While I was pregnant with Bubba, there were a few things I heard with regularity. Among the snoopy questions, snide remarks, and congratulations on my pregnancy, one phrase stood out: “Trust birth.”
“Trust birth” was the mantra of all the pregnant women around me. Every time I hear it, I get an interesting picture in my mind. I envision pregnant ladies sitting in a circle and holding hands while repeating “Trust birth” as they get henna tattoos of trees drawn on their bellies. Of course, there is also a copy of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth sitting in the middle surrounded by softly flickering candles.
I always wondered what they meant by “trust birth”. When I pressed for an explanation, I usually heard things like “Your body knows what it is doing, don’t let doctors intervene!” and, “Birth is safe, your body will do exactly what it’s supposed to when it is the right time.”
“Sure,” I said, “that sounds nice.”
I should’ve been fine, after all, Bubba was my first pregnancy and I had no reason to worry. I watched as women were reassured that their baby would turn after being breach, maybe even during labor, and that they had nothing to worry about…Right before they didn’t and the mamas had to have emergency c-sections. Countless other scenarios came and went, all ending with me asking myself what happened to their “trust birth” experience. I observed these devastated mamas as they mourned the loss of their easy, “natural” birth.
Although I was skeptical of this mantra from the start, each new story filled me with more doubt. Still, I told myself that these ladies must be the minority, that Bubba and I would have no problems. I tried to find something that they must have done wrong during their pregnancy to attribute their outcome to. That seemed to be what everyone else did, and they always seemed to find a reason as to why these things happened.
Maybe they didn’t try enough things to flip their baby, or maybe they didn’t use enough essential oils, or perhaps their undesired birth experience merely came from their lack of trust in their body’s ability to give birth. Whatever the reason, I was sure we would be fine.
And then we weren’t. Turns out, my body didn’t know what it was doing, besides not cooperating. It was VERY good at that. There was nothing safe about me laboring unsupervised and without intervention. My baby and I were in danger, and trusting my body, or birth, was about the worst thing I could do.
I can hear it now…
“Things would’ve been different with a midwife!”
“A doula might’ve prevented it!”
(She actually was wonderful, the situation just wasn’t preventable)
I don’t “trust birth” because my body and my ability to give birth aren’t trustworthy.
And you know what? That’s okay.
I know, I know. Revoke my crunchy card if you must, but its the truth.
This isn’t meant to be discouraging, it’s meant to be realistic. You can keep chanting “trust birth” and I’ll hope and pray you are able to. But at the same time, I’ll be supporting and encouraging those of us who haven’t been and won’t be able to “trust birth”.
While the phrase “trust birth” is meant to be empowering to pregnant women, it can have a negative effect on those who are unable to. Being open to and prepared for a variety of situations in labor may mean the difference between a stressful birth and a peaceful one. Educating yourself, no matter what kind of birth you end up with, is what is truly empowering.
New Crunchy Mom
I had wanted you for a long while.
It was a constant longing. An ache in my heart that I couldn’t seem to fill.
Then, it happened. Your tiny form began growing inside my womb.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, those two pink lines staring back at me.
My heart was exploding with new-found love for you, my baby.
The knowledge of your existence was the sweetest message I had ever received.
Your little heartbeat was music to my ears.
Your tiny kicks against my ribs were my daily delight.
I prayed for you, that you might be my baby someday. That your presence in my womb be a reality.
I loved you, even before you existed.
I fought for you, against everyone and everything that threatened us.
I missed you so much, and I hadn’t even met you yet.
My arms ached to hold you. My heart carried that blessing for so long, alone.
I introduced you to music, and felt you dance within my womb. I spent hours feeling your joyful dancing.
I became more and more anxious for your arrival. The anticipation was unbearable.
My heart raced when the doctor said, “You are having a baby today.”
How could I be anywhere near what you deserved?
What if I wasn’t good at being a mother?
Doubt filled my mind.
I didn’t have time to dwell on doubt, though.
My attention was torn away by waves of intensity wrapped around my abdomen as contractions drew you nearer to the outside world.
A kind of strength I had never felt before enveloped my body, washing through to my core.
I knew it was time.
The force of your tiny body leaving mine was indescribable.
I felt no pain or fear.
I heard your cry and instantly experienced your damp, wrinkled skin touch mine as you were placed on my chest.
As I held you, I rejoiced.
The missing piece of my heart was finally where it belonged.
We were together at last.
New Crunchy Mom