New Beginnings Doula Training

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The journey of birth

"Truly birth is a journey. It can be amazing, lifechanging, paradigm shifting. It can also be paralyzing, painful, and victimizing. However it is for each woman, it will make her new. She will change because of her experience and become a different being.

My journey has been perilous at times and joyous at times. But the most important thing I have learned is that birth doesn't define me.

I used to think I was a failure. I would watch the women around me giving birth so easily and talking with such joy about their experiences. I couldn't understand why it wouldn't happen for me.

I tell people I have done it every way but cesearean and it's true. My first child was born in the hospital. I had planned a natural birth but ended up having an epidural at 9cms. I felt like a failure. My second child was born in a birthing center. It was my first completely natural birth. The midwife was pushy and forceful and I felt victimized. I yelled a lot and it was very scary. I felt like a failure. My third child was born in the hospital after an induction and an epidural. After planning a homebirth and being 12 days overdue and having seriously scary anxiety attacks I "gave in" and went to the hospital. I felt like a failure. My fourth child was adopted from India. She hated me and it was scary. I thought I would love her from the very second I met her and I didn't. I felt like a failure. My fifth child was born at home. I had an anterior lip and I yelled for almost 2 hours as I tried to push him out. I ended up having to get out of the birth pool and give birth on a birthing stool. I felt strong but still felt like a failure because I had yelled so much. My sixth child was born after a perfect labor and only 15 minutes of yelling. She was born at dawn in a backyard hot tub in the cool crisp morning. Birds were singing and it was beautiful. But I had yelled for 15 minutes so I still felt a little bit like a failure.

Now don't get me wrong. There is something surreal about a birth that goes perfectly. The birth of my sweet baby girl, Virginia, was a perfect birth. Finally I got my water birth and I only yelled for 15 minutes! ;-) It truly was a healing birth for me. But what it healed was all in my head. It was my own self that had been labelling myself as a failure. Now that I had been "successful" I realized how silly I had been. I realized that I had been berating myself for nothing. I realized that how babies came into the world was such a tiny part of life and I was putting too much emphasis on the how and ignoring the why. I stopped letting birth define me!

What a paradigm shift! So to all you moms out there, no matter how you choose to birth, I commend you for choosing to bring a child into this world. I wish you peace in your decision. Please don't let guilt change you into someone you are not. Let your birth be under your control. Don't let anyone patronize or belittle you. Be strong in the knowledge that you are a woman who is strong. You were built to give birth and you will, the way you want, where you want and how you want. And the most important thing to remember is that you are more important than your birthing experience. If things don't go the way you plan, you are not a failure! Don't spend your life thinking that way. Having the perfect birth is wonderful, but it's not essential to being a good mother.

I hope your journey is ecstatic. I hope you won't let your birth experience define sum total of your self worth. I wish you joy in mothering. And most of all I pray that your child will be healthy and beautiful and strong just like its mother".*

I appreciated this thought because birth is a journey, and not always the one we expect. But, we should first off quit thinking we are failures. C-section moms amaze me just as much as a wonderful natural birth. We need to refocus and just realize that no matter what birth can have meaning in our lives.

*This post is found at

1 comment:

Cherylyn said...

Rachel, I really enjoyed reading this. I had to highlight the text to be able to see it though. The font is too dark against the background.

Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?

  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.