Monday, October 27, 2014

Why would anyone want to have a natural childbirth?

Can I just say that I love teaching Birth Boot Camp classes? I get to meet lots of cool people who actually want to listen to me talk about natural childbirth. I get to hear their stories too, and boy do they have good stories to share.

I'm not sure that I have had a Birth Boot Camp student or doula client who hasn't told me that they have been questioned as to why they are having a natural childbirth. "Why would you do that? That's crazy!" This is especially true for first time moms. There is no shortage of comments about how crazy it is to want to have a natural childbirth, especially for someone who has never experienced birth before. I know it was true for me. I heard plenty about how I would beg for the epidural as soon as I experienced my first contraction. I heard that I was crazy once or twice. I heard scoffs, experienced eye-rolls, and even some laughter. "Yeah, okay. You're cute, Kristi."

I did it!
Unfortunately, I think this comes with the territory of doing something you've never done before or if you are doing something out of character. I think planning a natural childbirth was a little bit out of character for me. I'd never been one to take on difficult physical challenges before. I wasn't athletic. I wasn't strong. I was a soft, sweet, flute player- a soft, sweet, flute player planning to take on the biggest challenge of her life.

Don't get me wrong. I had some support. There were a few people in my life who believed I was capable. I wasn't sure, myself, but they were. I'm thankful for their support.

My reasons for wanting a natural childbirth the first time were motivated by fear. I was scared of having an epidural. The thought of having a needle in my back terrified me enough to start me on the path to natural childbirth. The more I learned about it, the more I wanted one just because, well, just cuz. I wanted a natural childbirth just because I wanted one.

We cover many of the evidence-based reasons for having a natural childbirth in the very first class in a Birth Boot Camp series, but those reasons really were not my motivation at all. Science is nice. I like having that support, but if I am honest, that really isn't why I wanted to or why I still want to even after experiencing it twice now. Especially after experiencing it twice now.

I also figured I would feel pretty proud of myself if I was able to accomplish the thing that is supposed to be one of the most difficult challenges a woman can experience. But I still didn't want to have a natural childbirth just so that I could feel proud of myself. Feeling proud doesn't really capture the deep, almost primal, longing to give birth without any pain medications or unnecessary interventions. There was something deep in my heart and soul that just wanted to do this. Something beyond thought, words, reason, or explanation. Something beyond studies, science, and evidence. I just wanted it, and I was going to do everything in my power to accomplish it.

In my experience, great things don't happen without first experiencing my fair share of challenges. I understood that birth is unpredictable, and there is that mystical element of birth that is just plain ole out of anyone's control. We humans try to control this force of nature that refuses to be bridled, but there is only so much we can do. I did just about everything I knew to do in order to stack the odds in my favor of having a natural childbirth. I chose supportive care providers, took an independent childbirth class, and prepared as much as I could. I surrounded myself with supportive people. Then there was the challenge of birth itself. The day finally came, and I finally had the natural childbirth I longed for. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I couldn't believe that I did it! We did it. I am so thankful to my little girl for giving me that experience of meeting her in that way. I will cherish that memory forever. I feel like it gave me the boost I needed to be the best mother I could be. Until that moment, I never really thought of myself as someone who was strong and capable of hard things, but at that moment, I was a warrior woman! I was a soft, sweet, flute player who could give BIRTH. I think that it was the first moment in my life that I truly felt like I was awesome.

Nearly there. Just keep going. 
After that day, I was hooked on birth. I was hooked on my baby, and I was hooked on birth. I never considered myself a baby person, but I loved my little girl with a fierceness that I never thought was possible for me. I never wanted to be far from her. I remember missing being pregnant because we just weren't close enough. That feeling has passed now that she is older, and I am enjoying being a witness to her growing independence. However, I will never forget what she gave me the day I became a mother.

Everyone's reasons for wanting a natural childbirth are different. Some people want one because they want to accomplish something great. Others have done a lot of research and feel like natural childbirth is the best option for them. Whatever the reason, they don't have to explain it to me. They don't have to justify why they want one. I feel like many women feel like they have to explain themselves for making this choice. Why can't we just want it just cuz? Why is that reason not good enough? No one asks me why I choose to shower everyday. No one asks me why I want to lose weight. No one asks me why I want to run. No one has called me crazy (yet) for running my first 10K yesterday, but people still call me crazy for having had two natural childbirths. People still look at me like I have two heads when I say, "I would totally birth all the babies if I could. It's the raising of them that keeps me from it."

And speaking of running. I'm getting hooked on the high that you get after accomplishing something you didn't think you could. I completed my first 10K yesterday, and I am still flying high on that accomplishment. I'm super proud of myself for setting that goal, for training for it, and then doing it. But I have to admit, the running high just pales in comparison to a birth high. My birth high lasted months!

Has anyone ever asked you why you want a natural childbirth? What did you tell them?