Would you travel to a foreign land with no preparation? (An allegory of natural birth.)

Picture by Nigel Richardson

Imagine yourself:

  • Landing at the airport of a foreign country, to which you’ve never been.
  • Your husband is with you, but he’s never been there, either.
  • Neither of you speak the language of the country.
  • You have a destination that is off the beaten track;  only a very small percentage — maybe 3-4% — of tourists each year visit your chosen destination.  You’ve heard that it’s a beautiful place, well-worth seeing, but a hard journey to get there.
  • You have no maps.
  • You have no personal guide.
  • You’re not familiar with the city at all — you don’t know the streets or even how the transportation system or even where to go for help.
  • A vast majority of those around you don’t really care if you reach your destination.
  • Worse, many of these strangers seem antagonistic of your efforts and seem to be sabotaging your efforts to reach your destination, and continually try to steer you to a different place.  “I don’t understand why you want to go there.  It’s not really worth it.  Why don’t you go here, instead?”

This is the picture I get in my mind of too many women who want a natural birth.  They have heard that it’s a fabulous destination.  But, they may or may not even know anyone who has reached it.  They just have the desire to go there.

Now… might the above travelers reach their destination?  Yes, they might.  If they stumble upon a kind and helpful stranger, or perhaps if they’re really hard-headed and determined and are able to stand firm in the face intense opposition.

But, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I wanted to have a natural delivery, but…”  Then, the mother finishes story with a heartbreaking account of unintentionally poor — almost always avoidable — choices which almost always reveal a lack of adequate planning and usually non-existent support.

When you step onto a bus in a foreign land with a desire — yet no other preparation — to reach a particular destination, though you may eventually reach where you desire, it’s much more likely that you’ll end up in some other place, perhaps the exact place that you did not want to go.  You many even end up being poorly treated, leaving you with memories that make you cringe with regret for literally the rest of your life.

Now, it’s also possible that even with a thorough education, perfect planning, supportive and helpful people around you that you still may not reach your desired destination.  But, your chances of reaching that gorgeous glade of ecstatic achievement, rest, beauty, intense emotions, and alert and glorious health are MUCH, MUCH higher with good planning than without.

Though this may sound harsh and perhaps even unbelievable, especially to a first-time mom, simply a desire to birth naturally almost never translates into an actual natural birth…    You can’t just want it.  You have to educate yourself, starting with being aware that what you want is something that 95% of mothers in the United States never do.  Of the 5% or so who do birth naturally, a percentage or two of those were unintentional — usually fast labors, arriving at the hospital too late for an epidural.  In this country’s highly medicalized hospital culture, most women — and even most health professionals — don’t recognize the physical and emotional benefits — for both baby and mom — of natural birth.  It’s messy.  It’s hard.  It’s unpredictable.  It’s intense.  Emotional.  It can be draining for everyone around a naturally laboring woman, not just the mother herself.  It’s just a hard path that most people don’t choose, so a mother choosing to birth naturally MUST realize that she is completely swimming upstream, and has to prepare herself in every way, be convinced of the benefits of natural birth, and commit herself to the process.

It IS possible.  I’ve done it five times.  My own dear friend Nicole just birthed a baby yesterday evening in a hospital with even more abysmal statistics than most:  98% of laboring women (minus the planned c-sections) birth with an epidural.  However, she not only desired a natural birth;  she was determined, and planned to make it happen.  She read books.  She watched videos.  She talked to everyone she knew who had had a natural birth, gleaning insight and tucking advice away into her heart.  She hired a well-recommended doula, who was great.  Her husband was 100% on board.  She chose an OB whom she knew (through the recommendation of another naturally laboring mother) was very supportive of natural birth, and discussed her plans with him beforehand, and re-discussed them, and re-discussed them, making certain that he wasn’t going to pull a “bait and switch” — talking reassuringly, but then not supporting her efforts.  In other words, she not only had sight of the goal, she knew what she was up against, and she prepared accordingly.  And just a few hours after she arrived at the hospital, her 7 lb 11 oz son was born, 100% naturally — not induced, no meds, no interventions.  She DID IT.  Even though she ended up with a nurse who was not really supportive — which can really be an obstacle — she and those around her were prepared, and the nurse didn’t become a deterrent to the process.

