic for debate, I am not sure why women find it acceptable to give advice on “how one should give birth,” and finally I definitely can not comprehend how or why a woman would even consider telling another woman, “if you haven’t done it naturally, you really haven’t given birth.”
I am a mum, according to some, who has never actually given birth. Thanks to advancements in medical technology, I am not one of those women who would have died in childbirth, long and short of it, I have had two c-sections. They were both planned c-sections, and both were medically necessary. Am I grateful for technological advancements, you are darn right!!!!, do I feel any less of a woman for not having to push a baby out of my body, honestly no. If I am being completely honest, I don’t like pain, the thought of unmanageable pain can put me into a panic attack; once again the world works in mysterious ways, my first child was a transverse footling breech (c-section) and the second, and this is quoting my ob/gyn, “You will never, ever, never be able to push out.” Ok fine Doctor, point well taken (c-section #2). Now some will debate my point not to try naturally with the second, but take note, that during my second section, the head of my yet unborn son was visible through my first section scar (ever read about ruptured uterus’s?)….it would have been a fatal choice on my part for me and my son, I made the correct decision, the best decision for me and my unborn child.
Correct decision or not, I am still viewed by some as less of a woman (no matter what the circumstance) for not doing it naturally. Ok, so be it…..but why has this become such an issue of debate. The birth of a child is a very personal decision, based on what is best for the mother, father and baby, but yet we as a society have decided that it is ok to give unsolicited advice on “the best and proper” way to birth.
I listen in utter fascination and terror when people speak about their birthing experiences. Every story is so different, so unique, so personal, so beautiful, something that the parents can cherish for their lifetimes.
I also listen in utter fascination when I hear the “expert’s” aka: other women who have had children, give their “expert” advice on how to properly give birth….yes ladies, apparently there is a right and wrong way to do this!
I have met the ultimate “expert” on giving birth. I do not know this person, other than another mum at gymnastics back in Alberta. We were sharing our birth stories, as one of the ladies was “very pregnant,” and due to give birth very soon. We described in detail, probably too detailed for some sitting around us, the stories of how our children came into the world. The “expert” was the last to speak, and started her story with, “Now I appreciate all your stories, but any medical intervention (unless the child is in distress) is detrimental to the mother and the child…” I knew this was going to be one of “those” stories, a sermon, and it was going to be a good one!!! A good one it was!! I will not bore you with all the details, but in the “expert’s” opinion having a natural tear from end to end was much preferable than a carefully cut episiotomy, pain medication should never be used, it is not necessary….oh it was a wonderful account. The “expert” beamed after telling her story, the rest of us were speechless. The one and only comment I could muster, was how long was your recovery? Her answer 5 weeks……hmmmmm…..5 weeks, that would be a week longer than my recovery from my c-sections……all seems worth it to me! (but it was her decision, so I guess I had to respect that.) More time passed in an akward silence……Of course not being able to hold my tongue any longer, I pounced. In retrospect, this was a very snide comment on my part, but I felt I had to hammer my point home….and hammer it home I did.
I asked the “expert” what kind of trophy did she receive? She looked at me with a bewildered look in her eyes…..I repeated my question, “what kind of trophy did you receive?” She was appalled that I would ask such a question…..I was appalled that she was have the gall to preach to us on how to give birth properly. With no answer forthcoming, I told her, “I didn’t realize that there were trophies for birthing the “correct” way….. I wondered if she was high fived by the entire staff for her efforts, for kicking it old school, probably not…. she probably received the same “congratulations,” that the rest of us did…..she probably felt the same joy the rest of us felt.
This is just one story, but the most memorable in my mind. These stories are everywhere. Get a group of pregnant women together, and let the fight begin. I will, I won’t, I would never, how could you?, it can go on and on. It would almost be comical, but for the fact that these are women all in the same position, and all hoping for the ultimate “trophy”….a healthy baby.
What was so wrong with the days when we revelled in each other’s blessings? When did we all become “experts”? We have our own experiences, but that in no way makes us an expert on anything. What works for one, may not work for another…..and me being a coward, would never work for me!!! Let us unite and celebrate, not divide and conquer. We as women, are afforded the most amazing of abilities, the creation of life…..I will repeat, the creation of life…..bask in this, feel privileged that we are part of a very special “club”….a club we all understand.
My birthing days are long gone, but I think we as women, must refocus on what birth is all about. It is about bringing a new life into the world. It is a very personal and private decision. This is a topic that should bring us together, not divide us. I know women in general are fantastic debaters…..but we should focus on what should be debated, and what should be respected.
Birth, the experience of a lifetime. Everyone’s experience is different, but it is an experience like no other. I may not have ever been in labour, I may never have pushed a child out of my body, but I have carried a child inside of me for 37 weeks on two occasions. I have felt evey flutter, kick, hiccup, just like my counterparts who did it naturally. I do not have any trophies for giving birth, nor does anyone. In the end, I was blessed with two healthy children, and two smiley faced scars that remind me I am woman……here me ROAR!!!!