Childbirth As A DIY Metaphor

The birth of my son in 2010 was a catastrophe. We went in on Monday, April 12th for an appointment to administer drugs that would prompt delivery, and three excruciating days later he was born via emergency Cesarean Section.

It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and I was just on the sidelines! The incredible stamina and fortitude my wife displayed was nothing short of extraordinary.

My son spent 24 hours in the neonatal intensive care unit after that, and when we finally got to hold him for the first time without all of the tubes and wires, I broke down. The most trying week of my life came to a close with us gingerly puttering home cradling a tiny little life with which we had no idea what to do, let alone what he needed.

The Other Side of the Coin

My daughter was born in a February blizzard in 2014. My wife woke up in the middle of the night feeling like something was funny, and then spent the next hour or so trying to convince me, and eventually her parents, that everything was fine and that we could all just go back to bed.

Luckily, she gave in to our insistence that we go to the hospital, as upon initial examination it was clear that she was in labor.

I watched the snow pile up outside our hospital window over the course of the next eight hours, and in that time my wife was able to push that little girl out with no drugs or medical intervention whatsoever in what is known as a VBAC, or Vaginal Birth After Cesarean.

We were told by several doctors that trying a VBAC was a bad idea, and that there was a decent chance of catastrophic failure, but my wife knew what she was doing. It also helped that we had hired a Doula, who was by far the most helpful and caring person with whom we have ever had the pleasure of hiring. Sometimes you just need a little help.

Time to Relate

So where am I going with all of this, and how does it relate to anything DIY or FI related?

The same task, if you could call it that, produced two severely different experiences, while ending with the same result.

One experience was difficult to the extreme; muddling through an intensely trying process with a far less than optimal result, but we came out of it with a healthy baby.

The other experience, while still difficult, was filled with beauty and rapture (and still a lot of pain for Mrs. DIY, who truly earned her moniker that day) and also produced a healthy baby.

Your DIY Project

Maybe replacing your window isn’t quite the same as birthing a human, but it can still feel like a really daunting project! And while it’s great to get help online, you will see all kinds of pictures and videos of people making it look easy while you sweat and swear at the mangled chunk of wall in front of you.

It’s easy to compare ourselves with what other people are showcasing, and to feel disheartened by what appears to be your shortcoming. Perhaps you really aren’t cut out for this, you think. Maybe it’s time to give it up and hang up the tools for good.

When that temptation arises, think of my kids. Or yours, whatever works for you. But what I mean is, while the first birth was incredibly messy, difficult, and felt like a failure, the second time around it was a completely different story.

Those people that you see online aren’t showing you their first messy attempt, they’re showing you the end product of much trial and learning. My first try at anything new usually comes out pretty ugly, but the only way to get better is to keep trying.

The less you think about how other people are doing and the more you focus on improving yourself one small bit at a time, the better off you will feel. Realize that just because something is easy for someone else doesn’t mean it will be easy for you, and recognize that that’s ok. When you start at the bottom, the only way to go is up, right?

And In The End…

Both of my kids came out pretty well, and it’s been a lot of fun screwing them up since then. Your project, whether it be home improvement, life improvement, financial improvement, or whatever, will also end up just fine. Even if you end up hiring a contractor. Because we aren’t born with all of the skills we need in life; the whole point of life indeed is to build ourselves.

2 thoughts on “Childbirth As A DIY Metaphor

  1. Got caught by the title- yes, Mrs.DIY certainly earned her stripes with both kids. I had my kid in less than 20 minutes of actual pushing. We missed the opportunity for my husband to reply to the command to “push” by yelling “I am, but it’s not going back in!” (I think this is from Family Guy)…. ours went so fast the OB didn’t even have time to get there! So, sometimes, you get things right the first time- and you surprise yourself how well it came out. (I am sure that we got the wrong kid from the hospital. I ordered a well behaving, quiet model…and got the naughtiest most active loud kid you could get). I suppose I’m pretty optimistic that way- alot of my “first time” tries come out not bad. And now for some skills, I’m at the point where I can kind of make it up as i go (cooking, sewing. Yeah, i got nothing else, that’s it).


    1. Oh man, I’m so disappointed for you guys that your husband didn’t get to use that line! Probably worth having another kid just for that 😉 As far as your skills go, cooking and sewing are among the top 5 skills needed for post-apocalyptic survival (I think), so I’d say you’re good to go!

      Liked by 1 person

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