I Don’t Want a Midwife

my body is sacred
I would never want a midwife assisted birth. That comes as a shock to many people. We are crunchy, pro-breastfeeding, pro-intact, cosleeping, unschooling, consensual living, attachment parenting types. People who don’t know us well assume that we would fall right into the midwife at home camp.

We don’t. The research fanatics that we are, we researched birth, and everything related, extensively before making that decision to have children. We dug through medical journals. We learned. We began to change our way of thinking to fit the facts rather than society’s distorted view. In the end, we made the decision to go unassisted. We have four beautiful, intelligent, pretty awesome (if I do say so myself) children. They were all born at home, unassisted.

That doesn’t mean I’m anti-midwife. I’m just not pro-midwife. The thing is, I support a woman’s decision to birth any way she wants. It’s her body. It’s her baby. It doesn’t have anything to do with me. It’s not my choice. The only thing I hope for is that women have access to factual information in order to make the best informed choice for themselves.

So it bothers me when I see people make blanket statements about how they wish every baby was born with a midwife present. To me, it’s very similar to making blanket statements that every baby should be born in a hospital or any of the other limiting blankets statements that states what women should or should not be doing with their bodies.

I would never want a midwife. However, I would never want to limit another woman’s choice or the opportunity for her to have a midwife if that is what she chooses. Supporting women and their informed choices is pro-woman and pro-human. Wishing that every woman made the same birth choices as you? That’s just limiting. So while I tend to avoid conversations on birth, as I really can’t stand to hear about how someone’s doctor or midwife let them do something or some of the misinformation purported by individuals and health care professionals alike, I support a woman’s right to birth however she wants. Limit the misinformation and scare tactics out there. Let’s not limit the choices.

Be a Man: One Father’s View on Birth

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.

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Our children, all four of them, have been born at home – planned unassisted births. While this isn’t something that everyone knows about us, many people do realize this fact. Over the years, we’ve had several friends come to us to discuss unassisted birth, our reasons for having UCs, and usually, for a father’s perspective on unassisted childbirth. In most of these situations, it was a case of the mother wanting to have an unassisted birth while the father wanted nothing to do with it. Every one of those couples, after having the other father listen to my own husband, walked away more assured and more willing to listen to the wants (dare I say needs?) of his wife. Each couple went on to have their own succesful unassisted birth.

birth72

Photo by Lindsey Turner

What wonderful advice did my wise husband give? He told them to “Be a man!” It sounds condescending. It sounds aggressive (something my mild mannered husband is not). It sounds completely chauvinistic. But it isn’t.

Each time he then went on to say that birth is an intimate experience. As much as a man may want to consider his part in bringing forth this child into the world, when it comes to the actual birth, he has a supporting role only. His wife is the one birthing the baby. She is the one who needs to listen to her body and their baby in order to do what she needs to for a successful birth. Certainly, both people can and should research, learn about the signs of impending problems, talk about what they need to do in various situations, learn about what is normal and what are merely variations of normal birth, etc., just as you would with any other aspect of life (says the couple of research fanatics).  However, when it comes time for the baby to be born, it’s down to mom and baby.

A husband’s role is to support a woman during labor and birth – however she decides she needs, whether that means fetching drinks with bendy straws, cooking a fantastic meal, holding her hand, or massaging her back. His main priority is to give her whatever it is she needs in order to listen to her body and their baby for a successful outcome. He keeps unwanted people away and doesn’t allow others to negatively interfere. He protects while serving. He supports her in any way he can. He trusts her to listen to her body just as she trusts her body to tell her what she needs to do and when/if she may need help just as our children trust us to have their best interests at heart.

