I have avoided posting this for months now. I didn’t want to open this discussion because I know how controversial it will be. I’ve talked a very little bit about my PTSD surrounding Lexi’s birth, and a great deal of it stems from guilt. Throughout my pregnancy, we were told over and over “trust your body, trust your baby… your body knows what it’s doing” and ultimately trusting my body could have killed my daughter.
A friend of mine posted this article this morning: Dear Friend, Birth Doesn’t Have to Suck. Fundamentally, I agree with the premise. Birth should not, and does not have to, suck. As a matter of fact, I agree with all of the points except the first one (and I have a small disagreement on a minor second point, but it’s not even that important). Sometimes, you can do everything right, and it can still suck. In the first point, the author writes
I can’t say this enough: this is your show. It’s your body. It’s your baby. You are responsible for the decisions you make, and you will bear the consequences–good or bad–for any decisions made about your care. There are a few ways this can go: it can be traumatic and life-changing in a bad way; you can “get through it” just to get to the other side with some minor complications; or you can grab the bull by the horns and do everything possible to make it the safest, most positive, most life-affirming experience you’ve ever had, and something that will make you love and respect your own body in a profound new way.
Those aren’t your only options. You can grab the bull by the horns, you can make your birth plan, you can even stick with it in the face of overwhelming opposition (and trust me, the opposition to my absolutely no pitocin rule was pretty overwhelming), and your birth can still be traumatic and life-changing in a bad way. It isn’t always your show. Sometimes fate takes over, and shit happens that is completely and totally beyond yours or anyone else’s control. The most toxic thing I believed following Lexi’s birth is that I caused this. I fucked up, and I nearly killed my baby. And in some respects, that’s true. “Trust your body, trust your baby” did nearly kill my daughter. Trusting my provider saved her life. If I had trusted my body more than I trusted my provider, I would have declined the induction even at 40 weeks. I desperately wanted to. But I trusted my midwife, and when she said “I can’t explain it, I just have a bad feeling. I care about you, I want to be able to put a baby in your arms, please have the induction” I listened to her gut above all else.
I overrode my own gut and heart telling me something was not right to “trust my body” because women have been doing this for thousands of years, and we are designed to birth babies, and surely, surely nothing bad could happen to me. The last 3 weeks of my pregnancy, I said over and over that something was wrong, and everyone told me, no it’s fine, it’s normal. Trust your baby, trust your body. It will all be okay. And it wasn’t. Something was very, very wrong. And I have to live with the consequences of not trusting the providers (not my midwife– the doctor who did the ultrasound). Maybe if I had put a little less faith in my body’s ability, and a little more faith in the doctors, we wouldn’t be here.
Ultimately, I know that the author’s point is actually that you need a provider you trust completely. You need to make sure you have a provider you feel 100% safe with, someone you trust to trust you, but who you also trust to help you make the best decision for you.
And even if you go into your birth with the perfect plan, the best of intentions, it can still go sideways, and having a birth that sucks is not your fault. It’s not a failing, and yes, you have to live with the consequences if things happen that weren’t what you wanted, but sometimes your provider really does know better, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.