I remember the first time I got a message from the Bradley Method® of Natural Childbirth after my son’s c-section in 2006.
The subject heading — “The World Needs More Bradley® Instructors!” — didn’t exactly feel warm and fuzzy to my tender belly and the emotional guts beneath it.
But it was the contents of the message that just about ripped my heart in two:
“If The Bradley Method® helped you to have an unmedicated birth, perhaps you would like to become an Instructor? Space is limited! Sign-up now and become part of this exciting program to help more babies have a Happy Birth-Day!
The World Needs More Bradley® Instructors! What a Great way to help others and to help your family too!”
When you’re reeling from an unwanted c-section, a message like this is more than unwanted. It’s a slap in the face, a reminder of what you can’t do, what you can’t be.
Or that’s how I chose to see it, licking my wounds as I was.
I’ve gotten messages like this periodically for the last 4+ years. Now they start with “Thank you for contacting us in the past” or something that tells me I’ve made it onto the old mama list. Only just now did I feel like I could unsubscribe myself from the list, now that I have had a successful homebirth after cesarean (HBAC, or home VBAC).
Before, it felt like tempting the fates. “Well, maybe someday I might want to do that,” I thought. If I deleted myself, it seemed like I’d be saying I didn’t believe I could give birth naturally.
But now I know I can. I did. I regret spending so much of my energy while pregnant doubting myself and my body. I know it was part of a journey I had to take, but I wish I could have just enjoyed the pregnancy. Inhabited it.
And while I think most everyone should take the Bradley Method before having their first baby, and while I got a lot out of attending a “Belly Talk” led by a Bradley teacher about 8 weeks before I gave birth, I know I needed more. And different.
I didn’t use much of the Hypnobirthing techniques in labor, but I needed to have refreshed the training and have relaxed to the CDS.
I needed to have done some Emotional Freedom Technique to let go of some of my fears and anxieties and do to work through my thoughts on birth, to imagine a visual representation of the birth I wanted and the birth I didn’t want.
And then I needed Birthing from Within to take those insights further and put them on the page, in art, and into discussion with my partner.
There was art and love with motherblessings (with belly henna and beads), and bellydancing, and yoga, and a Mommy Goddess tank top, and I could go on about other help and healing modalities, but the point is: It took a village to have a VBAC. I drew probably a lot more than I realize on what I learned in Bradley, but I am not a one-approach kind of gal. Not for birth prep, not for bodywork or healthcare, not for nuthin’.
So goodbye, Bradley list. I wish you well, and I will speak highly of your owners. But I’m on my own path.
Make that paths.