Monday, April 25, 2011

Amazingly Different. Amazingly Beautiful.

As I said in the story of Graves's birth, his birth and Ann Peyton's birth were both amazing experiences and they are both days that I will cherish forever. There were so many differences, but there was such beauty in each experience.

When I first started trying to decide if an unmedicated birth was a better option, I Googled things like "advantages of natural childbirth" and in large part, I came up with results that said things about having feelings of power, a special closeness to one's support team, and other abstract, almost mystical benefits. I wanted to read something that said "Yes. An epidural is dangerous" or "No. It really is not." I think I found myself a satisfactory answer, but it really wasn't remotely the entire reason for choosing the birth path that I did. Things changed and after doing more "research", I found so many birth stories that just captivated me. I wanted to experience those feelings at least once in my life. And I did!

One of the biggest things for me was that I did experience very real feelings of power and for a person that sometimes has little confidence in herself that was really big deal. Please realize that I am NOT trying to make myself seem better than someone who gave birth in a different way or diminish that accomplishment. It just felt good for me to set a personal goal, a physical goal, for myself and then work very hard and acheive it. As I said, it felt similar to what I would think running marathon, finishing a workout program or building something from scratch would. I just felt a great sense of achievement and I was very proud of myself, which like I said, are not feelings I'm very accustomed to.

Another thing I loved was the closeness, respect and appreciation for Peyton that I gained through this experience. We saw a depiction of a natural labor on TV the other night and it was really fun discussing how one reason I think women are SO terrified of birth is the ridiculous media portrayal of it. I mean, the woman was LOOSING. HER. MIND. It just wasn't like that for me, thankfully. But I digress. The main thing that stuck out to me is that she cussed her husband black and blue for what he "did to her" (i.e. knocking her up). I can honestly say I never once felt those emotions toward Peyton. He did everything he could to help me and kept asking me what I needed. He squeezed my hands, pushed back my hair and lugged around the equipment I was hooked up to on those countless trips to the bathroom. Once in the bathroom, he sat behind me while I labored on the "potty". He kept encouraging me and telling me how proud he was of me and he never freaked out. He held me super close (while wearing almost white khaki shorts). HE was a rockstar.

I also felt like this was one situation in my life where I really called on Christ to bring me through it. It wasn't constant and I wish I could say I did it more, but it was definitely part. I was calling out to Him for strength in a way I've done few times before.

For me, having such a huge almost transcendent experience was neater than my birth experience with Ann Peyton. PLEASE hear me say that both were equally special in their climax, but the whole process was just much more of a life experience. Reading those birth stories, I wanted something like that. And I got it. There are days that I wake up and they end up being definitive and I never expected them to be. Then there are days, like that one, that I eagerly anticipate and I know will have a powerful impact on a lot of facets of my life. I feel like there is a whole lot of emotion I can't even convey through writing, but it was just a very powerful experience for me. I just know that I feel stronger and more confident in myself. My marriage. My faith. And then there's even something else that just can't be qualified. It's just like I feel like I was given a special gift and I'm very appreciative of that.

That said, there were certainly advantages with Ann Peyton's birth. It was definitely more peaceful and any and all family could come in and out. With Graves, I knew the only people I wanted in the room were Peyton, my sister and my sister in law (who ended up being unable to make it). Annie's birth was understandably more relaxing, and for some people that would be a priority.

The big thing, though, is that if I'm honest, there was just more emotion when we saw Annie. Some of it might be that she was our first. Peyton thinks it was that cry. She cried right away (Graves did not) and it was just a crazy feeling knowing that was OUR BABY crying for the first time. I think it was also our specific situation- coming from a place of months of really not wanting her and immediately knowing she was one of the most precious things God could have ever given us and knowing, selfish sinners that we were, He chose to allow us to have it anyway. Knowing we would have a responsibility and a privilege that we knew nothing of. It was like we walked in there very, very young and came out as totally different people. As grown ups.

But some of it, I have to admit, was that I was just able to be a little more present in that moment. People will say it's the opposite. But (for me) although the first moments with Graves were still very powerful and emotional, I was much less introspective and filled with such intense feelings. A lot of my thoughts, honestly, were "Wow. It's over. Thank the Lord!" I kind of anticipated it being that way and actually worried about it some. I shouldn't have. I feel like we've been able to "redeem the time" and God has allowed me several very powerful moments with Graves already. And I know there will be many to follow!

All in all, I am so eternally grateful for both these experiences. But more so for these children. And for the man who helped me create them and bring them into the world. And for the Lord who knitted their bones and marrow and hearts and souls together and who knew of them even before we knew of each other.


Ashley said...

This was hands-down one of the best posts I've seen about birth. I've never seen someone, who has intentionally gone about birth two different ways, illustrate them and give them BOTH value. Because both ways to give birth deserve value and merit! I'm so proud you're one of my best friends because of posts like this. I love you!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I love your perspective on both of your births.

Also, was it Parenthood you watched with the birth scene? I rolled my eyes hard at that. So stupid!

amanda said...

I found your accent vlog on youtube because it popped up when I watched another. I thought you were too cute, so I checked out your blog. I've been hopping around, "getting to know you" and wanted to say Hi. I love this post. I also had my son, my first and only so far, naturally. (He actually has the same birthday as your daughter April 2nd (but he's 2010)). I totally agree with how empowering it was. My mom used to kind of insinuate that I was whiny, so it was so empowering to do that. I realize that maybe sometimes I was actually in pain, because I was able to work through what everyone knows was a painful experience (noticed you mentioned something like that about your headache recently). I'm not the kind of girl who is going to run a marathon, so this was my marathon. I couldn't have done it without lots of support from my husband, or preparation-we did the Bradley method. In the Bradley class they showed women walking to the recovery rooms, and I laughed, but you know what? I walked to mine too!

One other thing, I didn't feel an instant emotional connection to my son either and he was my first. That was a pretty shocking experience (and a little upsetting) for me. I think the endorphin rush you get from going through such a huge experience kind of puts you in a different place and I sort of almost felt a crash when I looked at him and just felt kind of stunned. Of course-once it all settled down, I was instantly in love, but I didn't have that TV moment I anticipated. (I also didn't have the TV screams either). And, I would absolutely do the birth naturally again-I wouldn't mind an epidural for the stitches though!

Anyway, it's nice to "meet" you. I live in NC with my husband, my son Monroe (who is also cloth diapered) and our dog Jack. I took a long blog hiatus, but I'm trying to get back into the swing of things now that my life has a different shape. but to be honest, I'm better about twitter @amdavee