Empowered or Servant-Minded?

I’ve been consuming a lot of blogs and podcasts lately on natural birth, hungry to get my hands on whatever information I can get that might prepare me for the great unknown of labor and birth. Along the way, I’ve noticed a theme: empowerment. The message of today’s birth consultants and doulas disguises entitlement under the trendy phrase of “empowering yourself.” As they say, since labor is so difficult, every woman has a right to have all the decisions her way. She’s entitled to whatever type of birth she wants. It’s all about having the ideal experience, a flawless birth plan. Of course, they scare you into thinking that if you’re not in surroundings that “empower” you and follow your plan to the ‘t,’ the result will be postpartum trauma.

At first, I bought the entire message hook and sinker. Of course I want my entire pregnancy experience to go the way I plan it — from my own exercise schedule so my body looks like a model with just a perfect baby bump — to my ideal birth setting in a tub, with classical music playing, and a doula by my side. 🙂

My dear husband has been listening to my findings patiently, with an occasional comment of “just don’t go overboard.” He reminded me his mom wasn’t insured when he was born, because his dad was pastoring a tiny church, so she gave birth surrounded by medical students in the university hospital. That was just the way it was.

I’m starting to feel entitled, I finally realized.

The “empowerment” message that sounded so good faded as I realized how unbiblical it really was. It’s not that I shouldn’t be educated or can’t have preferences for my pregnancy and birth. But is my attitude one of thankfulness or demand — that I have a right to have things my way?

After all, if I thought motherhood was about empowering myself to look good, I picked the wrong job! 

After the initial excitement of discovering my pregnancy, I quickly realized my life was already changing drastically. As a go-getter type personality, it’s been a struggle to accept my new limitations with joy. Life has changed. And the baby hasn’t even arrived!

I’ve been reading Gloria Fuhrman and Rachel Jankovic of Loving the Little Years recently, and they’ve both been stressing the reoccurring theme of sacrifice in our calling as woman. That calling supersedes the years we’re actually mothering children to the life-long identity of nurturing others. And nurturing always requires sacrifice.

So instead of always feeling like I deserve my rights, I’m striving for an attitude of thankfulness. It goes back to a book I read as a single, contemplating missions: Have We No Rights? A friend and I responded by writing out a long list of everything we were tempted to feel entitled to — everything from marriage to our ideal romance to comfortable living conditions. At that point, neither of us knew that a year would find her serving as single missionary in a third world city — and me, married and expecting with my first!

Whether it’s the mission field or motherhood (which is a mission field in its own way), the principle is the same. As followers of a Christ who emptied himself to become man and take up a cross, we don’t have rights to comfort our happiness. But we do have immense blessings to enjoy, and for which to be thankful.

I still read the birth blogs. But my attitude has changed. Instead of feeling entitled, I’m learning to thank God for everything I have (like amazing doctors and hospital choices and supportive family and friends) and then humbly ask him for my wants. It will be exciting to see how he answers!


P.S. I might be out of commission writing for a month or so here as I’m working on another Advent Devotional for my blog. So stay tuned!

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