So can you, anyone who is reading this.  You REALLY CAN.  You just have to prepare.  Know WHY you want to go there.  Know the lay of the land you’ll be visiting.  Read the visitor guides beforehand.  Practice at least a few key phrases.  Discuss your travel plans with those who have been there before, taking their instruction and suggestions to heart.  Consider hiring a guide.  Know the way:  know which roads to take, and which to avoid.  Limit the access you give, in your mind, and in your physical presence, to naysayers.

And then when you DO arrive, bask in it, knowing you’ve done a hard job well.

Galty Mountains, County Tipperary, photo by TJ Tierney

 

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 10, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I am a natural childbirth advocate and an erstwhile birthing class instructor. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on August 26, 2011, in Birth, Encouragement, Health, Medical Stuff, Travelling. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. And you were a big part of that, too, Karen. Having a friend and supporter and encourager like you is another part of thy equation. Having people cheering you on to get there. And my wife, Nicole, made it to that destination. I can attest that our baby is the most alert of all three, responded to my voice upon hearing it, and mom has recovered the most easily of all three births.

    Great allegory and–you’re right, it’s work…but possible.

    • Jonathan, I felt very privileged to have Nicole’s trust, and every bit of anything I shared with her was an utter joy, and I can’t tell you how proud I am of her!

  2. To tell you the truth, whether I am right about this or not, it felt like this post was written in response to the comment I made yesterday… And it felt like a pretty severe chastisement, partially deserved but also a little bit too harsh in spots. I agree, there were bad choices that I made that I could have avoided if I had known more. But the thing is, I was so totally ignorant about just HOW ignorant I was. You used travelling to an analogy… Here is mine: when you start school as a small kid, you are just excited to learn how to count and then how to add and subtract and multiply. You think you are so smart and you just have no concept of just how much mathematical knowledge there is in the world. You know NOTHING about calculus or algebra or differential equations or proofs or geometry or topology… you get the idea… Not only do you not know about those things, but you think that what you know up to this point is all there is TO know. It is only as you learn more and more that you realize just how much you don’t know and just how much more there is to learn. (Some people are more like this than others. I confess, I tend toward know-it-allness and the inability to prepare for things happening too far ahead, and an inability to project about things I know nothing about).

    When I got pregnant the first time, it was unplanned. My husband and I were SO excited despite the unplanned-ness of it all, and I knew nothing about being pregnant or anything. I quickly bought a couple of books about pregnancy and read the first few chapters avidly. I perused sites about pregnancy on the Internet, learning all that I could about how babies develop in the womb, what kinds of symptoms I might experience, etc. It was devastating when I experienced a miscarriage a few weeks later. Up to that point, I thought that miscarriages were really uncommon. People are so very hush-hush about them; I only knew of TWO people that had had miscarriages. One was my mother and the other was a woman that I had been told in secret as a pre-teen that she had had a miscarriage. I was extremely surprised to learn that about 20-50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. I started doing a lot of reading about miscarriages after I had mine and I came across a LOT of forums and information on the Internet. But this is an example of what I was talking about; I knew about being pregnant, I knew how I GOT pregnant, I even knew where the baby was supposed to come out (haha), but I didn’t know anything and I had no idea that there some things that I should even TRY to learn about until afterwards. I hope I’m making a bit of sense.

