Before I begin, let me get the inevitable questions out of the way.
Disclaimer 1: NO, I am not pregnant!
Disclaimer 2: NO, I am not trying to get pregnant!
Before you start to cry mother, YES I will give you grandchildren one day.
But right now, I have a very sweet, supportive, fabulous husband that is soon to embark on a very exciting and expensive MBA program, and that will be our baby for the next few years.
Okay? Are we all good? Everyone still buckled in with their seats and tray tables in their full upright and locked positions? Off we go then...
I have always been a spiritual person, intermittently religious, but always spiritual. And I have also always been an extremely inquisitive person, exhausting my family since probably the age of 2 asking every 'why' question a small child could possibly concoct.
And both traits have served me well in my journey thus far. My spirituality has grounded me and given me a purpose and sense that there are forces at work much larger and much more important than me. And my constant questioning has led me to challenge widely-held ideologies and seek truths that make sense within my system of beliefs, not the world's.
While this may seem like a natural process that most humans either do or should go through during their lifetimes, it has been interestingly challenging and painstaking for me. A rule-follower at heart, I have had to stretch and bend and grow tremendously in order to allow myself to question, debunk and eventually toss out "rules" that this world says an American woman should follow.
And I find myself, not surprisingly, at another such moment.
There is a woman in my office who is pregnant. She is just a few years younger than me, and we work very closely together. While we have really only gotten to know one another in the past couple months, I have sensed at times that there is something bigger happening than simply colleagues building their working relationship. Our paths seemed to have crossed quite purposefully... to teach one another, influence each other and ultimately help the other.
And I'm starting to think I was right.
With our best professional smiles and our thickly veiled passions, we have done what the rulebooks say we should do. Work alongside one another. Say good morning and goodbye with a smile and a friendly face. Be pleasant and focused.
But never, never, never, ever, ever, ever really be your true self at work.
Be yourself in the context of your role. Throw your own tasteful sauce on whatever company dish you are representing. But that's as far as it goes.
And like it or not, that has been us. Dutifully working alongside one another trying to be the best office version of ourselves that we could possibly be.
But as life, God and the universe would have it, we have inadvertently oozed a little bit of ourselves into a conversation or two. Me mentioning my healer or my medium on a walk to the parking garage. She mentioning her midwife or her vegetarian beliefs in a car ride back from lunch. And lo and behold we have discovered real people hidden inside our business casual facade.
And I feel like my eyes are opening to a whole new world yet again.
As I mentioned, this woman is pregnant, and she and her husband have opted to deliver their baby with the assistance of a midwife at a birthing center instead of a hospital. For her hospitals have always been a sad, negative place for one reason or another, and she always knew that perhaps this country's idea of traditional childbearing wouldn't be the path she would choose.
So we have talked about this a time or two. She, gracefully and patiently explaining her choice for a natural, intimate experience with her husband and new child; me, loudly and emphatically expressing my bend towards plenty of pain medication and a doctor or three.
And I hadn't really thought much past that until arriving in California to visit my sister. But as we have a habit of doing, our time together thus far has been full of meaty conversation, joint pondering, and sharing of new and thought-provoking ideas. One of which has been this notion of natural childbirth, taking the doctor's agenda out of a woman's birth plan.
As it normally works with my sister, our lives are usually on complete-overlap-mode, and she too had just had an interesting conversation with a girlfriend who gave birth in a hospital in February. When Lacy mentioned a documentary analyzing the truths of hospital births versus midwives, we acted on our impulsive Burns-nature and decided to download the film and do our own research.
So with my good-sport-of-a-husband comfortably perched at my side, the three of us crowded around her 15-inch computer screen and watched The Business of Being Born. Preparing ourselves for what we anticipated to be a moving and controversial presentation of the facts and opinions of hospital birth versus home birth, we all agreed to pause the film throughout, discussing whatever comments, questions or quandaries clouded our minds.
And discuss we did! I wish I had been counting the number of times we stopped the film because I have not seen three more active-watchers of a documentary in my life. Even Brian who is usually rather quiet when I get on a rant about women's issues was actively participating, touched to see husband and wife working as a team to powerfully and intimately bring the life they created into the world together.
It was astounding. Moving. Life changing. Convincing.
Yep, I said it. Convincing.
Before you laugh and say, "oh sweet little Kayla. That's nice that she would think that, but she doesn't know the first thing about natural childbirth. She wouldn't be able to do it. I mean, she's always said she had to bite a wooden spoon growing up to even take out a splinter," let me stop you.
It is my opinion that we've all gotten pretty good at telling women what they can't do in this world. And it seems that birthing their own children has been added to that long list, giving women like me every reason to fear, every reason to think my body isn't capable. But this movie really made me take a step back and examine that notion. As a woman. As a future mother. As a miraculous, capable, life-giving being.
A large part of film looks at the medical agenda versus the body's physical needs. It puts into question a billion dollar industry that intervenes in a natural process in order to schedule, guide and ultimately control a process that is sufficiently managed by a woman's internal clock and amazingly completed by a loving cocktail of hormones and a powerful rhythm of physical contractions. It does not rule out the very important role of monitoring both baby and mother throughout the pregnancy, but it does call to question the idea of major surgery as necessary for childbirth and the rampant use of synthetic hormones and chemical pain killers to mimic a process the body knows better than even the most skilled of physicians.
Before I go on, let me say that I have long known that my purpose on this earth was and is twofold: 1) Reach and positively impact people through my writing. 2) Empower and support women.
So I feel like I would be absolutely remiss if I did not use my love of writing to reach out to women on this topic. Believe it or not, I'm not advocating one way or the other for the actual birth plan. I'm advocating for education.
We are all different, uniquely crafted human beings, so I don't venture to say that my opinion, my way is the best way for everyone. But as a woman I can say that we are strong beyond even our own comprehension. And if we started believing in our own strength, appreciating the life-giving abilities we are blessed with, we might find an empowered, beautiful woman hiding inside.
I know for me that meeting and working with this woman was no accident. And watching that film with my husband and my sister was not either.
Just as The Feminine Mystique was introduced into my life at just the right moment. And Carole Zoom burst into my world when I needed her most.
I am on a surprising, sometimes painful, unapologetic journey towards enlightenment and empowerment. I am trying to come to terms with my own power and beauty as a woman so that I can then devote the rest of my life to helping other women find theirs.
And this film, this series of events, was completely life changing.
So let the debates begin! I choose my heart, my instinct, my truth. My message is that you should be free to choose yours as well.