Addendum (Its a long one!)

For Amy, because we like to argue, with love of course.

For as long as can remember, I knew that I would not ever birth in a hospital setting. I am not even sure where the idea came from. It was not like my mother had stories to tell me, or that I had seen some horrific birth somewhere. The notion seemed to be innate in me. I do recall witnessing many animals being born however, and looking back, I remember the peace and calm that was present in those instances. Birthing for those animals was in fact innate, just as it is for us women. Imagine that.

There is so much that has evolved in me to make me feel the way I do about birthing. In the beginning, it had nothing to do with me. I simply did not want anything injected into me that would also affect my baby. I wanted a 100% organic baby, no matter what. I had not thought about how I would deal with the birth. This desire was a springboard that begged the question, “How will I do this?” This led me to many discussions with other mothers who birthed naturally and to many, many books covering the same issue. One of the books I came across in the SLC library was one that changed my entire outlook. It is called “Childbirth Without Fear” by Grantly Dick Read. I was thrown for a loop when I read page after page about the “fear, tension, pain” triangle. Perhaps you have heard of it. Basically, if you eliminate the fear, you relax, and there is little or no pain. I highly recommend anyone read this book first and foremost. In fact, if you read no other book but this one, you will be miles ahead in your birthing experience.

So, that book was a starting point for me. I read many other books and got involved in a hypnobirthing class with my husband. There we learned how to relax and go within during surges (the word “contractions” conjures up negative feelings…) among other things. We listened nightly for about two months to positive affirmations regarding my body’s ability to birth safely and normal. And also that my baby would be strong and healthy and able to perform her task of getting out. I believed every word, and so did Chris.

Looking back, I don’t think it would have mattered who I spoke with or what book I read, or class I took. I just could not put it in my head to have a baby any other way than how I witnessed the animals doing. And what was what was right for me.

I firmly believe, given the time, space and encouragement, women do what I learned in Hypnobirthing naturally. I’ve read of women in Africa and the like who know when it is time, they labor by themselves, they find a quiet secluded spot in the brush, they squat down (not lay down on their backs!), receive their own child and then return to their village, babe in arms. Just like it ain’t no thang! Amazing. And is it not the same with animals? I know, I know. You are thinking- Hey, girl, guess what- WE ARE NOT ANIMALS!!!

I digress. You asked me, “Why should I consider birthing naturally?” We have all heard of the horror stories related to hospital births gone wrong. The epidural wears off, the doctor was a moron, they took the baby cesarean, the mother dies; all horrible and sad circumstances no doubt. So, putting these obvious things aside, let me see if I can share with you why I chose to birth naturally.

Please know that it is not my intention for anyone to feel judged or criticized for their choice. What follows are simply my personal feelings and confirmations. And because they are so dear to me, I want everyone to experience and own it too. This is what was right for me.

There are many reasons why I feel like women should birth naturally. I actually spent better than an hour typing them all out with thorough explanations. But after reading through it again, I decided that each thing I listed was totally subjective and probably could have been accomplished in a hospital birth setting. I figured it wasn’t fair to make all these claims when I have never experienced anything but natural birth. So, I cut them out.

Very briefly though, the list included such things as:being able to get up and move around during labor; being in the birthing position you felt most comfortable in (not laying on your back, which is the most ineffective position, but incidentally very convenient for the doctors…); having a baby who is wide awake and alert because of no drugs getting to it before it is born; having your birthing companion more a part of the experience (husbands or moms); becoming a part of a new community of other like-minded people(- hello, instant friends!); feeding my ego with YES I CAN statements and “I’ll show them!” when people say I’m crazy for ‘trying’ to go natural; There was more, but really, its totally subjective and since I have not experienced both sides, well, its not fair to say my way is the ‘correct’ way. Like I said, nobody right, nobody wrong.

I feel like I need to clarify a little bit. It is not so much my passion about an unmedicated birth, as it is about a woman knowing her options and educating herself in preparation for her choice. An unmedicated birth does not always mean a natural birth, in my eyes. It could have been induced, there are other drugs/ointments or shots available to a birthing mother and her baby that dont necessarily relieve pain (like pitocin or the eye goop *I”m sorry, I dont have gonorhea* or a Vitamin K shot, etc…) that make it not natural. Natural=100% organic baby and mom working together with no external, synthetic help. It is the whole mindset that I am talking about. Some people call it being a hippie or a tree-hugger. Whatever. It is believing that your baby is strong and healthy on its own, and that you too, are.