    When I got pregnant the next time, with Ilona, I spent most of my pregnancy in fear of a miscarriage. I wasn’t focused that much on the birth, except to the point of hoping that it would go well and doing some reading on how a typical labour progresses and different positions for labouring, but most of what I read was completely foreign to me because I had never gone through it. I was mostly just worried about growing a healthy baby and feeling paranoid every time I went to the bathroom, anxiously making sure that there was no bleeding. I figured that when I gave birth I would just know what to do… Once again, I just couldn’t fathom just how much I didn’t know. And my midwife didn’t help at all. She was an acquaintance, and I think because she knew me she was a little lazier in my prenatal care. I also think that she assumed that I knew more about childbirth methods than I did. Nothing I read mentioned prodromal labour. I actually didn’t know what that was until you wrote a post about it not too long ago, when your friend had a very similar experience as I did. When I read that post, it was like a light clicked on: THAT’S what I experienced with Ilona! Everything that I read said that if your labour starts with your water breaking, your contractions will pretty much kick in strong and regular immediately. Mine didn’t. I don’t regret getting an epidural with Ilona. I NEEDED one. I had been awake for well over 24 hours. I was drained mentally, physically, and even spiritually, I think. The previous nine months had been filled with constant background worry about miscarriage. And I resent a the implication you make that if you get an epidural you WON’T experience the “…gorgeous glade of ecstatic achievement, rest, beauty, intense emotions, and alert and glorious health..” Giving birth to Ilona was one of the most emotionally intense and beautiful things that I have ever been through. And I was up and walking to the bathroom within an hour and half of giving birth despite my epidural. And my recovery was not difficult at all.

    Felix’s birth mostly went well… My only beefs with it were that no one helped me come up with less painful labouring positions, and the doctor breaking my water without getting my consent. But you know what? Every pregnancy I go through, I become more educated and more aware of things that CAN happen, and I become more aware of the things I need to learn more about, and I become more aware of the things that work for me, and I become more aware that I can say NO to something I don’t want or agree with. My goal for my next delivery is to have it without any medications and no water breakage. I also hope that my perineum will make it through with less tearing, though I doubt it will as my skin is prone to tearing and stretchmarks. And I hope to have some kangaroo care happen with the next one too. My first two were on my breast within 10 or 15 minutes of birth, but I would like to have the baby rest on my belly for more than 2 seconds after they are born. That is actually my greatest regret from BOTH my births. But do you know what? I won’t love the next baby any more than my first two even if I finally get a birth that goes exactly according to how I want it to.

    I do want to say that I also very much agree with you: natural childbirth is something that really needs to be talked about more, and it needs to be something that more women strive for. But I also think that there is widespread ignorance among women about how ignorant they are about it. How are we supposed to be able to educate ourselves if we don’t know that it’s something we need to educate ourselves about? When we don’t know just how much we don’t know?

    As a final remark, are there any books about natural childbirth that you would recommend? I am very interested in learning more, now that I know there is more to know than I thought… 🙂

    (My experiences with nursing were very similar with Ilona; I had no idea what I didn’t know… But I won’t get into that now).

    • Oh, my word. Absolutely not. Absolutely, positively, 100% not. I’ve been working on it, in my mind, for several weeks, when I came up with the “taking the bus” comparison, and it all came to a height, honestly, with Nicole’s birth on Thurs night, then I wrote this on Friday morning. And, I hope this doesn’t sound awful — I usually read each comment immediately, because it comes into my e-mail. But — just now — I looked back in my e-mail and realized I never even read your comment from last night!

      Similar to what I said to Kim below, each time, each birth you learn more. Each birth I’ve been happy with, but looking back, I wish I would have known a thing or two or five that would have made it easier. With my first, it was 14 years ago, and I didn’t even have internet. I read zero books and went to birthing classes, which were — completely by accident — Bradley method. I didn’t even know what “Bradley method” was. I delivered 11 days early; I didn’t even know I was in labor, but — again — looking back, I had nearly 3 days of prodromal labor and nearly 12 hours of early labor that I was not aware was “real” labor. My son was born less than 2 hrs after I got to the hospital, but that, too, was pretty much an accident. I had a doula, again, sort of on accident, because she is my husband’s friend from childhood, and I figured we’d need her to keep him calm, but she probably saved my natural birth with her encouragement to me. She ended up being SO valuable to me. When I look back on that first birth, it really was almost a miracle that I birthed naturally. I had made sure my OB was naturally-minded, but he ended up not even being there. The on-call doc gave me an unconsented episiotomy. Also, I labored with an IV. I didn’t know what a hep-lock was.

