As we are entering the final stretch of this pregnancy, I’ve been reflecting more and more on our decision making processes, and how we have applied that specifically to our birth choices and the direction we as a family are growing together. I’ve mentioned this before, but in our quest to get out of debt, we have learned some lessons about our heart posture toward money and resources in general. In particular, we have come to the conclusion that in some cases, the cheapest option isn’t always the best option.
We’ve decided that we don’t want to live closed-fisted with our money, living so incredibly worried about the “price” or the “budget” or whatever it is, that we fail to both see the value of things that are offered to us, as well failing to see the direction the Lord is leading us.
Basically, we are asking the Lord to lead us in our decision making regarding our finances, and that means that we can’t just follow a basic set in stone rule like, “If it’s the cheapest option, that’s the one to pick.” We are called to use discernment and wisdom and engage in a heart-to-heart dialogue about the options we have before us and which ones to choose in each circumstance.
In our decision making regarding the birth of this baby, we have learned a few things about how we discern what choices are right for us- for our family in particular at this time. The conclusions we came to personally may not be the same right ones for your family or self, but I do think that some of the guiding ideas for how we came to make decision in the first place are applicable to anyone trying to make any big decision within their present circumstances, whether it’s pregnancy, another health choice, choosing a career, heading back to school, making a big move- wherever it is you are at!
Our Choices Are Shaped By Our History
I’m going to lay it out up front. There are several things we decided were worth us spending a little extra on in order to have the birth and birth outcome we want. Things we might not choose next time around. And one of the BIGGEST shaping factors in choosing these options has been our previous birth history with Olivia.
We all come to the crossroads in our lives with a past. In our decision making process, it has been vital that we recognize the reality that things that have happened to us in the past, good or bad, do affect the way we view our current circumstances. As a result, we have had to spend extra time sifting through our history and discern what it is that we are holding on to that needs to be let go, and what it is we have learned and need to hold on to as wisdom.
For us, that meant spending a few sessions with a really wonderful counselor who worked through some of the more emotionally painful aspects of my previous birth history (and the resulting beliefs I have about myself). She is a Christian woman, and we spent a good chunk of our time together just in prayer, asking the Lord to speak to me about my beliefs and memories surrounding birth.
I only saw her a handful of times, but those times were incredibly effective and powerful in rooting out some of the lies that were shaping my decisions in a negative way, and helped to renew my mind. It also challenged me to continue my own soul searching, and as things have popped up in my mind and heart, Mike and I have been applying some of the same principles we used together to ask the Lord for wisdom and revelation. As long as we live, working through our past will really be a never-ending process of weeding out distortion (that SO easily creeps in) and realigning with the truth, which we believe is found in God’s Word, spoken to us.
Our Choices Are Shaped By Our Values
After considering and working through our history, we have realized that it has fundamentally shaped our personal and family values: the things and ideas that we assign worth and merit to in our lives. Every single person on earth holds value in something. Whether or not we agree with each others’ values is a totally different story, but we each do have values that are shaped by our experience and knowledge of the world we live in.
The top four values that we identified for this pregnancy, birth, and that care with which it is handled have been:
- Health: Both ours and the baby’s (pretty sure this is at the top of every mom and dad’s list!)
- Relationships: We value having a strong, trust-filled relationship both ways with our care providers
- Options & the Ability to Choose: We value being able to be an active participant in the the choices that are made during our pregnancy and this birth- we value being given options and the ability to make our own choices over being told “this is what is happening now.”
- Education: We value being able to be educated, and, again not just be told “This is what we are going to do to you next.” We want to know why something is being offered to us, what the benefits and risks are, and what alternatives there might be.
What Our Choices Should Not Be Shaped By (But Sometimes Are…)
Fear. That has been the NUMBER ONE biggest potential stumbling block to us in probably every single big decision we have ever made. I would venture a guess that that is a true statement for most people as well, whether or not we recognize it as such. It’s a real killer of good decision making skills.
One of the things that we pray hardest about, that we spend the most time discerning and asking for wisdom about, is whether or not there is fear present in our hearts as we respond to our circumstances and make decisions. Are we doing something because it is the thing we have been called to do, or are we doing it because we are afraid of the alternative?
Fear clouds our judgement, it makes us tense and anxious. It freezes us, sometimes to the point of complete inaction. It numbs us to the truth.
I love 1 John 4:18 which says that “There is no fear in love.” This has been our guiding point, our anchor. In each decision we make, I can rest in the fact that the Lord loves us. Extravagantly. Even when I don’t know the outcome of the decision I am making, if I am resting in His love for me, I do not need to be afraid. I can boldly make decisions, even seemingly really crazy or risky ones, knowing that my life is in His hands, and he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).
It takes effort to live in that rest. It doesn’t come naturally or easily sometimes. It circles back around to our history and the way that affects our choices- sometimes the things that have happened in the past have planted distorted seeds that have grown up in to weeds that crowd out the fertile ground of truth in our hearts. It is why it has been so important for us to go back, look at the hard and the painful as well as the positive and joyous, and see God’s hand in the midst of it all. It brings clear perspective to our hearts and minds, which in turn brings clear decision making, free of the strangle of fear.
The Caveat To Our Choices: Living Open Handed
Ultimately, as we have made our choices, we have recognized that nothing is set in stone. We have to be open to the fact that things may change. We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. We don’t know the number of our days, or what they will contain. In all things, we must learn to live open handed, and as James 4:15 reminds us, say, “If it is the Lord’s will, I will do this or that…” There is great freedom in the giving up of our closed-fisted little wills, and remaining with our hearts and hands open to what the Lord may bring.
And In Case You Were Wondering…Our Final Birth Choices
Ultimately, these are a few of the things we have chosen to spend a little bit extra on in this pregnancy, in case you were curious. If you have any questions about any of these things, or why we chose them, I would be more than happy to answer!
- An out-of-network doctor and midwife that are known for their incredibly high rates of natural, intervention free birth, even in a city known for it’s epidural rates. They are also committed to educating those that want to be educated in the process.
- A doula (labor support person) who has provided invaluable prenatal support, and who will attend our birth.
- Regular chiropractic care with a Webster certified chiropractor.
- A few sessions with a licensed counselor.
- A 12- week Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth Course (SOO helpful).
- A few random visits with an herbalist and massage therapist who specializes in pregnancy. Her suggestions actually helped me an infection that recurred after I tried to the traditional medical route my doctor suggested.
We could not be happier with each of the people we have surrounded ourselves with during this pregnancy. Personally, I have never felt more empowered, educated, or confident going in to something, and I know that regardless of the actual outcome we will rest secure in the decisions we have made, if for no other reason than that they have challenged, stretched, and grown us, and given us many invaluable tools that we will carry with us in to many other aspects of our lives and relationships. It has been a great gift!