Natural Birth and Writing

Or, A really long and overly personal but hopefully not too strained metaphor about childbirth and novel-writing

My husband and I are trying to conceive. We are, as he would tell his family if he were one of my Regency heroes, working diligently to produce an heir. DILIGENTLY.  I am also already researching health care providers quite carefully, because I have decided I want a natural birth–no drugs, no epidural, no c-section unless I am literally on the brink of death–and that is apparently unusual enough in this day and age of birth-at-your-convenience OB practice that to make it happen in a hospital you have to go in with a sympathetic doctor, request nurses who are on board with it, and present a “birth plan” to show you know what you’re asking for. All to have a birth that happens as they did for tens of thousands of years before modern medicine gave us a 35% c-section rate, in a place where you have immediate care just in case.

I am on a list-serve of women (and a few husbands) who either advocate for or are seeking to have a natural birth in my state. It’s an eclectic mix of hippies, pagans, super-religious types, and the libertarian/skeptic type who doesn’t blindly trust the medical community (me).  One of the topics that comes up every couple weeks is someone getting put on the spot, often by a medical professional, asking them to justify why they want a natural birth (because, apparently, just wanting one isn’t good enough). One of more compelling arguments seems to be lower instances of problems like low birth weight and general fussiness in babies who were born when the mother went into natural labor vs. those who were induced or scheduled a c-section. Not dealbreaking problems if you do it the other way, but, duh, of course a baby is going to be healthier if it just comes when it is ready and not before. A secondary concern is the fact that exact fetal age is unknown, and the way the age is calculated fails to account for variances in cycles. I, for example, tend to ovulate around day 18 rather than day 14–a doctor would age my baby nearly a week older than it really is–so waiting until the baby comes instead of calling it “late” and inducing at their due date also prevents premature births based solely in medical averaging instead of my particular circumstances.

Anyway. This is not a baby blog or a pregnancy blog or a life choices blog. It is my writing blog.  So how the F does this relate to writing?

Well. The whole notion of “it’ll come when it comes,” when it’s natural and ready and fully formed, has kind of haunted me when it comes to my utter failure to finish any goddamned thing I’ve started writing for over a year. It’s not that I haven’t been writing as much as was realistic for my actual life (versus some fantasy where I don’t work 48-hour weeks at a day job) or that I’ve been jumping from project to project (well, not until November, and then only once). The stories just…haven’t been ready to come out.

So instead of making any more rash deadlines for myself or trying to force out an arbitrary number of “completed” projects in a certain time frame, I am just going to keep plugging away and let the stories wind up when they are ready.  I am no longer counting my creative gestational period by a calendar. It takes as long as it takes, and it’s finished when it’s finished.

And just like real pregnancies and real births, I expect every novel, every novella, every short story, will have its own unique path to completion…its own time-table and its own final, messy, burst into the world, different from all the others in particulars and absolutely the same in general events and effect.

I just wish I knew where I was! Week 37?  Week 41? I suppose you never know till it’s over–just like pregnancy.

It’ll happen when it happens.

Excuse me. I have to go brew ginger tea and be zen now.

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6 Comments

Filed under Housekeeping, Ramblings, Writing

6 responses to “Natural Birth and Writing

  1. “It takes as long as it takes, and it’s finished when it’s finished.”

    I say this to myself every few months, wallow in the zen for a few days… and then promptly forget I said it until the next time I’m ready to pull my hair out and I say it again. Damn a day job.

    Now I’m gonna squee and sprinkle baby dust your way. Lots of it.

    • Thanks, Astrea! Sprinkle away. Heck, dump a whole bag over my head. Decision made, we are ready to get this thing locked down. lol

      Yeah…I’ve had a few bad days lately looking at what my goals for this year were and realizing how far I didn’t get with them. I had to stop and think through where I was when I made those goals (different, and much much much less demanding job) and where I am now, and try to find the places where I physically or psychically COULD have done more, what I would have sacrificed from my real life to write instead and came up with very little I would change. That was when I realized I didn’t want to beat myself up over failing arbitrary goals. I don’t want to make writing feel like a job, even if I view it as a business. We’ll see how long the zen lasts this time…

  2. My sister was the only one in her birth group who actually managed to have a natural birth–around here, if you go to the hospital with contractions, unless you are very firm (not just, “gee, I was kinda hoping to have a natural birth”) they will induce you. And a good hunk of the women had really long deliveries (you can’t help if you can’t feel what’s going on) and some fairly serious complications as a result. So, be strong!

    And also, try not to beat yourself up about the writing. That, too. (Actually I’m trying right now to figure out a better system for myself that keeps me accountable and on-task but that isn’t overly rigid and just plain unrealistic–it’s hard!)

    • I am definitely getting the impression that it’s harder than it needs to be for a woman to give birth without intervention. Luckily for me one of the local hospitals has a natural birth center where you can work with a midwife under a doctor’s (anecdotally distant) supervision. Sadly, most of the women I know who want a natural birth opt to do it at home with a trained midwife for exactly the reasons you mention. How can that possibly be in the best interests of women or babies, to drive them AWAY from hospitals because of a too-strong penchant for interference? Which is not at all to suggest that midwives aren’t proper medical attention for routine deliveries, but…what if something goes horribly wrong that a midwife can’t do anything about? It’s a chance I am afraid to take–I admire my friends who have the backbone to say, screw it, if I die in childbed it’s worth it to me. I only have enough backbone to find a practice I think will suit me and, if I still feel uncertain, to hire a doula to be there and tell the nurses to stick the pitocin in themselves if I’m not up to it. 🙂

      Let me know if you find a good way to meet goals without making yourself miserable! I’ve started considering a reward-based system…write 30K words in a month and get a fabulous and completely frivolous pair of shoes!…

      • I’m trying to deal with some competing priorities and an unpredictable schedule by using a point system–working on high-priority projects gets me a point (writing gets double points), and if I hit a certain point level in a week, I get a treat. That lets me adjust the point goal at the beginning of the week depending on what my schedule is like (since I usually know by then), so that I won’t wind up beating myself up for not meeting an impossible goal but will also do as much as I can in the time I have. It’s early days yet, but so far, so good.

      • A little bit like Weight Watchers, except for getting things done. I like it! Seems like a good method to keep motivated but also be realistic about what life is actually doing any given week. Good luck!

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