Yesterday during time of confession in our worship service, I ran my mind over my past week and realized that if I’ve had a pattern of brokenness in my life the past few days, it’s been in the form of fear.
As a hormonal mama who wants nothing more than to make our little nest ready for baby, I’m feeling the burden of what I don’t know about our future: how much I wish I could feel settled, how much I wish we had a handle on our five-year or even one-year plan. But we don’t. Instead we can set up the crib (which we did this weekend) and buy a baby swing for cheap off Craigslist (which I did this weekend). My baby doesn’t need more than some clean diapers and his mama , it’s really me who is in need of some comfortable nesting. And at this point, I need to be okay with uncertainty.
I think I’m following the same pattern I followed in my first pregnancy. I spent the first trimester (other than puking) worrying about giving birth, worrying about whether I was capable of being a mother, worrying about general fears of failure. In the second trimester, I felt great, loved pregnancy and believed that I would be prepared when the time came. Then the third trimester hit and all that ease went out the window. I was terrified: of giving birth, of motherhood, of what I didn’t have accomplished.
This time, I’m more terrified of giving birth than I was before. I don’t say that in the “Har har! It’s so crazy to give birth!” way. In fact, last time around, I mentally rejected the notion that giving birth had to be horrible. I embraced natural birthing. I took a hypnobirthing class and planned for a birth with a Jacuzzi tub and lots of candles. Much of hypnobirthing calls for a belief that we shouldn’t surround ourselves with negative birth stories. We should plan for our bodies to do their jobs. We should plan for “intense pressure,” not pain.
My birth plan didn’t pan out. Much to my disappointment, I ended up in the hospital being induced and I felt like my body rejected the general timing of the whole birth. Sometimes I wonder if my body would ever have cooperated if circumstances were different. Then sometimes (like in the past week and a half) I reread the Hyponobirthing manual and feel utter failure. Hypnobirthing teaches that when women aren’t fearful, they’re able to birth their babies in silence and peace and ferocity. We don’t have to be victims. We don’t have to be treated like medical situations. Our bodies are made for this. We can do it with ease like a mama kitty under the bed.
But my experience with birth was not free of fear or pain. Instead I was wrecked and the body I was supposed to trust seemed to be working against me and my baby. As I reread through my book I can’t help but feel that I’m one of those failures who needed medical intervention because I was fearful.
This is the point when you, dear reader, want to get on the comments page and yell, “Micha, you’re ridiculous! Hypnobirthing is cuhrazy! Don’t feel guilty for doing what was best for your kid.” And so, I’ll assure you, I don’t feel guilty for how my birth experience went with August. I don’t feel guilty that I got an epidural.
What I feel is two things: 1) Frustrated that the natural birthing movement (which I still appreciate and admire, by the way) can cause someone like me to feel like a failure because I wasn’t strong enough to birth free of drugs and fear. And 2) Fearful of doing this all over again.
So, yesterday I confessed my fear. All of it. My fear of pain, my fear of uncertainty, my fear of failure. And I remembered what my dear friend, Cat, reminded me of last week: When Jesus cried out to God in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion, he in all his God-ness asked that the experience he was about to face be taken from him. Was he more concerned with physical pain or the spiritual separation he would face in the midst of his torture? It’s impossible to know for sure. But I’m relieved to know he was asking for “the cup to pass” from him.
It’s okay that I don’t long for physical trauma. What’s not okay is for me to live in a fearful place where my uncertainty and my certainties control my present hope. Joy is a choice. And what does the book of 1 John say? “Perfect love drives out fear…” So, my choice this week is to cling to the Giver of that perfect love. I’ll let you know how the clinging goes…