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Four Months Away from the Best and Worst Day of My Life

February 12, 2013

(Before I start, two things: 1. This will not turn into a baby blog, I promise and 2. Read the footnotes and disclaimer before you get upset.)

I’ve been gone awhile.  Only one person noticed (thanks BL), and that’s okay.  Part of the reason is because there’s been a very big change in my life: I’m pregnant.  It’s our first baby, and the first grandchild on both sides, plus the first great-grandchild for my dad’s parents.  Pretty exciting stuff.

I intended to keep things very simple.  We have one bedroom, which means no nursery.  Babymoons, Gender Reveal Parties, and Push Presents* are not for me (thanks, Baby Industry for creating new things to spend money on in this lousy economy).  I don’t need a wipes warmer gadget or a $600 stroller*.  But you find when you are expecting a baby, you suddenly have a lot of decisions to make.  (Or not.  Really, you can make it as complicated as you want.)

  • To do the NT screening or not (we didn’t).
  • To find out the gender or not (we aren’t).
  • To vaccinate or not (we will).
  • To circumcise or not (assuming it’s a boy, we will).
  • To cloth or disposable diaper (cloth).
  • To return to work or not (I have to).
  • Breastfeed or formula feed (breast is best!).
  • What to name this child (that’s a blog post all to itself).
  • To take classes or not (Bradley Method, breastfeeding, and infant CPR/first aid).

Each decision requires some thought and research, unless you just want to show up for everything the doctor recommends and do everything that (s)he says.  I don’t really work that way, it turns out.

I’ve gotten some mixed reactions to some of our decisions.  Father-in-law doesn’t like our boy name choice.  Everyone is incredulous that we have the technology to discover the gender in utero but we don’t want to know.  “Cloth diapers smell.” “Vaccines cause blah blah blah.” “You’re going to what?!”  But by far, the biggest negative reaction I’ve received is to my decision to have an un-medicated, intervention-free birth outside of a hospital with a midwife**.  (Cue dun dun duuuuun sound effect)

317946_10200277212037844_282189383_nEveryone has an opinion.  They’re entitled to them.  I have my reasons.  I’d like to explain them.  They might surprise you.

(1) I am a Christian.  I believe God created not only my child, but the process of childbirth.  He purposefully increased labor pains in Genesis.  I want to experience the labor and delivery of this baby the way it was designed by God.  No short cuts, no medication, no interference.  As much as possible, I want to just let my body do what God made it capable of doing.  I also think of Mary, a teenage virgin in a barn, giving birth to our savior without any comforts.  I’m not about to go have my baby unsupervised in a garage on a pile of greasy rags but I do want to feel some connection to Mary’s experience by minimizing all the things that come with modern hospital births (IVs, fetal monitoring, induction, episiotomies, etc).  I also know that Christ suffered on the cross.  Having this baby will likely be the most painful and difficult thing I ever do, but I know that Christ endured worse for me.

(2) I want to prove I can do it.  In a way, I just want to challenge myself to do something that most people will never do.  I doubt I’ll ever run a marathon or get a PhD or learn to play piano, but I believe I can do this, and I want to try.

(3) My mom did it.  It feels like family tradition to birth naturally***.  When I think of my mom having both my sister and I without an epidural, I’m really proud of her.  I think it’s incredible.  I want to do it too. (And thanks, Mom!)

(4) I believe it’s healthier in many ways.  I’m not going to lay this out, because it’ll cause arguments, I know there is a lot of conflicting research… I’m just saying it is my belief that epidurals can have side effects and I don’t want to risk it.

(5) I love my midwives.  I feel so blessed to have found my birthing center.  I have nothing against doctors or hospitals, but I prefer the kind of care I receive with my midwives and the kind of atmosphere that the birthing center provides.  I like the options they give me (to labor in a tub, to delay cord clamping, to have immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact for an hour, to delay bathing, to be able to eat and drink and have free movement during labor, not to be hooked up to IVs and monitors, to be able to go home hours after delivery, etc).

I know what you’re thinking.  Probably something like, “Take a shower, hippie!”  I accept eye rolls, snide remarks, criticism and alternate opinions.  You can think my baby’s name is ugly or think I’m irresponsible for giving birth with someone without an M.D.  No problem, doesn’t bother me.  What I don’t appreciate is hearing horrific birthing stories.  You can keep those to yourself, I’ve heard enough about broken tail bones, fourth degree tears, and 48-hour labors in the last four months to last me a lifetime (as if I needed to hear any of that).

Obligatory footnotes:

*If you like any of these things, fine.  I’m not launching an attack or passing judgment, just stating my preferences.

**I am not naïve.  I understand nothing is as unpredictable as childbirth. I realize that I might not get the kind of birth I am planning on.  Complications arise.  I might end up in the hospital with a c-section.  I am prepared for possibilities like that.

***I use the word natural.  Not everyone likes it.  To me, it’s not a value-laden term.  I do not mean to suggest that if you had an epidural or a cesarean or if someone broke your water, that your birth was “unnatural.”  I don’t know of a better word to use (I’m open to suggestions but “un-medicated” doesn’t really mean the same thing), so I use “natural” and I don’t intend it to cause offense.

General disclaimer:  People get sensitive about all things related to parenting.  I don’t think my opinions or preferences or ideas are better than anyone else’s.  Unless you’re endangering your child, I have no opinion of how you birth, feed, clothe, discipline, or otherwise raise that child.  Don’t take offense or feel judged.  I’m just a first time mom trying to figure out what’s best for my baby.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 28, 2013 11:28 pm

    I stumbled across you blog through Becoming Dad on Facebook. How funny that I recently (today) found myself writing a similar blog about giving birth naturally. I really appreciate how you expressed your opinions. It’s good to know there are other first time moms out there who simply want the best. While I am not Christian, I do agree with you wholeheartedly that our bodies are meant to do this. I wish you the very best with you little one.

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