I'm just two months away from having my fifth baby. My fifth boy baby. Yes, we just like to keep things exciting around here. All of my babies were born in a hospital. I have been induced every time, received an epidural every time, and all of my babies have been between 10-11lb. I've said, “Yes,” to every pain medicine made available to me. That’s a little history on me. But I’m not here to defend a particular birthing method. I want to defend something much greater. I hope you'll join me.
In the beginning of this pregnancy I was most often asked, "Do you know what you're having?" Now as my due date gets closer I get asked a different question: "Are you having your baby in a hospital?" I can't count the number of times people have asked me this. I don't blame them. In today's culture with so many women having babies at home or in birth centers, it's a legitimate question. I ask other mamas the same thing. It's a point of great curiosity and interesting conversation.
But my concern for all of us is that we are stepping into dangerous, gospel-twisting territory. Birth culture is dividing women into two camps: natural and unnatural. Obviously, there is superiority attached to one of those. No mama wants to be called, "unnatural." So what puts you in the "natural" camp? You can earn points in a variety of ways. You can eat organic while you're pregnant. You can choose between your home or a birth center, but a hospital is out. If you must go to the hospital, a midwife can gain you back a few points. An epidural will lose you almost too many points to recover from. And a c-section? Let's just just say your application to the “natural” club has been denied.
But the “unnatural” mamas can be just as exclusive. They cluster together to defend each other by turning up their noses at the other side:
“I prefer to trust science instead of Google.”
“I care too much about my babies to risk having them at home."
This hierarchy of motherhood is anti-gospel. Colossians 2:23 says, “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (ESV) Birth culture seeks to spiritualize things that are not spiritual. As a result, women in both camps are suffering. Women who don't have natural births lose a little shine on their Mommy badges. They feel guilty and inferior. The moms who take the all-natural route are also in danger. They ride on a false sense of security that only lasts as long as their perfect track record - and the bar keeps getting higher. How natural is natural? Where do we draw the line?
This is where we get a glimpse into the enemy camp. Satan is the master of decoys. He loves to distract us with a false enemy while he sneaks in the back door with his real ammo. So many moms gear up for the fiery arrows of vaccines, epidurals, and medical intervention. But Satan's real arrows are fear, anxiety, pride, and finding our identity in something other than Christ.
Recently I talked with a friend who had just delivered a beautiful, healthy baby. I asked her how her labor and delivery went. She said, "It didn't go at all like I planned. I was so disappointed. At the end, I was holding my beautiful baby and crying because I felt like a failure." My heart broke for my friend whose birth experience had been tainted - not because she had a hospital birth, but because she had misplaced hope.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith." (ESV)
Our only hope is Jesus Christ. There is no perfect birth plan. There is no perfect food. There are no perfect babies and no perfect mommies. But there is a perfect savior. If we hope in anything else we will be disappointed. We hope in His power to forgive our sin and we trust in His perfect plan for our lives. His plan might include an unexpected home birth for a mom who planned on a hospital birth but didn't make it in time. His plan might be a c-section for a mom who swore she wouldn't step foot into a hospital.
Any mom, whether hooked up to five different IVs or at home in her bathtub can glorify God with her birth story. Hospital Mom, did you miss the window to get that epidural you were depending on? Natural Mom, did you labor at home only to find yourself in a hospital 17 hours later? To both moms I want to say: You did not miss out on anything of eternal value. We only miss out on something if we don't put our hope in Jesus. We miss out on grace, peace, and joy. We are all on the same side, moms. It's the side of not really being in control of anything. God gets to write our birth plans. And He doesn't make mistakes.
"Sara Wallace does a wonderful job of taking the practicals of motherhood and relating them to the gospel. I highly recommend this for moms who don't have a lot of time to sit down and do a big Bible study." - Jennifer
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