“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”-Phil. 4:6-7
Now I understand the verse above was intended to encourage the Philippian church as it faced persecution. This reference is often misquoted as a means to instruct believers today to not worry about our present circumstances. I guess today I want a little bit of heresy. Is that too scandalous to admit?
My due date is March 17, 2018. My husband and I are expecting our third child (outside the womb). This is my fourth pregnancy. Anyways, I already am receiving constant texts asking about my status. Well meaning friends and family are asking how I am feeling, if there is any update on the baby and its arrival. “Any baby yet?” I haven’t even approached my due date and people are asking me!
Yes, both of my daughters were born at 39 weeks gestation. This has not been private information but facts I’ve shared loudly and proudly. It’s true that we will be humbled when we cross the borders of arrogance. The truth is that each pregnancy is different and so is each labor. This kid could decide to debut later than an arbitrary test stamps it to be arriving.
Anyways, maybe these texts are contributing to my anxiety. I want to say it is merely discomfort, but I wasn’t this anxious for a baby’s arrival in the past. I was calm and relaxed with my daughters. Now I groan with each passing day that this kid hasn’t arrived. I keep thinking I am in labor, gleefully riding the waves of contractions, only to have the pains subside a few hours later, greeting the stillness with frustrated angst.
I am having my second planned homebirth. There I said it. *Pause for audience freak out.* My first homebirth wound up being an out of hospital birth, but taking place at the Midwife office. The friend who was babysitting had no way of removing my other child from the home for an extended period of time. I also had a dog. While it was a wise choice to change locations, I guess I fear that I will make the mistake again and I won’t be permitted to have a homebirth ever again.
Now, the good news is that NJ is going to have its first birth center EVER! (Thanks to the Midwives of NJ.) If we continue to reside in NJ and have more children, I guess this would be a viable option. However, one appeal of a homebirth is not having to be transported anywhere. I get to stay home. Some think this inconvenient with cleaning as birth entails lots of blood and fluids, but honestly, motherhood has me knee deep in cleaning already that I don’t see it as adding too much work.
Another frustration, and probably currently contributing to a locked cervix, is my parents views on my choices. My mother had C-sections with both me and my sister. She chose to follow the advice of her doctor. I would never fault a woman for choosing to follow a doctor’s recommendations. A doctor is supposed to have more knowledge, more credentials, right? The problem is, I wonder what evidence he based his counsel on.
Yes, I was 9 lbs. and 6 oz. I was a fairly large baby. However, what recommendations on diet, exercise, etc. did he give my mother prior to this C-section counsel? Could my birth weight have been lowered by other choices? Knowing that hips separate to accommodate a baby during labor, could she have had me vaginally? Is it truly possible to say that a woman’s cervix is too small from a sonogram based on a baby’s weight and a woman’s height? So often I feel like the medical field is severely lacking when it comes to women’s health. Induction rates and C-section rates are too high.
Yes, there is a time and place for inductions and c-sections. I am not saying there isn’t a need for them or for hospitals. In fact, I had my first daughter in a hospital and it went well. I was asked a bunch of questions during labor which was annoying, but overall, it was a beautiful experience. Hospitals are good institutions when they are required. Some women feel more peace and comfort being in a hospital, especially during labor and delivery.
Growing up, I LOVED the doctors. I LOVED hospitals. I come from a mother who was exasperated any time I got hurt. (Now that I have become a mother myself, I can understand the frustration. My mother probably warned me a million times not to do something, I did it regardless and got hurt. Trust me, I get it now. I get frustrated with my kids in the exact same way. We are more like our parents than we care to admit sometimes.) Anyways, hospitals were a place where staff and administrators cared that I wasn’t feeling well. They felt compassionate.
I am surprised that in one of life’s most vulnerable states, I find myself NOT wanting to be there. I simply crave the isolation of home, all social media shut off, and the majority of the world having no clue that I am about to bring life into this world. It shocks me. I say all this because the stigma of homebirth in America saddens me.
We are a country that seeks comfort. We tend to think ourselves invincible. Somehow, our privilege makes us think we are less prone to death. People cringe when I say, “Lord willing” or “when I die…” Sadly, the truth is that we all die. Death is a by-product of sin entering the world. It hurts and it sucks.
The sickle can strike me at home, on the highway, or in hospital’s “haven”.
I do fear the blame game should anything go wrong. In fact, I had the “safety” conversation with my mom earlier. I know that if anything does go negatively, that I will likely not be met with warm, comforting arms, but rather the cruelty of chides. I would be told how I should have done things differently.
Just as we will never know if I could have been brought forth differently, we would never know if the location of my kid’s birth could have saved its life (if anything does go wrong). Americans like to assume such things, but I know too many women who have delivered a stillborn in a hospital to say that the building can save.
