When having a baby, there is a lot of debate about whether the journey to motherhood (birth) is as important as the destination (having your baby placed in your arms). But it seems to me that people on the destination end of the argument are the only ones arguing that ONLY the destination is important.
No birth enthusiast would ever argue that having a beautiful birth experience is more important than having a healthy baby at the end. But all the time I hear people who didn’t get the birth of their dreams (or didn’t dream about births in the first place), make the claim that the birth doesn’t matter at all, the ONLY part that matters is a healthy baby at the end.
I would beg to differ. Of course a healthy baby is worth sacrificing every birth dream for. Of course it is. But that doesn’t mean that my birth dream has no value or importance. The destination is not the ONLY thing that matters. It matters more than the journey, sure, but that doesn’t mean the journey doesn’t matter at all.
What makes me sad is hearing people abandon the idea that the journey held importance just because it didn’t go the way they wanted it to. Basically, they say “I used to think the journey was important, but since mine turned out so bad I now realize it’s not important.” First off, I’m sad that they choose to define their journey as bad, rather than just different than what they had planned. In many of these cases, the journey was exactly what was needed. Saying that none of it matters simply perpetuates the myth that interventions have no place ever, but who cares if they use them anyway because none of it matters, right? Wrong. Interventions have a place, and if they were used properly on you, it did matter. It was just what you and your baby needed, and instead of shrugging them off and saying “it didn’t matter”, you should probably express some sort of gratitude that the lifesaving intervention was available to you and your baby, and acknowledge that that deviation was not bad, but rather an important part of your important journey.
If you are in the other boat, and that intervention was not needed, it still matters. It’s still important. Saying it’s not is like saying it’s not important if you got raped, because at least you’re still alive at the end. It sucks, yes, and it breaks my heart that it happens to so many women in this country every day, but saying “It doesn’t matter, all that matters is that my baby and I got out alive” dooms more women to go through your exact same sucky experience. It does matter, it all matters. The journey is very, very, very, very, important.
Second, I’m sad that their disappointment in their birth justifies to them the practice of telling millions of other women “Hey, none of that matters. You don’t need to worry about giving a shit about your birth. Just lay back and let the medical system do whatever they want to you because all that matters is you have a healthy baby at the end.” Never mind that our medical system has a terrible track record of actually providing healthy babies at the end. Let’s go ahead and tell women that it’s not worth their time to try and protect themselves and their babies because it didn’t work out for you. That would be like me telling women not to use birth control, because I happened to get pregnant while on it once. If it can go wrong for even one woman, it must not be worth any woman’s time, right?
I will tell you straight up, the most beautiful birth experience in the world is worth nothing if it puts your baby at risk, it is true. But that does not mean that the journey does not matter. The journey does matter. One way or another, it matters. No matter how your birth goes, you own it, and it was important. Don’t brush it off.