4.12.2014

Opinions Are Like Armpits

I've always been very opinionated. Just ask my mom. Or ask my husband. He definitely knows. Somehow he married me, even though he knew that.

It’s easy to be opinionated about things with which one has experience. For example. I know by experience that Dannon Oikos is clearly the superior Greek yogurt, and Chobani isn’t even in the running. I mean, Oikos's key lime pie flavor or lemon meringue flavor can be little tubs of creamy heaven in the middle of a mediocre day, while Chobani just makes me twist my mouth into a sour, disappointed pucker.

But childbirth? How do I have opinions about childbirth before I've ever experienced it? It’s such an awkward place in which to find myself: I am supposed to develop a birth plan (naturally with the wisdom of others as my guide) when in reality I have no frame of reference for the kind of pain I will be experiencing. I don’t know what will come out of my mouth. Heck, I don’t even know everything that will come out of my body (please God, please not poop)!

For some first-time moms it’s easy, because they have long-standing opinions about medicine and organic everything. I don’t, really. I mean, I believe in being healthy and being good stewards of everything with which we’ve been entrusted, but I also can’t afford to live like Adam and Eve in a blissful garden of organic fruits and vegetables, so sometimes I buy canned food (*gasp*).

I did my own research and I talked with women I trust. I searched my own conscience and talked with my husband, and I think I’ve become opinionated about childbirth. Well, at least I have developed an opinion.

But I must admit my fear of all of that going out the window when push comes to shove, quite literally.

For the sake of accountability, I’m telling the world: I’m attempting natural childbirth. You may snort and say, “Doesn’t every woman attempt it?” And you’d probably be right. I did register for an epidural, so it’s quite possible I’ll crumble. I’m not anti-medicine in any way, and I do believe medicine was developed for a good reason and can be put to good use. But here is how I came to my opinion that attempting natural childbirth is the safest and most beneficial way for me to go: I figured that though childbirth is now painful as a result of sin, my body was still created to go through this process, and God has graciously made me strong and healthy. Secondly, countless women across generations and all terrains have given birth naturally and survived… and then have done it again… and again… Sometimes the medication can interfere with the process and complicate the delivery. Sometimes. Natural hormones are released when they aren’t covered by medication, and those hormones both bond mom to baby and help aid in the recovery process for both mind and body. 

So my plan is to labor and deliver naturally unless I am laboring for an excessive amount of time and need to rest in order to continue, or if there are unforeseen complications that would require medical intervention. Women who have medicated childbirths are not in any way failures. But if my body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, I feel like I won't have an excuse for needing medication. Would it provide comfort? Definitely. But there’s this macabre part of me that thinks that feeling the full force of labor and delivery might help me better understand the weight of the curse of sin, and is it totally weird that I kind of want to understand that better in order to appreciate God's grace more?

So I've become opinionated (for myself, for the record. I don’t care what anybody else does in labor and delivery. Your “business” is your business) about something for which I have zero frame of reference. Let’s see if about a month from now I write a post that goes a little something like this:

“So about natural childbirth… it works in theory, like Communism...”


But I’m hoping that by the time I actually experience childbirth, I can look back and say “I took a leap of faith. I made a choice. I followed through. And now you’re here.”

And I wanted to end it there, poignantly, but I just have to take a minute to address how opinion everyone else gets when women are pregnant. The last thing a first-time pregnant mom needs is a bunch of women telling her what she must or must not do based on their own personal experiences. Every woman is different. Every pregnancy is different. Just because one woman gave birth naturally doesn't mean I will be able to handle it. Just because another woman sings the praises of medication doesn't mean I will need it. Opinions are fine, and even helpful, but when they become dogmatic "YOU HAVE TO HAVE AN EPIDURAL BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T YOUR BUSINESS WILL RIP OPEN IN A VIOLENT EXPLOSION OF GORE!!!!" statements, that's simply not helpful. 

What is most helpful is informed support. Tell a pregnant woman what labor is like, let her make her own decision, and then choose to believe in her and support her, even if it's not what you would choose. Because this is her, not you, and you had your chance to do it the way you wanted. Now it's her chance, and she needs to know that other people think she can do it. Chances are if she would listen to your opinion, she would also like you to be her cheerleader.
xoxo, A