So, tell me. What do you want? Do you know? Do you REALLY know? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to go your own way and get what you want?
The Problem with Asking What You Want
I've learned in my seven years working as a Birth Doula in Tulsa and surrounding areas that it's not the easiest question to answer. Traditional childbirth classes don't always help expectant parents answer this question in their prenatal education curriculum. Sometimes we answer that question with a response based on what others want for us. Sometimes we answer based on guilt and assumptions of what we THINK we should want, or even what we WISHED we wanted. The problem with each of those scenarios is that they all create immense internal and external conflict.
What's the conflict? I'll tell you. How about a non-birth example?
- The Want: I want to have the body of a supermodel.
- The Reality: I have no desire or intentions of changing my behavior in order to achieve the body or style of a supermodel.
- The Conflict: I am bound to be disappointed in either my body or myself or both for not having the body I want or the discipline to achieve my goals. The people around me may even experience conflict as they try to encourage me in the pursuit of my goal, only to create frustration when their encouragement goes nowhere and my own disappointment grows.
The Want and the What
The connection is between the want and the what. WHAT is required to achieve what you WANT? If you are unable or unwilling to do WHAT is required to get what you WANT, there will inevitably be conflict and disappointment. You will need to do one of two things:
- Adjust your WANT.
- Adjust your WHAT.
Adjusting Wants and Whats
Am I starting to sound like a tongue twister out of a Dr. Seuss book yet? Good! I hope I'm getting the wheels in your brain turning! If you are experiencing conflict or disappointment in relation to goals or desires you have for yourself, something has to change. If there is something you want, but you are unwilling or unable to do the things required to achieve it, you need to either adjust what it is you want or adjust what you are willing to do to get that! Let's have another example:
- The Want - I want an intervention and medication-free birth.
- The Reality - I haven't taken a childbirth class or read anything about natural childbirth. I plan to "go with the flow."
- The Conflict - You may know enough about interventions and medications to know that you don't want them, but if you haven't done what is necessary to prepare for the reality and intensity of natural childbirth, you are walking into a very challenging situation. In addition to your own struggles and confusion, it's likely that your partner, doula, or other family members might be at a loss as to how to support you because they will assume you have prepared for the reality of childbirth without medical pain relief. They will struggle to support you in the way you need and won't know how to respond when you start begging for pain relief.
- The Solution - If you want a natural childbirth experience, but you are not interested in preparing for a natural childbirth through childbirth classes, ask yourself why you want this. Is it truly your desire or someone else's? Do you need to relinquish the goal of natural childbirth because deep down you don't really want that and are hoping for an epidural? Or do you need to come to grips with the truth and take steps to prepare for natural childbirth through preparation, classes, reading and talking with childbirth professionals who can help you? Or, maybe choosing some kind of natural or pharmacological pain relief is the right choice for you. If it is, be honest with yourself and with the people close to you and DON'T beat yourself up about your choice!
The Wants and the Whats are Everywhere
This is a huge life lesson for everyone, not just expectant parents. My clients fall into one of two categories: expectant parents or childbirth professionals. I ask these questions on a regular basis:
- Expectant Parents: What do you want for your birth or parenting experience and what are you willing to do to achieve your goals?
- Childbirth Professionals: What do you want for your business and what are you willing to do to achieve your goals?
The Bottom Line
If you are not willing to do what is required to achieve your goals, you need to either adjust what you want or adjust what you are willing to do to get what you want!