I Couldn’t Have Said it Better Myself

So I won’t. Instead I will quote Beth Ann Fennelly from her book Great with Child. The book was given to me by a friend, and because it is not a fact book on pregnancy but rather a personal account of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting, it was easy to get into during those first few weeks of caring for Eleanora. Fennelly is a poet and therefore very articulate. She has a wonderful ability to say things in such a way that they not only make sense but are beautiful. At one point in her book she discusses her reasons for choosing a natural childbirth. From the moment I knew we were pregnant with Eleanora, I wanted a natural childbirth, but if you had ever asked me why, I could not articulate my reasons in any logical fashion. And then I read Fennelly; she eloquently said exactly what I could not about the logic, and for me the necessity, of natural childbirth.

I feel like I should add a disclaimer here. This is not to say that a non-natural childbirth is any less of a birth, or that individuals who choose a different method of birth are any less or any more of a parent. This is simply a place for me to share some words that have become close to my heart. No judgement attached.

So here it is:

“So my decision to have a natural childbirth was only partly influenced by what wold be best for Claire. I was also thinking about the birth experience I most desired: to be fully awake and alive to the experience I would undergo, even though it would involve tremendous pain. I didn’t want to deaden the pain if it meant deadening the other emotions that would accompany the pain. I thought then, and still believe now, that being responsive and responsible to my experience would make it a better one…The way the medical establishment treats pregnant woman seems a metaphor for the way our industrialized, anesthetized culture treats all its citizens – we are offered drugs as the first solution. We become so used to the quick fix that any pain – sometimes even the pain of daily existence – needs to be numbed. Anesthetics, including the anesthetic of alcohol, are accepted as a sustained response to the waking world, a way of coping with daily life. However, ‘anesthetic’ means ‘without aesthetic,’ that is, without the skills to create the sensory impressions that make daily life meaningful. Continually ‘taking the edge off’ interferes with the job of all humans, which is to engage in the world in all its complexity and find meaning there. And this job description expands when we enter motherhood, for we become responsible for more than our own events and emotions. Our children look to us to observe and interpret the world for them…The interpreting role of the mother becomes particularly important when the child feels confused or fearful, such as when there’s a sickness or death in the family. We have to come to terms with these painful events, for our children will ask us to…So I can only say, both as a sufferer undergoing a transformative experience and as a person interested in interpreting the events in the world, a natural childbirth was the best for me. My decisions reflects a larger philosophy, I suppose – that we are obligated to feel what we’re feeling. I believe that understanding and articulating our suffering helps us understand and articulate our joy.”

“Great with Child”
Beth Ann Fennelly

I could not have said it better myself.


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