Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My choice in a natural birth does not make me a superhero

Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I write this as my second pregnancy draws to a close and I begin to anticipate the birth of our second daughter. Our first born, Penny, turned 2 years old on March 3rd and her little sister was expected to arrive any day.

As I reflect upon my previous pregnancy and Penelope's birth, I remember the polar opposite reactions that I got when our friends learned about our choice for a natural, unmedicated birth. Some were downright skeptical (of the safety, perhaps my ability?), only a few openly asked honest questions on why we'd choose to go this route and sadly even less were truly supportive. When I actually "went through with it" and came out on the other end with a beautiful, healthy baby girl, people were stunned that I walked out of my birth center 5 hours after delivery. 

That day - heck yea I felt like a superhero! Any woman who has made the transformation into a mother knows how this feels; regardless of how she gave birth.

But my triumph of a natural birth is no cause for being called a superhero. It was a huge personal victory, no doubt about that, but I don't need the credit that it seems to have gotten me. I was told that I was "so brave" to deliver outside of a hospital, and the question often comes up "what would happen if something went wrong?" Well, the c-section rate for Seattle hospitals was 24 - 39% in 2012. My birth center had a less than 2% transfer rate, which results in an even lower c-section rate. For me hospitals are where people go when they are sick, need help or make the personal choice in going there because that's where they feel the most comfortable. My highest level of comfort means delivering my children at a birth center, as long as I do not have an "at risk" pregnancy; but that doesn't mean I have any opinion on what your choice may be. 

Regardless of my absence from the "mommy wars" of birth choices, I feel like mothers who decide to deliver naturally are either put on a pedestal for their bravery or branded as ultra feminists, hippies or plain crazy. Don't even get me started on the looks I've known my friends to get when they share about their home birth or unassisted birth choices. But what's the point? We all deserve a pat on the back. We all did what we believed was best. 

A superhero is someone who goes above and beyond their abilities or comfort level. They do something truly extraordinary. A superhero helps others in need, puts them ahead of themselves at great personal cost. A superhero is a member of our military, law enforcement, health care providers, missionaries, rescue aid workers; the list goes on. I couldn't write an exhaustive life of superheroes because they range so vastly in their abilities and what they do for people. 

That doesn't go to say that we moms don't deserve a pat on the back every now and again! :) We are the every day superhero; we strive to put our family's needs and desires before our own. We are up earlier, stay up later, typically are hungry the longest. We share our bodies for 9 months and our hearts for a lifetime. But you won't see me in a cape and mask anytime soon...just my sweatshirt and yoga pants. 


