File Cabinet

Losing birth faith?

It is always so interesting to me when God begins to open my eyes to something I had never thought to question before.  This week, as I explained Monday, I get the opportunity to do that. So where am I in the growth process today?

For starters, I want to say that nothing has made me think birth doesn’t usually work out fine.  It would take a lot for that to change.  But what is being stirred inside me is why I think birth usually works out fine.  Why do I trust the birth process?  Why do I think someone else should trust the birth process?

My mantra up to this week has been that God designed a perfect birth process.  Because of this we have no reason to fear birth, our bodies were created to do it and because of this it nearly always works perfectly. Most Christians in the natural birth world agree with this statement.

Where deviation in theory exists, it is in the uncommon times when everything doesn’t go perfectly. Depending on the personal beliefs of whoever is telling the labor story there are about three generally accepted reasons a labor may go “bad.”

1. We live in a fallen world, so sometimes things don’t work out the way God intended.

2. The birth would have been normal if it had not been messed up by either the mother’s poor nutrition or lack of preparation, or the doctor’s (midwives) impatience and lack of experience with the normal birth process.

3. The birth would have been normal if the woman had enough faith., because the blood of Christ has overcome the curse.

It is these theories that I am questioning.  It is these theories that make me wonder what do I really believe about God, and what do I really believe about birth. Because here is the thing.  The genetic issues I talked about Monday – genetic traits that are not the result of anyone doing something wrong in birth or not having enough faith.  These genetic traits were created by God. He created human fertility in a way that tremendous variety is possible – every human unique. But within this process is the potential for errors, problems, bad traits. And sometimes, these “bad traits” get passed onto the children.

It’s brilliant really, even with the potential for fault, the whole design is incredible. It actually decreases the chances of having problems because each child inherits a set of genes from mom and a set of genes from dad and these two sets together make up the whole person.  For any problem that requires two genes, you’ve just significantly reduced the chances it will be passed on. But you haven’t erased the possibility.

I remember someone telling me once that when God created humans the genes were “perfect” and that the genetic problems we have now are from years of reproduction after that first sin.  But that doesn’t make sense to me really.  Would the genes have been less likely to transfer specific traits if Adam and Even had not eaten the fruit?  I know in some orthodox groups the belief is that sex for reproduction (and so the genetics of creating a new person) would not exist.  But the Bible gives me no indication that somehow the physical creation of Adam and Eve was changed when they exited the garden. I think they were made (with the genetic system for passing on traits) completely before the sin happened.

Another potential thought – I do believe God  creates each child uniquely.  The key word here being creates.  I don’t believe in accidental children. So perhaps my answer lies there.  Do I believe God intends to create children with genetic traits that cause them to die a few days after birth? This is a hard question.  I frequently wrestle with God over human death, which leaves me believing I do not value life in the same way God does.  That is OK, I’m still learning who God is, and will be for years to come.

So here is my question for God today.  If God can purpose for children to have physical and health challenges, to not be “perfect” in that way, it is also possible that God can purpose for labor and birth to have physical or even health challenges?  Is it possible that God does not intend for childbirth to be something perfect that we approach overconfident just because God created the system? Is it possible that God intends for us to have no guarantee, and that the faith we are to have is not that everything will be perfect and comfortable and just what we want. Maybe the faith we are to have is that God is still in control, even in the midst of chaos?

When I type that, I feel like I should already know it – I write about that in my books. Yet, I still find the theory that “childbirth is created perfectly so just trust it” to be drilled into my brain.  Another day, another time in prayer.  I will know the answer when I have learned all that God needs me to know about it – and I have learned to have patience as I learn. I can be content with the uncertainty and the questions, and I am thankful to have a God who finds me worthy enough to teach.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas and childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student in a nursing program learning to become a producer of knowledge.