For many doctors, nurses and people in general, pregnancy, labor and birth is something physical, a medical condition where the mind also plays a part but is not as important. For a woman it is all that and much more — it can be a spiritual experience, something that can not be explained. Not all women see it the same way and not all women feel the same way, and that is what is wonderful about this world. There is a space for everyone to give their own version.
To me, the woman who is not allowed to express and listen to her own body during labor has part of her experience taken away. For some, it is nothing spiritual, it is only about pain and that’s their story. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s not me. For me giving birth is feeling closer to God, the universe and creation — there is also pain, but it is not the only thing and definitely not the most important.
Even between the pain and the constant questions about the level between one and ten of my pain, I could feel the intensity of the power of creation. The day before my water broke, I dreamt I was walking on a rock path and one side there were trees and on the other there was sea. Suddenly the sea piled up into a huge wave and came over me but I was able to hold on to a trunk so I was able to go back to the path after the tsunami had come over me. I was carrying some bags and I wasn’t able to hold on to those but I was able to survive.
During birth things are revealed about ourselves, hidden paths of our unconscious are discovered. If you want… if you believe…if not, you take the path you want to take.
I think the bags in my dream were all the tools I forgot when I went to the hospital, like my exercise ball and my prenatal yoga video, but I still had my trunk which for me was God, my husband, my mom and my doula. When the contractions would come I closed my eyes. I could see a screen of water with a ripple in the center that would shake the image but did not break the screen — like when Neo touches the mirror in the film The Matrix after taking the red pill. During birth things are revealed about ourselves, hidden paths of our unconscious are discovered. If you want… if you believe…if not, you take the path you want to take.
When I could no longer keep myself from pushing even though my cervix was not open enough yet and I knew I could cause harm to me and my baby, I decided I had to take medication. It did nothing for the urge to push, and that’s when I lost all feeling of contractions and the water screen I would see when I closed my eyes. It’s not that I wanted the pain, but as I explained to my husband, it’s like driving automatic and stick shift. Automatic is more convenient but driving stick shift you can feel the motor better, you feel more in control of the car.
But I am here and my baby is here safe and healthy. I don’t regret losing my water screen because when I started breastfeeding my baby, my abdomen started to contract and it came back. I also had another moment of peace during the cesarean. I don’t know if it was God or my husband’s prayers or who but I was shaking in the beginning and I couldn’t stop until the moment the doctor said “incision time” when I felt this sublime peace that calmed all my nerves and part of my body still able to move. And it wasn’t the anesthetics kicking in, they had already kicked in because I couldn’t feel from my hips down but it was my upper body which was shaking before that moment.
So there were all kinds of moments, wonderful moments and extraordinary moments and anxious moments and terrifying moments but even then it wasn’t the most painful thing in my life. I don’t agree that labor is painful and awful. There is pain but you have to think of it as a tool to get to the goal, there were people who helped us in the hospital and see birth from this perspective but people who continue to see it as an inconvenience which should be treated as a disease really make the whole experience traumatic. Of course there can be complications but it’s not necessary to look for them everywhere all the time. It’s like wishing for the worst when you should wish for the best and whatever is closer to the parents’ wishes.
My pregnancy and even part of my labor experience, the part I did feel, was wonderful. I had two months of nausea and vomiting but other than that and the heartburn I had no other ailments. Even before getting pregnant I had an idea that pregnancy and labor could be painful but didn’t always have to be, if you have a positive and grateful attitude.
I wrote this in hopes that people understand a woman’s perspective of giving birth a little better, that it’s not the same for everyone and it shouldn’t be. Also, that whatever a woman thinks about labor before, during and after giving birth matters, even if it’s not rational, logical or reasonable. I think it’s actually irrational to ask a woman to be rational during labor. It’s an emotional moment, an intense moment, a moment when a woman does what no man can do and therefore could never know what it’s like. It’s not that we don’t want to share it, it’s just that we can’t and whatever we can share must not be ridiculed, it should at least be respected as much as possible.