I’m very thankful of the support my husband has given me during each of our births and for the support and partnership he shows me in our journey as both parents and people. He couldn’t be a better man.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)

More Business of Being Born

Executive Producer Ricki Lake and Filmmaker Abby Epstein present Online Screening of

“Special Deliveries: Celebrity Mothers Talk Straight on Birth” on The Huffington Post

Film Streaming and Live Q&A on Monday, March 5th features Ricki Lake,

Abby Epstein, Kellie Martin and Special Guests

More Business of Being Born Classroom Edition Premieres Same Date at UCLA

LOS ANGELES, CA – Executive Producer Ricki Lake and Filmmaker Abby Epstein present an online screening of Special Deliveries: Celebrity Mothers Talk Straight Talk on Birth from their highly influential four-part DVD series More Business of Being Born on Monday, March 5th at 6:00pm PST on The Huffington Post. Lake, Epstein and special guests from the film including Kellie Martin will host a live Q&A chat following the film beginning at 7:10pm PST. Viewers are encouraged to ask questions and engage in conversation with Lake, Epstein, and Martin by directing messages via twitter to @rickilake with #mbobb as the hash tag.

More Business of Being Born, a follow up to their landmark documentary, The Business of Being Born, offers a practical look at birthing options as well as poignant celebrity birth stories from stars. The virtual screening will air on HuffingtonPost.com and MyBestBirth.com. BabyCenter will host the virtual screening on their Facebook fan page.

http://www.ustream.tv/embed/9054478
Streaming Live by Ustream

More Business of Being Born Classroom Edition premieres March 5th from 4:00-5:30pm at UCLA’s Lenart Auditorium, Fowler Museum, located at 308 Charles E. Young Drive North, Los Angeles, CA 090095. The half-hour screening will be followed by an hour-long Q and A discussion with Ricki Lake, Abby Epstein, Dr. Suzanne Gelberg-Lenz, MD, Kellie Martin and Alyson Hannigan. This free event is open to the public and is sponsored by Choices in Childbirth. For information or to RSVP, E-mail: Julia@ChoicesInChildbirth.org

Special Deliveries: Celebrity Mothers Talk Straight on Birth

Featuring celebrity moms Laila Ali, Gisele Bundchen, Cindy Crawford, Alyson Hannigan, Melissa Joan Hart, Kellie Martin, Alanis Morissette, Christy Turlington-Burns and Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Special Deliveries is a collection of intimate birth stories from a diverse group of mothers. Whether they chose to deliver at a hospital, home or birthing center, these heartfelt and humorous testimonies speak to the lasting power of the birth experience. True inspiration for any mother-to-be, this group of women trusted their bodies and intuitions, taking responsibility for their birth decisions even when things didn’t go according to plan. None of these courageous women has ever spoken on the record in such compelling detail, and, on this DVD, the filmmakers weave together their passionate narratives as a celebration of the journey to motherhood that will leave viewers with a renewed sense of amazement about the power of women.
(Running Time: 74 min)

DISTRIBUTION

More Business of Being Born is available now as a four-DVD set; or as a “Mother Load” package, including all four of the new DVDs, The Business of Being Born, a signed, hardcover copy of the best-selling book Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, a baby onesie and digital downloads of More Business of Being Born. All configurations can be purchased at www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com.

ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN

Inspired by their own unique birth experiences, Executive Producer Ricki Lake and Director Abby Epstein teamed up in 2007 to provide a nation of mothers-to-be with insight into the process of childbirth and the various options available when preparing for life’s most special event. From pregnancy to the miraculous moment of birth, The Business of Being Born continues to be an entertaining and informative celebration of the road to motherhood that “should be seen by every pregnant woman in America” (Jack Mathews, New York Daily News).

For more information: visit www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com

A Blessingway

I recently hosted a blessingway for a friend. I firmly believe that every baby should be celebrated. I’m not really into a lot of ritual, and thankfully, neither is my friend. It took a lot of the pressure off of hosting and I was able to adapt a couple of typical blessingway activities.

While many people send candles home with guests to light when the mother goes into labor, I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. Labor is a private event for me. I know I personally would never want people watching the clock when I was in labor or to feel like I was performing in any way, shape, or form. I also balked a bit at the idea of having the mother tie cords around guests’s wrists, to be taken off when they showed up to help the mother out in some way after the birth. I want to help others out of generosity and kindness rather than some feeling of indentured servitude or expectation.

