There are so many emotions going into a pregnancy. Excitement for this new person, worry about the unknown, love and awe for the life inside of you, and expectation for something wonderful.
I teach natural childbirth. I believe in the process and the joy of it. I have to or I would not bother. And yet, sometimes things go wrong.
In class we talk about avoiding complications, staying healthy, communicating with your birth team and a million other things. In essence we try to control all of the factors that we can. We talk about choosing a care provider, a birth place, practicing relaxation, letting go of any birth fears or mental or emotional barriers that could cause a birth to be more painful or problematic. But when the day is over, you just can't control everything.
The unexpected sometimes happens. People make all the right choices and all the right preparations and a birth can go haywire. A mom can have a beautiful natural birth and then struggle seemingly endlessly with breastfeeding. And, even though I teach normality and how rare these things happen, they do sometimes happen.
Having a few students lately whose experiences have been unexpected has made me think. I wonder if the difference I am trying to make is worth it. I wonder if talking endlessly about the joys and the wonder of natural childbirth and then having a mom who can not have one, makes her experience worse than it would have been if she had known nothing.
Maybe a mother would be happier with her experience if she really didn't know better. Maybe a woman is better off if she expects a horrifying experience and then gets one. At least she was not disappointed. Maybe a mother is better off if she doesn't really care if breastfeeding works out. At least she won't beat herself up when things get hard.
But I can not seem to let myself believe such things.
I know it can be wonderful, life changing, powerful and transformative. I know it in my core. I know it matters to women. That is why it hurts so badly to see things go wrong.
I hope that these mamas that I am watching struggle with disappointment and pain and unexpected problems recover. I hope that it molds them into stronger and better mothers. I hope I can learn from them and their experiences.
Maybe I need to not just teach women to let go of their control in labor, maybe I need to realize that I can't control their experience either.