When your birth doesn’t go to plan, it requires great strength to be flexible, adapt, to trust and surrender. This kind of birth may be a blessing in disguise … It’s the best possible preparation for motherhood itself.
Last night I was watching the Girls episode “Homebirth” and it got me to thinking. First of all, “is it illegal to self-doula?” (It’s not. Though I highly recommend having a skilled birth attendant -and- a professional doula attend your planned homebirth, especially for your first baby!)
I had a homebirth. By all definitions it was “successful”, and some might call it ideal. (By the way, “birth” and “ideal” don’t belong in the same sentence.) I understand the home birth mentality. My “rap sheet” for birth and baby-having might seem textbook within that school of thought … homebirth with midwives, exclusive breastfeeding, herbs instead of drugs, delayed cord clamping, baby-led weaning, and co-sleeping. During pregnancy I didn’t even take Tylenol for pain. Before I became a mother myself, I trained with a midwife exclusively assisting with homebirths, and with indigenous traditional midwives in Guatemala.
I’m also a labor and delivery nurse. I administer Pitocin, assist with epidurals, and circulate C-Sections.
The reality is, even in the ideal setting, a homebirth transfer rate exists. No matter how calm, grounded and balanced a woman is; no matter the expertise of her midwife and doula; how many herbs and remedies she uses; or how much she meditates, prays and calls upon her inner strength … there is always a chance her birth will not go to plan.
It takes a warrior’s courage to risk your heart when things don’t go to plan.
Mamas, you are warriors. But that doesn’t mean you have to walk wounded. Remember that the following things are true …
Your birth may not have been perfect, but you are a perfect mother.
When I say perfect, I don’t mean without flaws. I mean exactly the mother you were meant to be.
Your birth may not have been perfect, but you made the best decisions you could at the time.
You made the hardest decisions you could ever make, and risked everything. That takes an incredible amount of courage.
It’s one thing to plan something, and another to actually do it. To actually do it takes strength, flexibility, And vulnerability. To actually do it means to show up, despite your greatest fears. It means that even though it was hard, you lived through it. Even if — especially if — your birth went differently than you planned, you did it the best way you knew how. And that’s good enough.
As years go on I’ve learned that needed birth interventions need not be a disappointment. With love, grace and true autonomy, each one can be a tool to bring a baby into this world safely, with sanctity and respect for the experience of birth. We all have a “dream birth” in our minds. Becoming a mother is learning that reality is far better than the dream … Imperfections layer upon layer until they weave the story that is our life. Trust that your body knows. Trust that your baby knows how to be born — even if it’s not the way you hoped. Let go of perfection, and bask in the beauty and mystery of life.
The featured art in this week’s post was created by the Art of Birth, a meditative coloring book for expecting mothers.