“Hindi ka manganganak sa doctor?” (You’re not giving birth with a doctor?) This was my mom’s repeated and incredulous response to my announcement that I was going to go give birth at a birthing center. With midwives.
Her response also pretty much summed up how all of my other friends and acquaintances reacted to the same news. Disbelief, shock and of concern. It was pretty obvious that giving birth naturally has become unheard of, an irresponsible decision even, in this time and age.
Talking to many different people about it, I soon started to see an obvious pattern emerge. It seemed like the first thing to come to a person’s head when you talk about pregnancy or delivery is the fear that something might go wrong.
Fear that the baby was too big or fear that my pelvic bones or hips were too small. Fear that the baby’s heartbeat would stop or slow down or fear that the baby wouldn’t drop when it was time to drop. Fear that the pain would be too much or fear that the equipment wouldn’t be enough…
I could’ve caved in and given in to all this paranoia had I not been so sure of three things. First, that women everywhere had been giving birth for centuries before anesthesia had even been invented. Second, that God had designed our bodies so intricately that it could handle the pain of childbirth. And third, that God had planned this process so precisely that your baby and your body so harmoniously worked together on their own that medical intervention is (often, not always) unnecessary.
I will be honest. I had moments of self-doubt. Many moments, actually. Could I really handle the pain? What if my umbilical cord wrapped around my baby’s neck? What if my baby was in a breech position? What if….What if…What if?
After all, there was always a story of someone who knew someone who bled to death or whose water wouldn’t break while trying to give birth naturally. Always of something going wrong. I must admit, these were rather alarming scenarios. And if it could happen to these persons then it could surely happen to me, right?
But then again, I also knew someone who had a water birth and needed no stitches whatsoever. I knew someone who had a very wonderful birth in the comfort of her own home. I personally saw natural births happening before my very eyes at the Abundant Grace of God clinic. They were all fine.
Do you know the tale of the two wolves?
There are two wolves fighting inside of us. One speaks of fear, disappointments, bleakness and all other kinds of negativity. The other one speaks of faith, encouragement, hope and all other kinds of positivity. At which point, you may wonder and ask, “Which wolf wins?”
The wise answer is, “The wolf that you feed.”
I chose to feed the positive wolf.
I wasn’t going to let good ol’ fear get in the way of a soberly beautiful and natural birth. And I was not going to let worry burden me while I wait for my due date either. Why should I worry about all sorts of unexpected and grim scenarios when my delivery date was still so far away? If and when such complications did arise, wouldn’t Christ provide my midwives and I with the wisdom and the strength to handle them anyway? Besides, if things got really gnarly, my birthing center was 5 minutes away from a hospital.
So, two important points. One, worry keeps us from enjoying the rich, full lives that Christ intends for us (or at least from experiencing something son wonderful and new). And two, in whatever situation we find ourselves in, Christ’s grace is always sufficient.
Did I want to have a safe delivery? Of course. Then I had to believe that God wanted me to have a safe delivery. I had to put my focus on God’s promise and not on the worries.
Freed from the chains of worry, my mind became clear enough to research and learn all that I could about giving birth naturally. I spent a lot of time online reading the different stories and experiences of women who all had natural deliveries.
Over and over again, the stories proclaimed that it was a wonderful, joyful and life-changing experience and that if anyone was physically able and healthy enough to do it should consider it.
Pammi (nurse and leader at Shalom) lent me a book called the Bradley Method. The book, with its thorough explanation of what goes on inside the body during birth lifted the fear of the unknown. It also contained exercises and visualization techniques so that I could prepare my body and my mind for the task ahead.
There were times when I would recall the warnings of some of my friends who said that in order to have a safe natural delivery, you need to have started preparing months and months before your due date. I was well into my seventh or 8th month when I finally made up my mind that I was going to go natural. But I didn’t back out. My faith is sufficient. God’s grace is more than enough.
Instead, I did the best that I could with the one month that I had left. Diligently, I did the exercises and visualization techniques with my husband. Everything else, I lifted up to the Lord.
Finally, I got the go signal from my Ob-Gyne from whom I had been getting my pre-natal check-ups from. To be honest, I thought she would talk me out of it. She was the head of the OB-Gynecology department at Medical City after all. Surely, a “doctor”-less birth would be insulting to her profession. Instead, she gave me encouragement and made me laugh while doing so. (“Basta umire ka lang. Yun na yun.”)
So, fears quashed, worries lifted up, preparations made and an approval from my doctor….There was nothing else left in the way.
I was ready to give birth.
(To be continued.)
” I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13