      It’s now, as I look back, that I realize that I made it to my destination (I WAS very, very determined), but only by the grace of God and the confluence of circumstances.

      What I think is important is to then take a step back and say, “OK. How could I have done this better? Could I have? What can I do differently next time?” The only foolish approach would be to do the SAME thing the next time, but expect better results, and it doesn’t sound like you’re doing that. 🙂

      Blessings to you as you prepare for your next pregnancy and birth… and, thankfully, there are loads of resources on the internet now, and bloggy friends to help you along when your resources where you are, are limited!

      • P.S. My favorite book on childbirth is Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert Bradley. HOWEVER, it’s not perfect. I resent his constant comparisons of laboring women to cats and farm animals. I’m a person, not a cat. Also, his book is CHOCK FULL of best-case scenarios, like a patient of his who was an acrobat who walked on her hands mere minutes after giving birth. HELLO?? Like that is going to happen. However, the basics of allowing labor to progress naturally, and even privately, I totally agree with. And, the book gave me a new appreciation for a husband’s role in birth, and how, really, I could lean on him more. Bradley covers other specifics — like not breaking the water — that are helpful. I should read it again, actually!

        Actually, I should read more books in general. The Doula Book is good, not just for making the case about doulas, but it presents a lot of convincing statistics about the benefits of standard medical care vs. natural care (including, of course, having a doula).

        I’m presently reading The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin. I have mixed feelings about it: even though 95% of the info in there is good, some of it is implausible or impractical, or would just be unlikely to happen in a hospital birth, even though she addresses hospital and home birthing continually.

        I have learned the most about birth from keeping up on birthing blogs. A few I read are Stand & Deliver, Birth Without Fear, Woman to Woman Childbirth Education (though the author, Kathy, is almost exclusively on Facebook now, she posts daily links to sites or articles of interest to the natural birther). The Man-Nurse Diaries is a good one, though writes on non-birth topics, too. There are a couple others that were EXTREMELY helpful to me, but are no longer functioning: Nursing Birth (everything is still up on the site, though), and It’s Your Birth, Right! (which isn’t functioning at all)… Also, if you don’t read Daja’s blog: http://gombojavfamily.blogspot.com/, you should. MANY of her posts are on birth. There are others, too, but those are the ones off the top of my head. Oh, one more! http://injoyvideos.com/mothersadvocate/ Mother’s Advocate is especially helpful — with videos and print material — if you want to labor naturally in the hospital. ALL very practical, do-able advice.

        I hope that helps!!

        • LAST THING (for now).

          Though birth is amazing no matter how it is accomplished (and I’ve been present for ALL kinds, even in the room as a c-section was being performed), and even though every mother takes great satisfaction in what she’s done… There really is an… orgasmic quality to a peaceful, natural, no-med birth that is not present in the vast majority of women who birth by other means.

          I’m not suggesting that any mother loves her baby less if the baby wasn’t born naturally (though it has been proven by studies that mothers bond better with no-med births, and there is less incidence of PPD in natural births)… But without a natural birth, the “hormonal cocktail” is simply not present in epidural’ed births — the medications in them are endocrine disruptors, and they inhibit the body’s natural hormonal response!

          I’m sure they statistically exist, but none of the natural births I’ve been any part of were any kind of let-down for the mother. She FELT both the lows (the pain) and the HIGHS of the hormonal saturation immediately post-birth… Other births I’ve been present for… well, I’m thinking of one where I was present for the birth, a little over a year ago, and afterward, the mother said, “It just doesn’t feel all that exciting. I’m relieved it’s over, and I adore my baby, but it doesn’t feel like I thought it would.” I said nothing to the mother to compound her disappointment (not then, and not later), but I caught the eye of another woman in the room who had had two natural births — her sister — and we talked later and discovered we both were thinking the same thing: “You just don’t get what you wanted to get, if you have an epidural-mediated birth.”

