Thinking Woman’s Weblog

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More on the BOLD Birth Play September 17, 2008

Filed under: birth — Thinking Woman @ 5:37 pm
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I feel I’ve done BOLD a disservice; I didn’t mean to just dis it. It is an amazing project and one in which I was honored to take part. Sharing the word about birth is amazing work. And I could have just left it at that. I was coming from a place of having felt enlightened about birth for so long that I want people to go all the way. But that isn’t quite fair. This play is earth shattering for most of us and so kudos! The more that see it, the better. While I didn’t personally learn anything, I need to remember how long my process took and how long it was before I got to where I am now.

So let me start over!

BOLD is an amazing play. The opening scene had me in tears. I think it is brilliant the way it starts because if someone were to stay for just five minutes, they’d have come away changed.

Everyone talks about the birth of puppies they witnessed during childhood (for me it was kittens and I was an adult, but whatever). How beautiful. How there was so much faith that the mom knew exactly what to do. And how we just knew not to mess with the newborn puppies by taking them away from the mom. How we trusted that the mom instinctively knew exactly what to do. It is a powerful scene and the connection is clearly drawn that we are no different from animals and we have that instinctive knowing.

Sadly, people are going for unnecessary high intervention births for animals. Sure, I can imagine there are cases of a small mom breeding with a large breed male where the pups really could not come out, but normally, I subscribe to the hands off philosophy. I saw a horrifying video on youtube where they fussed more and more with the little ones as they were born and they clearly felt they were doing the right thing. Poor mom was probably thinking “Just leave my little ones alone. If I weren’t stuck here birthing and nursing, I’d bite your freaking hand off!”


Unassisted Birth Story May 15, 2008

Filed under: birth — Thinking Woman @ 9:16 pm
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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.


Birth and why mine is a secret

Filed under: birth,health,social interaction — Thinking Woman @ 3:56 pm
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Birth is a topic that makes me feel passion. And yet, I have not felt free to openly share my truths. For fear of my child(ren) being taken away, I have been driven underground with my truths.

Some may say this is a copout.

It is not.

I have lived through the horror of someone calling DCF on my family. The case was stupid and was quickly dismissed. The damage is permanent. The fact that anyone can wrongly accuse another family of pretty much anything and hide behind a mask of “looking out for the children” is bullshit. My children have been damaged by this. I strive to raise my children to believe in the goodness of people. We love Gavin de Becker’s book Protecting the Gift and strive to live by it. We believe people are good. But all it takes is one person whose anonymity is protected to undo years of carefully cultivated trust and peace.

We are lucky that this case was obviously someone who saw our sweet family and was jealous. We are lucky that they did not know more about us; that I did not share that I’d had an unassisted birth and that I don’t vaccinate. That I unschool my children. Once those DCF investigators get into your house, it can get ugly. Taking children away from parents is not a good idea unless there are real issues of safety. And even then, who is to say the child is being put into a better situation? It is complicated.

So yes, I had a very intentional unassisted birth. It was not something I ever thought I would do and it took years of healing from the trauma of my first birth and of expansion and study to even be willing to get pregnant again, much less have a birth without a professional present.

Having gone through this experience, I now know it is not for everyone. It is what my family needed at the time for our healing. However, I now deeply believe in some midwives and know that their presence at birth can add so much. I should have realized this from some aspects of my first birth but I needed to learn in my own way to be sure.

I’ll be talking about my births a lot here. Sorry to leave you hanging! I promise to let the story unfold and be told and retold over time. If you are pregnant, this is a positive place to be and learn, I promise. Only expose yourself to positive birth stories or birth stories told from a perspective where you can learn from another mom. Empower yourself and take control. This does not mean bragging nor sharing with anyone at all. Not yet, at least!