This post might also be titled: Preparing for Birth in Horse Show Terms. 😝
I had an epiphany last week while I prepare mind, body, soul, past lives, refrigerator, home, car, pets, family members, and whatever else I can get my hormonal hands on for the coming birth of this child. That is what I do, I prepare. I have been preparing to the point of “training” for the actual event of birth since I first found out I was pregnant, because as I continue to profess, “I wouldn’t go to a horse show without training for it first, how is this any different?” So much in daily life can be connected back to lessons learned in the saddle, and for me childbirth is no different.
At the start of training for my own birthing day, I was thirsty to learn as well as willing to be a completely unguarded sponge absorbing all the advice I could from mothers who have already experienced birth. Luckily, because my accident and surgery lept the cat out of the bag early as far as announcing the pregnancy to close family, my first source of advice was from my mother. She is amazing at telling her perspective while not actually giving you an influential opinion. Her birth stories are reassuring. Everything went as she had so positively anticipated and planned and she had two easy, natural, uncomplicated births that she looks back on with fondness. This is what I always envisioned for myself, and at the get go felt nothing but assured that unmedicated labor which naturally progressed to give me a healthy baby was what I deserved and could attain.
Then as time went on and more people were brought in on the news, I started to get pummeled with tales of a different nature. The c-section, interventionist, epidural crowd started pouring in, as this of course is the majority. Humans love drama, and we are emerging from the age of birth as a medical event. I absorbed these stories of pain, tension, fear, and difficulty just as readily as my mother’s, not realizing at this time that these mothers are not passing on gems of wisdom. They were passing on their baggage. It was not necessarily helpful for me to add this “advice” to my bank in order to “prepare” me for birth. Instead it got me convinced that my body and its natural ability to give birth certainly is flawed and I am completely out of control of all circustances surrounding birth; I would end up needing to be medically induced, suffer horrible contractions that had me begging for that epidural, end up with a stalled cervix and a baby with dropping blood pressure who is too big to come out naturally so I’d be in that OR before you could say “worst fears have all been realized”.
Mothers, stop doing this to first time moms. It’s so messed up.
Let me take a moment to draw on what can be learned from an everyday a riding lesson. If I am teaching someone their very first riding lesson, I am going to inundate the new rider with confidence and reassure them that they can successfully achieve something new. I am of course going to set them up with information that arms them with the ability to approach horse care and riding safely and smartly, but that is far different than outlining in detail every possible terrifying outcome that could result in just being within ten feet of a horse. I am going to teach them how to properly hold a lead rope, how to cue a horse as you work around them on the ground, how to lead, how to mount and dismount, etc.
I am not going to tell a first time rider that despite all my own education and experience, I got kicked and put in the hospital, or that someone I know was simply and safely walking next a horse and got kicked in the head and now has to struggle for life with her mental capacities. I am not going to tell them that even though they do everything right, they will still likely fall off and hurt themselves at some point. If I did that, I would set that new horseperson up to be nothing but tense and fearful around a horse, and undoubtedly they wouldn’t be too successful learning how to ride. Even experienced riders can tell you that visualizing a positive outcome during a riding session is going to give far better results than succumbing to fear driven images of failure. Positivity lends confidence, confidence leads to an emtional release of fear, and without fear and emotions clogging our ride we are more likely to think cognitively and perform our best in any given situation.
My point is, there is a big difference between information and negativity. Sharing your personal experience is not always the same as giving advice. And practically scoffing at someone for having a positive outlook and a desired plan and telling them it will surely not go that way so they should just not plan at all is not only illogical, it is not helping a single soul. All it does is make it very apparent you have your own shit to deal with and should be attending some sort of therapy.
So as I step through these last few weeks of pregnancy, I am going to remind myself that knowlege is power, but so is visualizing the beautiful positive birth plan and outcome I so desire. This does not mean I am inflexible or not open to alternate routes if that is what the universe has in store. It means I have prepared realistic expectations with the help of my doctor, and also educated myself to know what choices I have the power to make if the plan does change. This type of preparation is helpful to me, because it allows be to look forward with confidence, excitement, and relaxation, leading to a fantastic outcome not matter what twists and turns are taken to get there.
Similar to how I tend to feel on the day of a horse show: I have laid out the plan, put in the time, and done the work and now it is time for easeful effort to perfectly unfold; when the big day of birth comes I will be able to surrender in trust of my body as well as my protectors: my doctor, doula, and husband. All the mental work for preparation has been done! It’s time to do what we’ve all trained for nine months to do, and it will be spectacular.
And if it could be tomorrow, that would be great. Love you kid, but I want my uterus back.