an exercise in empowerment

photo(17)18 weeks vs. 30 weeks!


I am convinced that the size of my growing belly is directly related to the number of women who enthusiastically offer up their labor and delivery horror stories. One more inch gained, one more scary story shared.


After such exchanges, I am always left wondering, “Why, as women, do we share the most frightening parts of our birth experience? Why do we hover over the moments of greatest pain and uncertainty?” Perhaps healing is found in the retelling. Perhaps these stories are meant as a compassionate forewarning. Perhaps it’s the sheer thrill we get from sharing the shock and the awe.


But, you see, when you’re pregnant, you’re vulnerable. Your emotions are taut and bubbling over. Your belly is taut and bubbling over. In this state of vulnerability you want to hear about women’s strength in childbirth. You want to drink in their wisdom. You want to internalize their courage and triumph and acknowledge, with them, the guiding hand of God. You don’t want to bathe in their fear.


I’ve been reading a book called Birthing From Within that honors the innate capability of women’s bodies to give birth. The author suggests that moms-to-be talk with other mothers about the profound elements of their birth experiences and provides a list of possible questions to ask:


*What helped you most when you gave birth?


*What was your spiritual experience of giving birth?


*If you could do it over again, what would you do the same?


*Is there anything you would do differently?


*What do you wish you had known before hand?


From one mother to another, would you mind sharing your thoughts on one or more of these questions? (If your answer is too personal, feel free to send me a private email). I would love to be buoyed by your wisdom (and not burdened by your fears) as I step across the threshold into motherhood. Baby fig and I thank you.


32 Responses to “an exercise in empowerment”

  1. You’ll know!
    I hated the ugly gown so I refused it and opted for a tank top instead. It made me feel like myself. I loved the ice to chew and chew. I loved listening to music and resting. Birth is such a tremendous “in-body” experience that you have no context for unless you are deep inside of it. I loved being cared for and allowing that. Relaxing during my breaks from contractions was very important. Not thinking of the next contraction but, rather, embracing the break. That’s how to do it!

    Krisanne, when those babies come out! It was like I broke off from the world and love totally became everything. Love was me, it was hatred, it was hurt. Love took everything over. One of my old bishops, who was incredibly scholarly, taught that the process of birth mirrors Christ’s sacrifice. Blood, water, suffering, birth, rising…I’m not doing it justice here but I like the sentiment of that. I hesitate sharing this overwhelming feeling because so many women suffer from shock, fear and depression…but I share because those emotions are spiritual too. To not get what you expect, to feel powerless and small, mad or sad- the Lord is in everything we feel. Yea, the divers places of every mother’s heart.

    I would come home with a baby, and my experience.

    Yes. I would have had a scheduled c-section with Johnny. Rather than working through a life threatening emergency c-section.

    That love is the why. I wish I would have recorded every morsel of every thought I had those first few days after my first birth. It was transcendental. I felt so overcome with love and that love extended through to everyone I had ever met. Parts of that love stay but life gets in the way. It was a wonderful baptism as I became a mother. That first baby makes you a mother!

    • Krisanne says:

      Ashley–thank you for not hesitating in sharing your experience. your words are so moving. this struck me “the Lord is in everything we feel.” regardless of what happens, birth can be a holy experience. thank you, thank you. xo

  2. Jen says:

    There are lots of decisions that I made pre-labor that I feel really made the experience great (it doesn’t have to be perfect to be great) for me. I had prepared music to help me zone out during the toughest part of labor; I had a wonderful friend act as my doula and she was a lifeline for me; my husband knew what I wanted and was there for me every step of the way, and it was a real bonding experience for us.

    I’d like to do all those things again. Here’s something else: when my doctor pressed us to do things that would speed the labor along, we asked for more time without any interventions, and she gave it to us. Me, Derrick, and my doula even sent her out of the room so we could consult about it with each other. I definitely want to have the chutzpah to do that again, should I feel it’s best.

    My sister had told me to stay in the hospital as long as possible, and have Felicity stay in the nursery so I could rest. And it was a disaster. I couldn’t relax, couldn’t sleep, and I left the hospital a bit of a basket case. I wish I had been a bit more in tune with myself and how I was feeling, instead of doing what I thought I was supposed to do. With this baby, I plan on having him/her with me the whole time, and getting the hell out of the hospital as soon as humanly possible.