          Only speaking from what I’ve experienced, witnessed, and read: A natural birth just IS more intense — both the highs and the lows. The baby isn’t any less fabulous with an epidural, but the experience for the mother is much different, and I believe, much to her loss. That’s why some natural birthers have been accused of being hedonists!! Just seeking that high, and selfishly so. It’s a ridiculous accusation, but I can almost understand why some might observe a natural birther’s joy and make that judgement.

        • Thanks for the info… I have perused Stand and Deliver quite a bit, and even watched some of her videos of her giving birth to her last baby. I don’t know if I could ever do a home birth on my own in water. Wow! (Well, geographically there is no WAY I could do a home birth unless it was a super fast emergency birth… The closest place with a hospital equipped to do a birth is 1.5 hours away). I’ve also read a bit of Daja’s blog, but not really the birthing parts of it. I should, for sure.

          And you’re right. It is important to analyze your previous births and what happened and what you would like to do differently the next time, if you are hoping/planning for a next time. There are other things too that I would like to do differently that I’ve been thinking about since Felix was born. One thing I was certain about and made sure my “deliverers” knew, was that I did NOT want an episiotomy. I tore both times, I think a degree 2 tear, but everything I read said that tears heal better than episiotomies in general. Though… my sister is going to need reconstructive surgery from her tearing, so that is not even always the case. Anyway… 😀

          • Few more thoughts:

            1) When reading birth blogs, just glean what you can, for what is workable for you, and what you feel led to do. Otherwise, you can get really down-hearted about all these amazing births that you have never had and never will have.

            2) About tearing: I discovered that I push too hard. Crazy, but true. When pushing comes, I push like a crazy woman, even if I’m not supposed to push. I had to learn to communicate with my OBs to let them know that I need them to really “baby” my perineum, to stretch it as the baby is crowning, to lube it up if need be, and for me to push very judiciously, and even push slowly, breathe/hum through pushes, especially just as the baby is crowning, to let that perineum streeeeetchhh. Although it is a bit controversial as to its usefulness, I did perineal massage with both baby #4 & #5, and had no tearing (unlike the first three), only minor “skid marks”.

            3) Giving this whole topic (about “ideal birth”) a bit more thought, I came to the conclusion that it’s much like purity. I was a virgin when I got married at age 21. To the best of my knowledge, I knew no other virgins who were my age. No friends, not even from church. At least, not any close ones, with whom I was privy to that info. Even my high school church youth leader wasn’t supportive of my desire to retain my virginity!!!! 😮 She told me it was “a nice idea, but not very practical”, and not to get my hopes up. NO ONE I KNEW was keeping themselves a virgin. No one. (Well, I had ONE friend who was committed to the cause, but she was raped, which is a whole different, tragic story…) So, I was really winging it on my own, based upon my own convictions of what God wanted for me. I had *zero* resources, other than the word of God. So, in the end, I retained my virginity, but I rather missed the point. I didn’t retain my PURITY, which I — crazy to admit — didn’t really understand was the true goal. Heidi, I dated wwwaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too much from age 16-20. I kissed around 40 guys over that five year span. FORTY. I had guidelines for myself, about how to keep myself out of real trouble, and I stuck to my guns, but do you know what I’m saying? I missed it the real goal, big time, because I didn’t even understand what the real goal was, and had no books, no mentors, no websites, no sisters-in-arms, no teaching, nothing. So, even though I read with wistfulness and regret about what “could have been” when I read love stories like Daja’s (whose first kiss EVER was on her wedding day), and although I kick myself for a multitude of poor decisions, and for the fact that I could have/should have done so much better…. Still, it’s not like retaining my virginity was a waste of time. It was still GOOD, even though it could have been better. I think it’s similar to our convo about birth. We just do the best we can with what we have. We do better next time, if there is a next time, and we be honest with ourselves, and we help others to even achieve what we couldn’t do on our own, because we just didn’t know. Does that make sense?

        • THANKS for the link, Karen! My archived blog actually has more posts about birth and postpartum than the new one. Which is: gombojav.blogspot.com.

