It’s up to fam­ilies to decide where they birth their children | Courtesy Pixaby

My daughter, Thea, was born at 2:56 a.m. in a hos­pital oper­ating room under bright flu­o­rescent lights, and her cry was the most beau­tiful sound I had ever heard. I labored unmed­icated for nearly 20 hours and then began pushing for three unending hours. Most first-time moms push for a maximum of two hours — some only push for 15 minutes or less. I never had pain meds or inter­ven­tions, regardless of how much I may have wanted them. 

 After trying every­thing we could to get baby to keep descending, it was clear she was stuck. In a moment of extreme clarity, some­thing in me told me she wasn’t going to fit. We weren’t seeing any progress, so we walked through the options with our doctor. A C‑section was the only answer left. An hour later, they pulled my daughter out, pre­cious in our eyes despite her mis­shapen conehead from the ago­nizing time she was wedged into my pelvis. Her entrance into this big world was no less mirac­ulous because of how she was born.

I hes­itate to share my birthing expe­rience. Do I think I had birth trauma? Perhaps (just wait until you give birth, you probably will too…it’s called labor for a reason). But, I have dwelled on the trauma far less than I have delighted in the presence of my daughter. Was it, perhaps, pos­sible for her to be born nat­u­rally? Maybe. Have I felt birth shame? Absolutely. 

Merely days after Thea was born, I shared the fact that I had a C‑section with a friend. The first response I received was “you can always try for a VBAC, I guess.” Another mom skep­ti­cally asked how my birth was without a doula, and then out­rightly booed me when I dis­closed my labor ended in a Cesarean. I have seen eye­brows raised and my doctors scoffed at, as if my daughter’s birth was a case of mal­practice, despite this being the correct and nec­essary choice for both mom and baby. 

I entered my preg­nancy deter­mined to learn all I could about achieving a natural birth. I took a natural birth course, I declined every unnec­essary inter­vention, I ate all the right pre-labor foods and did all the right pre-labor exer­cises. My doctor, nurse-midwife, and nurses were in com­plete support of my desire to have a natural birth in the hos­pital without an induction or inter­vention of any kind. They were sup­portive of this desire even with the knowledge that I had two former hip surg­eries and two major abdominal surg­eries during my pregnancy. 

I am not against home births. I am not against natural births. I am not against hos­pital births, clearly. Every mom should have the oppor­tunity to seek out the birth she hopes for. I simply want to bring our attention to one glaring fault in the argument for natural or home births as the supremely superior type of birth — that, as women, this is “what our bodies are made to do.”

Have we so quickly for­gotten the curse? “I will surely mul­tiply your pain in child­bearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” (Genesis 3:16). His­tor­i­cally, child­birth has been the leading cause of death for women, though out­comes have improved sig­nif­i­cantly with modern med­icine. The Fall has attacked this very thing: child­birth. The Fall has cursed preg­nancy with uncom­fortable whale-ishness, it has cursed post­partum minds with depression, and it has cursed labor with excru­ci­ating pain and — yes— failure to give birth as we intended. As much as we can hope our bodies will do “what they are made to do,” the natural design is fatally marred. No matter how much you may will your body to do it, as I did for those three hours with every fiber of strength, it just may not be possible. 

By all means, try for a natural birth, enjoy your home­birth, sur­round yourself with the most knowl­edgeable birth team you can, know all your options, and be con­vinced of what you want. But enter sober-minded in the reality that your once-made-to-birth body has fallen under the curse of this bitter earth, until one day our bodies will be redeemed and per­fected. To God be the glory that despite this harsh truth, our bodies bear his children regardless. We par­tic­ipate in the simply mirac­ulous act of being co-cre­ators — no matter how our children are born.