Not everyone likes to hear birth stories. But like many women, I began to devour them once I became pregnant. Since Liam is already a year old, I wanted to share my birth story so that it can be informative and encouraging to others. It's an amazingly, beautiful story of God's provision and protection of us.
But first, why do we share birth stories? Why do these stories matter?
Developing a Framework of Birth
I read a blog post once in which the author claimed that striving too hard for natural childbirth is foolish because birth itself is not natural but a result of the Fall--a sign of the brokenness of God's creation. I do believe that wars over how women give birth are foolish; each mother, baby, and birth are so different, and there is so much complexity involved.
But I also believe that giving birth is not necessarily a result of the Fall. The pain is increased because of the Fall, but the creation of a new being and the work that goes into birthing that human remarkably resembles God's own birthing of Creation. The command to "be fruitful and multiply" encapsulates what it means to be like God--to be His image-bearers. One way we are fruitful is by having children. There is wisdom in preparing well for birth and in seeking to make your birth as intervention-free as possible.
That being said, the Fall has increased the pain of childbearing. It has also created complications and disastrous circumstances that can lead to death for the mother and/or the baby. Medicine, hospitals, interventions, preparation--all of these can work miracles in this process of childbirth.
So I don't believe in sharing stories from a place of judgment. Rather, we share birth stories from a place of encouragement and preparation.
Sharing to Strengthen Others
My big concern about birth is that it ends up being traumatic for so many women (which can increase the risk of postpartum depression and lead to PTSD). Sharing stories can remove some of the fear associated with birth, not just by preparing us for "worst case scenario" but also by setting us up for success. There's a great deal of mental energy and instinct involved in birth; mammals tend to give birth when they are relaxed, and a wide range of stories can set us up to be more relaxed about birth however it happens for us.
This was true in my experience. The day my water broke, I was reading another blogger's birth story. I had been eagerly following her story, and on that Wednesday, she posted the last installment. She had planned for a natural birth but after much waiting for labor to start, she was induced. However, she still managed to labor and deliver her beautiful son without further intervention, pain medications, or a C-section. It was an inspiring story, though I hoped my own would be much simpler.
However, when my water broke Wednesday night and my labor didn't start by the following morning, the midwife wanted me to be induced. That blogger's story kept me from being completely hopeless in the face of induction. Even her detailed descriptions of the pain and her emotions helped me tremendously during labor.
Sharing to Honor the Process
Birth is also sacred and beautiful. Giving birth is a tremendously significant event and one that deserves to be honored by sharing (just as we share the stories of how we met our spouses or our wedding day stories). There's something so special about Liam's birth that I almost hesitate to share it; it feels like a private, intimate thing. But the benefits of sharing a portion of our story outweigh this feeling for me.
Birth comes with risks. Creating anything new--making anything significant--is risky and dangerous. Sometimes the risks are more emotional; other times they are physical, social, or financial. Birth is risky in all ways; it encompasses all our fears and doubts and what it means to be human and what it means to be image-bearers of God bringing forth a new creation. Sharing birth stories celebrates the potential beauty and risk and the whole mess of life-giving, life-birthing, creation. It honors those who struggle; it supports and encourages those who are fearful and preparing, and it blesses all of us with beauty and truth and a glimpse into something that is far, far bigger than we are--a place where we touch the eternal.
We share birth stories is to provide knowledge, wisdom, and encouragement and to honor our own births. Jessi Connolly writes a fabulous post about encouraging those coming behind us in a season of life. She says,
[Those coming behind you] are holding their breaths waiting for you to turn around and tell them, "It's going to be ok. It's going to be great." "You can do this. Jesus in you is strong, even when you feel weak." "It might feel hard - but He has equipped you and He will work in you." "I'll be there for you, every step of the way." "The best is yet to come."
And that's what I want my birth story to be for you--to be a hope-giving, knowledge-sharing, beautiful glimpse of the work of new life.