Plenty of unmedicated births have ended in disaster for poor mom who suffered unduely because they were not totally prepared for the birth. Well, nothing can TOTALLY prepare you for it, but at least getting as close as possible. Epidurals even sometimes wear off, and then what? A poor mom is left to try to deal with the pain- but becuase they relied upon the epidural, there was a false sense of security. Relying on something outside of yourself for the sensation of birth doesnt make sense to me because you cannot always trust they will come through for you! Or there is the story, which I know many who have told it to me, where they go for as long as they can without any intervention, they are brave and courageous- they sacrifice themselves for as long as possible, and then get an epidural. I am not saying that either of these are wrong or bad- infact both are honorable. Either way, a child is being brought into the world by your hard work.

AHHH! I cant get to the bottom line! What I want to say is that whatever it is that a woman chooses for her birthing style, my wish for her would be for her to know EVERYTHING that will be going on (of course with the exception of unknown special circumstances) To ask the questions, to challenge her care giver and take charge of her experience. Each mom has her own beautiful story that can indeed be molded and created if she is involved; not scared or avoidant of the unknown. If an epidural is the way she wants to go, fine. I just wonder how many horror stories could have been avoided had the mother been more prepared, and also if the docs now-a-days were not so quick to do invasive things and let the body work its magic, in its own time. Just get prepared! Own your story.

I probably could have only written about just what follows and that would have been enough. For me, it is enough. So without further adeau, I’ll share my final, very personal feelings.


I dont pride myself on having done much to grow my testimony of my Savior, Jesus Christ. It has not been easy for me to have the faith necessary to understand His sacrifice for me when he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemene and later died on the cross. I dont fully understand, nor do I think I ever will until I bow at His feet in the days to come. But i do know this: Never in my life have I been closer to understanding the Atonement than when I paced the halls all night long in labor. Never have I been closer to getting a glimpse of the suffering our Savior endured than when I lay deep within myself floating in that birthing tub praying that it would be over with. Yet knowing that the only way out was through. I dont think it is supposed to be easy for that very reason. Sacrificing myself for the sake of my child, is without a doubt, the most humbling, gut wrenching, and beautiful experience I could have asked for. And I am not talking about the “oh, Im a martyer” kind of sacrifice. I dont claim to have gone through quite like what Christ did when he suffered in the garden, but I think I have a better idea of what it must have been like for him. Think of the tears, the sweat, the blood and water- all of it. I feel like I have a better handle on the Atonement and what it means in my life now. And for that, I will ever be grateful. It was a wonderful gift to recieve the strength needed to get my daughter here. It is an even greater gift to have the confirmation that it was the right choice for me, and ever will be. Christ knew he would have to die, so it seems he spent his enitire life preparing for that one moment. So it was with me. I knew I would birth a certain way, and so I spent the entire pregnancy and more preparing for that moment.

All things denote that there is a god. I know He is real and would not have designed our bodies any other way. Our bodies were built to birth. And without the aid of external means, if we are given- or rather, if we TAKE the opportunity, along with our babies, Mothers are born.

I know that you along with others have indeed sacrificed yourself for the sake of your baby during labor. People in my own family have had to have cesarean births because of complications, and if that is not a sacrifice, I dont what what is! Anyway it occurs, it is still a birth! Many women have died during labor, and for that reason, I know that doctors and hospitals are a god given. What I want to say to you and anyone reading this is that it is a blessing to be able to choose how you want to do things. But choose a birth plan that is not just convenience or the easiest way, becuase I fear so much can be lost in the way of life lessons by avoiding something that might be hard or difficult. Do it for your baby, and becuase you know that you will be a changed person with new insights as a mother forever. Keep in mind that your ilfe experiences are the well of knowledege and wisdom you will be pulling from through the years that you teach your child. That, my friend, is worth it all.


9 thoughts on “Addendum (Its a long one!)

  1. Thank you Holly. You are a dear friend. I am still here…no sweet baby girl yet…but I’m am more excited now than ever. Thank you for your thoughtful words. I don’t know if I could have written my feelings down any differently than you have.

  2. Dearest Holly,
    I would be lying if I told you that I left that comment yesterday and then turned the computer off and went about my business. I actually worried and fretted about it all day because I was worried you would be offended. (Just don’t ask Tahnie about the time she forwarded me something about hand sanitizer… the internet has given me all sorts of new ways to put my foot in my mouth. Pass the salt please…) Let me tell you, I am very pleased with your reaction!
    Holly, this post was beautiful. The part about Christ brought tears to my eyes. I have never understood people who chose natural birth and why they would choose natural birth, but after your post I am beginning to. I’ve heard some of your reasons before but I don’t think I’ve heard them from anyone who truly educated themselves as much as you did. I educated myself about my birthing process, but not like you; you truly explored every aspect of every moment. Wow. While I don’t agree with you on some of your reasoning, we do agree on some key elements, especially that through trials and struggles we become stronger people, and discover some of “life’s lessons.” That alone would be the reason why I would consider unmedicated birth in the future. Actually, one of my goals is to break into the labor and delivery field of nursing, and I almost feel like I need to experience an unmedicated birth so as to be able to understand what the laboring mother is going through in both situations. Sigh… I’m about 10% there.
    On a side note, I can tell you read a lot because your writing skills are fantastic. On the other hand, you can tell from my writing that I watch a lot of TV and lately my reading goes about as far as the books I read to my kids.
    Holly I love you! And I am so glad you like to argue with me, with love. It’s wonderful to know that I have friends with whom differing opinions do not mean the end of a friendship but instead the strengthening of one.

