My pregnancies were miraculous times in my life. I felt special and very beautiful. I was also completely open to other people's suggestions. There isn't any other way to explain how a pharmacist's daughter was attracted to natural childbirth. Honestly, I'm a wimp. I like pain medication. I like my Tylenol with codeine for a headache. I like a sleeping pill once in a while too. Yet when I was pregnant with my rst child, I talked to a friend of mine, a woman who never had so much as an aspirin during labor, and what she said sounded good to me. Being pregnant isn't being sick. So it made sense that, as a healthy twenty-seven-year old woman, I wouldn't need to be medicated to bring my baby into the world. The point was, as she described it, to feel everything. Feel everything? Most of us expend a lot of energy trying not to feel. No, she said, in this the goal was complete surrender.
I'm a Virgo, and we grip on to things pretty tight. In labor, supposedly, the best part comes when you give yourself over completely to these uncontrollable sensations. My friend Ana Paula Markel, who is a doula (personal labor assistant), describes labor as a struggle to find a balance between control and surrender. That's not just labor, that's most women's lives. Surrendering to this with my child would bond us forever, no matter what troubles we faced up the road.
My friend referred me to a midwifery practice that worked in partnership with a hospital birth center. I loved all the attention they lavished on me. When I went for my prenatal visits, we talked about everything: nutrition, fears, exercise, my feelings about my body, my relationships with my mom and with my husband. Part prenatal care, part therapy. Midwives say that with an obstetrician you spend an hour in the waiting room and five minutes with the doctor. With a midwife you spend five minutes waiting and an hour with her. After nine months of this, I really trusted my midwife.