Yesterday I had the rather fortuitous experience of running into a former classmate of mine. She and I were the two pregnant women in a class of young-ish 20-somethings, and we bonded a bit over our growing bellies. But, as tends to happen, once the class series ended she and I drifted back into our respective lives without staying in touch.
Seeing her again even these few weeks later, we've both grown quite a bit. We talked about our impending due dates -- mine in a few weeks, hers in December -- and about what we were doing to prepare ourselves. I feel more than ready to go at this point. I've been down this path before, and I'm really looking forward to my upcoming home birth. Plus, given that I always go early and fast, I'm pretty sure that once my body gives me the "go" signal, the baby will be on his way before I can bat an eyelash (and yet I have it in my head that I'm going to have time to put out a nice spread of snacks and treats for the birth team... go figure).
My classmate, however, does not have prior experience, and seems to be succumbing to the standard hype about scary labors. She's planning to go to the hospital, because that's what one does, right? And everyone's been telling her horror stories about how terrible their labors were. And she believes them.
I don't know that the grocery aisle at Target is the best place to strike up an in-depth conversation about the joy of natural childbirth, or the ease of a non-interventive birth, or the necessity of proper birth planning and education... and given that she's not a close friend of mine, I tried to keep my chatter to the barest essentials.
But I did feel duty-bound to try, in whatever way I could, to help allay her fears.
"I've had three all-natural childbirths, and I'm excited to do it again."
"Your body was meant to do this. You can do this. You will do this."
"Only you know your limits. And only you can trust yourself to know how to overcome them."
"Listen to your body, and let it show you the way."
When I thought I might be starting to get preachy, I wrapped up the conversation by asking (imploring) her to get in touch with me if she started having any doubts. I gave her my cell phone number, and promised to connect through Facebook. I don't know if she will use me as a resource, but I hope I've at least given her a bit of encouragement and self-confidence.
Why do we women tear each other down? Why is it that we're so eager to share the horrifying birth experiences, but so shy about sharing the truly blissful ones? Why is my story (and others like it) the exception, rather than the norm?
The women I've known in my life are strong, competent, capable. They are simply amazing. They birth with dignity and strength. Though I could never say it any better than Ina May and so many others already have, the best I could ever hope for any of my clients -- for any woman, really -- is to approach the birth day without fear.
It boggles my mind that it should be otherwise.