  3. I need to learn how to argue…with love (Brad if you’re reading-I said WITH love). Darn that sanitizer email and darn my reaction to poor Amy. (She is not the one that needed salt that day my friends! I think about it every time I use the stupid stuff and feel awful!) Another story for another day. I just wanted to applaud you both for being my ultimate examples of how to discuss a topic.
    As you know Holly, I was planning on doing a natural birth and then I started to panic and couldn’t get it back together. Looking back I realized how unprepared Brad and I were. I also wasn’t committed 100% and it definitely didn’t help hearing the nurse and my husband suggesting several times to take the epidural. You probably understand when you’re telling them you can’t do it anymore you want to hear that you can and keep trying instead of the alternative. Not that I blame them…I can choose for myself. However, I will have a doula and/or midwife next time if I do decide to go natural with my second. Brad just never really understood why I wanted to go natural in the first place even though he did support whatever I chose. I even questioned myself many times. Anyway, to get to the point, I loved your post and it conjured up old feelings of why I wanted to do it in the first place. Thank you for your strength, it’s completely inspiring!!!

  4. There is definitely strength to be found with a team of people who will back you 100% in your desicion AND the process. No doubt it was difficult for my husband to know what I was doing was difficult. There was a point during transition that I just wanted to be done- it was tough and I asked my midwife if there was anything besides an epidural she could give me…to which she reminded me that NO there was nothing and that I was almost done. She was great at reminding me of the baby. Saying things like, “You are doing jus what your baby needs! Keep it up!” It also helped that Chris was telling me how proud of me he was and how strong I was- I know it sounds cheesy, but his words really helped.
    Deciding and preparing to go natural is vital, not just “trying” becuase, as Brother Cottle so kindly put it, “Steers try.”

    Blunt, but true.

  5. And let me add that I truely dont find weakness or mistake in some womens’ experience of not going the full way through naturally. Each birth is beautiful and perfect in its own right.

  6. I think that if Zach told me he was proud of me during labor I would punch him. Tell me. How do you get past that? Because my pain level was under control and I wanted to punch him. Your next post needs to be about how to get past the cheese because I have cheese issues.

  7. p.s. AS IF Tahnie ever needs salt. Maybe I’ll put a poll up on my blog: Who’s the bigger jerk? Amy or Tahnie? Guess who will win?

  8. Holly,
    I am definately liking The Sycamore blog–as always your writing is a breath of fresh air for me. I too have always imagined a natural birth for my children–free from epidurals, eye goop! : ) Then all sorts of people call you crazy and you begin to be very cautious about who you share your thoughts with. It’s nice to feel grown-up and actually be able to read you and Amy having a healthy, honest conversation about your opinions. Hurray!

    P.S. I am currently re-reading a textbook from a class I took at BYU-I. The professor and his classes changed my life. I thought you might like some of the content:
    You can check out the professors page at
    Also, the book is by Robert Firestone– “Compassionate Child-Rearing: An In Depth Approach to Optimal Parenting.”

  9. Holly – you share my heart on this topic, my dear. I love that you were pretty thoroughly shocked to learn that I too had a natural water birth attended by a midwife…and at home of all places! Your comments about the insights you gained about the atonement mirrored my journal entry in the day following Noah’s birth. After hours of pain and sacrifice to “offer life to another” I looked at the picture of Christ hanging on my wall and the words, “Father if thou be willing, let this cup pass from me…” took on new meaning, never before understood. I wanted more than anything to give the gift of life to that sweet baby, I just didn’t know it would be so hard. I believe birth is designed perfectly by an all-knowing God and that for a healthy, normal pregnancy, that natural process needn’t be interrupted. For cases where things go wrong, thank heaven for medical intervention, but what an amazing thing to experience just as God designed it and with people who reverence and trust the process. My “dudla” (my sweet husband who read every bit as much as I did about birth options prior to Noah’s arrival) and I are so looking forward to walking the path again together soon! Thanks for sharing these insights. I also understand this type of birth isn’t for everyone, but I am so grateful we were able to learn what we did during my pregnancy so that we could determine the type of birth was best for our family. Questioning the status quo is always a little daunting and yet is deeply gratifying.

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