I always thought my mom was nuts when she told me how much she loved childbirth. I mean, she did it six times, so she clearly wasn’t terrified of it the way some women speak of their experiences. Honestly, until my most recent experience, I was one of those terrified women. My first was, well, my first. I went with pain medicine and took naps while in labor, seriously – I took naps. My first son entered the world in the most peaceful sense, this is quite like his temperament and calm demeanor. My second time was without medicine, but not for lack of asking. My daughter was in a disagreeable position, but at the last moment decided to turn and make her entrance into the world. This is not unlike her personality, stubborn and feisty. My most recent experience was the most empowering of them all, one that makes me deeply desire to do it over and over. I waited until the last minute to go in because I was terrified of having an IV (of all things, as if pushing a child through a small opening in your body isn’t a bigger deal). I did avoid the needles, but nearly gave birth at home (which wouldn’t have been a huge deal, considering). My boy rushed into the world with a single push and quickly held tight to his mother. I’m still figuring out his personality, but am quickly finding a deep sense of comfort in his presence, following a particularly challenging phase.
Giving birth has been the most powerful experience I’ve had. It not only shoved me into motherhood without explicit instructions, but into becoming a woman – something I had never wanted to be a part of (puberty and the changing of my body was exceptionally difficult for me).
Being a woman.
It generates ideas of femininity, submissiveness, beauty, grace, oppressed even- and that’s just the beginning. I won’t go into these ideas, because, quite frankly, with a Baptist upbringing and my tendency to buck the trend, I am lost somewhere in the middle – but I’m alright with that for now. I take comfort of my “traditional” role within my family, but also feel empowered that my husband allows me the freedom to make choices for me and our family. I wouldn’t in any way say I wear the pants, but I’d say we share the same pair on every big decisions. Pursuing my goals is a priority for him and for that, I am grateful.
Becoming a woman has given me more self confidence and the ability to speak up for myself in tough circumstances. It is slowly teaching me the power of identity and helping me to remove myself from my youthful notions of identity. It has helped me to put the needs of my family before the things I used to value, something that you wouldn’t expect would empower you. It has enabled me to put aside harmful relationships or situations in order to keep our family functioning as a unit.
The moments when I feel the strongest are not when I am peacefully rocking one to sleep, or watching a DVD with my eldest. They are when I am alone with them all, doing my best to manage the chaos. Every single time, I think of my mother, the strongest woman I know. A woman who raised six children who still happily call her “mom”. A woman who raised six children to have a conviction of the spirit. A woman who prepared meals every night of the week so we could eat as a family around our wooden table – three kids plopped on each bench. A woman who still teaches me the idea of love.
Mom, I now understand your love for childbirth and all that it carries with it. I am a better woman because of you.
Happy International Women’s Day to my mother, my sisters, my closest confidant, Amelia, and my husband.
Celebrate the strong female roles in your lives.