To kick start a workshop, I asked the attendees to express on paper their journey to today. Some wrote words, others drew pictures. Some used black, others used every color in the crayon pack. Each of them expressed their emotions and journey differently, yet all of them were in the same situation: expecting a baby.
First-time daddies drew a big question mark, symbolic of their uncertainty of what to do or of what to expect. The two second-time daddies didn’t mention this but rather noted how they could better support their wives/partners.
First-time mamas articulated fear: of pain; of how long the birth will take; of not getting to the hospital in time; of postpartum weight or a new body image; of sleepless nights; of struggles with breastfeeding. One of these mamas even playfully sang, “I’m doing epidural because… pain – ain’t nobody got time for that.” Second-time mamas instead came from a place of power, declaring a natural birth because they were not satisfied with their first birth experiences.
There was a marked difference between the first-time and the second-time parents. While both had the opportunity to express fear on paper, the first-time parents blatantly spoke of fear. These second-time parents may fear a re-run of the first birth but they didn’t let that stop them from equipping themselves with the tools to assist them in creating a different outcome, recognizing a different birth. If they had fears, they didn’t give fear a voice.
A few days later I received an email from the epidural-seeking-first-time-mama. Her email stated, “I think I might actually try for a natural birth without the epidural.” Ah, rejoice! Surrounding oneself with the knowledge and the support and the love that birth is empowering can cast out fear. In this case, it started with coloring!