For the past seven weeks, my husband and I have been spending our Sunday mornings at Bradley childbirth class. We absolutely adore our teacher. Not only is she approachable and hilarious (she introduced us to this video), but she’s a doula and a mother of four — so she knows a lot about birthing babies. She’s also a huge fan of natural childbirth, which is great because that’s what Paul and I are hoping/planning to do.
I don’t want to get too preachy, but were you guys aware that the national Cesarean rate is 33%? And at Sibley Hospital in D.C., the C-section rate is a whopping 47%!
“I just can’t believe that 47% of women going to Sibley can’t get their babies out the normal way,” our teacher has said on multiple occasions.
I agree. I know that sometimes C-sections are necessary, but not 47% of the time. That seems crazy.
Without going into too much detail, Paul and I have learned a lot about how hospital interventions (like epidurals that numb you from the waist down, and drugs that induce or speed up labor) can lead to more interventions, which can lead to C-sections or other less-than-ideal situations.
Our teacher advises that we try not to mess with the natural process. As she likes to say, “Don’t worry. The baby’ll come out. That’s what babies do.”
Naturally, as a writer, it’s easy to liken growing a baby to writing a book. Both take a long time and are simultaneously exciting and exhausting. And in both cases, it can be scary: how am I going to get this thing out of me and into the world? Will I really be able to do it?
Sometimes it’s hard to trust the natural process.
One of the annoying things many hospitals do is put time limits on how long a woman can be in labor. When doctors feel a woman is “not making progress,” they might break her water, give her Pitocin (which speeds up labor), or threaten a C-section. Although some circumstances might call for these interventions, they mess with the natural process and can often cause further complications.
And giving a woman a time limit on her labor is likely to stress her out. Stress makes the woman tight and tense, which then makes it hard for her to open up and push the baby out.
As my teacher likes to say, “just leave the woman alone. The baby’ll come out. It’ll be fine. Babies come out.”
Not that babies come flying out on their own. It’s a lot of hard work to push new life into the world, and it can be painful. But if you stick with it, the baby will come out.
For first-time moms especially, the labor process can take a long time. And most of us aren’t used to that. In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t live in a very patient culture. We’re not used to the uncertainly of not knowing how long something is going to take. We don’t like the idea of working hard and making seemingly little progress.
Come to think of it, those are things most writers struggle with, too. The uncertainty: will I ever get this book published? When? And the frustration: I’ve been working on this novel for weeks/months/years but I feel like I’m not making progress!
The writing process can be hard on the impatient ego.
When I graduated from my MFA program at the age of 28, I put a time limit on myself: I would have a published novel by the age of 30.
Not only was this unreasonable – the publishing industry moves at a snail’s pace and I had never even written a full-length book before – but I also wasn’t respecting the natural process of creativity. With the self-imposed time limit, I started to feel stressed and doubtful, which made it harder to open up and let my story come out. I thought that if a book deal didn’t happen now, it never would, and I got to the point where I almost gave up on writing altogether.
I wish someone had told me this: Don’t worry. Your book will come out. That’s what books do. It’ll be fine.”
I know I have to work hard and push myself, but I will bring my stories into the world…eventually.
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I’m glad that Paul and I are working with a group of midwives that doesn’t put time limits on labor unless there is truly a concern about the safety of mother or baby. I’ll be allowed to labor as long as it takes in order to bring my wee one into the world.
And I’m glad that I’m no longer imposing time limits on my writing. It might take a while, but my book will come out when the time is right. I just need to open up and trust the natural process.