Instead, I decided to combine these two rituals with a twist. Everyone at the blessingway was a friend of the mother. We each chose a color of emroidery floss that we felt either represented us or represented something we wished for the mother of honor. Each strand was tied onto a candle for the mother to take home and use as she felt fit – either as a reminder of friendship or as a calming presence during labor.

I will also admit to never really understanding a birthing necklace. I can’t quite wrap my brain around what one would actually do with a birthing necklace. Perhaps it comes from my inclination to walk around the house stark naked while in labor. My friend is an avid knitter, so I thought it would be cool to make stitch markers out of beads. Each guest brought a bead for the mother. While I put all of the stitch markers on a cord to take them home, in case she did actually want to use it for some birthing purpose, they will long be used as a reminder of the love and support of friends.

my husband, my nuclear midwife…

I internally cringe whenever I hear someone comment on how women have been birthing with the assistance of midwives for the majority of history. Historically, midwives did not deliver babies. They were not some expert called in for the pregnancy or birth. Traditionally, midwives were the important women in one’s life – mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and close friends. They would step in to help when needed, tending to household duties, taking care of older children, bringing food, and picking up any slack when a woman was birthing and getting to know the new baby.

I remember jokingly saying to my husband after our first child was born that I wouldn’t mind having a midwife if we could call one up after the baby was born. She would come in, comment about how beautiful the baby was, clean the house, make some food, and help out where needed. His face dropped and he exclaimed, “But that’s my job.”

In today’s age of nuclear families, my husband has taken on the role of a traditional midwife. He doesn’t deliver our babies or try to coach me . He doesn’t interfere at the times when I need to be connected with my body and our baby. He merely supports me and helps out where he can. With the birth of each child, he has taken off 2-3 weeks from work in order to cook, clean, and help out however I need him. It’s because of his support that I have been able to focus on getting to know each of our children, establish breastfeeding with them, and not feel as though the entire house has fallen apart.

This post is part of Science & Sensibility’s 6th Healthy Birth Blog Carnival.

our fourth birth…

Before going to bed, I had a few thoughts that I should stay up late and finish some projects. The ningling idea that we would have a baby soon was on my mind. However, I reassured myself that I had time to finish those projects. After all, our first three children were born bwtween 40 weeks 4 days and 40 weeks 6 days.

My husband had been home sick for several days. He was planning to have one more day at home to recuperate before heading back to work until the baby came. Being sick, and concerned that he would disrupt the rest of us, he had been sleeping in another room.

Around 1 AM, my husband was getting ready for bed. I asked him how he was feeling and he said he was feeling better. For the next 30 minutes, I found myself in that odd half awake/half dreaming phase. At the end of that, I had a vision of the baby pushing off with its feet and using it’s head as a battering ram to break my waters. That thought brought me fully awake. Again, I told myself that I couldn’t be in labor and decided I should probably go to the bathroom. When I got out of bed, I was leaking fluid. I stopped by to check on my husband and told him what happened but assured him that you can leak amniotic fluid for weeks before going into labor. I began to question my denial when I had to grab a towel with another small gush, but I had yet to have any contractions. With my other children, my water hadn’t broken until I was pushing.

I decided to go finish some things on the computer and then headed back to bed. Around 2 AM, I began having contractions and decided to get up. My children and husband were all sleeping and I thought it best to let them get as much sleep as possible. As the contractions became more intense, I found myself thinking about my husband. With each one, I imagined the way he smelled and felt and the way he tasted when I kissed him. I soaked in a hot bath for a while and then went back to the living room. The contractions would come closer together for a while and then take a break, picking back up where they had left off.

Around 6 AM, I decided I should go ahead and awaken my husband to fill the birth pool. I told him that I was in labor and he told me that he had been dreaming about my mother. They had been downstairs talking and before I came in she told him that he should head back up to help with the kids. It seemed fitting that he should dream of her, but I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t gotten to see her.