    When I think about the first time I held Felicity, all I remember is that she was crying, and the second I held her to me and pressed her close, she immediately stopped crying. Immediately. And it awakened something in me. It tied us together forever.

    Mama, you’re going to be fine. So is baby fig. And you’ll have divine help with you; She always knows when we need Her most.

    • Krisanne says:

      Jen–I remember hearing your birth story first hand–your comment jogged my memory! thank you for sharing some of the things you did in preparation, and it’s really good for me to hear about you asserting your needs and desires to the doctor. thank you, too, for the vote of confidence. ;) love you xo

  3. Katie Steed says:

    I have a different take on this as I have c-sections and quite frankly, I LOVE them. Was it my first choice to go this route, of course not, but I always tell people that if you end up having a c-section-don’t fear it! If I could, I would be the doula of c-section births. It can be a very wonderful experience. Here is my blogpost about my 3rd baby (and 3rd c-section).

    • Krisanne says:

      Katie–I think that yours is a really important perspective. Sometimes C-sections happen. Better to go into it prepared and not full of fear. And how much do I love your idea of a C-section doula. ;) thank you, thank you. xo (off to read your blog post).

  4. Nataly says:

    I will try to keep it to a minimum after having 3 beautiful baby girls, but it’s going to be tough! :) Labor and delivery was something I looked forward to conquering with the greatest God-given strength and honor. I was always nervous at about 6 months, but very ready for the challenge by 8 months. All of my laboratory were challenging, but absolutely my proudest moments as a human being. I am certain it is my biggest brag to say that I have birthed 3 children, and with very little medical assistance.
    My first was nerve wracking and my soct

  5. Jessica says:

    My labor with David definitely showed me the innate capability of a woman’s body to give birth. Claire’s delivery was full of interventions and I was medicated so I really didn’t know what giving birth was like but I knew I wanted it to be different with my second. Even though it was nothing like I’d hoped or planned for I don’t think I’d change a thing. My body and my baby knew exactly what to do. It was nothing short of miraculous! I’m happy to share the whole story by email if you’re interested, some might consider it a birth horror story but I’d take it over the medicated hospital birth any day.

    • Krisanne says:

      Jessica–I would love to hear your whole story! Please send it along! That phrase “the innate capability of a woman’s body to give birth” has been rolling over in my mind for some time now. Our capacity as women is powerful isn’t it? That’s one thing I’m really looking forward to–that very visceral understanding of how amazing our bodies are (which I already experience to some degree being pregnant). Love you! xo

  6. nataly says:

    Oops! My doctor was planning to be out of town, so I gave into the emotions of wanting familiarity and security with him and allowed an induced labor…which happened to be a poor decision leading to lots of pain and pressure. It worked! but, I do believe that even though my baby and cervix seemed to be ready…I did push the issue ;) Water broke at 6 am and after VERY hard labor and no progress, things changed by 11 am and I had a baby by 1 in the afternoon. My amazing nurse noticed my resistance at about 6 cm and suggested fentanyl. I accepted, because truly I was so exhausted that I actually considered an epidural (which I NEVER EVER truly wanted). The 1 does of Fentanyl sent me straight into transition because it allowed my body to relax and work with itself.
    My second baby was due on my birthday, so after, again being 3 cm dilated, I allowed a breaking of my waters. I declared that no induction would be allowed, and after 2 hours of waiting, labor began and another beautiful girl was delivered within 3 hours I asked for a dose of Fentanyl right when I felt like giving in and giving up. It helped me to relax right into transition again and ready to push.. BTW 2 days before my bday (no sharing ;) )
    By the time my third baby was due, I was absolutely determined to allow ALL natural labor. It happened. I was at home when contractions began, I went to bed, was awaken by harder contractions, showered, then decided I really didn’t want to have my baby at home & call in the recruits for big sister sitters. We headed into the hospital at 5 am, and had our 3rd and final baby girl by 9 am. This time, no meds, nothing.
    It was empowering every time, but the most amazing accomplishment to know by the last time that I had and could do it ALL ON MY OWN. God has created the most amazing process in which He controls every moment. Even down to forgetting the pain nearly immediately. It is no doubt the most incredible accomplishment and when in line with your goals and expectations of yourself, the most satisfying experience of your life.
    I would certainly never expect that everyone’s goals are to have their child naturally, because every mommy moment is perfect and perfect in your own expectations. Be confident, move forward and be assertive about what you really want. You certainly won’t look back in disappointment if it’s exactly what you asked for.
    Enjoy this time because it is a blessing and not chosen for every woman in this world. It is a blessing! A truly amazing blessing.
    Soak it up, cousin. xoxo

