It’s terrifying. With the first, it’s because the amount and intensity of pain is unknown. With the second, it’s because it is.
Modern medicine has made pain virtually a choice. Helllllllo, epidural. So why not me? Yes, I might be afraid of the giant needle going into my spine that is not without it’s own risks, but see above…I’m afraid of childbirth itself too and the needle is not scarier than that. Yes, I also think that there could be unintended consequences for myself of the baby with the epidural. I’ve heard of people who have an epidural and it doesn’t work, or it half works, or it forever has pain at the injection site. I don’t think people who get epidurals are putting their babies in great harm, or giving them autism, or anything like that. But yes, the hippie in me does like avoiding extra drugs if I can. I seem to have luck for getting side effects, but still, that’s not entirely it.
I think it’s beautiful what my body was created to do. Nothing says “hush” to the patriarchy like bringing life into the world. Childbirth is an embedded reminder that we, no, I, am strong. I am capable. I can experience pain without shying away. I am brave. I am willing. When life is broken, fragile, and hanging by a thread, I can look back at my birth stories and remember: I can do hard things.
“If you can’t beat fear, do it scared.” Thanks, Glennon Doyle.
I cannot do it alone. And I’m not alone. Friends and family waiting at home for phone calls of safety and health. Josh in the hospital room working up a sweat pushing on my back for the entire labor; holding my legs down when I apparently can’t anymore. And God delivering a baby girl with dark brown hair and distractingly blue eyes. Before going into labor, that was the most beautiful combination I could imagine. Hair and eye color changes, I know, but I got the note. I heard the message that God not only can, but wants to send us good and perfect gifts, unique and just for us.
Baby inside of me, I don’t even know you. I know that you shy away when people touch you, and I know that you don’t get the hiccups. I also know that you wake up when I go to sleep. But I don’t know you. You have done nothing good. Nothing bad. Nothing.
Being human, I am incapable of perfect unconditional love. But I can do this. I am willing to suffer; fully, completely, wholly, to bring you life. I know you didn’t ask for it. I am not doing you any favors. The world is questionable at best, always some kind of light and dark. But I want you to have life. Let this act show that if I could carry everything awful and painful on your behalf so that you could have life and have it to the full, I would. I know I can’t keep your precious soul from pain or loss, but I hope this shows that I am willing. That’s how much I love you. And I haven’t even met you yet.
“And what am I supposed to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display’.” John 12:27 MSG. Thanks, Jesus.
All moments are fleeting. We don’t have that many of them. Sometimes I need to let myself numb because I can’t handle the weight of it all. I need to watch some silly sitcom and go to bed early. Childbirth is not that time. That’s one of life’s moments. It’s a beginning. It’s real. Time stops in those hospital walls. I want to be there. Fully. Spiritually, emotionally, physically. The pain and the rising. The dark and the light. The agony and the life.
And with that…
Me: ”Josh, this blog’s not done, it’s a mess.”
Josh: “Well, child birth is a mess. You set the tone.”