Before I continue with this series of posts on pregnancy and birth, I thought I should take a moment to clarify who I hope will benefit from it.
If you had a positive pregnancy and birth experience, then I’m writing for you.
Because of the negative expectations surrounding pregnancy and birth, I’ve found that those of us who enjoy this season and achieve the births we want are often silenced in our stories. I’m continually amazed, when I share my joyful experience with groups of women, how most of the group will assume I am some kind of special exception to their war stories, and how, later, one woman will quietly pull me aside and thank me for speaking up. She will comment, in one form or another, that she rarely shares her wonderful experience because her friends make her feel guilty for not having endured their pain.
But if, as I contend, there is so much fear in our society about birth, then shouldn’t our response be to tell as many brave, victorious stories as possible? If women have been created by a God who designed our bodies to create, sustain, and bring forth new life, then shouldn’t we sing praises for the beautiful times that this occurs?
So I am writing this series to encourage those of you who were blessed with peaceful pregnancies and glorious births to tell your stories! Give hope to the women coming after us and share the wisdom that you learned in your birth journeys.
If you had a less-than-ideal or traumatic pregnancy and birth experience, them I’m writing for you.
While I celebrate the incredible stories of the women above, I must also acknowledge that a great deal of women feel guilt, shame, discouragement, and disappointment with their pregnancy and birth experiences. I want to be clear that my series in no way intends to disgrace or dishonor you. I also want you to know that there is a God of HOPE who desires you to move beyond shame into freedom, to release guilt into surrender, and to exchange discouragement for comfort. I believe that God is powerful enough to achieve this for you!
At the same time, I earnestly pray that my series encourages you to honestly reflect on your experience so that you, too, can tell your stories and share wisdom with the women coming after us. If you can evaluate the many factors that played into your experience, then you can help prepare other women and, perhaps, guide them towards a different outcome. Sometimes, genetic heritage plays a significantly larger part in the destiny of your experience; but often, knowledge and informed decision-making can contribute even more. You have knowledge! Share it!
Most importantly, if you have not yet conceived but one day hope to experience pregnancy and birth, then I am especially writing to you.
Consider this: in the first trimester of your pregnancy, you are exhausted. All of the time. So exhausted, in fact, that you can fall asleep anywhere, and when you’re awake, your mind is falling asleep even if your body somehow manages to keep your eyes open. You are hormonally unpredictable. And you have an entire range of emotions surrounding the fact that you are, in fact, now pregnant and responsible for another human life.
This is not exactly the most ideal time to start thinking and making decisions about the most intense, intimate experience of your life – giving birth. Yet, for most women, it is not until they achieve pregnancy that they even begin considering the immense weight of these types of decisions. Many women have not healthily evaluated their own fears, desires, and questions surrounding pregnancy and birth until they are forced to find a prenatal care provider and choose a hospital.
So my own personal prayer, with this series, is that all the women who are not yet carrying babies will begin their journeys towards pregnancy RIGHT NOW. Gather information from a variety of sources before you have an emotional or personal stake in the matter. Take some time to find out your family history and reflect on what you think about pregnancy/birth. Where did those ideas come from? What information do you wish you knew?
I welcome and invite comments, suggestions, and questions from all of you! I have plenty of ideas of what I’d like to cover in this series, but because I want this to be an encouragement for story-telling and a source of information for yet-to-be moms, your feedback will help me write for our entire community and not just what’s in my head. J
p.s. I am not intentionally discounting men from this series, particularly if you are a married man but not yet a father. Information is power, so I hope that this series can be informative for you as a partner in parenting and broaden your ideas of how women can experience this incredible miracle.