You might say my path to becoming a womb warrior is unusual. There are a number of birth advocates out there, and a number of fertility advocates, but not many equally passionate about both. And I wasn’t always a birth and fertility warrior.
First, I was an overwhelmed mother-to-be, wanting to do the right thing, getting conflicting (and often fear inducing) advice from too many sources. I had an inner voice whispering to me, but I didn’t yet know how to tune into it, unable to filter and turn down the information coming in from the outside so I could hear myself.
I was one quiet soul surrounded by a cacophony of overpowering voices.
Then came a traumatic birth. Then a healing, beautiful birth. Then three heart-aching pregnancy losses, followed by seven years of infertility. Then, when I had just about come to terms that I may never have another child, came the conception of my twins with the help of fertility treatments. Then an emotionally-exhausting postpartum period and a heart-heavy postpartum depression.
Then, finally, lightness, clarity, and a gloriously imperfect joy.
What I Learned
“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” – Oprah Winfrey
- That we are our deepest selves first — mother, wife, or friend second. I am myself before I am my child’s mother, before I am my husband’s wife.
- That the extreme positions are popular because people are afraid of the uncertain middle. It’s easier to say women should always have natural births, or every woman should have an epidural, than say each woman and each birth is different and cannot be absolutely determined by another person, or even decided with 100% certainty based on prior experience.
- That the perfect persona many people put on isn’t offensive but defensive. They don’t post only the most beautiful pictures on Facebook to make you feel bad; they don’t post the less than perfect ones to protect themselves.
- That we have many more choices and options than we are willing to believe. Ninety percent of the time, “I have no choice,” means “I don’t know what my other choices are,” or “I don’t know how to get what I want,” and sometimes “I’ve already decided,” or “I’m afraid to consider something different.”
- That being nice can get in the way of being heard. Say please and thank you, but say what you need loud and clear.
- That our choices do not define who we are, but knowing who we are helps us make our choices. Not “I am an attachment parent,” but “I practice attachment parenting.”
- That no one has to go through infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy, birth, or mothering alone. Doulas, lactation consultants, sisters, friends. Cousins, communities, congregations, support groups. Blogs, forums, Facebook, Twitter. Midwives, doctors, nurses, therapists.
- That some (but not all) people deny grief and pain in others to avoid internalizing the idea that the universe isn’t always fair. Saying, “The universe knows best,” is easier than saying, “I am so sorry for your loss,” and easier than admitting not everything that happens has a recognizable reason.
- That people judge each other as they secretly judge themselves. As Anaïs Nin famously said, “We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Please join me as we explore the realm of womanhood and motherhood from a balanced, open perspective. Where we’re strong enough to make our own choices without defensively insisting others must make the same. Where we are open and eager to learn from other people’s wisdom, while mindfully filtering out the extremes and careful not to ignore our ever-present inner voice. Where we’re brave enough to speak up and be heard, and we’re never ashamed to reach out for help.