I won’t actually publish specific facts about my birth story because there really are a lot of wonderful stories out there and mine has been published in various forms already so I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you in case you came across another version.
Rather, I want to talk a little bit about all my swirling thoughts around birth. Why did I come to have an unassisted birth and how did it transform me?
I have never been fully mainstream; I was a vegetarian for the first time at age 13 at a time when people openly harassed vegetarians. So that tells you something about being willing to think for myself. I did come a long way. I honestly used to believe that a doctor should be able to look at me and I wouldn’t even have to speak; he or she would do some testing maybe and then know just exactly what was wrong. I used to also believe in drugs and procedures, but that is a post for a different day. Suffice it to say that by the time I was giving birth, my faith in doctors had gone way down but I still totally believed in them around birth.
My only exposure to women who’d given birth was at work. I thought I was giving myself an education by listening to them tell me what they thought were facts about pregnancy, birth, and the long-term effects on the body. I was right there with popular assumptions that the hospital was the safest place to give birth.
I was lucky during my first pregnancy enough to surround myself with enlightened people that I did grasp that a natural birth could not occur in a hospital so for my first, I opted for a midwife in a birth center. What I was to take years to understand was that natural and intervention free are two very different things. It was through reading The Mother Magazine that I unraveled the pain of that birth. There were so many interferences and times I was disrespected. Instead of coming away empowered, I was humiliated and my confidence shattered. It was a terrible start to being a mother. And yet, everyone there went on about how beautiful it had been, my husband included, so I was not even fully aware of my own feelings for some time to come.
For a while, I likened birth to an episode of the worst constipation ever (which, ironically, I suffered during my second pregnancy). Imagine if you will, struggling for hours, even days, to get a huge hard poop out and having people watching, coaching and threatening surgery and other interventions the entire time. Imagine them putting you in bed and giving you things without really explaining what they were doing. Birth, it turns out, is a natural bodily function just as is having a bowel movement. Just because we don’t do it every day does not mean we won’t be able to when the time comes, even if it is a very difficult process (or not!)
The growth work for me was to come to a place where I realized that part of why I was not getting the baby out was because there were so many people there. I don’t know who any of them were. I’d only met the doula before that point. Then the masks went on and my butt went up in the air. Talk about being totally humiliated. Could they have made it different? Heck yeah! The little comments about what was going on back there showed an attitude of disrespect that makes me cringe even now. For years, I wanted to write a letter. But why bother? They really feel they are offering a better birth, and they are. But they don’t get it. They don’t get what birth can be.
So with my second, I felt close and intimately comfortable only with my husband and older daughter. Is it ironic that I likened that second birth to projectile vomiting? Is it because of my being so comfortable in my own home with my own family that there was no holding back? Who knows! But that is what happened and my confidence soared. My husband got it! He totally saw the difference and the reasons. We all felt the spiritual nature of what had just happened, and yet, it also felt a bit like an ordinary day. Once everything was put away, it was such an ordinary day, except now we were four instead of three!
We all felt so powerful. Like we could do anything, anything at all! We’d taken a step to unplug from the grid.
It was definitely a spiritual thing to have done. I can understand that not everyone would be willing to have an unassisted birth. I did so much growth that I was absolutely in a place of knowing that both my baby and I would be perfect. I can’t explain how I knew that but I knew it with every fiber of my being and if I felt otherwise, I would not have gone through with it.
One of my most important learnings is to only read positive birth stories. And in fact, only positive information was allowed through my filters during pregnancy. Intuitively, I knew it to be the most spiritual of times. I do believe some people get a sense of something being wrong. What I do not know, and hope to never have first hand experience of, is whether the worry causes the issue, or the intuition reveals the issue. I do believe that we can create our realities and where we focus is where we go. I take credit for having created that birth.