    • Krisanne says:

      Nataly–I loved hearing your birth stories! You have such a positive and spiritual approach to giving birth that really resonates with me. I’ve prepared for an unmedicated birth as well, but want to remain open and flexible to the needs of the moment. I also really love how powerful you felt. I agree with your assertion that to have such an experience is a huge blessing. Love you! xo

  7. Jen Tippetts says:

    I had a wonderful birth experience. Loved birthing from within and preparing using hypnobirthing. I have a hard time saying what id do differently bc it was so wonderful even though it didn’t end up going just as I had planned. I wanted to feel pain. Weird but true. I wanted to be able to sit with the pain and breath through the pain and feel like I was working with Alice to get her here. I definitely felt that and it was awesome. I wish I hadn’t been so scared by the pain when things got really intense but I don’t know what i could do differently other than having quiet (family was in and out and it made it hard to concentrate) dark and reverting back to the scripts/recordings I had (and didn’t use). The spiritual part was my perfect girl coming out and seeing her face for the first time, the time she spent with me directly after (skin to skin), feeding her the first time. It was all magical and spiritual and blessed.

    • Krisanne says:

      Jen–Not only do I need to see your little pea, Alice, but I would love to hear your birth story in person, too. I understand what you mean when you say, “I wanted to feel pain.” There is something about learning to sit with the pain and be in the moment that strikes me as being an important life lesson–not just in birthing. Thank you for sharing those profound moments of bringing Alice into the world. xoxo

  8. Gina says:

    I am so grateful for c-sections! It was what we needed for my last 3 kids, and they all went beautifully. I know so many women who are scared to death at the thought of them, but for our family they have been such a blessing. I am so grateful to live in a time when medical knowledge and technology is so amazing and more mothers and babies get to live healthy lives than ever before. Births rarely go exactly as planned or expected and well meaning loved ones and professionals sometimes give conflicting advice, but the Lord knows you, your baby and your needs. There is peace and beauty in that.

    • Krisanne says:

      Gina–Again, so good to hear from a mom who has positive things to say about C-sections! Of course, that’s not something I hope for myself, but if it’s a necessity, I don’t want to go into the experience terrified. I think we’re at a time where we can choose the best of both worlds as mothers–we can take advantage of medical technology but we can also make unmedicated birth choices if we want. For example, I will be giving birth in a hospital, but I will also be using a doula, a midwife, and hypnobabies. I appreciate that I can straddle both worlds for my first birth. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! xo

