I Hate Childbirth, But There Is That Bliss
After my first darling was born, I think I went into a form of emotional shock. I was convinced I would have to have years of therapy before I could ever have another child. Sadly, I didn’t have the chance to receive those years of therapy, because baby number #2 arrived not long enough later. The elusive THEY– those people aren’t lying. Childbirth really does hurt like heck! I know this because I’ve had the thrilling experience three times in my life. On a level of one to ten, childbirth is a whopping 89!
I think the imagery of a stork delivering our babies is just so much more pleasant.
But it isn’t like I didn’t survive childbirth. In fact, I feel like I am a freakin’ strong woman- yes, stronger than any man- because I did and can make it through anything after the bootcamp of pregnancy, childbirth, sleepless nights, and delightful motherhood.
In this, we are united.
As for childbirth, I guess I could have chosen to have it be mostly painless. Lots of normal people in the United States do that normal thing and try to knock-out the suffering. And probably in Finland too, which according to Save the Children, is the best place to be a mom. I actually tried that doped-up version on child #2, but sadly, it didn’t take. Despite my noble intentions of keeping myself pain-free, I still ended up having to do those fun breathing exercises, inter-spaced between screams and squeezing hands hard to get through the Terrible Transition. Then with child #3, I had a killer migraine and the drugs were great but just didn’t help enough. I was as sick as a dog (’nuff said).
I’ve been told that in some places in the world, when a woman goes into labor, she goes off in the forest by herself and ties herself to a tree to give birth. I can see why she ties herself to a tree. Otherwise she would probably just try to run away from the whole experience, flailing about in the jungle. I know I would have run, if I wasn’t medically adhered to my bed with so many attendants, and lights, and on subsequent births, wires.
The one thing that EVERYONE has in common after having their baby, though, is bliss. Sweet bliss. It is over and you are holding something amazing it seems you shouldn’t be holding. I had a hard time bonding with my first child and experienced post-postpartum depression. But still, at the end of labor, I experienced nothing short of bliss.
Somehow our bodies go on a wild rampage, creating and growing life like it is our superpower. I kinda do believe it is our superpower. So much so that I plan on getting a shirt and cape. When you see a sleeping fragile human is laying in your arms, after previously not being in existence, then expanding you, and then suddenly appearing out of you through a ring of fire and blood- it is nothing short of miraculous.
Relief. Exhaustion. Waiting requited. There is a video floating around there on YouTube taken right after I had my first baby. I look horrible. I am acting and talking like a crazy person in fuzzy blue socks while shivering. Please don’t try to find it (I think my username is elisasue, but I’ve already said too much).
Every time I see it I start crying. It is just such an amazing moment; even if the rest of motherhood looks different for all of us, this one moment unites us all.
Make Bliss Happen- Overcoming Child Mortality
Not to put a damper on this conversation or anything, but I don’t think it would be fair for me to forget to include the mothers who have this moment, only to have the life die out if it only moments, minutes, hours later. Or for those who never make it to this moment, because the mother or/and infant dies before a successful birth. Without sufficient medical care, equipment, electricity, training, etc… infant mortality is still much too common.
Could you imagine finding out your pregnant, and not knowing if that is a death sentence for you or your child? We tend to worry in Western countries- I remember trying to pray and talk myself out of being worried when driving to the hospital. But I have statistics to remind me that there is a very low possibility anything would happen. In some places, the odds are not in a mother’s favor. For these mothers, childbirth doesn’t just hurt like heck, but for those who survive, there is an emotional void that cannot be filled.
I cannot comprehend the grief.
To help us help these families out, Save the Children, the oldest and largest NGO that works for the benefit of children worldwide, puts out a annual report dubbed the State of the World’s Mothers (SOWM). It unveils the statistic of moms and kids around the world, ranking countries and grouping them by economic factors. Essentially, this report is all the information we need to become aware of problems so that we can better be advocates to love these families who are struggling.
For example, 2013’s report added a new statistic, first-day death rates. Overall, it shows us that more babies in the developing world can be saved within the first 24 hours after birth. Actually, 340,000 women and over 3 million infants around the world die each year as a result of complications in pregnancy and childbirth that can be prevented.
But knowing this is far from knowing facts, it is also knowing I can be part of its solution.
When Bliss Is Broken
I have a few of friends whose babies have passed away because of SIDS or other medical issues either during the birthing process or later on within those first couple years. I am not even close to any of these women, but my heart breaks for them when I’ve heard bits and pieces of their stories. I can’t grasp their pain, I can only be a friend. But I can help other mothers from experiencing this heartache.
Let’s consider this report, SOWM, like a Facebook post or a conversation with a neighbor where our heart becomes broken for our friend, another mother. And because I really think it is vital to love our neighbor- even if they aren’t right next door, but say, in Afghanistan or Romania or DR Congo or Cambodia- I will hear the heart behind these facts and I will do something about it. I might not send her flowers, a card or a check like I would my literal neighbor – but wait, who says I can’t or shouldn’t do that?
Let’s united beyond the pain of childbirth, beyond experiencing bliss holding an infant– Let’s also unite to love other moms!
Ideas for Action
Donate to Operation Baby Rescue, providing life to abandoned babies or visit to help in one of these homes.
Honor the special mom in your life by giving a safe birthing kit in her name. You’ll get to choose a card to send that explains the amazing, life-changing gift made in her honor.
Donate an old phone (even broken ones) or do a phone drive for Hope Phones to help medical workers be able to keep in contact with their patients in developing countries.
Assist Mommies and Babies-
I’ve actually had a couple of friends train to become midwives (you can read one of their stories here from a few years back). They don’t have the licensing to practice in the USA, but if they go to developing countries every once in awhile, they are a great help to those giving birth developing countries and are much better option than, well, tying oneself to a tree. Midwife International will tell you how to get started being trained and The International Confederation of Midwives seem to have a lot of information, too. My friends did schools with the organizations YWAM at University of the Nations, like this school here.
You can also volunteer to assist at an home for rescued babies.
In the United States, we need help too. We have one of the worst first day of death rates of the industrialized nations (Rich World). I don’t want to fight about c-sections or medical inductions (the typical direction this conversation would go). Instead, what can you do about it? It isn’t too difficult to become a dula (birthing advocate), or otherwise take on a volunteer role for support groups helping new mothers.
Join WorldHelp as a blogger, to use your writing or platform to create awareness about all things that concern the health of children in the developing world. You’d be surprised where your whispers reach and what they inspire. Besides, you’ll also get a community who also love mothers and babies around the world!
There is a lot to learn and great ideas of how to be an advocate for these little ones at Child Health Now.
You can learn more by watching one of these videos by famous moms (Jennifer Garner, Rachel Zoe, Alyson, Hannigan and Jennifer Connelly) saying the same thing I just did and then some:
*All photographs in this post were donated by Save the Children for State of the World’s Mothers posts.
** This post is adapted from an earlier one from May, 2013.