Given my instinctive tendencies towards attachment parenting, natural childbirth, exclusive breastfeeding, etc, I have spent lots of time reading articles, books, essays, forums etc full of women who claim their experiences with these are empowering. (Although t0 be fair, women who don’t choose those paths usually also claim to feel empowered by their experiences as well.) Women love that word. It makes us want to sing, “I am woman, hear me roar,” and, depending on our version of empowerment, go to pole dancing classes, chop down a tree, buy a house, start a company, go to war. It is an especially potent word when talking about something that is essentially out of our control.
Giving birth without drugs? Empowering.
Feeding your own child, from your own body? Empowering.
These are the sorts of experiences I read about, and what I hoped for.
I felt empowered by the physical and mental preparation I did, for pregnancy and birth. I felt empowered by having a birth plan that reflected that preparation and the way Toby and I generally try to live our lives. I felt empowered by choosing shared midwife and GP care through a public hospital across the border.
In the end though, instead of feeling empowered by the actual experience of pregnancy and birth, I felt humbled. Completely and utterly humbled. It was (and continues to be) a great lesson in having empathy for others and in understanding that things don’t always go according to plan, whether you’re prepared or not. It was (and is) a great lesson in relinquishing control. In short, it kicked my ass.
And so, my lessons in humility begin.