Control | Release

Childbirth (and parenting in general) is such a balance of control and release.  I'm a naturally controlling person.  I like to know as much as I can going into a scenario.  I remember traveling to Paris for the first time and doing as much research as I could just about the airport and how to travel around the airport and to and from the airport/Paris.  I looked up maps, read blog posts about navigating the airport, searched out how to get on the train that took you from the airport to Paris, exactly how and where to buy the tickets to get on the train.  I feel like I'm pretty good at winging it and figuring things out on the fly, but if I have anxiety about something, I like to suss it out and get as much understanding about it as I can.  

I grew up with an extremely medicalized perspective on birth.  My brother was an extremely sick baby, given only weeks to months (max) to live.  And with a dad in medicine, specifically concerning sick and premature babies, I got a very singular view of what could happen during/after pregnancy.  And that view was very negative (or at least very focused on the complications that can arise).  At the same time it was positive in a way, knowing how amazing medicine is and how incredible modern medicine is.  My brother who was supposed to have died after only a few short weeks of life is currently thriving in his late 20s, thanks to the incredible procedures, many of them brand new or experimental, that have kept him alive.  At 25 weeks along, my baby is definitely now in the realm of being saved even if it decides it wants to come out prematurely.  It's pretty incredible.  

But all of that history and knowledge conflicts with my own desire to trust my body and have the most natural birth possible. So much of my view of birth has been so baby-centric, the mother is merely an obstacle to get the baby out of.  But now, as a pregnant woman, I desire so much to be an active participant, and actually, the central focus of the process.  The message that it's no longer about me, or that I no longer matter now that there's a baby involved feels so alienating and discarding.  Like, I was important until I became a mother and now I'm just a second fiddle to the child I created.  While I know there's a mental shift that occurs when you have kids, and you do lose some of that self-centeredness that you have as a solo human, I also know that to be the best mom that I can be, I also need to be a full person.  And I need to be a full person in birth too.

I hear a lot of doctors (and non-doctors too, actually), make fun of women for wanting to have a certain birth experience.  They make fun of them for thinking that the birth process is about them or important in any way that is separate from getting a healthy baby out of them.  For believing that the birthing experience is a profound, spiritual, transformative event that is sacred in addition to biological.  And really, arguing with them feels futile, because you feel like you're made into this selfish, ignorant hippie who doesn't care about the outcome of the baby.  Which is never true.  No mother going into birth cares more about her experience than having a safe and healthy baby at the end of it all.  But ignoring the link between supporting women through birth and their ability to actually give birth more ably and successfully seems like such a common occurrence in the medical community.  

I will be (well, planning) giving birth in a hospital.  There is a huge part of me that would love to have a home birth or give birth at a birthing center.  But I can't shake the knowledge that, if something ends up going sideways, I need to be down the hall from people who can revive my baby, not a car ride away.  I've kind of been ignoring the birth part of this whole pregnancy thing, mostly because it feels so distant.  I haven't even really felt really pregnant due to not showing much throughout the first and most of the second trimesters, not having any morning sickness, and generally feeling pretty normal.  But, holy cow, I only have 3 more months until this child decides it's too cramped inside of me and I need to start focusing on doing what I can to ensure I have the support I need to pursue my desire of a natural birth.  (side note: it feels so backwards that after thousands of years of having no other option but to birth naturally, we now feel like we have to fight to birth naturally).  At the same time, I know that, like all natural things, birth is wild and uncontrollable.  It's unpredictable and spontaneous, and having a plan isn't going to ensure much at all except that I might be sorely disappointed.  

I thought maybe after getting all these thoughts out I might come to a point or conclusion, but maybe I just needed to get them out of my brain and into writing.  Parenting and childbirth are such hotly disputed subjects.  It seems like everyone has a strong opinion about the right way to do it, and will fight you tooth and nail to get you to agree with them.  Part of waiting to announce my pregnancy until I was 23 weeks along was due to wanting to put off the advice-giving for as long as possible.  As soon as you are with-child people feel like they have carte blanche to start pumping you full of advice and opinions.  It's been lovely to stay out of that.  Even the stuff like, "Oh enjoy that sleep now, as soon as baby comes you'll never sleep again!" feels so unnecessary.  And it seems to be never ending.  "You'll be wishing for those newborn days when you're in the throes of the terrible twos!"  "Terrible twos!  Just wait until you have a teenager!"  

I'm afraid the internet has played a large role in pitting parents against one another regarding parenting and childbirth decisions.  As much as I love the internet and getting to be a part of a larger community online that I don't have access to IRL, it can also be a breeding ground for online bullying, putting other people down from behind a computer screen, and seems to make people unusually certain about their opinions (or at least causing them to confuse the distinction between fact and opinion).