Rank’s Ramblings – I Don’t Consider Myself A Hero

by Melissa Rank on March 12, 2012

Wow, that hurt!

Recently I was put off by a comment a friend left on Facebook. A girl had inquired of a friend of mine, whose wife had recently given birth, on some tips for a new mom since her child was soon to be on his way. Among a list of about twenty really good suggestions was number sixteen, the comment that offended me. It read, “Epidurals are awesome. Don’t be a hero.”

Now as someone who recently gave birth naturally to my daughter, I found this comment rude and shallow for two reasons. The first being that I think the word hero is highly overused in this day and age. And, moreover, I’m very proud that I endeavored to have a natural birth and was able to despite the huge challenge it was, but I never considered nor will I ever consider giving birth without pain medication heroic.

In my opinion, the word hero should be reserved for those who truly do remarkable tasks that would be nearly impossible, or at least breathtakingly surprising, for an average person to pull off. Women have been giving birth for thousands of years, and the vast majority of those years without pain medication. It’s hard, but not heroic. Enduring twelve hours of pain and having the best reward at the end is vastly different than leading a country in a revolution, saving a life while risking my own, or standing up against atrocity and peril at great cost.

I fully support women who choose to give birth with the help of medicated pain relief, and I fully support women who choose to give birth without pain medication. It’s unfair to assume that a woman who does choose for whatever reason to have a natural childbirth experience is some he-woman masochist who thinks she has something to prove to the world. I wasn’t excited about the pain of childbirth, and I certainly didn’t think I had anything to prove to anyone by going through with it, but it’s a decision that my husband and I made and we made it thinking it was what was best for our family. Does that make me nuts? Does that say to the world that I think I am some hero? Have I signed myself up for a lifetime of criticism as someone who unnecessarily and foolishly chooses the hard route? Apparently so. And, what a shame because giving birth was the most beautiful experience of my life. In fact, I would use the same word to describe it that my friend’s husband used to describe epidurals- awesome. Absolutely awesome.

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My name is Melissa and I came to lovely Budapest with my husband, Scott, who is pursuing a PHD at Central European University. Since our arrival in summer 2010 I have kept busy teaching English to business professionals, finding beautiful running and hiking trails and exploring coffee shops all over the city. Most recently I became a mother to a darling little girl, so I’m scrambling to figure out how to handle this new job that did not come with a manual! Read more about Melissa and her ramblings on her very own blog.

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