  9. Lumina says:

    You are so radiant Krisanne!!! What a beautiful woman and child you two are!
    Great choice to read Birthing From Within, and to honestly face your fears and ask for support and inspiration from your tribe of women.
    I have also wondered why these terrible stories come out of womens mouths right when we are most vulnerable… and after giving birth once now, and reading and discussing it a lot, I have come to theorize that it’s an effort to discuss and process trauma.
    Unfortunately for many women birth is severely traumatic, and this is due to a number of factors, but there is not enough safe space or collective consciousness about the mother’s birth experience for women to process this trauma. The focus in our society is on the safety of the baby first and foremost, and the mother’s experience, comfort, even safety is often sacrificed. And then in this vulnerable time pre and post birth, women are asked to focus on the baby and others even still, and not allowed often to say that they are/were frightened, mistreated, not feeling “in love” with their baby yet, upset, rushed, hushed. The baby is safe, that’s all that matters is often the attitude promoted and celebrated. But a healthy beautiful happy safe mother and baby duo is so wonderful!
    A very mind blowing frame of reference that my doula friend pointed out to me is that birth can be just like the process of creating the baby. Beautiful, intimate, safe, loving, exciting, mindblowingly intense, and mutually satisfying. Imagine if we treated the process of making the baby in the same way we reference birth these days, “Doesn’t matter how the baby got there, at least it’s there”, without any concern for if the mother had consented, or enjoyed the conception of the baby and what happened to her body in the process. No, at least we like to say that we respect a woman’s right to her own body, to her right to choose the who and what and how of making a baby. But often in our birth process in the U.S. women are not asked about the who and what and how of getting the baby out, their innate power is taken away, they are “delivered” by the system and the doctors and protocols in place. Anyway, I’m kind of recapping some of the stuff from Birthing from Within.
    What really worked for me in the hospital with Giorgio the first time was staying at home as long as possible, chanting “open” to my uterus and using a big exercise ball to be on hands and knees, and having my doula massage my back. Then in the birth center getting into the big dual bath tub with my husband was AWESOME. Then after we transferred into the hospital, and there was talk of a C-section, putting on my hypnobirthing CD and closing my eyes and talking to my baby and asking him to position himself so that his head would engage my cervix, remembering practicing in birthing class with a little doll and plastic uterus, the turning and motion of his head positioning properly. After this meditation, my long labor came to an end and Giorgio came right out into our arms and nursed immediately. Looking straight into my husbands eyes helped during pushing. I wish I had let pushing come more naturally, instead of holding breath on your back way. I was saying, “I can’t do this” but my husband was chanting, “I can do this” and I would hook into his eyes and chant with him, and channel his vibration to overcome my own panic. It worked. Then having my baby on my breast for the next weeks was so healing. So was telling my birth story over and over to women who could listen well, to not just the beautiful happy parts, but cry with me over the scary parts and the parts where I felt like I failed to live up to my fantasy of birthing. Asking my husband to tell me his version of the experience and keep telling me the strength and beauty he witnessed over and over, helped me too. Writing about it, watching films about it, after the birth, really helped me.
    It was painful and scary to give birth, especially the first time. Your deepest fears come up, for me, they were about my own mother and if I would be able to be a good one. This time around I have homebirth midwives and we are giving birth here in our house, and I am afraid that I will not trust anyone to be as competent as hospital people are. So acknowledging that fear a la Birthing from Within, my husband and I are meditating on Trust everyday for 11 minutes together, in the space where we plan to have the birth tub set up. And we are watching beautiful homebirths on Youtube and videos as often as we can. I have also found a community of women who have had or are having homebirths in my neighborhood by posting on a neighborhood listserv. They came over to my house and we all talked in person and ate cookies. :) And I bought tickets (free southwest miles actually) for my two best friends to fly in and have a blessingway ceremony with me a few weeks before birth. We are going to play guitar and sing and bellydance and henna it up. And I haven’t discussed my birth plans with the friends and family that first time around told me the horror stories. I learned a lot about who was ready to support me at this time, and who I was just barking up the wrong tree with. It’s hard and sad to not share my excitement over my homebirth plans with some people I am really close to, but right now my feelings are the most important.
    Oh! And that’s the best part about being pregnant the second time, and I hope I can inspire you to enjoy the first time around… I realize this time that my comfort is IMPORTANT! I am letting my husband cook and clean for me! This gives me time to bond with my baby, form a relationship as we get ready for our big yoga challenge of birth, time to go do yoga, to meditate, to REST, to read, to write. I was burdened with my own expectations of being a perfect wife the first time around, but this time, I’m giving my husband the chance to prepare for his fatherhood by taking care of me right now, and it’s so awesome, he’s really capable and amazing when I let myself lean on him and be vulnerable enough to ask for his help and courageous enough to admit I want to be helped with this great work of making the baby.
    A great birth video I think you would love: Birth Day by Safe Femme Films.
    You are in tune with your own soul, stay in tune with your body and your baby and you are going to rock your birth journey Krisanne. Go MAMA go.

    • Krisanne says:

      Lumina–I love, love, love your mother/baby centered approach (as opposed to strictly baby centered approach). When you talked about looking into your husband’s eyes while managing the birthing process, that really struck me, too. I am going to do that! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Your approach to birth and motherhood aligns so closely with mine–it’s nice to read my feelings reflected in your experiences. (Will definitely be checking out Birth Day!)

  10. Laura says:

    I have never felt so close to God as when my boys were born. I remember how intensely jealous I was when my sister-in-law went into labor six weeks after my oldest was born. I wanted to do it again. Watching my boys as little bits of clay, so malleable, so moldable, move into this world, and seeing the breath of life move into their bodies until they were squirming, screaming bits of people was sacred. I helped make those bodies that house the spirit children of Father in Heaven. I saw that they were good.

