Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bearing life and bearing witness

I couldn't restrain myself from proclaiming via blog comment the burning testimony in my heart.  And I figured I'd share it here as well. I use terminology and lingo familiar to members of my faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), but I hope any and all of my readers will be inspired and uplifted by this expression of things near and dear to my heart. 

Like most of the women I know who chose to give birth at home, I studied the issue out in my mind extensively--even exploring the views of home birth opponents to ensure that I looked at the issue from all sides and didn't make the wrong choice. By the time I made the decision to give birth at home, I had spent the previous five+ years of my life studying childbirth. But even all of the science, facts, research, numbers, and stories wouldn't have been enough for me to take on the real, though minimal, risks inherent in home birth without fervent, deep, heartfelt consultation with the Lord.

I have never agonized over a decision more than I did over this one. We probably wouldn't have even considered a home birth if it hadn't been for certain financial circumstances in our life, but home birth was clearly the path that made the most financial sense for us. Above all, I did NOT want to make the wrong choice and put myself or my baby at increased risk, so it weighed extremely heavily on my mind. So we studied it out in our minds, worked hard to be completely open to the Lord's guidance, searched, pondered, prayed, and decided that home birth felt like the path we were being led to.

Next we asked the Lord if it was right, and my husband gave me a priesthood blessing I will never forget. It was one of the most tender and beautiful spiritual experiences of my life. I felt the most incredible burning in my heart--like I was being filled with the burning, life-giving love of God. I have never in my life received a more strong, intense, powerful answer to prayer. Then, throughout the rest of my pregnancy, when I had moments of weakness, my husband and the Lord reminded me of that powerful witness, and the Lord, in His tender mercy, promised me that we would be watched over and kept safe as I gave birth. And we were.
Do I think home birth is the right choice for everyone? Absolutely not. Do I think all birth attendants are safe? Absolutely not. I chose my midwives specifically because of their astoundingly superior stats and experience and because safety was extremely important to me. I think all women should drill their potential birth attendants about their stats and experience before choosing to put their lives and their babies' lives into a stranger's hands. There are many excellent doctors and midwives out there, and there are many lousy doctors and midwives out there. It seems like the wisest course to be sure you're getting one of the excellent ones.

Sometimes the Lord's guidance contradicts what the world sees as logical or rational or obvious. But personal revelation always trumps limited mortal understanding.

I love Elder Holland's words: "After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel His love and hear the word of the Lord, go forward. . . . You may, like Alma going to Ammonihah, have to find a route that leads an unusual way, but that is exactly what the Lord is doing here for the children of Israel. Nobody had ever crossed the Red Sea this way, but so what? There’s always a first time. With the spirit of revelation, dismiss your fears and wade in with both feet” (source).

I know that our Heavenly Parents care deeply about birth. I know that God did not send over 1/3 of his daughters to this world with bodies incapable of giving birth vaginally. I know that God is eager to help us make vital decisions impacting our pregnancies, babies, postpartum emotional health, and future health and fertility. Giving birth is one of the most important tasks God has given to women on this earth, and I know that He can and will and loves to help us as we navigate that beautiful journey.


meredithryan said...

thank you for sharing your journey, this brought tears to my eyes! What precious guidance and protection you received, so moving.

Heatherlady said...

THANK YOU for sharing this as a comment on my blog. It is beautiful and I hope it will touch some people. I really appreciated your "voice" in the conversation. You are such a beautiful woman! I think bearing testimony is one of the most importatn things we can do to help people "see" because you can't argue with a testimony. It is what it is.

kamille said...

lani, so beautiful.

i feel like i can echo your sentiments, as my journey to homebirth was incredibly spiritual too. i agonized over that decision too, not wanting to put myself or my baby at risk. going against the grain was tough, but i love elder holland's quote about alma...i hadn't heard that and when i read it, it so applied to my decision. i had to let go of my fears and jump in with both feet. and, i'm so glad i did. i am so glad i listened to the spirit directing me and had the courage to follow because i have been changed FOREVER. my knowledge of my divinity and self-worth has increased more from this experience than from any experience i've had up to this point.

thank you for sharing your testimony...i add mine to it!

Janie said...

I am in the middle of this spiritual journey/ decision making process. Thank you so much for your thoughts. They touched me deeply.

Deanna said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I loved the words you used "personal revelation always trumps limited mortal understanding." That is so true! Understanding that is the key to not being judgmental. Thank you for being so articulate too. It helps me to read things that I, too feel passionate about but, haven't been able to put into words very well.