          I like Husband-Coached Childbirth by Dr. Bradley, but I hardly ever recommend it. 🙂 He was a maverick in his day, but the language and terminology is a bit outdated. My favorite “Bradley” book is Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon.

      • (I didn’t really think the post was in response to my comment, it just seemed so funny that it appeared the day after, haha…)

        And thank you for reminding me that there is one other thing that I would really like for my next birth: no IV. What a pain it was BOTH times.

  3. Sorry about all the grammar/spelling mistakes. I should have proofread it a little more carefully before I posted, but I nearly lost it and it went all kind of funny…

  4. Brilliant post. Brilliant metaphor. It makes complete sense. I think too many women depend on their doctors to act in their best interests. I do agree with you that women as a whole need to be better educated about the entire birthing process and to take back some control.

    I know that you will and are probably in the process of responding to Heidi but I just wanted to say a couple of things in regards to her comment. I am a labor and delivery nurse. I have 3 kids. All were hospital births and all three were with an epidural. With my first I was happy to have every intervention. I actually wanted but was denied a c/section. A year later I read “Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth”. It changed everything for me. The next pregnancy was a planned home birth with a midwife. I read everything i could get my hands on about natural childbirth. I was definitely educated. I also got care from an OB because my first birth had been considered high risk. Then at 38 weeks my water broke and contractions started. I labored, hard, every 2 minute contractions for 21 hours. I got to 3cm. My daughter’s head was crooked so there was no pressure on my cervix to assist with dilatation. I went to the hospital exhausted. It took another 10 hours until she finally came. I cried on the way to the hospital, during and after my epidural and felt like I had failed when she finally came. I guess my point is that education is great. Having a goal is tremendously important as is the path to achieve that goal but sometimes that goal isn’t going to be reached. I beat myself up over my failure for a long time. I kept thinking that if I’d only done this or that then maybe the outcome would have been different. Again, back to my point, I think that as important as education is i think flexibility to accept changes to your plan is also very important. Without that we are far more susceptible to feelings of regret and failure. Striking a balance between flexibility and developing an educated plan is tricky for sure. In the end for me when #3 came along I decided to have a hospital birth from the get go. I knew I would have an epidural but that I would decline most other interventions such as pitocin augmentation, lithotomy position, vitamin K, erythromycin ointment, episiotomy etc. I had skin to skin contact immediately. We were breastfeeding in minutes and the list could go on. In the end my first and third births were the most satisfying and empowering.
    So, Karen, all that blathering aside, my hope is that as you teach women about birth find a way to teach them self acceptance if their path takes a different turn than they planned.
    P.S. Where did you get that 98% from? You are probably right but I’m curious where you got the information.
    (sorry im too tired to go back to edit out bad grammar and spelling.)

    • YES, Kim. You are so right. “I think that as important as education is i think flexibility to accept changes to your plan is also very important. Without that we are far more susceptible to feelings of regret and failure. Striking a balance between flexibility and developing an educated plan is tricky for sure.” This can be true of virtually ANY birth, even a natural one. Every birth I learned more. Yet, every one I can look back and say, “I should have done this differently, or that” and you can manufacture regrets for the slightest of things. For me, it was, “I should have delayed cord clamping. I should have denied erythromycin and Vit K. I should have kept my eyes open and caught my own baby.” Ad nauseum.

      I know I’m coming from a slightly different angle on this, since we’ve experienced different things in birth, Kim, but I have observed that over and over: Even with good planning and preparation, we can look back on what we’ve done, and have regrets. So finding that balance IS really, really important.

      For me, I then say, “Well, next time, if there is a next time. And if there’s not, I’ll do my best to help other women have the best birth they possibly can.”

    • I very, very much agree with what you are saying. It is SO important to strike a balance between having in mind what you want and flexibility to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. And SO SO SO important not to beat yourself up if things don’t go how you wanted, which is so hard to do. I actually have more regrets from my second birth, now that I really stop to think about it, than I do about Ilona’s. I still feel like things happened with Ilona that were out of my control, whereas with Felix I just feel like I let some things happen that were totally within my control because I hadn’t really thought too much about things because I didn’t plan enough for the birth. Pretty much the only things I planned were no episiotomy and that I would like to try birthing without an epidural (which happened and which I was happy about).

