"This is going to suck," I quietly whispered to my husband. He held me tight, wiping the tears that streamed down my cheeks as I anxiously anticipated giving birth in a few short hours.
Just over seven years ago, I sat on the couch in our living room, my stomach and ankles swollen with the weight of carrying our first child for almost 41 weeks, staring at the clock and counting down the hours until my scheduled induction. At 22 years old, one of the first of my friends to get pregnant, I was completely terrified imagining what was about to happen to me and my body as we welcomed our first child into this world.
Could I do this? Was my body capable? How high was my pain tolerance? Was an induction really as long and hard as I had heard? What if I just couldn't do it?
A few hours later, as I sat holding our beautiful, healthy baby girl, who decided to come all on her own two hours before her scheduled induction, my mind felt at ease that it was over. She was here, and despite all my panic and worry, she had made her entrance when she was ready—not when I was.
And, as Australian mom Laura Mazza of The Mum on the Run gently reminds expectant moms, there is no right way to give birth. The fears and anxiety we have toward childbirth, she writes on her Facebook post, are not only inevitable but also extremely normal.
"Don’t fear birth." Mazza, a mother of two, continues. "I know the horror stories scare you. I know if you are like I was, you might even fear that you won’t come out of it alive. 'Labor' is a scary word. It’s hard work, there’s a reason it’s called labor. You travel to another place to collect a soul and give it life. That’s wonderful but hard work. It’s normal to fear birth, it’s normal to worry about you and your baby."
Mazza details how she felt like a failure after her first birth because it was anything but easy. "But I didn’t fail. I just forgot my power. So I took it back, and I came back ready and stronger. I used my power. You have that power too," she professes.
She also reminds moms that they have the right to decide for themselves what their child's birth will look like, whether it involves pain medication, a scheduled cesarean or is customized with a detailed birth plan.
Instead of focusing on everything that didn't go according to plan or viewing any birth story as a "failure," Mazza encourages moms to celebrate the fact that they were willing to do whatever it took to ensure their baby arrived safely into the world. "Never beat yourself up for that," she continues. "Feel strong that you’re willing to do anything for your baby. There’s nothing wrong with having a cesarean. There’s nothing wrong with a vaginal birth. Whether you birth in a bath, or a hospital, whether you have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) or drugs."
And, whether you are expecting your first child or your seventh child, Mazza's final words are ones that all pregnant moms should hear and remind themselves of daily: "Birth is normal, fear is normal, and you, never underestimate yourself, because you, mama, you are powerful."