Birth and the Woman of Faith

I am very excited to share a guest post by the author of one of my favorite blogs, The Deranged Housewife. Her blog mostly focuses on helping women make informed birthing choices. I highly recommend following her blog if you're a birth nut like myself. Without further delay, here is her post.

Birth and the Woman of Faith

A few weeks ago I met a missionary’s wife – she was pregnant with her tenth child. Looking at her, I would never guess that she was due only within a few weeks, right around Christmas – and the couple kept talking about how they “wanted the baby to get here early.”

I was kind of surprised, considering they are obviously a couple with a strong Christian faith – for some reason, I guess I thought they would be of the philosophy that “this baby will come when it’s ready!” Once I began talking to her, though, I realized her statement was probably more wishful thinking than anything else, as she elaborated to me her plans to give birth with the same midwife she had used for all of her births, and this baby would be born at home. I was so pleased to share not only my faith with this woman, but similar ideas about childbirth. What a breath of fresh air!

She told me how she had had natural hospital births with all of her children, and I listened eagerly. We talked a little about something that had struck me with many Christian women: how they seem to ‘go along with the flow’ of trusting in their doctors to tell them what to do, but don’t seem to rely, at least not outwardly, in their Divine Physician to direct their path through pregnancy and birth.

We specifically talked about Michelle Duggar and her family size, and I mentioned how while I don’t think you necessarily need to have 20 or even 10 children, I notice that many Christian women that I’m friends with seem to do the “status quo” when it comes to family: two kids, no more, I’m done, thank you very much! I’ve never really understood that, especially when I look around and see how many people treat children as a burden rather than a blessing. One couple that goes to my church – actually, my pastor’s daughter – nearly turned white as sheets when I joked that they needed to have another baby. “You need to ask my husband about that one,” she said, looking at him – who just grimaced. Why? I thought. I thought as women of faith, we were taught to “be fruitful and multiply” and consider children a gift from God!

I don’t begrudge people who decide they’re done after two kids, that’s fine; but sometimes I think we limit ourselves to the same way of thinking that the ‘world’ does: emphasis on our things, our money, our material possessions and how we could never afford to do this that and the other if we had more than two kids. Fully trusting in God to provide for all our needs seems a distant memory at times.

My pastor’s daughter also told me of her sister-in-law, who was experiencing health problems and facing her second cesarean. Her first one happened after similar health problems and was done after a short trial of labor; this one was completely planned ahead of time. I can understand, because when your health is in danger you have to consider how it will impact your birth and the health of your child as well. But she confided in me how her sister-in-law is “not one to question anything the doctor says,” and just goes along with whatever. Therefore a VBAC was completely out of the question, and beyond doing an early cesarean, I’m not sure what she – or the doctors – were doing to maintain her health other than just deliver the baby. I got the feeling that even if she could VBAC, she would never consider it – because her doctor told her it was dangerous. And that was that.

I know VBAC isn’t an option for everyone, and for some it’s definitely not the best decision. For many, though, I think they are completely deterred by their doctors – who increasingly reject VBAC because of insurance reasons – a lack of information on it, and by fear. It’s difficult to arm yourself with knowledge and ‘buck the system,’ the same system that would rather see you on the operating table than laboring beautifully on your own, ready to give birth to your baby.

I did do a lot of research, and did have a doctor who was beyond panicked that I would choose to have a VBAC only three weeks before my due date. I tried not to let his obvious disdain for my choice affect me, and surrounded myself with positive birth stories, and lots and lots of prayer. I prayed everywhere – in the car, while sitting on the toilet, at the dining room table at 2 a.m., in the rocking chair nursery. Never had I drawn closer to God than during that time, and my baby was born safely a few weeks later. God had answered my prayers!

I decided to attempt another VBAC with my third child. In the beginning of my pregnancy, a rather cold midwife questioned my decision and ended it on a rather blunt note: “Whatever you decide, it is your decision,” which I took to mean, “If your uterus ruptures, it was your choice to do this.” She was miffed that I rejected prenatal testing (considering I was almost 35) and said, “You just need to know where I’m coming from.” I looked at her and thought, “And you need to know where I’m coming from,” thinking how even if something was wrong, it wouldn’t change my opinions, or my faith that God had blessed my pregnancy. I wasn’t planning on getting pregnant at the time, but always wanted three children – and God decided it was time for me to become pregnant.  A few weeks later, I started bleeding, and while obviously upset, I knelt and prayed – hearing that still, small voice that told me, very clearly, that everything would be all right. I knew that God would not let anything happen to my baby, especially after the shock wore off and I realized that things would work out just fine.

Increasingly high blood pressure and doctors (with no midwives in the practice) who were not completely on board with my idea made things difficult, even though at least one of the physicians in the practice seemed almost in awe of the information I had. He even asked me at one point, “How do you know so much?” I told him, “I know how to read!” The information is there, you just need to look for it. And it takes a tremendous amount of faith – not only in your own body, but, as I found out, in God as well – to step outside of those boundaries and do something that might make you pretty unpopular in the office.

One doctor I saw regularly was a Christian, and yet was counseling me based on her experiences – she opted for a repeat cesarean. I was kind of surprised and saddened by her choice, that not only had she seemingly been duped by her own profession, but didn’t seem to factor her faith into the equation. Surely God doesn’t want us to be reckless in our decisions, but have faith that He will take care of us, right? While sometimes it is completely necessary to rely on doctors to help us deliver, I do believe our bodies were created by Him as amazing machines – that can do amazing things when only given the chance!

We should trust our physicians, yes, but sometimes that isn’t always completely possible, especially in matters concerning birth. It’s hard to find a care provider who doesn’t think a 40-week due date is set in stone, or that you definitely need an induction even though you have no medical reason for it. And sometimes I think we women of faith put too much trust in our earthly physicians and not enough in our Heavenly one.

When I gave birth to my third child, it was by cesarean. But I had prayed that my labor would be quick and painless, and ultimately that my baby would be healthy. The labor was quick (I was fully dilated when I arrived at the hospital!) but the baby was frank breech and they decided to do another c-section. I had no mental or emotional preparation for a breech birth, and knew my doctor hadn’t done one in years – so with little recent training in handling such a birth, I thought it was the best thing to do at the time. I was completely at peace with the decision and, while disappointed, I knew I couldn’t go back on my plan to thank God for answering my prayers and ensuring that my baby would be born safely. I trusted that, just like the Scriptures tell us, that everything had worked out together for good, and that there was a reason for His plan. And I had so much to be thankful for, because He had met me halfway with my prayers and ultimately delivered – no pun intended! – on His promise.

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