Trust is tricky. It’s a leap of faith to trust in something as mysterious as natural birth, trusting that baby and body know best.
I am now 41 weeks and 6 days pregnant, and this baby is certainly testing my trust. Truthfully, I’ve spent a good part of the past few days stressed and teary as my trust has been challenged by this baby who is in no rush to arrive. I tell myself that this is all part of “feeling” the process of natural birth, the anticipation and uncertainty, that I didn’t experience with my first two hospital births and was grateful to experience with my previous homebirth and now this one.
Part of my recent stress stemmed from the routine testing that is recommended as a mom inches toward 42 weeks. As skeptical as I can sometimes be of prenatal tests, I decided that it was probably a good idea to have the routine, late-term ultrasound yesterday to gauge how my little one is managing. I did not take this test lightly, and knew that I could decline it despite the recommendation of my midwife.
I was anxious that any test at this stage with less-than-satisfactory results could thrust me into a hospital induction scenario that I consider, given my past birth experiences, to be personally life-threatening. So, choosing this test became a balancing act of risks, weighing my risks and baby’s risks. In the end, I thought the benefits of the test at this stage outweighed the risks, and was thrilled when the ultrasound showed that baby is snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug in there, happy and healthy.
So, now we keep waiting, trusting that this baby knows the right birthday to choose, trying not to rush this little one. I’ll likely have another ultrasound at the end of the week if the baby is not here by then, and, again, as long as the results are reassuring, there is no reason to do anything but wait and trust.
Trusting natural birth, the time-honored process of body and baby knowing precisely when is the right time to be born, can be challenging in a culture that increasingly tries to manage and control birth. The reality is that we now live in a culture where few people have ever witnessed or experienced a true natural birth, without medical intervention, without IVs and monitors and other such accoutrements.
As we increasingly distance ourselves from the natural process of labor and birth, we grow more fearful of it, we grow more skeptical of it, and we try harder to control it, which can (and is) leading to many of the current problems with modern American maternity care. Despite spending more on maternity care than any other nation, the U.S. has among the worst outcomes, particularly in maternal mortality and morbidity.
All this is to say that trust is tricky. It’s a leap of faith to trust in our bodies, our babies, the wisdom of nature and our own maternal instincts.
But then, this is a season of faith, isn’t it?