The Dallas area was hit pretty hard the other day with tornadoes. It got me thinking about fears. I asked the following question the other day on my Facebook page Inspiring Birth: What are some of your fears? Some of the answers I received: Drowning, Tidal Waves, getting into a car accident and not being able to get to my girls, being buried alive, snakes, free falling. I’m sure there are many other fears that were not mentioned. Unfortunately we live in a day and age where fear surrounds us. Some fears may be rational and others maybe a little irrational. Some healthy fears, some not so healthy fears.
If you know me well, you know I have a big fear of tornadoes. 5 years ago, we bought our first home as a couple. My oldest son, Carter was only 18 months old and I had just found out that we were expecting our little Sydney. I am not a born Texan. My husband and I are both from the northeast, so I am new to this whole storm scene. I never experienced tornadoes or even any kind of storm of that magnitude growing up. So I really never feared storms, until that fateful night. I went to bed that night knowing that they were predicting bad storms, but really didn’t think much of it. Around 3:50 a.m. I heard the tornado sirens blowing. This is the first time I had ever woken up to the sound of tornado sirens. I woke up Steve and quickly ran into Carter’s room to get him out of bed. We went into our hallway bathroom, since it is the only enclosed room in the house and sat in the tub. Suddenly the sirens stopped, and there was silence. We looked at each other and wondered if it was just a false alarm. But then suddenly, we heard the wind! I can’t even describe to you in words the fear that entered my body at that moment. We huddled together shaking like a leaf, praying for our lives! I don’t think we have ever prayed so hard as we did at that moment! The wind was so loud and we literally could hear things tearing apart above our heads. We thought at any moment that the roof was going to come down on us, or worse, we would be blown away with the house. It probably only lasted a few minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. This was before either of us had a smart phone, so we had no idea what was on the radar or how long this thing was going to last. After the loud winds finally stopped, we just heard rain and a lot of thunder. I think we stayed in that bathroom a good 30 minutes before we finally went out. We walked out, and the roof was still above our heads… but we didn’t learn until a few hours later when the sun came up, what had happened while we were in that bathroom.
This is what we came out to:
This is our chimney, as well as some of our roof that had been blown off right above our heads in that little bathroom and landed down in our backyard.
This is the hole that was left in our roof where our chimney used to be!
This is our fence that was blown completely down.
Just down the road from us was a church that had the entire brick wall on the side of the church blown away.
Also down the road you can see that this very large (and heavy!) telephone tower was blown completely down.
So as you can see, we were pretty shaken by this experience! For those of you who were wondering why I watch the weather so obsessively now, this is why! If there is a storm, I am on it. I know when it is coming and where, at all times. I am not kidding! Like I said, some fears can be irrational, and others can be a good thing. I think my fear of storms can go both ways. Because I have a fear of storms, I am on guard at all times. It can be a bad thing in the sense that it can really shake me and cause me to worry way too much… but it can also be a good thing because it keeps me on guard which then keeps me and my family as safe as possible.
So what does this have to do with birth? Women fear birth. Plain and simple. My job as a childbirth educator, is to help women overcome those fears. Through the course of my 10 week Birth Boot Camp class, I teach my students that there are so many variations of “normal” in birth. Let’s face it, in the media, we only see one kind of birth: sheer terror. I mean really, it isn’t good TV to watch a peaceful water birth, now is it? Is fear of birth rational? Maybe, maybe not. I highly recommend watching Ricki Lake’s documentary, “Business of Being Born” to learn more about the history of birth and how birth has changed over the years. When medicine first came on the scene, women were still led to believe that they should fear childbirth and the pain that came with it because of the curse of Eve. Women began giving birth in the hospital with a Doctor because it was the “fashionable” thing to do and wanted every drug available so they wouldn’t have to deal with the pain of childbirth. I love seeing the reactions of my students when I show them birth videos where the woman is not screaming in sheer terror, and just very peacefully and quietly births her baby. It does happen! Birth can be a beautiful process.
I’m sure you have heard the saying before, “Trust your body, trust birth.” Do I believe this? Absolutely. Do I think this can sometimes give a false hope? Yes, sometimes. What happens if something does go wrong? What will that woman who was told to trust her body think? She might think she really is broken. We are not broken! More than half of the c-sections performed today are not a medical emergency! Sometimes things do go wrong though, things out of our control. That is why I think it is good to have a healthy fear of birth.
How do you have a healthy fear of birth? Get educated, plain and simple! This is why I became a childbirth educator. I wanted to help women educate themselves about birth, so they can have a healthy fear of birth instead of the kind of fear that society tries to instill in us, through shows on TV that portray birth as sheer terror or a medical emergency. There are times when things happen, out of our control, when things do go wrong. This should happen less than 10% of all births though! It shouldn’t be the “normal” way to give birth. What does my fear of tornadoes do for me? It helps me to be prepared! I am prepared for any storm to come my way. With a good solid childbirth education class, you can also be prepared for birth. Nothing should surprise you! My desire is for women to get educated and start taking birth back to a normal state. Let’s not let fear overtake us.