Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Birth Faith

This pregnancy has tested my faith in so many ways. But my deepest fear has definitely tested it most of all.

At our doula training two weekends ago, we did an introspective exercise. We were all given a piece of paper and a marker. Then we took the marker into our non-dominant hand and drew or wrote something to represent our deepest fear about our actual or hypothetical upcoming birth. For me it was very actual... very real. It was a limp and lifeless baby with his arms and legs hanging down below him. A dead baby.

I have never needed to face that fear before. I never worried that my daughters or I would die in childbirth. I worried about other things... logistics... would the staff pressure me to have interventions I didn't want? Would I be able to handle the contractions? Would I tear? I never asked, "Will my baby die?" This is the first time I've asked myself that question. And what a heavy question!

Of course my daughters could have died... even in the hospital. Babies sometimes die. I suppose the difference now is that I don't have the other logistical worries to occupy my mind. I know there will be no unnecessary interventions. I know I will be surrounded by support. I know I can handle the contractions. But I also know that, if something bad happens, those who have questioned our home birth will shake their heads and point their fingers at ME. No one would ever think to point their finger at a mother whose baby died in the hospital... even if it was her own ignorance of the risks of interventions or poor choice in doctor that led to the death. It would be absolutely unheard-of to blame the mother. Home birth mothers don't get that kind of courtesy... even when their babies' deaths have nothing to do with their birth location and would have died in the hospital anyway.

So I do think about it. And I know I wouldn't be able to handle facing that deepest fear in real life... without my faith. When that fear starts wrapping itself around my heart, it is my faith (and my husband's even stronger faith) that slowly eases the panic.

As we did the fear-facing exercise at our doula training, we went on to contain our fears with the internal and external forces/influences that would be at our disposal. I contained that frightening image with my husband, my midwives, preparation, and God. I suppose you could say, I contained that fear with my faith in them.

I had a really reassuring chat with my midwives this morning at my appointment. It was reassuring that they can't even remember the last time they had to transport a woman who'd given birth before (to the hospital). And their confidence that they could get to my house in 20 minutes put my "what if the baby comes too quickly?" fears to rest. They've never lost a mother or baby. They have seen it all when it comes to birth... over and over again (Mary, for 30 years!). And they're not afraid. So why am I?

My husband, who was always afraid of home birth in the past, has no doubt in his mind that everything is going to be fine. He isn't the least bit worried. At all. No matter how many times I ask him, in my weakness, "Our baby's not going to die, right?" He always responds with the same steadfast assurance and peace, "No. Everything is going to be fine." He has total faith in our path. So why can't I?

More importantly... God has never let me down. I have no reason not to trust Him. He guided us to this particular path and urged us not to fear. So why do I?

I suppose it wouldn't be called a "test of faith" if it wasn't hard. :-)

Sometimes I like to imagine that moment when my son emerges and I take his slippery little body into my arms... you know, that moment that always makes me cry in birth videos... I like to imagine hearing him take his first breath and use his lungs and vocal chords for the first time. And I imagine the overwhelming relief that will wash over me with each breath, each sound, each vigorous movement of his arms and legs... he is alive! That imaginary instant may be just in my mind, but it feels so real every time it presents itself. So real, in fact, that I think I just might have enough faith to believe I'll see that moment happen.


Fig said...

That's seriously amazing. I love that video! And I love your faith (and Ax's).

Your baby will be fine. He'll be beautiful and healthy and perfect and I am soooo excited for his arrival.

But I want you to know that even if something went wrong and he wasn't beautiful and healthy and perfect (although he will be), I would never point my finger at you. I would tell you that God is at the helm of your ship and His plan covers everything. He doesn't make mistakes.

Sarah H said...

Beautifully written. I think it is good to acknowledge our fears. And it is so true that in home births if something goes wrong, people point fingers, whereas in hospital births that doesn't happen.
I am amazed at some of the courage I see in HBAC success stories. I am not sure if I am that brave yet, but I love to read about them, because with every story I get a little more courage.
And even though you have worries and that's okay, you're really giving your baby the best possible chance by having some great midwives guide you as you bring him into the world in a very safe place, your loving home.

Liz Johnson said...

Amen, amen, and amen. You write so beautifully, Busca.

Your baby will be fine. But ultimately - you know this is the path for you. You got your answer. And so no matter what, this is what's right for you and your family. And I'm SO EXCITED for you to meet your happy, healthy, beautiful baby boy. :)

Rixa said...

"I suppose the difference now is that I don't have the other logistical worries to occupy my mind. I know there will be no unnecessary interventions."

Great point. I really wish that alternative birth choices didn't add a huge extra burden of blame. It's so hard having to bear that burden, on top of the normal worries that we all have as mothers.

I would have such a hard time making any birth choices without divine guidance to affirm whether or not they are correct. I hope I never have to face the death of a newborn. But if I do--as long as I had received confirmation that my birth choices were good ones--then I hope I would be able to walk with courage, knowing that whatever happened was meant to be. Sometimes I look back at my first birth (unassisted birth) with more "medical" or "mainstream" eyes and think, "was I crazy? how could I take such a risk?" But I *know* that my choices were good ones and that I had Heavenly Father's stamp of approval for my plans. And I remind myself that, no matter how strange or crazy it might have seemed to someone else, it doesn't matter because I had received confirmation that my choice was a right one.

The Roundy Fam said...

GREAT post, Busca! :o) Thank you for being so uplifting, and inspiring... I may need your help figuring out what I should have for MY homebirth! AHH! I feel a tad unprepared now that I see what you have done... We don't even have our crib/bassinet yet! :-| OYSH.....

The Roundy Fam said...

PS: I second what Fig said... I would never point a finger at you either.... though there will be no need anywho! Your baby boy is going to be the cutest little thing! I can't wait! :o)

莫文蔚Karen said...
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