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’m sure I scared you with my huge stack of papers.
We had yet to even shaken hands and I pounced on you with words tripping over each other.
I saw your eyes get bigger and bigger with each sentence that I breathed out in rapid succession.
I saw you wondering, “Who keeps all this paperwork with them anyways?”
That would be me.
I’d been lied to and disregarded for 32 weeks, and you were my last hope.
You asked, “What’s your biggest concern?”
I pulled out the crinkled paper with yellow highlighter marks all over it.
I said, “This is too high.”
I handed it to you and watched as you scanned the page. I tried to explain what research I’d done and how I was sorry to be bothering you, but you were engrossed in the page.
Your face grew somber.
My heart skipped a beat. I was prepared to be told, “You’re wrong. Everything is fine.”
After all, I had been told that for weeks.
“You’re right.” I heard.
I didn’t understand. My lips were already forming an apology for wasting your time.
“This needs to be addressed immediately.” You said, “How long has this been going on?”
I sat there, shocked. In the entire 32 weeks I was pregnant, you were the first person to genuinely care. At least for long enough to listen to what I had to say.
You said, “You will most likely not make it to term. You need to prepare to deliver at any day.”
I did. I sent up a pack and play, a diaper pail, and got the carseat installed that very next day.
We requested that you be our OB for delivery, but you said that day was your last day in this part of the OB unit.
It was true. My next visit, you weren’t there.
The other doctors didn’t like me. They didn’t listen like you. They didn’t believe I could deliver without pain medicine, they didn’t like that I had a doula, and they really didn’t like that I was young.
The results you ordered the day I saw you came in, and with the ranges for normal that you had told me, I knew something was wrong.
But you were the only doctor that knew what the problem was, let alone what it was called.
I called and begged for you, with hot tears streaming down my face.
The nurses told me you were gone. That they couldn’t find you. That there was no way to track you down.
I was scared. I knew that the condition was fatal for my baby if I went to term.
I began trying to go into labor.
I walked, I ate so much spicy food Bubba will kill me if I ever eat anymore, I did squats.
I tried everything.
Then, at 38 weeks pregnant, I walked into my last appointment as a pregnant woman.
The nurse took my blood pressure. She took it again five minutes later. And again.
Something was wrong. She placed me in a room with my husband and told us not to worry, she’d have the doctor come immediately.
I sat there, sipping water as I was instructed, asking my husband if he thought the nurse had been acting funny.
“Hey!” I heard, from the other side of the door.
You sat down in front of me and leaned forward.
“How are you?” You asked.
“Crappy.” I said, with all the tact that can be mustered out of a 3rd trimester, exhausted and ill pregnant woman. Even still, I was happy to see you.
You grinned and said, “Let’s fix that, shall we?”
I asked you questions and you made sure to answer all of them before having me sign the paperwork. You explained everything and addressed every last concern.
Little did any of us know that a day and a half later, after a long, but successful induction, my son would be in my arms.
Because you listened, we are both alive today.
When you popped in at my 6 week checkup to make sure we were both okay, I was sad that this would be the last we would see of you.
I didn’t find out until later just how hard you worked to come back and make sure I was properly cared for.
You’ll see hundreds, if not thousands of patients in your career, and I hope you treat every one of them as well as you treated my son and I.
For all of this : Thank you, Doctor.
New Crunchy Mom