I haven't shared much of my pregnancy/birth experiences online. This is partly because I know so many who struggle with fertility and don't want to see another pregnancy post on their feed (I apologize for the millions of photos I've posted of my boy if that also isn't fun to see all the time--that's an obsession I should tackle later) and partly because there are so many stories out there! I don't want to invalidate anyone's experiences by saying my way was a better way, or that my story is the way yours will turn out. If you've birthed a baby, you've done one of many amazing things! If you haven't birthed a baby, you've done other amazing things! So now that we get that disclaimer out of the way, here are my thoughts....
My first pregnancy with Theodore was a transforming experience for me. I'd initially gone into it thinking I would have my baby at the hospital and try for no epidural, but after biting on a wooden spoon for hours, I'd be open to one if I couldn't "handle it." I went to a wonderful doctor recommended by a wonderful friend and asked this doctor for suggestions for a birthing class. She recommended hypnobirthing. I'd known a few friends who had gone that route and I'd heard positive things, so Stephen and I jumped into it, not knowing it would completely change our path.
While planning for this first birth, I'd heard so many expressions of surprise, discouragement, defensiveness, and sometimes ridicule, mostly from other women.
Maybe I'd unknowingly prompted this in my zealousness for a natural childbirth--anyone who's given birth has done something huge! (I've said that already, right? Have I emphasized it enough? HUGE!) And I hope I've never communicated that if someone's birth was medicated that the birth wasn't as significant. I apologize if that ever seemed the case.
However, whether due to a need to defend our experiences, or to prove that we're tough, or to show that we know more than someone else, I've noticed a frustrating trend of sharing the worst of our birthing experiences with others--most often with new mothers. This is not helpful! The birth of my first ended up being a calm, beautiful experience. It was hard, but nothing about it was negative. I wouldn't change a thing.
So, I had the baby! I had a baby! I no longer felt stupid speaking up in conversations about childbirth because (here's my badge) I DID IT! But during conversations in which I've participated, I still haven't said much about this frustrating trend, and I hate confrontation, so I'm getting all my thoughts out here in the interwebs. (:
Let's stop scaring each other.
Let's stop defending ourselves to each other.
Let's stop laughing at others who want to do something different.
You may laugh at me because I've only had one baby so far, and that birth was a friggin' piece of cake compared to yours. But what if it wasn't just because my body is lucky? What if my positivity helped a little, too?
Again, this is something I've never talked about in a public sphere, because it is so sensitive. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or make anyone feel inferior. I only want us ladies to have each others' backs--in birth and any other sphere of life.
During this second pregnancy, I've dealt with a whole new set of fears in having two babies under 2. This second baby was a big surprise, so I've had my own negative/anxious thoughts I've had to address and try to meet with fairness and positivity. I'm in a much better place now in managing something so unexpected, yet, during this journey I've continued to notice other women communicating negativity to me. "Ugh! You're braver than me!" "Wow! Good luck with that!" "Your first was an easy kid? Get ready for a hellion."
Why do we do this??? Why do we spread misery to those who need to be uplifted?
Now, before anyone feels that biting or accusatory tone I mentioned in my preface, let me emphasize that I know I do this in other spheres of life. I think about all those times I said to a college kid, "If you want a masters, get it right after you graduate, otherwise you won't ever want to go back!" Or when I've heard some tween is entering middle school and I say, "So glad that part of my life is over!" Definitely not promoting positivity there!
Being pregnant again has just reminded me to check myself and to try to temper these habits because I'm currently at the other end of that experience and realizing how not fun it is to be the recipient of all that negativity. But we all do it. It's a human thing, right? When we've known a hardship, we tend to snuff out the positivity around us. Maybe we want to defend our experiences. Maybe we want to help others not be blindsided like we were. Maybe we don't know why the heck we do it and it just comes out of us without prompting.
Now, some people really do have good intentions. I had a conversation with a neighbor early on in my pregnancy where she told me, "It's okay to feel anxious about this. You're doing something hard! It's okay if you need help." That was advice I needed to hear while feeling guilty about all of my negative feelings. The key difference in this interaction was that it was said in a spirit of love, and not in a spirit of flippancy.
So, in practicing my hypnobirthing techniques again this second time around, I'm reminded of the need for confidence, positivity, and solidarity. This second birth is going to be awesome. I'm going to have two kids so close in age that they will be best friends. My husband and I are capable people who will have joy and thrive with two young babies. Those are my much needed positive affirmations.
To you expecting mothers, I affirm this-- Your body is capable of amazing things. You are strong. Nature made your body able to give birth smoothly, calmly, and beautifully. Your body and your baby know how to work together in harmony. You will have a positive birth experience.
To all women, I affirm this-- You are powerful--more powerful than you realize. You can influence the people around you.
Let's choose to influence for good.
Love you all.