So, it’s been a little over a month since I gave birth to the cutest, chinky-eyed baby girl and had a successful water birth to remember. A lot of people have been quick to offer their thumbs-up to such an unconventional birth. One might think that I’m this super-“strong” or crazy woman; but believe me, nothing could be further from the truth!
I wasn’t at all like an Earth Momma in tuned with my “inner goddess” nor was I ever so confident of my strength or my self-awareness that I could say I felt power instead of pain. I read somewhere Jessica Alba spoke of her birth this way, “It was Zen. I wasn’t screaming at all.” Whutt?!
Me? This is what this post is for. I’m here to tell you what it really like. In the early stages of labor, I asked him already if we could just go for a Cesarean. During transition, I was screaming shamelessly and pressuring my midwife if she could help me “hurry things up”. Hello, what can she do?! Whatever poise I possessed went out the window during birth. Thankfully, we had a great birth photographer who knew how to seize “opportune shots” and made me look really fierce haha! Thank you, Isabell!
Now, pregnancy and birth weren’t all pain. There were many fleeting, strong emotions that grabbed me, and there were so many, many important realizations. It was a journey. One that I know I’d never regret because it gave me my precious Emma. But the learnings I’d definitely keep and remember, if not for another birth (can’t believe I’m saying this), then at least to help another birthing Momma. Here goes:
- Prepare beyond labor and birth. Most focus all their time, attention and resources on preparing for labor and birth, but completely negate post-partum. I remember feeling so heavy and extremely uncomfortable during my last trimester that I was so confident I could do anything after birth. In fact, my husband was inviting me to go to the beach and I said, let’s wait for me to give birth and we can go anywhere. Ha! What I completely overlooked was POST-PARTUM PAIN. The body aches from the toll of labor (which felt like I had come from a boxing match), the pain of vaginal tears, stitches, hemorrhoids, uterine contractions on top of sleepless nights and continuous infant-carrying. Maaan!!! Being a woman is sooo hard! About ten days after birth and of going through such pain, I was frantic and going into depression. I was crying in the shower because of constant pain that I didn’t expect. I went through CS with my firstborn and I thought a natural birth was supposed to heal much easier. Now, I didn’t take into account that healing down there where it’s moist and had to go through pee and bowel movements would simply take time. Why am I telling you this? Because if you’re pregnant, prepare for this as well. Things don’t stop at birth, whether it’s CS or natural. You have to give your body time to heal. Pain will force you to rest, and that is exactly what you need to be doing. What can you do? Pray for patience through the pain for it really has the power to strengthen us. Then get good post-partum care, rest, keep yourself dry and clean and rest some more. Pour water when peeing and even during bowel movements to help ease pain, take Ibuprofen (but clear with your Doc first), and change underwear OFTEN. I heard this from other Momma friends, and I can now tell you the same thing: It does get better.
- Don’t be afraid to lose yourself. I had to learn this during labor. Child-bearing (and child-rearing) is all about giving. The more we hold back out of fear, the more it’s going to be difficult. The most important revelation for me was this: Just as we give a big part of ourselves while nurturing another being inside of us, I believe that God gave a part of Himself to each one of us, too. Creating us may have been easy for Him, but His “investment”was His own self. In His image and likeness after all. And what better proof than Jesus Himself? He gave Himself for us so we live a life reconciled to Him. And what birth taught me is that blood needs to be shed for new life. Sacrifice is part of love. But looking at my sweet baby, I know it is pain not without its reason or rewards. And I know I’d go through labor and birth again for any of my children; just as I know God created us even as He knew we would sin and choose to live in rebellion against Him.
3. Peace does exist. Pregnancy and birth have been pre-designed. While my mind filled with all sorts of what-if’s and possibilities, a steadfast stillness filled my heart. Peace does precede and follow even during the difficult stages, but overthinking and worry did make things complicated and harder to manage, simply because I was fighting design. But learn to distinguish God’s peace and guard it. When I found that I’m tired from flailing and fighting, that same peace waits for me. And I have the option to choose to TRUST the peace-giver instead. And I rediscovered the feeling of patience through the pain, of His love that never leaves us even in the midst of calamity or pain. But I cannot manufacture peace. True, authentic peace. When His peace comes to me, it’s different. Steady, firm, undeniable but not overpowering. Sure, graceful but not pushy. Which is how I know it’s not from me. It’s from Someone greater and Someone who cares, because this break is exactly is what I need.
4. Husband has a very important role. This is the reason why I opted to birth in a birthing home rather than a hospital. I wanted my husband to be with me during labor. I knew I would need his support in there, as I needed it in other areas of my life. His constant reminder for me to breathe, his massages, his hands (which I squeezed and battered painfully) practically enabled my pushing, and his emotional support post-birth helped me get through it all with my sense of humor still in tact. Even if you would birth in a hospital setting, hubby’s role still is important as the journey doesn’t end at birth. Ask for help and involve him.
5. It’s a can-do. Some women say birth is a must-do, like some sort of item to check on a bucket list. But it’s more than that. This is what we’re designed to do. Birthing is something we really, truly can do. The way our bodies were made, its size, its capability to handle pain (and believe me, we can handle it), its ability to heal–all are part of the grand design of motherhood. It’s not just a mind-over-matter thing. We can really physically do it. Kaya siya.
Now, given all that, was natural birth something excruciatingly painful? From my own personal experience, no. The body prepares and eases us into it until mind, body, heart are all ready to give birth. So by the time my baby is ready to come out, I’ve just been waiting for it and fear of pain has no more hold on me. It did bring out strength that I didn’t know I possessed, but I say this without pride. On the contrary, natural birthing humbled me. It literally brought me down to my knees, surrendering to my God who gave me the faith that He is in complete control. I went into it weak, yet supernatural strength was lent to me, and with it, I gave birth to new life. Praise God for this miracle! It’s incredible to be made a part of it.