My Journey through Pregnancy and Birth: Why I Chose a Natural Birth
I’m not a crunchy person. I don’t wear socks with keens and eat bark. I don’t hug trees and fight to save the groundhogs. But I have become more like many other people who live in Colorado, choosing a healthier lifestyle. I have not explained why, but I have reached a point in my journey where I’d like to share. Never, ever would I have imagined that I would be that girl. The one who chose an unmedicated, natural birth without interventions. The girl who had a birth photographer. The girl who decided to encapsulate her placenta. Yet, I was that girl. And I didn’t do it to be trendy. Or to prove that I was tough. I am a firm believer that “birth is birth” – every woman has the power and freedom to choose what is best for her and her baby, and no birth is “better” than any other.
I have had an eating disorder for as long as I can remember. Some days and years have been more difficult than others. Constantly believing for victory over something that felt so internal and insurmountable. Countless people coming alongside me in prayer, some even fasting for a breakthrough I felt I’d never experience. Who knows why such conditions grip some people and pass over others. Yes, it’s undeniably spiritual. It is absolutely mental and definitely emotional. But, I would also argue it is just as physical as a broken bone. Not just because of the weight gain and loss, but because of the chemical imbalance that plagues the brain day after day. Perhaps eating disorders feel so dark and shameful because it’s frequently an unspoken condition, one that wraps itself around victims often without any obvious bodily trauma or injury. Why spend time on something that’s invisible? Particularly when any tangible outcome can sometimes look ‘good.’
This is where my journey of pregnancy and birth truly began. My relationship with my body up until July 2014 was harmful. My worthiness of love and affection, and thus my ability to receive it, always depended upon how I felt about my weight and appearance. As a result I was sick. I’d argue one’s relationship with their body will manifest itself in health. Mine did. I threw up every day for almost 3 years, and not because I forced myself to do so. I was sick. I could not lose weight in spite of exercise and dieting unless I took unhealthy measures. I constantly battled colds and the flu and every other virus that was passed around. It seemed I had no immune system at all. I had no period for 5 years. I had no desire to be intimate. My body felt lifeless and sad.
In July 2014 Ryan and I decided to invest money and energy into digging into my health and body issues. I began to see a therapist, a naturopathic doctor, a nutritionist, and I sought the Lord. What did breakthrough look like for me? Nothing seemed to work. No amount of sozo, fasting, theophostic prayer, therapy, or denial could kick this obsession to the curb. It dawned on me that perhaps breakthrough looked different for me. It looked less “spiritual” and very practical.
As I endured countless days of blood work and labs of every kind, we were able to uncover a great deal of health problems that had gone undiagnosed. My gut was destroyed from countless years of antibiotics, Accutane, bulimia, and undiagnosed food allergies. And so we began the process of healing: Physical, spiritual and emotional healing.
Since that healing journey began, God has been opening my eyes to how He sees beauty. Part of that process has included me learning to appreciate the potential of my body while also learning to trust my body. Before I became pregnant, my eyes were opened to how amazing my body was simply because it could house and grow a little treasure from Heaven. My body was the place where God would develop a person who could change the world. Learning to love my body meant I had to learn to trust my body after years of self-hatred and body shaming. I had to trust my body to enjoy food. I had to trust my body’s signals while working out, and I had to honor its limitations. I had to respect my body, even on the days that I felt disillusioned and did not like it by reminding myself of my body’s amazing strength and abilities as a woman and a creation of God.
And so I sat with God after finding out that we were pregnant. In my new place of freedom, I felt God calling me to trust my body while He showed me true beauty. I was plagued with enormous fears as it pertains to pregnancy and labor. But as I sat with the Lord, I knew in my heart that I was designed for pregnancy and for birth. I had been learning that beauty was the power and strength my body possessed as a woman. I felt God calling me to “watch my body be beautiful.” So, I stepped aside. I allowed my body to become pregnant and I felt more beautiful than ever before. I chose to enjoy and embrace every moment of pregnancy. I was excited to experience birth because I knew I would find even greater breakthrough from self-hatred as my body did what it was designed to do, plain and simple. Without any sort of help. Without interventions or drugs. God knew that I needed to experience this type of birth, what my body was capable of doing all on its own, to know beauty.
My birth story is lovely, because God showed up and delivered me from years of oppression. My labor began with working through contractions while worshiping to Misty Edwards Pandora station by our beautiful Christmas tree and fireplace. We wanted to labor at home as long as possible, so I stayed up all night by that tree with Jesus, getting through one contraction at a time. A blizzard was upon us and Ryan decided we better go ahead and go to the hospital to avoid potential traffic and collisions, so we left around 4:30AM. I got to the hospital and was 5cm. I settled into the Jacuzzi tub while Ryan decorated our room with soft, pearl Christmas lights and flameless candles (the sweetest surprise). He set up my oil diffuser and got out my scripture cards. He held my hand and read declarations and scripture over me as we worked through every contraction together. We walked the halls and returned to the tub. At 9:42PM our beautiful daughter joined us. At 9:42PM I met beauty and breakthrough. And that’s my birth story.