Hero’s Journey

Sometimes you hear of the labor and birth of the woman who did NOTHING to prepare for her birth. NOTHING except show up at her appointments and then arrive to the hospital and have a fabulous birth. She may have planned to get an epidural but her labor was so fast or so easy that she gave birth easily and naturally without any interventions. These happen- but trust me not that often. It is what is often referred to as a fluke birth.

Sometimes you hear of the labor and birth of the woman who did all sorts of fabulous preparation and had a fabulous birth because of that preparation. She took classes, prepared her mind and body, assembled a great birth team, and ended up with a natural and joyous birth. Perhaps she had realized the baggage she may have going into her labor and worked to unpack it before labor began. Or perhaps life had helped her prepare for this journey without baggage. We see these births happen frequently. Women worked hard to work through their fears. They daily did preparation for their bodies to be ready and their minds to be filled with birth wisdom, These births take a lot of preparation and hard work and the couples are truly invested in getting the outcome they receive.

Sometimes you hear of the labor and birth of the woman who did everything right and her journey of labor and birth was arduous. She had to make tough decisions along the way. Perhaps her water broke and she faced augmenting her labor with Pitocin that she had not wanted. Perhaps she had prodromal labor due to a malpositioned baby and spent hours working to get the baby to rotate and the baby may or may not have moved. Perhaps she had a cervix that was stubborn about dilating and ended up with fatigue and received the unwanted epidural. Perhaps she even did the hard work of laboring for days to end up in the OR for a cesarean birth. And then she had to deal with all of her “friends” who said things like, “Don’t you just wish you had not spent all that money on those classes and that doula and just planned on the epidural or the cesarean from the beginning?”  She hopefully comes to realize she had a hero journey- not a failed one at all. That the journey she was one was one full of faith and courage and was worth that in the end. Not because all that mattered was “a healthy mom and a healthy baby” but that she had worked hard with her partner working hard beside her. They had prepared to make those hard decisions and had done what was needed in the end with courage.

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It does not take courage or hard work to have a fluke birth. It does take hard work and courage to do the planning for a natural birth. But it takes special courage and even more hard work to journey as a hero. We need to hear your hero stories.  It is important because women hear the fluke stories and they hear the stories of the women who never planned or prepared for a natural birth because it was easier to just go in and do what most folks do-  be induced- get Pitocin- get an epidural and have a 40% chance of a cesarean – and call it a day. Often times this is the path chosen due to fear- fear of the unknown- fear of failure if they tried to be a hero- or an unwillingness to prepare properly or a belief that preparation really makes no difference. But we have two types of stories that are not told often enough.

We need to hear the stories of the prepared couples- what they did- how they decided how to proceed- and what worked for them. We want to hear your stories if that is your story. Often times when those around us had very different outcomes from our own, we are silent about sharing in fear that we may make others feel bad about their births. But it is these stories that need to be shared the most. Why share these stories? Couples need to hear the work that goes into having a natural birth. They need to hear that preparation made a difference.

We also need to hear the stories of the heros too, those whose journey took a really different path from the one they had planned for. These couples need to embrace their journeys and realize they are the heros. My longest labor was only eight hours. I had three wonderful prepared for natural births. But it is easy to say I had natural births when my longest was only eight hours long. Now I do know I did a ton of things to prepare for my easier and shorter births. But so did my daughter Jami who had an arduous home birth- natural birth- but three days long. She had a hard labor and birth. She is one of my heros. I am unsure if I could have done what she did.

I have been with women who had days of labor- active labor- struggled to get their babies lined up perfectly- spent money to hire doulas, took classes, saw their chiropractor, ate healthy and exercised, etc- and still ended up with very different births. Sometimes they look up at me when the decision is to get an epidural or a cesarean and they apologize to me and hope I am not disappointed in them. It makes me sad that they do not see that they are the hero. It takes a huge amount of blood, sweat and tears for some couples to have their babies. We want to hear those stories. Why? Because it will help others see the way you handled those difficult turns and hurdles. They may begin to explore how they may too face those hurdles.

So, I invite you to send me your stories. I would love to receive them via email as a word attachment- with perhaps some jpg pictures of the labor, birth or baby pics. Send them to info@alaboroflove.org. Let’s get the stories out there that will help prepare other couples to be well prepared and also equipped to become heroes if they need to be. Thanks!