    I dedicate the above comment to powerful drugs.

    • Krisanne says:

      Laura–Your last comment made me laugh out loud. Your description is gorgeous–an echo of the creation story. Thank you so much for sharing those thoughts! xo

  11. Jess says:

    I personally believe that epidurals are a gift from God. :) But I also believe to each her own.

    That first week is magical. A combination of adrenaline, birth hormones, and the spirit of this new child sent straight from heaven is wonderful and carries you through the lack of sleep and constant nursing. You don’t want to sleep yourself because you are in awe of your baby, and you spend those quiet moments watching. Enjoy every second of it, because the magic will end and you will be very tired. Don’t make any plans for the first four weeks other than to take care of your baby and yourself. Get rid of outside expectations and just enjoy your new family.

    Also, just something to be aware of: I usually spend week 3 after the birth of my babies crying my eyes out. I don’t think it is depression or baby blues per se, just a shift in hormones and extreme exhaustion, and it’s usually around the time my mom has to go home and husband has to go back to work. It usually lasts about a week then one day I wake up ready to face the world again and start figuring out my new normal with a newborn. It may not happen that way for everyone, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, just something to be aware of so it doesn’t freak you out. Of course, if the tears last more than a week or so please call your doctor because you may need some help.

    • Krisanne says:

      Jess–I really appreciate you sharing some thoughts on the first week. That’s really helpful for me. “Get rid of outside expectations” Yes! Also, thank you for normalizing the hormonal bedlam that may be a part of my post-birth experience. Your perspective feels so balanced and practical and joyful. Thank you. xo

  12. rachel says:

    i came upon your blog awhile back when katy dill linked to you (i think). even though i am not lds, i consider myself to be a theology nerd/recovering evangelical fundamentalist and i have really enjoyed reading your thoughts on faith. :) i had to chime in on this post, because i am a lactation counselor and doula so this is right up my alley. :) my advice to you, if you want a birthing from within kind of birth, is to use a midwife, either in the hospital, at a birth center, or at home. of course, not all midwives are created equal, so do your research. my first birth was the classic cycle-of-interventions as it’s so often called, so for my second i chose a midwife and had a beautiful birth which i wrote about here.
    we took a break from bio babies and adopted our third child from ethiopia, then we had our fourth baby again with a midwife. it was an amazing, spiritual experience which i blogged about here
    i had a lot of fear going into my second birth and it really helped to read positive birth stories. that was before blogs were big, so i’d read them on midwives’ websites. :) i also read Ina May’s books, but those stories are a little ‘far out’ (to use jargon from the book -ha!) for me to relate to them completely. my (at the time) almost 5 year old daughter wanted to come to her sister’s birth so i prepared her by watching lots of youtube birth videos, which are really, really great. i’d highly recommend them. oh and i love ‘the business of being born’ too. good luck!

  13. Hadley Duncan Howard says:

    You’ve heard my stories already, but here’s something to consider: maybe women instinctively share their difficult-to-hear birth stories as a way of saying, “I did something scary and difficult, in the midst of uncertainty and pain, and I survived, which means you will, too.” Maybe it’s actually meant as encouragement. Also, as you will soon discover, although birth is almost always wonderful (ie, not deadly), it’s SUCH A MAJOR EVENT that it kind of reads like trauma, emotionally, and you, like all women, will feel compelled to tell your story as a small form of therapy.

    But here’s my positive birth story: birthing my babies almost killed me, but did not. I came to childbirth totally free of any expectation, plan, hope or desire except to survive and birth a living child, which I did. Having absolutely no preference about anything else beforehand, and making decisions as they arose based on what felt right in the moment helped immeasurably to keep things positive (as opposed to disappointing or stressful) when my births got complicated. My positive birth story is very much like this dear little poem from Carol Lynn Pearson (I may not remember the punctuation exactly):

    “Drama in Two Acts”

    I dim,
    I dim,
    I have no doubt
    If someone blew
    I would go out.

    I did not.
    I must be brighter
    than I thought.