My husband pulled out the pool and air compressor as I closed the bedroom door, hoping that the sound of the compressor wouldn’t wake the kids. As we waited for the water to fill, we sat snuggling on the couch. I moaned through the contractions, opening myself and relishing my husband’s touch. At some point I got on my hands and knees while my husband went to go check the water. It wasn’t long before I decided to go to the bathroom and I felt that it was the right place to be. As I was sitting on the toilet, waiting for the water in the pool to be ready, I was slightly concerned that at that rate I might birth the baby on the toilet. I asked my husband to add some cold water to the pool so that it would be cool enough to get in.

I walked down the hallway to the living room and my husband gave me a hand as I climbed into the pool. The water felt wonderful, and I leaned on the side of the pool while on my hands and knees. The water wasn’t that full, but the warmth was comforting. My body started pushing and I felt the baby’s head. My husband called out that the baby was crowning. He swears he only said it once, but I remember hearing it twice and thinking that he needed some type of response. I managed to say, “I know” while thinking that a head being out was much more than crowning, before my body was pushing the rest of the baby out.

I pulled the baby up between my legs and sat back in the pool. My husband asked what the gender was, and I looked to find that we had another daughter. He went to wake up our other children, and our older son (7 1/2) and daughter (5 1/2) came in to meet their new baby sister. Our 2 1/2 year old son was taking a bit longer to wake up and came in a little while later to meet her. We waited to cut the cord until after the placenta came out and the cord had stopped pulsating.

Born on April 14, 2010 at 7:02 AM, our new little daughter had come two weeks earlier than her older siblings. She is a tiny little pixie who measured 20 inches and weighed 7 pounds 12 ounces. I am enjoying her baby sweetness. It’s a little bittersweet to think that she is my last baby, but with our latest addition, our family feels complete. Her middle name is after my mother.

our third birth…

The night before 03 July 2007, I got everyone to sleep by about 11:00 PM. It had been a very long day. I wasn’t consciously expecting to have a baby the next day, but I did a lot of things that evening by compulsion to be prepared. I didn’t feel like sleeping. My body had been trying to shift cycles to be up at night and be tired during the day – not the easiest with two active children to take care of.

I went in the living room with my lap top and worked on my home business for a couple of hours. By 1 AM I was finished, but something told me I was going to be having a baby by 5 AM and that it wasn’t really worth going to bed. Who knows why I was thinking 5 AM. I also had a three hour labor in mind. The baby started shifting position a bit and I started playing word games on the computer, checking messages, and generally entertaining myself rather than going to bed. Contractions started around 1:55 AM, coming every 5 0r 6 minutes. Each one made me smile.

I heard my husband get up around 2:30 AM. He came in and asked why I wasn’t in bed yet. I told him we were going to have a baby. He asked if he should start filling the birth pool, which was set up in the playroom. When he said it might take a couple of hours to fill, I told him to go ahead and get started. He stepped out in the garage to grab our Python (what we use to fill the aquariums with water). When he stepped back in, he commented that the contractions seemed to have picked up. I agreed.

He started filling the tub. The contractions felt good and productive. I found that counter-clockwise circular movements really let me get into them. Standing up and gyrating my hips in a counter-clockwise motion felt so right. I spent the next couple of hours standing and moving through contractions, going to the bathroom, or slipping into the nice warm pool. Whenever I had a contraction in the pool, I would get on my hands and knees before it started. Outside of the pool, I would rock my hips in a circle.

Around 4:45 AM, the contractions were strong enough that I felt I needed to push. I got on my hands and knees in the water and pushed. I thought I heard a pop then when my water broke. My husband hadn’t reacted so I told him my water had just broken. He hadn’t heard a thing, so I must have just felt the pop. Immediately, I needed to push again, while my husband had come over to the pool. He looked at me and asked if I was pushing. I briefly said yes before I needed to push again. He rushed to the bedroom to wake up our two children. The baby’s head came out while he was gone. It felt as though time had stopped. My children ran in and began asking me questions, but my husband told them they needed to just watch and wait to talk to me. I felt the need for three quick pushes and my new baby’s body flipped out into my hands.

