Friday, August 24, 2007

The Elevator Story

How do you explain to someone why they would want to have a natural, unmedicated birth when 95% of all women today are birthing with epidurals? Do you compare it to other natural body processes being diluted with drugs? Is there a good analogy to illustrate the difference? The only one I've thought of is the story of the elevator. Here it is, tell me what you think:

One beautiful, bright fall morning a woman decides to take a hike to Angel's Landing in Zion National Park. She realizes that this is a strenuous, steep, uphill climb which will take her a couple of hours and will require that she has the proper stamina. She calls her dear friend to come along and together they begin walking along the path. As they walk they talk and reflect upon their emotions and daily going-ons. The path begins to get steeper and they stop every so often to take a deep breath and look at the beauty which surrounds them. At one point the demands of the uphill climb requires that they stop their conversation and just breathe and focus on their body's strenous activity. As they get closer and closer to the summit they realize they have stopped more often than when they first began to catch their breaths and sit down for a few minutes to rest. Finally they reach the top and are awe struck by the magnificent view of the deep canyon and river below and all of the rich, red rock that surrounds them. People at the top are discussing the hike and comparing how often they stopped along the way and what their favorite parts were and congratulating each other on the journey. It feels so wonderful to have made it to the summit and have accomplished something most people will never experience. The joy of the journey is part of the sense of accomplishment at the summit.

The two women decide its time to start hiking back down and just as they turn to follow the path they hear a familiar voice calling to them. It is their good friend who also decided to visit Angel's Landing the same day as them; what a coincidence! As they begin talking they notice their friend doesn't seem to be sweating or look like she's hiked all the way up the mountain. They ask her how come she looks like she just got ready for the day and she replies; "Didn't you know there is an elevator?" "An elevator?!!" the two women reply. "Where? and Why?"

The friend replies, "Oh, the park service decided to put one in so more of its visitors could enjoy the views from up here. Isn't it fabulous?"

My point with this analogy is simple; the views are the same once your baby is born. Every mother loves their baby and thinks its the most wonderful being ever! Emotions run strong and it is a tender moment for every new parent after the birth, but the natural childbirth journey is so different from those who decide to numb their sensations with an epidural. Being one with your body and learning from its many senses as you encounter each contraction, feeling your baby actually push off of your ribs as they help themselves be born. Feeling the fullness of the uterus getting rock hard and actually squeeze that little life out of you and then, of course, feeling the change in contractions as you begin pushing and giving way to the wonderful blessing that is soon to be in your arms. Nothing compares to these feelings and to being one with your baby as it goes through the same journey as you to be born.

Just like hiking to the top of a summit, those who take every step and see every animal and rock along the way will have a completely different perspective at the top than those who decided to take the elevator to get there. Both ways allow us to have a similar end result, but what about the journey?! The notion of taking the elevator instead of hiking is preposterous, as you well know, but it illustrates the point. Why would you want to skip the wonderful interlude of natural, unmedicated childbirth just to get to the end result? Having gone through it three times myself, I can positively say that my memories of my births are full of tenderness, self accomplishment and respect for the power that is within my body. I also feel that it is a gift that keeps on giving because it has lit a fire within in me and I can't help but continue sharing it with everyone.

Natural childbirth, for me, was the turning point from being an under confident woman to an "I can do anything" mother. This process has literally changed my life for the good and I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want the same. Please pass on the story so we can continue educating and encouraging women to refuse epidurals and choose the wondrous gift of natural birth!

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