No, I'm Not Pregnant.

My sister sent me this charming email the other day:

"Dani Stinking Nita*,

Are you pregnant?

That is all. 

Oh, and I love you.


*Evolution of a nickname. Danielle > Danita (because of my Mexican heritage, woot) > Dani-nita (I had nieces who couldn't pronounce it very well) > Dani Stinking Nita (Carrie's special nickname just for me, apparently.)

I'm pretty sure she based her question on two things:

1. Her desire to hurry me along into motherhood, seeing as how Tim and I have been married for four years now and WHY THE HECK DON'T WE HAVE KIDS ARREDDDY, and
2. My marked increase in pregnancy-related pins to Pinterest.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Because it's an excellent segue into what I actually want to talk about in this post, which is childbirth. And, more specifically, my journey on someday becoming a doula.

You can consider this post my official announcement that I am looking into becoming a doula!  Yay! Go me!

Just remember, noI'mnotpregnant.

You may want to ask a follow-up question of me, then: 

"Dani, if you're not pregnant, why the heck do you care about all of this stuff?"

Excellent question, Dear Reader.  Let me esplain. 

No, there is too much.  Let me sum up.

Growing up in a large Mormon family, I always knew that I wanted to be a mother.  I wanted kids to be a part of my life, and I knew that because I wanted kids, I would have to give birth.

(I was always a very intelligent child.)

I didn't give much thought to childbirth, other than gleaning bits of information here and there from an overheard conversation with my mom and her sisters, my aunts.  I remember learning what episiotomies were (ouch!), and what epidurals do, and what happens when you go to the hospital.  I remember thinking I would like to try giving birth without an epidural, because I wanted to see how tough I was.  But I didn't really know much about birth other than that.

It started with a Motherhood Conference, way back in 2010. Tim and I were newlyweds, living in Provo, Utah. We went to a ward that was comprised entirely of other newlyweds, all going through the same experiences and adjustments to married life at relatively the same time, give or take a year or two.  

The Stake (comprised of about 10 wards) organized a special conference on Motherhood, so I dragged Tim with me.  I don't remember much about the conference, but one thing in particular sparked something that changed me forever.

They had several women speak who had given birth in different ways--one c-section, one with an epidural, one natural, and so on.  I remember sitting in my seat, listening to all of the women tell their stories on birth.  This was really the first time I had really encountered birth stories for the sake of birth stories. I mean, I had heard birth stories before, but it was mostly overheard snippets of conversations.  It had never really applied to me--I was either too young to think about it or not married, so it didn't resonate.  But now that I was married, it seemed different. 

I listened to each of them in turn, and the last to speak was the woman who had a natural childbirth with a midwife.  She described her decision-making process and why she personally chose a natural childbirth, then she started talking about her experience.  She talked about how alert and aware she felt, how she didn't have an IV or an epidural so she was free to move around the bed and lean on her husband for support when she needed to.  She described the powerful emotions and the deeply spiritual experience she had, and how she felt bonded with her husband in a way she had never felt before. 

And, of course, she also talked about the pain.  It was the most pain she had ever been in in her entire life--but it was a productive pain.  The pain was doing something for you, not just alerting you to an injury.  I don't even remember her name or what became of her, but I remember her story.  I remember thinking right then and there, "That's the birth experience I want." I talked to her after the conference ended, and she gave me my first list of books to read on natural childbirth.

I went home and checked out every single book on that list.  I read books on the history of childbirth in America (boy were those an, on the medical system, and on natural childbirth.  I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on.  It was so interesting to me, mostly because it portrayed childbirth as something intuitive, something spiritual.  I felt like it really made sense for me, and it was something I felt truly passionate about.

At first, it was mostly just strong interest. I never thought I would actually want to do anything with it--I just researched to find it out for myself and that was enough.  Lately, however, I've been feeling more and more that I need to look into doing this on a more serious level, and that's why I am looking into becoming a doula.  I'm excited and nervous and not quite sure what to think yet, so I guess we'll see what happens from here!

[Now, at this point, I should offer a HUGE disclaimer: I, personally, don't care for the term "natural childbirth." (That's basically the name for a non-medicated childbirth, but it also implies more than just the absence of pain medication--it implies a presence of mind.) To call it "natural" implies that I find something wrong or unnatural about giving birth to your baby in any other way, or that I somehow think that giving birth naturally is best for everyone, all the time.

I don't.  I'm glad we have OB-GYN's; they are there for a reason. I have several wonderful nieces and nephews, some of which required hospital attention after birth--and I'm glad they were able to get what they needed. And I don't think anyone should ever look down on you for the way you choose to give birth--whether that be an elective c-section or a home birth in the woods.

So, instead of calling it natural childbirth, I usually just think of it as a positive birth experience.  For any woman, whatever type of birth they choose, I strongly believe they have the right to have a safe, positive, comfortable birth. For me, that's non-medicated birth. For others, it may be a water birth. Or an epidural. Or an elective c-section.  It should be less about judgment surrounding birth choices and more about education surrounding birth choices.]

I'm going to keep writing more posts about topics like these over the coming months, so if you have a question or a topic you think would be interesting, you can email me at danielle.stratford(at)me(dot)com.  You can also find a list of other posts here!