Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Another book review

Three blogs that I read posted reviews for a new book called, The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth.  You may have seen it and you might have even read it.

It's a book written by a handful of LDS women and they include lots of scripture and general authority quotes.  As a woman who still struggles to be at peace with the way I have given birth to my children, I was very intrigued by this book and looking forward to learning more deeply about this pinnacle of creative works that I have been immensely blessed to take part in.  I thought it would help me to look past the c-sections and instead focus on the gift that it was for my children and me in the process of giving life.

And so I set out to get my hands on this book.  The library didn't have it, but Barnes and Noble came through for me with a much better price than the GoGL website and so I bit the bullet and bought a book that I'd never read (a rarity for me, despite my intense love for literature).

It arrived the next week on my doorstep.

Two weeks later I finally finished it.  That's very out of character for me.  I LOVE to read a good book.  Once I start a book, I usually devour it in a matter of hours or days.  Weeks is unheard of.

My take on this book- it needs a new title.  Something like, The Gift of Natural Childbirth.

I was quite disappointed really.  The great majority of the book was natural (and usually home) birth stories from women of various backgrounds and situations.

They made mention of the fact that birth is different for everyone and one can receive divine direction that c-sections, epidurals, inductions, etc are the best method to get one's child safely here.  But the message I heard loud and clear was "natural childbirth is the right way and anyone who doesn't give birth drug-free and at home is doing it wrong and denying themselves intense spiritual experience."

Believe you me I would love nothing better than to suffer through those hours of pain the natural high that follows the arrival of your brand new addition.  Especially when I think of trying to nurse a crying infant while my midsection is on fire attempting to heal from surgery and debating how much pain I can tolerate before I take another pill so I pass as little amount of drugs to my helpless child as possible.  Or when I think of lying on the table being sewn back together while my little baby is taken away to be poked and prodded by strangers while still trying to figure out "what in the fweak just happened?!?!"

 But hey, that's what I get for doing it wrong. 

So no help from the book on that count.  I know the intent was not to make me feel this way and I don't in any way believe the authors would wish me to feel this way.  I suppose it's my own fault for setting my expectations the way I did.

I was also put off by the amount of speculation in the book.  I see no benefit from trying to figure out the responsibilities of Heavenly Mother, the complete character of Eve, or what goes on beyond the veil in the premortal realm.  There are things we just don't need to know right now and more than enough for us to come to understand in this life without digging into the mysteries of God that do not pertain to our salvation.  In fact, that can be extremely dangerous for some.

Tangent time!  It bothers me that so many people are sad that the LDS church is so male-centered.  IT'S NOT!  Nowhere else in this world do I see an organization or way of thinking that gives so much honor, responsibility, power, and glory to women.  There's no "the men are more important than the women" or "the men are in charge here so the women must be in charge in the premortal world."  There IS this-
Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. -1 Corinthians 11:11
I am not oppressed.  I am not under the thumb of any man. And I am not brainwashed.
That's all I have to say about that:)

The book wasn't all disappointing.  There were good things I took away from it.  The very title reminded me that giving life is a priceless gift.  Here are some more highlights:

"There was something holy around me, protecting me, something beyond the ordinary, a feeling, a spirit about being a part of God's creation of a child."
"...his angels attend birth everywhere."
The means by which mortal life is created are divinely appointed; not only conception, but the spiritual and physical processes of pregnancy and birth as well.
"There were times both in pregnancy and during labor that I felt I couldn't go on.  But after feeling the sorrow and the pain, I was able to recognize the joy."
"I have felt the strength of the adversary's anger, opposition, and terrorizing efforts intensifying toward me."
"I was created with the ability to bring a child from one side of the veil to the other."
"The simple act of experiencing pain for the sake of another brought me closer to the Savior..."
"There was one entirely other person that would derive lasting and eternal benefit from my suffering."

So that's that.  I don't recommend it really.  It did serve to give me some great reminders that pregnancy is miraculous, a tremendous gift to the child and mother, something Heavenly Father cares very much about, and something Satan hates. If you need reminders like that, don't worry about an entire book.  Let's have a chat instead:)

Disclaimer: I think natural childbirth is wonderfully amazing and hope no one takes my dislike for all the stories as anything more than the personal disappointment I feel in not being able to do that.
I also hope no one takes this less-than-glowing review as a personal affront.  After reading so many wholly positive reviews on this book, I thought another voice could be useful for women like me out there who may read here.  I actually have much stronger opinions about it, but couldn't write them without feeling like someone would definitely find them hurtful (which they aren't intended to be) so I tried to simplify my thoughts.  This long post doesn't make it seem that way though, does it?;)

But there you go.  I reviewed a book.


Jar and Steph said...

Thanks for the book review, I most likely would've come across this book in the stage I'm in now :) I hear ya, natural birth is awesome for those who choose to do it, but it seems like many of them are prideful about their choice. What a blessing that that isn't the only option for childbirth anymore.

Holly said...

Oh my goodness! I am so thrilled I randomly clicked over to your blog just now and came across this post! I think you commented on my blog a long time ago and so I ran across that and clicked on your name and came up with this blog.

Anyway, THANK YOU for writing this post. I LOVED IT! I have looked into this book quite a bit, but I was just too worried that it would drive me nuts with the natural childbirth thing so I haven't taken the plunge and bought it to read. What you have said here confirms my fears and I don't think I'm missing out on a thing.

I completely agree about speculation being dangerous and unneeded and I just don't see the point in fawning over natural birth like it's a religion of it's own! And let me tell you, that is coming from someone who has had 1 homebirth and 3 kids without epidurals. I hated the homebirth thing and felt like it was dangerous. I just go without the epidural because it's worked out so far, but it's not some kind of religious achievement we should all attain or something! Sheesh.

I'm sorry you've had to deal with c-sections and the accompanying recovery, but I certainly don't pity you because you haven't had a natural birth. I hope all your children arrived safely and healthy- beyond that, what really matters?

Anyway, sorry for the long comment, but you are the first person reviewing this book that I've found who feels this way. It would be so fun to chat about it sometime. Ha!