A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how, along this journey to right our perspective about money and debt and budgets and finances, we have been learning to not just ask the question “How much does this cost and where can I get it the cheapest?” but to actually ask, “What is the value of this, and is it worth a little more to me?”
That question requires a little more thought and effort to answer.
One of the places where we have actively been learning and applying this lesson is in our preparation for the birth of our coming child.
We are not the kind of people of who just do something because “That’s the way it’s done.” We value being able to make well-informed decisions based on research, knowledge, and a settling in our hearts about what is right for us and our family. Unfortunately, conventional medical insurance doesn’t always share our values.
While it would be the simplest and “cheapest” option to just go through pregnancy on the standard route, that’s not what we have decided is best for us or our family. No condemnation here- I’m just telling you what we have decided.
It would be one thing if I didn’t care and just wanted the epidural and whatever else they wanted to offer me. But deep down that is not what I wanted.
I know that some people have this perception that women who don’t want medication during labor are these wierdo hippie mamas who are martyrs or masochists or have some awful mental complex. If there is going to be pain, why the heck WOULDN’T someone want that relieved?
There are perhaps a million answers to that question depending on who you ask, but I personally have settled on two:
Birth is generally a natural, physiological process that has been happening for eons and eons. In it’s natural state, it certainly has risk, but hey, so does eating a ham sandwich. However, with every introduction of an outside force (aka- medicine) we INCREASE the number of risks. I’m not going to go in to all the research about each and every intervention possible in childbirth and what the inherent risks are- there are some great books and resources on that if you are truly interested- but I’m saying that I HAVE researched and read the books and resources and talked to educated and knowledgeable people and my conclusion in the end is that I would rather minimize the risk to myself and my baby as much as possible.
And please don’t read me wrong here. If something happens and I am no longer a healthy, low-risk woman just trying to have a healthy low-risk baby here, I’ll be the first to sign up for the [insert medical intervention here]. That’s what I see my OB & midwife for. They keep me informed, remind me of ways to stay healthy and low-risk, and are there to step in and let me know when something becomes a true medical situation. (Not all doctors and midwives do that, though, by the way. I had to do my homework to find the right care providers who care as much about educating me as I care about educating me).
I Want to Feel the Pain
Yep, you read that right. My second reason for forgoing the package deal that comes standard at the labor & delivery ward near you.
We in the United States of America do not value pain. We are taught that all pain is evil, it has no good purpose, and we should avoid it at all costs. We numb our painful emotions, we numb our bodies to any sort of pain, and close out the possibility that sometimes pain is necessary and good.
Pain produces something in us when we are allowed to walk through it. Anyone (and that’s everyone) who has lived through any personal tragedy knows that.
I’ve done natural childbirth once before- 54 long hours of labor, largely unmedicated- and I can tell you with 100% confidence that it was worth it. It was intense, don’t get me wrong, but I would not equate it with “getting my arm sawn off” or something. It was painful, it took everything out of me, it was a roller coaster ride, and I would hands-down do it again. In fact, I am going to do it again.
I learned something about myself and I learned something about the heart of God that I would NEVER EVER have learned any other way than to walk through childbirth without pain medication. I’m not saying that if you had an epidural(or never had kids or had a c-section, etc.) that you are some how less than me… YOU have walked through pain in your life that has taught you lessons in your life I will never ever learn. And I have walked though pain in my life that has taught me lessons in my life that you will never learn.
And I, personally, wouldn’t trade those moments away for anything else in the world. I could spend my whole life trying to avoid pain, avoid feeling, avoid emotions, avoid facing the fact that the world is tough place and being human is plain difficult. But in doing so I miss a million opportunities to grow, to add depth of wisdom and not just width of knowledge to my soul. I miss the opportunity to see how small I am, how big God is, and what a miracle every single breath is.
Romans 5:3-5 says that suffering produces perseverance which produces character which produces hope. There is good, rich fruit to be produced only in the experiencing of pain. Only if we’ll allow it to be produced in us.
And I’m not just talking about childbirth, although that is where I am personally applying this at the moment.
So there you have it. When it comes down to it, those are the two gut reasons I have for wanting to have a natural, undedicated birth if it is within reason to do so. Maybe I’m still assigned to masochistic, hippie, crunchy mama status in your mind, maybe not. If you dropped the word masochistic, I actually wouldn’t argue if you still labeled me that. Either way, hopefully I’ve got you thinking, at least.
In a future post I will share some of the things we have chosen that don’t quite match up to the mainstream way of giving birth. Some of the things we’ve chose to splurge a little extra money on even though it means… spending a little extra money. And what that has taught our hearts about money, value, and our posture toward life in general.