  14. Krisanne says:

    Hadley–That’s an interesting way to look at it–one I hadn’t thought of: “I did something scary and difficult…I survived…you will, too.” I suppose if that were explicitly said, I would feel better about hearing those kinds of stories. :)

    Here’s what I love about your approach–zero expectation. I think that’s where a lot of the pain and disappointment can arise for women. They have an expectation and that expectation is not met. In some ways, being a first time mom is a gift because you have what Buddhist’s call “beginners mind” You don’t have expectations–you’re just there to learn and experience.

    And 100 pts for quoting a CLP poem. Love you xoxo

  15. Diane says:

    Krisanne, I agree with you. Most of the stories focus on the negative and capitalize on the fears of new mothers but I think all labor stories come with inspiring moments.
    With both of my labors, I as terrified of the pain to come. I didn’t know what to expect and whether each threshold I hit as going to be the worst of it or not. Both of my labors were pretty long but smooth. With my first, I held out for the epidural as long as I could which lead to my feeling nothing below the waste during the actual delivery. That was great and I actually had the nurse pull over a mirror because I figured if I can’t feel it then I wanted to see it. What an incredible experience to watch the baby enter the world. It was incredible and I can still envision the forehead and eyebrows sitting at the cusp between pushes while we waited to see our baby girl.
    My second labor was on Christmas Eve. I was told that an epidural would require me to stay in the hospital an extra day but a natural birth would let me be home the next day for Christmas (if all went well). My motivation to make it through that labor wasn’t thinking about the baby. It was thinking about being with my toddler on Christmas Day. My daughter got me through my son’s labor with no meds at all. Sure, I felt the ring of fire but with each measurement and push, the end was closer in sight so that no matter how painful it became I could tell myself it was almost done and I could bear just a little more. It’s incredible to think of what our bodies are truly capable of. I’m a sissy who gives in to pain at any other time. Labor is different. You do have the strength to get through and there are so many medical advances out there that there’s a security blanket if it’s needed.
    You’re a strong woman so don’t let those horror stories get to you. Birthing will be a beautiful thing and in the end you get a treasure that will bring you so much more joy than the little stint in the delivery room.

    • Krisanne says:

      Diane–“It’s incredible to think of what our bodies are truly capable of.” Amen, sister. I imagine that sentiment will ring that much truer after the birth of our little fig. Thank you for sharing your stories!! xo

  16. Di says:

    I think the birth stories seem like horror stories when you are expecting your first baby, because you don’t have a frame of reference, and you are dealing with your own uncertainty, with or without the addition of the stories of others. It’s the same with reading up on ‘how-to parent’ – as you read, you are aware that it’s not your knowledge that you are reading, because you haven’t practised it yet. I am closest in my attitude to my own four labors and deliveries, to Hadley (above) – I had some knowledge (I studied as a Physical therapist, and in my country we do the birth education classes in some settings), but none of it first hand. I just went along as a magic mystery tour, trusted the nurses caring for me, to keep me and my babies alive, and they did. I knew of some of the medical emergencies that could arise for either of us, and trusted my nurses to look for the signs.

    I read a great article in a midwifery journal (I think it was a literature review) that I can’t find now that I am looking for it again, but the gist of it is encompassed by this abstract:
    Objective: To summarize what is known about satisfaction with childbirth, with particular attention to the roles of pain and pain relief. Study Design: A systematic review of 137 reports of factors influencing women’s evaluations of their childbirth experiences. The reports included descriptive studies, randomized controlled trials, and systematic reviews of intrapartum interventions. Results were summarized qualitatively. Results: Four factors—personal expectations, the amount of support from caregivers, the quality of the caregiver-patient relationship, and involvement in decision making—appear to be so important that they override the influences of age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, childbirth preparation, the physical birth environment, pain, immobility, medical interventions, and continuity of care, when women evaluate their childbirth experiences. Conclusion: The influences of pain, pain relief, and intrapartum medical interventions on subsequent satisfaction are neither as obvious, as direct, nor as powerful as the influences of the attitudes and behaviors of the caregivers. (Am J Obstet Gynecol 2002;186:S160-72.)

    Now when I hear women speak of their difficult, traumatic labours and deliveries, I can listen and really hear their stories, without sparking my own fear. The need for information seems to surpass all other things in importance – so as ‘the game’ changes and the game-plan needs to be revised, the mother is in the huddle with the coach, reaching a consensus on the play. Is it helpful for a primagravida to listen to the same stories? Maybe not so much. Are the stories told with any intent? I imagine that even the ‘horror’ stories are told with the wish to tell you something you can use, to empower yourself. Like a catalogue of the sequelae of events that led the mothers to feel the need to make you aware of what they didn’t know then, that they wished they did. I think there is a certain sense of honesty that is helpful, even in hearing things that are difficult.And I think that in that honesty, if I only heard story after story of wonderful birth experiences, I would wonder whether my experience was going to be like those. Maybe I’d even be disappointed in myself, my eventual experience, if it wasn’t?

