Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Suffering, Struggling, Succeeding

In Abby's Shape of a Mother Entry, she says that her body works.

I've been thinking a lot about our bodies and their ability to work, specifically in giving birth. Before having Margaret I was dealing with the what-ifs, the fears, the unknowns. Sure, I was saying, "I trust my body," but it was a whole different thing to actually go through the motions and do it.

A few weeks ago, one of the playgroup mamas brought a friend. This friend had a little boy this April. She has since been overcoming the trauma of her cesarean- she didn't feel like it was necessary. The doctor never gave her a reason for it.

I remember looking at her and not knowing what to say except, "I'm sorry." Her doctor failed her and she didn't know why. I had read about people being disappointed in their cesareans online, but this was the first time I talked to someone in real life who was dealing with this. She said she had some rough times after her birth with depression. She wants to get pregnant again and wants to have a midwife at home because she feels this will be the best way to avoid a repeat cesarean.

I have another friend who had a midwife for her birth. The midwife was very involved and managed her birth too much for her taste. She admitted to me that she wants another homebirth when she has another but is unsure about UC or midwife because is also struggling with trusting her body.

I think it's a sad commentary on our culture that women struggle with body issues: physically and emotionally. I even struggled with trusting my body during my pregnancy. I'd like to share my experience in learning to trust my body.

I had a pretty easy pregnancy. I threw up less than 10 times. I had some terrible migraines in September (losing the feeling in half of my tongue and hands sort of migraines). After receiving a Priesthood blessing, the migraines ended. The next couple of months went on swimmingly.

In early January, I went back to work after the Christmas break (I worked at an elementary school). The first 3 days of work after the break were tough. By the end of the day I was barely walking- my lower back was having some contractions. Looking back, it was very similar to the back labor I had during my labor. I asked McKay for another blessing, for comfort.

I was given comfort, but I was also told that my body would struggle in my pregnancy. When I went to bed that night that word, struggle, was going through my mind. I didn't sleep very well and the next morning I told McKay that I was afraid of the suffering.

He reminded me that the word was "struggle" not "suffer." I wasn't told that I would "suffer."

That made all the difference. Struggle is not suffer. I did some more study, and as I've said before on this blog, came to the realization that just as we aren't punished for Adam's transgression, we aren't punished for Eve's, either. I didn't have to suffer. It didn't have to be this bad thing.

So from that point on, the rest of the pregnancy was great. I was trusting myself again. Even up to past 42 weeks of pregnancy I was thinking, "What ever happened to that struggling thing?"

Then I went into labor.

"Struggle" was the correct word for it. My body did struggle. It was pretty inexperienced in the birthing thing, but it did know what to do, and it did it. I won't lie: it was tough. I didn't practice any particular birthing or relaxation method. Early on, I was able to relax through contractions, but after the first 24 hours, I was just meeting them head-on. I kind of felt that relaxing through them was lying to myself about the sensations. I didn't want to downplay the sensations. I wanted to meet this challenge full-force. Though, admittedly, there were times when the intensity was just too much and I changed positions because I wasn't ready to handle that just yet.

But I did it. Maybe it would have been different if I had studied birthing hypnosis or breathing techniques, and I've considered something on those lines for my next birth, but then again... I might just hit it head-on like I did this time.

After my birth, I remember thinking, "Why did people try to tell me I needed a doctor for this?" Sure, I struggled, but new things are going to push you to your limits and it's expected. Birth was something my body could figure out on its own, just like breathing or digesting or even sweating. Your body's made to do it.

I'm actually really glad I had a long labor. No one can say, "oh, but you were able to do it at home because it was so easy for you." Nope. Not easy. But I did it. And I didn't suffer. My body works.

And for those of you who are wrestling with the idea of trusting your body: your body can do it. Remember: struggling and suffering are not the same thing.


  1. Thank you for sharing. Your faith and self-reliance are an inspiration to us all.

    You're right; in most cases women do not need a doctor (and probably not a midwife). I felt I really needed a coach, which was why I was so glad that my mom was there. And I felt that I really needed to know that I was going to be safe and that my son was going to be safe. I wanted the doctor to be there just in case. I wouldn't have relished the added stress of wondering "what if".

    I'm not going to lie, though. I absolutely loved having the drugs.

  2. Thanks for your post. I've been having a hard time being sick (not as sick as some, but the constant nausea is pretty annoying) and really enjoying the fact that I'm finally pregnant. It's really true how we should struggle through things---that's how we really grow, but we don't have to suffer, which means to hate what we're having to do so much that we lose the big picture.

  3. I think making women feel bad about their bodies is one of Satan's meanest and trickiest tactics. If he can sexualize, belittle, and make women hate and mistrust their bodies, then he is on his way to destroying the family. Women's bodies are AMAZING and it is SO sad that we don't appreciate them for the AMAZING things they can do. I mean, we create people, it doesn't get much more beautiful than that!

  4. Well I wasn't exactly thrilled with my C-section. My doctor was a moron, and if he had handled my symptoms better I'm pretty sure I could have avoided the whole liver failure/preemie baby/C-section ordeal.

    Meanwhile the constant puking was a pain in the butt, but I think that was MY fault for not eating better. I took the attitude of "well I'm not going to keep it down anyway, might as well eat what I want," which lead to lots of fast food and basically crap. Next time I have a plan to eat awesomely, and if I puke I puke, but I still need to eat well.

    Ah pregnancy, it is such a learning experience.


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