I sat back in the pool, laughing. I brought my newest baby up to my chest and cuddled him, with our family gathered around beside us. The kids were ecstatic. My husband asked if it was a boy or girl. I knew it was a boy. I had felt it all along, but I turned him over to check and confirmed that we had another son. He woke up at that point and was not happy about suddenly being somewhere else. He had his eyes shut tightly against the light which had been turned on, so my husband went to turn it off.

I think I was laughing and smiling throughout this. Our older children (ages 4 1/2 and 2 1/2) had big smiles on their faces the whole time. In the last few months, they had decided they really wanted a baby brother. 

We hung out in the pool for a while. Iwaited to cut the cord until it hadn’t been pulsing for a while. Once my daughter knew she had her baby brother, she asked for a baby sister next. My son asked when we would have the next baby. I told them we should probably get used to having three kids for a while before we even considered another baby. The baby nursed a little. After the placenta came out, we went to the bedroom. I laid him on the bed in a towel so that we could get a diaper on him while I took a quick shower, and he proceeded to poo all over the towel. I cleaned him up and my husband held him while I showered. Then we hung out in the bed while my husband made phone calls and the kids stared at him and asked questions.

He weighed 9 pounds 4 ounces and was 21 inches long. He was born at 4:55 AM – exactly three hours after labor started.

our second birth…

At 40 weeks, three days, I knew that we would have a baby the next day. Coincidentally, that was the exact same time I started labor with our first child. Knowing we wouldn’t have much time to bake in the next weeks – something my son loved to do, we decided to make cookies. We made up a double batch of oatmeal cookies, since oats help with milk supply. 

My husband called to tell me he was on his way home. I told him we would have a baby the next day, a Saturday. We had planned to have my father-in-law help us haul some wood for us to use to make an art table and play kitchen for gifts. Since we wanted an uninterrupted babymoon, we decided my husband should call his father and see if he could come help us that evening.

That night I was out installing the second car seat while our two year old pretended to drive the car when my in-laws pulled up. My husband and his father left to get the wood while my son and I entertained my mother-in-law. When they came back, we all sat in the kitchen enjoying the oatmeal cookies and caffeine free iced tea I had made earlier in the day. His parents left, never realizing that I was having contractions.

We played for the rest of the evening. Around 11:30 PM, my husband asked what we should do. I said that since everyone was tired, I thought we should go to bed. I snuggled with my son, and he went to sleep very quickly. I was aware of having contractions through the night, but for the most part I slept. There was a huge thunderstorm that night. I got up around 3 AM to the sound of hail. I padded out to the kitchen and looked out on the deck to see quite a bit piling up, thinking what a wonderful story that would be to tell the baby later on.

Around 6:30 AM, laying in bed was no longer comfortable. I went into the bathroom to draw a warm bath and soak for a bit. The running water woke my husband and he came in to see how I was. We sat there, me in the tub, him on a stool, holding hands and kissing. We spoke of all sorts of things. Intimacy isn’t always physical; it’s about sharing with someone you love. 

My son woke up around 9:30 AM, and came in to see me. I suggested to my husband that they go get donuts as a special treat and some father-son bonding. He asked if there was time, and I assured him that there was.

They came back, a bag of donuts proudly carried my my son. My husband brought me some ice water with a straw. What is it about ice water with a straw that I love in labor? I was occasionally getting in the tub, but mainly I wanted to be on the bed. My guys headed downstairs to play and would check in from time to time.

At some point, I started visualizing a white flower opening to reveal a baby inside during contractions. I don’t know where that image came from, but it seemed to be important for this baby. Around noon, I found myself chanting, “Let my body do what it needs to do” during contractions. My husband and son came in around 12:30 and asked what I needed. I told them to stay close because the baby would be here soon.  

They went and got drinks and then sat on the bed. It irked me at the time. I had said to stay close, not sit there and watch me. I had just enough time to think that before my body decided it wanted to push. I reached down and felt the baby’s head was coming, and my water broke as the head was on its way out. I birthed the head in a half back bend, then flipped so that I was on my hands and knees. I reached down and between my legs and caught my precious baby, as she let out a wail to tell me she was not happy about being cold. I brought her up to me and she immediately quieted. A girl. She was born at 12:38 PM on 18 September 2004, weighing 7 pounds, 11 ounces and measuring 20 ½ inches.  It was a good thing my husband decided to stay in the room, otherwise he might have missed the birth of his daughter.