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon March 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • I Am A Super Hero — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she learned the hard way exactly what it means to be a real super hero and not a burned out shell of a human simply pretending to be one.
  • Quiet Heroics — Heroism doesn't have to be big and bold. Read how Jorje of Momma Jorje is a quiet hero…and how you probably are, too.
  • Not a Bang, but a Whisper {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about the different types of "superheroes," ones that come in with a bang and ones that come in with a whisper.
  • Silent courage of motherhood in rural Cambodia — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings marvels at how rural Khmer women defy the odds in childbirth.
  • Super PappyMother Goutte's little boy met a superhero in checked slippers and Volkswagen Polo, his grand dad: Super Pappy!
  • An Open Letter to Batman — Kati at The Best Things challenges Batman to hold up his end of the deal, in the name of social justice, civic duty, and a little boy named Babe-O!
  • My Village — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on the people who helped her to become her best self.
  • 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me — Children are amazing teachers, when we only stop to listen. They remind us to choose happiness, to delight in the small things, to let go and forgive. There is so much we can learn from our children. Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a few of the lessons she's learned.
  • Could you use some superpowers? — Tat at Mum in search shares a fun activity to help you connect with your own superpowers.
  • Like Fire Engines — Tam at tinsenpup tells the story of the day she saw a surprising superhero lurking in the guise of her not entirely mild-mannered four-year-old daughter.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her list of Walker Warburg Syndrome Superheroes that have touched her life forever.
  • My Superhero of the Week: Nancy GallagherTribal Mama muses about the transcendent things her superhero mom has done.
  • My choice in natural birth does not make me a super hero — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, discusses her thoughts on her experience with the perception of natural birth and putting those mamas on a different level. Does giving birth naturally give cause for an extra pat on the back? No! All mamas, no matter how they birth, are superheroes.
  • Someone's Hero — Sometimes being a parent means pretending to be a grown-up, but it always means you are someone's hero. Read Mandy's lament at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • Growing into a Super Hero — Casey at Joyful Courage shares how owning our behavior and choosing to be a better parent, a better person, is an act of courage.
  • A Math Superhero — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes that her 7-year-old daughter's superhero is an MIT-trained mathematician.
  • It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips — Luschka of Diary of a First Child takes a hard look at the realities of her relationship with her mother, and through this post goes on a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise realisation for her.
  • We Don't Need an Excuse — Maria Kang (aka "Hot Mom") asks women #WhatsYourExcuse for not being in shape? Dionna at Code Name: Mama asks Hot Mom what her excuse is for not devoting her life to charity work, or fostering dozens of stray dogs each year, or advocating for the needs of others. Better yet, Code Name: Mama says, how about we realize that every woman has her own priorities. Focus on your own, and stop judging others for theirs.
  • It's not heroic when you're living it — Lauren at Hobo Mama knows from the inside that homeschooling does not take a hero, and that much of what we choose as parents is simply what works best for us.
  • Superheroes, princesses and preschoolers — Garry at Postilius discusses why his preschool-age son is not ready for comic book superheroes.
  • The Loving Parents of Children with Special Needs – Everyday Superheroes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares posts with resources for parents of children with special needs along with posts to help others know how to support parents of children with special needs.
  • Everyday Empathy — Mommy Giraffe of Little Green Giraffe shares why her secret superpower is everyday empathy.
  • The Simplicity of Being a Superhero — Ana at Panda & Ananaso explains what superheroes mean to her wise three-year-old.
  • My Father, The Hero — Fathers are pretty amazing; find out why Christine at The Erudite Mom thinks hers is the bees knees.


  1. It's true! I think sometimes people want to elevate natural birthing mamas to distance them, since they either don't want to do that (which is totally valid) or because they think they're kind of weird and silly (which is not). Anyway, I agree — I birthed at home because I wanted to avoid discomfort and needless intervention. That's not really heroic, ha ha!

  2. Yes, that feeling after you give birth and the hard work is all over, and the beautiful baby is in your arms. That is what I imagine a superhero must feel like.
    I wish you well on your upcoming birth. Congratulations.

  3. I agree that there's nothing brave about giving birth outside of a hospital when you believe it's the safest choice. I also acknowledge that while for me, the importance of less intervention cannot be overstated, others feel safer giving birth where intervention is a relatively easy option whenever there is uncertainty. Yay, birth choices! It's just a shame we're not all better at supporting each other in those choices.

    I'm guessing you might have had the chance to be an everyday hero in giving birth to your baby daughter by now. Congratulations (or best wishes if you're still waiting). Lots of love from me for the blessed days ahead. <3

  4. I concur. All (five) of our children have been born unassisted at home. It was a decision which we spent much time and research on. We are often told how "brave" we are, but that always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. There was nothing brave about our decision. We looked at research, we informed ourselves, and we made the decision we felt was best for our family. For us, birth has been completely "normal" and not a cause for panic or trips to the hospital.

  5. Lovely post! I really like the perspective that you bring to natural childbirth. It's not superhuman strength; it's perfectly human strength.

    I got a lot of flack for the same stuff (fortunately, my mom was extremely supportive), but now I actually like being called crazy. I have found when I own my craziness, any opposition is pretty much dissolved.

    thank you for the post :-)

  6. Such a good point! I, too, felt pretty heroic after my first birth - it was a doozy. But our bodies are so very capable.



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