She isn't the only person I've heard that type of story from. Long before I was even thinking about having children, an acquaintance had posted on Facebook about how easy child birth was, and how she didn't understand what all the fuss was about. She didn't have any pain and it happened quickly.
Having seen birthing scenes in movies where women are screaming their heads off and look like they're dying, it was really nice to hear about these peaceful, easy birthing stories! I heard about a woman who prayed over each phase of her pregnancy, and it kept her from getting morning sickness, her growing baby was consistently health in the womb, and she had a peaceful delivery without any medication. So I thought I would try that, too! I would pray over the whole thing, and that would keep me from feeling any sickness or pain!
I had "morning sickness" my whole pregnancy. I'm so thankful that my work was as understanding as they were, because I was constantly eating at my desk to keep my blood sugar at the perfect level to ward off nausea, then running off to the bathroom every 20 minutes when I wasn't sure it was working. They let me come in late pretty regularly, and leave early pretty regularly, and looking back, I'm not sure why they didn't fire me, other than the fact that it's hard to fire a pregnant lady. Plus, they were extremely kind people who took pity on me, so I did my best to hide the sickness and do my job.
And to be honest, my delivery experience was kind of traumatic. Everyone was so nice and helpful, my whole family was there, my husband never left my side, all of my wishes were abided by, and yet...it was the worst pain I had ever known. Despite all my prayers for the perfect, painless, zen delivery, I felt like my body was trying to self-destruct. Even though I felt like a total failure as a mother already by making this choice, I opted for the drugs, and it was a wonderful decision. It still hurt like a mother (haha), but I didn't feel like I was dying anymore, so that was a plus! After hours of laboring and pushing and fluctuating of Asher's heartbeat, I was wheeled into an operating room for a C-section. Everything happened so fast. I was completely numb up to my neck, completely disoriented, and then this beautiful little baby was placed next to my head and I was left reeling while I tried to process what had happened over the past 12 hour.
Time helped to slowly alleviate the feelings of trauma as I moved past the delivery and moved into motherhood, but there was always that feeling in the back of my mind that wondered why the birthing process was so hard on me. I've talked to lots of other moms about their experiences, and I have heard far more stories that sounded like mine than the peaceful and painless story I was hoping for. Still, every once in a while, I'll hear about a mom who had a breeze of a time, and I always say, "Wow! That's wonderful! I'm so happy for you!" Yet in my heart I want to cry because I feel like I must be less of a mom or less of a woman because I had such a difficult time.
I remember one nurse in particular who was with me while I was debating whether or not to get an epidural. In between contractions and focused breathing and crying I said something like, "I want to be a strong woman. I want to have the baby naturally. I'm just scared and I'm not sure if I can." This nurse said, "Having a baby is natural. There are many ways to have a baby, and all of them are natural. However you do it, however you cope, whether you use pain relieving drugs or not, whether you have a C-section or not, you are doing what is natural--you're having a baby."
It's funny how, through all the chaos of that day, that is one thing that still sticks out to me.
I think about how that plays out in life. We're all built differently. The journeys we take lead us in all different directions. Yet, we're all human. We're all experiencing this life together. Someone isn't more or less human because they work a corporate job versus taking odd jobs here or there. We're all human whether we live alone or live with a huge family, on the street or in a mansion, dining on glorious feasts every night or sustaining by the generosity of others. We're doing the same thing--living. We're just all doing it differently.
I think that's how we should look at motherhood, too. I don't know why I had so much morning sickness while others have none, or why some people experience giving birth as the most chill thing ever and I had to talk to a counselor to get over the trauma. We're just all different. I can't compare what I go through to what you go through, because I have a different body, a different mind, a different child, different everything. We're doing the same thing, but we're doing it differently, and that's ok! It's still good, and it's still natural. And from the perspective of my faith, what I go through on my journey helps shape me into the person I need to be for my child. Only the Lord knows why I had to go through all that, but if it was what I needed to do for my baby, I would do it again in a heart beat.
I want to encourage mamas by letting you all know that having a baby and raising a baby is natural. Whether you delivered with or without medication, whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, whether you eat all organic foods or let your child eat popcorn for breakfast sometimes (guilty!), you're doing one of the most natural things in the whole world! You're raising a child! It's a wonderful gift, so don't be so hard on yourself if your journey looks different that someone else's. If you're loving your little one with all your heart, you're doing it right and you're doing what's natural.