The road to motherhood is often riddled with unsolicited advice, criticism, and guilt-trips. Often from people with the best intentions. It was fortunate that my husband, mother, mother-in-law, family, and friends were ever supportive and tactful during the nine months of pregnancy.
But that didn’t mean that I didn’t get my own share of flack from well-meaning people:
“Look at how fat you’re getting!”
“Are you sure you’re going to eat all that?”
“You’re not eating enough! You should be eating for two.”
“You shouldn’t walk around! It’s bad for your baby.”
I learned to pretend to listen politely. Sometimes I’d laugh over the comments in private, or rant to my closest friends about them. There were, however, two particular comments I could not help mulling over:
“A natural birth is better—you’ll feel more like a mother that way if you feel the labor pains.”
“Giving birth is like having one foot in the grave, not that I’m trying to scare you.”
Why should women have to be made to feel that they must fear giving birth? Being informed about what to expect is one thing, but being utterly terrified about it is another. Why does it seem that there is the “perfect” birth – one where a woman heroically goes through hours and hours of labor, with minimal painkillers, after which she is immediately be able to produce milk for her baby, and then be up and about a day or two later. Are you any less of a mother if you give birth any other way? And can you really plan these things?
Three weeks before my estimated date of delivery, I had my birth plan ready. I wanted a natural delivery, with as little medication as possible. My decision about the meds was because I had read a lot about the side effects of many drugs used during delivery, and because I wanted to see what my limits were. I tried to keep my weight gain within the normal range so I wouldn’t have to have a c-section. The ultrasound was promising: our baby wasn’t too big for a natural delivery, and he was already positioned head-first. The OB gave me the go signal to start walking around more so the baby would start to drop.
Two weeks before I was supposed to give birth, the OB informed me that our baby was feet first and that I would probably have to have a caesarean section. She said that there was still a slim chance the baby would turn around, but she booked the operating room anyway. G said that it didn’t matter to him how I gave birth, as long as both the baby and I were safe. I, on the other hand, was still hoping the baby would turn. I asked friends and family to pray for us.
During our last check up, our OB did one last ultrasound. Our baby was still in breech position. I resigned myself to the caesarean that was only five days away, and told myself that God had a purpose for allowing this. Even if my original birth plan was already out the window, I insisted on one thing: that they give me a spinal block instead of general anaesthesia. I wanted to be fully conscious for his first minutes out of my womb.
G and I were about to leave the hospital when I started having the early signs of labor. Our OB admitted me and scheduled my CS for that same day. Even though I wasn’t experiencing any contractions, she didn’t want to risk waiting another five days.
After a nine-hour wait, I was wheeled into the operating room. Fifty-five minutes later, the doctors delivered our 7.8-pound baby boy. G heard him crying all the way from the waiting room, through the glass doors.
We found out later that God did have His reasons for allowing our baby to come earlier than scheduled. The doctors found the umbilical cord loosely wrapped around his neck. They also found that our baby had some meconium staining. God knows what could have happened if we had waited another five days.
I have since then realized two things: First, pregnancy, delivery, and motherhood, in all their variations are by no means easy. The price that a woman has to pay physically, mentally, and emotionally, is steep— but well worth the sacrifice. People should remember this before criticizing, teasing, or laying the guilt on a pregnant woman. Second, there is no such thing as “the perfect birth”. Each woman, each baby, each set of circumstances are different, and it would be crazy to expect otherwise.
I may not have had the delivery I was hoping for, and I may not have had that “perfect” experience, but God’s timing and purpose for our baby was perfect. That’s all that matters to me.
(c) 2013 Lynette Carpio-Serrano, All Rights Reserved