      My labour was most definitely more intense with Felix, but maybe I was lucky or something… I feel like both my actual deliveries were about equally amazing and I don’t think that having an epidural the first time made the bonding happen more slowly. I think that may partially be because they kept my epidural on pretty low and by the time I started pushing, I could actually mostly feel the contractions(though they weren’t as strong as without an epidural), it was mainly my legs that were numb. And both times the babies were on my breast right away; that is something that is advocated in Canada if you are choosing to breastfeed.

  5. Once again I have been talking to much… WordPress wouldn’t let me “reply” to your last comment. 🙂

    I just wanted to say that I really get what you were saying about keeping your virginity vs. keeping your purity. (I can’t believe that your YOUTH leaders told you it was an unattainable goal! I may be a bit biased here, but didn’t you grow up Pentecostal?? Historically, Pentecostalism sprang out of the Holiness movement and they pretty much frowned upon… everything! Wow, that just blows my mind). I grew up hearing a lot about how important it was to save yourself for marriage, and ended up being stunned and heartbroken when pretty much everyone around me lost their virginity. My husband and I really strove to keep ourselves pure. The first time we kissed on the lips was when we got engaged… But I have to admit that we kind of let ourselves slide a bit once we were engaged. We were both still virgins when we got married, and I wouldn’t even say that we came really really close to losing it or anything, but nonetheless we did mess around more than we should have and got ourselves a little too riled up too often, if you know what I mean. And we’ve both often regretted it since then, especially as my husband lived with a non-Christian aunt and uncle that year and I spent most weekends there. But it’s no good regretting what’s in the past, though it can be tempting.

    That’s really interesting about the tearing. Next time I get pregnant, I’ll be doing my pre-natal care and delivery with a midwife again. I will be sure to talk to her in more depth about what she does to prevent tearing. I don’t think that there would have been time with Felix. I dilated from 7cm to 10cm in about half an hour and then I told the nurse in the room, “I need to start pushing!!!” and she totally panicked and said, “Don’t push! Don’t push!!” But there wasn’t much I could do; my body was pushing FOR me. So she called the doctor and I tried to stop my body doing what it wanted to do and by the time the doctor got there I pushed like one and half times and he came out. Mind you, Felix and Ilona are only about 18 months apart, and they say the second delivery is generally the fastest. Next time the pushing may take a little longer.

    Speaking of pushing, what position has worked best for you in the past, or does it kind of vary depending on other factors of the labour/pregnancy? Both times I’ve pushed on my back. The first time it was with an epidural so I had no choice, and the second time it was so fast that it worked fine in that position.

  6. wonderful comparison!!! I was truly blessed in completing my first birth naturally, even though it was in hospital. I’m absolutely sure it was by the Grace of God and through support of His angels that I was able to make it the 21.5 hours… which I thought was long at the time. HA! #2: 2 days labor. #3: 3 days labor. #4: only 23 hours! 🙂 All natural. The last three at home. I truly believe you are absolutely correct in your description of the high of giving birth. Two of my babies were born purple, cord around neck, no breath… and I (normally very worry-wortish) was cool as a cucumber and did what I was supposed to do to help my babies breathe. That high is THE reason, I’m absolutely sure! I think it’s something that those who have only had medicated experiences cannot comprehend because they don’t know what they don’t know – as you’ve said about any number of things in the comments.

    Congratulations on retaining your virginity until you were married! I totally get the purity thing, though… My sister was a virgin when she married at 24 and quite pure… though she had kissed a couple guys, she was informed on that aspect of vitrue! I have 3 and expect to have 3 more girls and I’m aiming at Daja’s (?) kind of purity for my sweet ones. I hope I will be able to teach well and that they will feel pressed upon by the Holy Spirit to retain themselves pure AND virtuous for their husbands!

    Love your blog. Thank you!

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