“Perhaps our children will grow up familiar with birth and knowing it to be a positive, fulfilling process, but for most of us that discovery, and a corresponding effort of deconditioning, must occur when we become pregnant or are contemplating having a child.” (Rahima Baldwin, Special Delivery)
I read that line last week as I flipped through what I still think is one of my top picks for birthing books. I couldn’t help but think of my mother, who shaped my entire concept of pregnancy, birthing, and babies. She was the one who put forth the effort of being reconditioned, and as a result, I was the child who grew up familiar with birth, and thinking of it as hard, yes, but hardly negative.
One of my mom’s life messages, whether she’s ever set out to preach it or not, is, “What is God’s design?” She’s a true Creationist. What I mean is, the decisions she makes day in and day out reflect her firm belief that God made our bodies, and that His design is good. Pertaining to childbirth, this means that she actually believes God made a woman’s body to nurture and sustain a baby for nine months, and then to deliver that baby.
(As an aside, Ina May Gaskin writes that jokes comparing childbirth to forcing a golf ball through one’s nostril sort of upset her, especially when told to a nervous first-time mother. That’s simply not a fair comparison, because while our nostrils are not intended to fit around a golf ball, our bodies are intended to deliver full-grown, healthy babies. I thought that was a brilliant point!)
This, then, is the idea that I was raised with. Mom didn’t spout negativity about labor and delivery as the date approached, although she would occasionally admit to moments of panic! Rather, we saw her dutifully stretching, walking until the last day, eating well, and generally approaching delivery with determination and preparation.
My midwife commented to me last week on how well I’m moving about still, and how many women, by week 37, are incredibly awkward and stiff. Huh, I replied. Well, I guess I just grew up watching my mother, and she never slowed down a bit, and so perhaps that’s my idea of how to handle late pregnancy?
Yes, I’ll give credit to my mother for that, too.
In fact, more and more I realize how much effect Mom had on the subtleties of my attitude towards birth. I am so, so thankful. So thankful. There has been no deconditioning for me to do. I simply reaffirm the thoughts and ideas that are already well planted and watered by a courageous, faith-filled mother.
I write all this largely to communicate what a gift we give our children (and especially daughters!) when we tackle the issue of fear in childbirth. Yes, I can’t overstate what a gift I esteem this to be.