On scaling up.

Sometimes it's hard to explain to people why I want to have a natural birth. Truth be told, if I hadn't tried my hand at running last year (and succeeded at achieving a 10k, high-five!), I don't know if I would be as motivated. But I think it has something to do with succeeding at a physical endeavor, especially for someone as cerebral as I am. Last year for pretty much the first time ever, I felt proud of my body and what it could accomplish.

The cycle of preparation, training and executing on my training was addictive.

So part of aiming for a natural birth is about that- about looking something physically difficult in the face and overcoming it.

Another part of it just makes logical sense to me. My body parts were meant to do this. Evolution has smoothed out other wrinkles in our bodies; we have tail bones to prove the previous existence of tails and everyone keeps threatening that we'll all lose our pinky toes one of these generations. If labor wasn't supposed to be possible naturally, wouldn't we have evolved to accommodate?

Two nights ago I turned off the light after a long weekend of cleaning, organizing and preparing for this baby. Invited by the darkness, doubt crept in the room and curled up on my pillow next to me, whispering his messages directly into my ear. How was I possibly going to accomplish labor without drugs? Why was that even something I wanted? I was a total idiot! Hello, science! Hello, progress. Hello a thousand modern things that make our lives easier, like indoor plumbing and thermoses that keep soup warm and credit cards and dishwashers. Including epidurals.

And just like that everything crumbled down like a house of cards.

Why were we even having a baby?! Here we had this nice life, going to the movies whenever, sleeping in, traveling near and far. But more than these seemingly selfish lifestyles, I thought about all of the ways that we use our energy for others around us. Creating NIFW. The side projects that Chris codes in the mornings, which could be products that truly affect society and humanity. The energy I have to bake banana bread and bring it to the office to foster a sense of community. Volunteering and cheering for friends at their races and financially helping others when we can. Because let's be clear: we're not giving up completely selfish lives to have a kid. We are already quite nurturing of our community. Is it fair to take our energies away from those endeavors and put them into a child?

Let's skip the part where I burst into tears and the part when Chris comforted me and the part where I started laughing like a madwoman because I felt so ridiculous. (And the part where I laughed and cried simultaneously for 10 minutes... thank you, hormones!) I fell asleep and had a decent day yesterday and when I woke up stupidly early this morning, I sensed what I needed to do.

I had some flash cards to make.

I took two of the books that have most encouraged me about natural birth to Starbucks and made a bunch of flashcards, each with a different motivational saying or suggestion about how to make it through a few more contractions. I'd underlined a number of passages in the books already, so it was easy to flip through and grab those motivational nuggets. But I also thought deeply about what I was trying to tell myself about the experience, what I might say if I were my own doula. I made some cards based on those thoughts as well.

Then I made one card with a long list of names of people who I think will be cheering me on as I go through labor. I can imagine looking at that one and feeling happy and motivated just thinking about the people on that card.

Why is this important? Because I think we can trick ourselves to believe in our challenges just as easily as we can convince ourselves otherwise. Because sometimes you fake it until you make it. Because the ability to motivate myself is possibly the most defining quality I have... and I'll be damned if I lose that part of myself in the process of becoming a parent.

At work we sometimes talk about how to scale people. When there's a particularly valuable person on a team, we wonder how we can scale them up - that is, to say, how do we make more of this person? How do we encourage this person's qualities in others and free this person up to do bigger things or free the company up to take on new work? It doesn't work with everyone. Some people don't naturally instill their talents and skills to other members of a team; they are better soloists. But sometimes it works like a charm... and when it does, it seems like we can all take a huge breath of air and tackle a newer, bigger dream together.

That's why we're having a child. Because we humbly believe we deserve to be scale-able. It's a pain in the ass to train people under you so you can be freed up to do bigger things. But when you stick with it and successfully scale yourself? You cannot even imagine the possibilities that come your way.

At least, that's what I'm banking on.


kate said...

I believe in your body's ability to birth Tiny and in your mind's ability to allow your body to surrender to the process. You have all my love and support regardless of how Tiny decides to enter this world xoxoxo


Meg said...

I think it's awesome that you decided to kick the fear and doubt right in the gut with some good old flashcards. Brilliant! I'd love to know the two inspiring books you used.

As for your labor, your body does have hundreds and thousands of years of evolution on your side! Hooray for that! You just happen to be lucky to be living in a time where there is technology that could help if you need it or decide you want it. Best of both worlds!

Tiny has a really brave Mom. I will be cheering you on from afar as you work on welcoming him to the world :)

Jenn said...

We have a mutual friend who turned me onto your blog recently. I went through a natural birth in the beginning of June and let me tell you it is simultaneously the most amazing and difficult thing you can do. But therein lies the truth, you...can...do...it. I had doubts too but in the end you are going to do what is best for your babe and your body to be present when s/he enters this world. Have faith. (And your descriptions of the hormones made me tear up. I so remember that...)

Rebecca said...

Jen, I love your insights. Whenever you put up a new post, Robbie and I discuss it on our evening walk. You're going to own your birthing experience AND be an amazing mom.

Jen said...

Thank you, kind friends! What nice things you have to say. xox

Leslie said...

I love you. I love that you made labor flash cards. YOu want to know why you are having a baby? TO help you guys with all that awesome community supportive, changing the world business. You can't do it alone! That's the reason. To add awesome people to the earth. Nuff said. Ok, and now about the birth. LADY, you can do it. If I can do it, you can do it. I had a baby AT HOME for goodness sakes. It's easy. Really. You are making flash cards, you are going to rock the natural childbirth thing. I promise. And you know what? If you need the epidural, IT'S OK! It's fine. That might be how you need to surrender. Right? Leave the option open. We had a code word I had to utter, for Chris to know I was serious about wanting the epidural, and not just being dramatic. It was Mary Poppin's magic word and it takes so long to say and write that it was perfect. I could start saying the word and then stop if I wanted to. But I never needed to. It was fine. And you will be fine too. xo

Jen said...

@Leslie - yep, we have a code word too. :) Thanks for this -- you made me excited about labor!