Approaching childbirth is akin to stepping towards a mountain range, assuming that what lies ahead is not the ordinary terrain you are used to traveling. There is no way around it, it must be traversed somehow. There are choices a woman has, involving preparation--- or not,--- experiencing it by foot, by horse, traveling with friends,guides, supplies--or not, and so on. Perhaps one woman plans to experience the trek by preparing to hike the full way, with friends and guides by her side, learning how to pace herself along the way and comes out on the other side feeling empowered and exhilarated. Should we deny her the validity of her experience? Downplay it because it isn’t everyone’s experience of the journey? Should we not celebrate her experience of her womanhood in this area for fear of others’ jealousies?
Or pretend her own approach to the trek had nothing to do with her resultant joy? Perhaps another woman plans to cushion herself as much as possible from the discomfort, (maybe there are even stories in her family of someone who died on just such a journey) and takes a horse and carriage team, i.e., sedatives to help her relax through the ordeal. Perhaps she will come out feeling the bruises and lacerations of her journey, but without the empowering feelings or any connection to the trek except for vague and painful sensations she endured.
Should we deny her the validity of her experience? Should we feel guilty that we did not attempt to help her prepare for what faced her? Or even ask what her associations to childbirth were beforehand? Should we try to help her integrate the dissociated experience by talking with her about it, or avoid discussing it altogether? Should we try to make her feel better by denying the experience of the other woman? Or devalue childbirth itself?