Why she chose natural childbirth (abridged version):
"I sensed there was a lesson in fully participating in the creation process and that, if I was having a normal, healthy birth, I should not numb myself in any way from what I knew would be a very painful experience, just as I try to face the trials and pain of life as a whole.Her first birth:
"As I prepared to do this, I trusted that God gave me the power to create and he would give me the power to give birth."
"My first child, Benjamin, took me seven years, two bouts of induced menopause, five surgeries and the power of temple blessings to finally conceive. My babymaker had been medicalized to the max, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that, aside from spiritual reasons, I simply did not want my birth to be just another procedure in a long line of procedures. I prepared heavily, read extensively and took an excellent childbirth education class (the overarching lesson was, first, you can do this and second, always expect the pain to get worse). I hired a doula. I prayed about having a homebirth and got a “no,” so I planned a hospital birth, complete with all the annoying birth plans and policy waivers.
"So, I labored at home for almost seven hours, spent time in a hot bath until my doula begged me to get out and leave, drove the mile to the hospital in full transition (speed bumps are evil) and was in my hospital room all of 10 minutes before I started pushing—and there he was—a gorgeous blond, blue-eyed 6 lbs, 13 oz. He ended up having severe hypoglycemia and needed the NICU for five days, which explained the “no” on the homebirth. Other than that, it was an utterly transcendent, enlightening, highly spiritual experience. "That day, I found that mystical “Laborland” and realized that yes, I really was made to do this. I had never experienced pain like that, but also felt the powerful work my body was doing which that pain represented. I learned a fundamental spiritual lesson in Ben’s birth—that submission and trust in God are not just the keys to labor, but the keys to life."
Valerie went on to have another natural birth in the hospital that wasn't as easy (hospitals don't make it easy for people who don't do it their way), a heartbreaking stillbirth at 5 months gestation, a miscarriage, a beautiful home water birth and a true emergency c-section at 29 weeks with her last child. What I loved most about Valerie's succession of stories is that for each of them, she prayed and then listed to the answers. When she was pregnant with her last child, Lucy, she was going for another home birth, but felt prompted at 27 weeks to switch to an OB. Thank heaven she listened.
"The blessings of medicine are not lost on me. I have so much gratitude that I live in a time where her survival was not a matter of if she’d live, but just how long it would take to get her ready to come home (answer: nine weeks). There is such an important place for everything the interventionist medical world has to offer. There is no better place to be for complications, injury and illness—circumstances where intervention is clearly necessary. I simply suggest that a normal healthy birth is not any of these, but an entirely different process, where outside intervention may often hurt more than help.I plan to publish Valerie's complete stories in my book. Thanks to everyone who has sent me your stories. They are riveting. I can still use more. I haven't had an twin or breech stories yet, but I know they are out there.
"I can think of no better way that we as women can fill the measure of our creation. I hope that as LDS women, we seek to make our birth experiences truly sacred, where our heart is laid open before the Lord and we can discover all He is able to teach us."