Now, I understand that increased emergent care has helped hordes of humans. We have been able to rescue hundreds, if not thousands, of infants with technology (there is a political debate on the flip side of this, but that would stray too far and I don’t want to get into that political debate…for the meantime, let’s stick with hospital care, midwifery, and newborn care political theory. I do apologize for the run-on bracketed statement.)
Hospitals are a necessity. They do provide lots of good. However, we can admit that we have started intervening when it isn’t necessary we do so. C-sections and induction are required at times, but the rate at which they are being done is alarming! Women have been able to birth and raise children into adulthood for YEARS without hospitals, doctors, and technology. Why do we all of a sudden think women incapable of performing a task they’ve been doing without assistance for millennia?
On International Women’s Day (which I just found out through google was today; I got distracted composing this lengthy, stream of consciousness, difficult to follow post), can we admit that we still have strides to make when it comes to women’s health and the perception of a woman’s abilities in our patriarchal society?
Can I please make a choice that I feel most comfortable with (after having been thoroughly screened for acceptance as well mind you) without being blamed or shamed should something go wrong? It has always been my hope that I might please my parents. Thankfully, parenthood has shown me how impossible that feat is. Whenever we make choices different than those expected or desired of us, we will be judged. Sadly, we must admit we do it too. Please forgive me. I am trying to become more Christ-like. (Yes, we are to hold each other accountable. In matters not explicitly addressed in Scripture, humanity must be granted free-will to do things with its resources as that individual sees fit, even if they aren’t how we’d do them).
Tragedy can strike at anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. May we not add to the pain of loss, illness, or uncertainty through judgement, shame, and prideful piety, especially to a pregnant or laboring woman. Her hormones just might wreak unwanted havoc! Just let the woman be!
*I write this more for me than I do for my audience at this particular moment. It has been quite therapeutic. As I’ve documented my frustrations, which are regrettably in the public sphere online, may it help resolve the clenching of this cervix. (Too graphic? Probably. Can I blame sleep deprivation or is admitting this revealing my sin and that I shouldn’t have uttered it in the first place?) Child, you are most welcome and for my sanity and sensibilities, please come soon (but of course, when you are ready and fully grown, not on my whim).
**Pushes castor oil aside. (Don’t worry, I haven’t resolved myself to gulp that yet. I’m not past my due date so I’m not resorting to such drastic measures. To do so would jeopardize my baby’s health and I know that. Sometimes, like much of parenting, we must set aside our desires for the well-being or our little prodigies.) FYI, also please understand some of this is very tongue and cheek. In trying to be amusing, I probably fail massively.
I am so uncomfortable. I really should stop writing. Who willingly sold me the internet, a keyboard, and a public forum when I am this far along in pregnancy? It is a dangerous thing to grant an opinionated pregnant woman such freedom, no? To our male dominated health profession, even in obstetrics, it is most dangerous indeed.
(Note: I am not a feminist that finds belittling men an acceptable form of equality. If there are undertones of that present in this post, it was not my intent. I am a fighter for equality, not female superiority. I married a man who is just as competent as I am (even if sometimes my verbiage doesn’t denote that). We perform tasks differently and that can sometimes make it feel like “I’m better”. I am not though. When that notion creeps in, I must address the sin of pride.
Anyways, I do think that women are more adapt at understanding women’s health issues because well, we are women. While I might have a theoretical knowledge of men’s health, it is difficult for me to properly address men’s reproductive health issues because I am not a man. As such, I think women better able to assist other women in this area of expertise.
Women’s health in a patriarchal society does need work. Women need to not be thought of as incompetent. Some might disagree that there is a hint of this mentality in the medical field. Sadly, I would argue that the increase in inductions, c-sections, and overall postpartum care, especially in America, reveals that this mindset is present, if not prevalent in our society. Thinking this is by no means meant to be an affront to our male counterparts. There are kind, caring, capable men out there working to help empower women (and vice versa).
(Many thanks to my incredible husband for being one of those men and always supporting me and the choices I make in regards to my body and its comfort. Your respect empowers me greatly. We need more men like you! You are meek and that is a great character trait indeed. I love you and can’t wait to bring another child into this world with you. )
Happy International Women’s Day.
May I stop this constant approval addiction. I don’t need to justify this decision! I have made my choice after being well educated on the matter. (Thank you Midwives of NJ and Bradley birthing classes for making me understand complications, challenges, and celebrations in regards to L&D, parenting, and motherhood.)
Okay, seriously, I seem to be rambling. I should go rest. Here is hoping I’ll be delivering (delivered from pregnancy’s discomfort and adjusting to being a family of 5…hehe) soon.
(Thank you Jesus for delivering your people when we put our trust in you. I pray this all goes well in your name. I need not have fear, I have you! You give me a new heart, renew a steadfast spirit within me.)