    So, do not be afraid. Apparently it’s in the Bible a lot of times. How many times is up for discussion, it seems. But it is there, and it is the best, most heartfelt advice I can give you. Blessings, Di.

  17. Krisanne says:

    Di–There are so many things I loved about your comment. First of all, experiencing birth as a “magical mystery tour.” Curiosity and trust are key factors in birth, aren’t they? That’s been my impression. Also, I would love to read that article you referenced–it sounds like it jives with a lot of what I’ve been reading about the birth experience. Lastly, I agree that there is value in the honesty. I don’t want to hear sugar-dipped experiences from women. On the flip side, I don’t want to hear horror story after horror story either (which has been more of the case up to this point). What I want is a diversity of stories and even the scarier stories framed in an empowering way instead of a fear mongering way. I am so delighted by everyone’s comments on this blog post as they’ve given me a variety of really lovely, honest birth stories to draw from. Thank you so much for your thoughts! xo

  18. Heather says:

    I think I’ve had just about every birth experience available, minus a home birth. I’ve had vaginal. C-section, VBAC with and without an epidural, and an emergency C-section. Each experience was so completely different, but with each one I felt heavenly beings in my presence and knew God was in control. I never felt alone, not once. Even with my last birth experience, which was a bit traumatic, I had inner peace. My mom says there are always heavenly attendants present when we enter or leave this Earth. I have found that to be true. The heavenly beings that fill the room are just as invested as you are in getting this child here. For me, each birth was a sacred experience. Trust that your body was made to do this, trust your instincts, plan your experience how you would like it to be and then accept that it will be what it will be. It will be amazing.

    • Krisanne says:

      Heather–your comment gave me goosebumps. I’ve been thinking a lot about the presence of heavenly attendants at my birth–specifically women from my family. I’ve always felt like my grandma was my guardian angel, and I’ve prayed that she’ll be there with me. I also think about some of the other women who have come before me–who have made my existence and my son’s existence possible–and am filled with peace at the idea that they may be there as well. Thank you so much for your boost of confidence and insight. xo

  19. foreverfamily says:

    I’m a birth advocate and help to educate and enlightened women as well as the politics of giving birth. With everything that I could share with you the core of it all is trust yourself. Trust your intuition. Trust your body. Whatever birth experience unfolds for you OWN it and trust that its your ‘natural’ birth. After a traumatic c-section I was blessed with a healing vbac homebirth. My first birth I listened to my body but my doctors kept telling me I was wrong. Turns out they were wrong. The homebirth experience was beautiful and the midwife supported my intuition. My body knew what is was doing and I followed those promptings. I think it was the book you referenced that has a birth art, vision drawing exercise. I found that healing and helpful in focusing. It was the most empowering experience and the most humbling. Doubt not, fear not, God’s hand is in it all. He carries us through the holy and the “horror”.
    If I were to do it again I would have a photographer (there was a professional attached to the midwife center with tasteful and beautiful work) and I would have someone keep a play by play record for me. That is just my personality and I like details which of course when you’re in the middle of birthing you’re not really focused on keeping track of stuff.
    I was fascinated by the umbilical cord and placenta! I wish I would have handled them and inspected them. I was in such awe of their beauty and my body’s ability to create them. Yes I had a beautiful baby to hold but I had reverence for the ability of my body to grow not only a human but a miraculous organ and umbilical cord.

  20. Krisanne says:

    Forever Family–I can’t imagine many jobs more fulfilling than that of a birth advocate. I loved every single thing you said. Trust, trust, trust in body and self. And also, owning the experience. I also loved this phrase, “God carries us through the holy and the horror.” So beautiful.

    The birth doula we have is also a birth photographer, so she will be documenting the birth. However, I didn’t think about someone writing down the play by play (which is also my personality), so maybe I can assign that to my mom or mother-in-law.

    Thank you for your perspective and suggestions! xo

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