I am convinced that the size of my growing belly is directly related to the number of women who enthusiastically offer up their labor and delivery horror stories. One more inch gained, one more scary story shared.
After such exchanges, I am always left wondering, "Why, as women, do we share the most frightening parts of our birth experience? Why do we hover over the moments of greatest pain and uncertainty?" Perhaps healing is found in the retelling. Perhaps these stories are meant as a compassionate forewarning. Perhaps it's the sheer thrill we get from sharing the shock and the awe.
But, you see, when you're pregnant, you're vulnerable. Your emotions are taut and bubbling over. Your belly is taut and bubbling over. In this state of vulnerability you want to hear about women's strength in childbirth. You want to drink in their wisdom. You want to internalize their courage and triumph and acknowledge, with them, the guiding hand of God. You don't want to bathe in their fear.
I've been reading a book called Birthing From Within that honors the innate capability of women's bodies to give birth. The author suggests that moms-to-be talk with other mothers about the profound elements of their birth experiences and provides a list of possible questions to ask:
*What helped you most when you gave birth?
*What was your spiritual experience of giving birth?
*If you could do it over again, what would you do the same?
*Is there anything you would do differently?
*What do you wish you had known before hand?
From one mother to another, would you mind sharing your thoughts on one or more of these questions? (If your answer is too personal, feel free to send me a private email). I would love to be buoyed by your wisdom (and not burdened by your fears) as I step across the threshold into motherhood. Baby fig and I thank you.