I took my new baby and went and sat in the nice warm tub, which she seemed to appreciate. My husband explained to our son that this bath was just for Mommy and the baby, as he was all set to strip and join in. Our new daughter was busy looking around. I brought her up to nurse and my son was not happy about that. He tried to keep her from nursing until I explained that the baby needed Mommy, too. Then he tried to make her nurse. 

We waited until after the cord had stopped pulsing to cut it. The placenta still hadn’t come out, so we went and curled up on the bed for a while. Four hours after her birth, I went in the bathroom and felt the need to push. The placenta came out and we put it in the freezer to plant with a tree.

our first birth…

We decided to go grocery shopping late Saturday night, as we knew the baby was going to come soon. While there, we ran into some friends and spoke to them for a while. It was during this time that contractions began. I was smiling inside, because finally this was it! I had started having contractions off and on a couple of weeks prior. They would always stop eventually. When my husband would ask me if this was it, I never had that feeling and always answered that I couldn’t say that for certain. This was different, and I knew
we would be holding our baby soon.

I kept the contractions a secret until my husband and I had driven home. He was a little upset that I hadn’t told him yet, but he quickly got over it. It was after midnight and we sat talking for quite a while. He fixed us a snack. I then told him he should go get some rest. I couldn’t sleep; I was so excited. Throughout the night I made my way between reading in bed and sitting in the bathtub. I woke him up around 7:30 AM and asked him to run a fresh bath for me.

Throughout the rest of the morning, the contractions became stronger. I really enjoyed sitting in a tub full of warm water. My husband attempted to fill the birthing pool, but for some reason our hose would not connect to the kitchen sink. He was torn whether he should leave me and go find a fitting or stay. I told him not to bother; the baby might be here soon. I really just didn’t feel the need to have the pool filled. The pool was going to be in the living room, and I think I would have felt vulnerable close to the front door. 

My husband helped me make a nest on the bed with a chux pad and towels, blankets to pull up and be warm, and a big stack of pillows to arrange behind me to be comfortable. Throughout labor, I went back and forth between the warm water in our bathtub and this little nest on our bed, not bothering with clothes, just feeling secure and into the contractions.

At first my husband would come in and try to talk to me if I was having a contraction. It really bothered me, but we finally realized that we were not communicating; he was trying to distract me during contractions, while I really just needed to be there during those times. We rectified this and he only spoke in between contractions. At some point that morning, I was sitting in the tub and he was sitting on a stool in front of me. We were really sharing in between contractions, and during contractions I was letting out some good little noises, which I was told were really sexy.

I vomited some bile at 11. I just didn’t feel like eating, but I was very thirsty. My husband kept me in supply of water with crushed ice in it. It felt so nice to drink icy cold water while sitting in a warm bath.

The rest of the day continued like this. I went back and forth between the bed and the bathtub. I really needed to be by myself for most of this time. My husband or one of our two little dogs would come in and check on me. Our dogs were amazing. They instinctively knew what was happening and were reverent of the experience. My husband was there to get anything I might need or want.

The contractions were close all day Sunday and this continued on into Monday. I was losing my mucous plug that afternoon. By Monday evening the contractions felt like they were almost on top of each other. At one point, my husband asked me if the contractions were painful. I replied that they were intense. The word choice seemed very important to me. I continued going back and forth between the bed and bathtub, but now I was also squatting on the toilet some.

At some point I wondered why I had never felt like pushing. I checked and felt some cervical lip left. I thought, “Oh, that’s why,” as if this was an every day occurrence. Around 9:30 PM on Monday, I was squatting on the toilet when my water broke in a big gush.

After that the contractions became extremely intense. I was spending most of my time in the bathtub. I wanted my husband in the bathroom with me, although I really didn’t want him to speak much. I just wanted him there. Part of me was in the moment completely while another part was observing. I remember thinking that I sounded like a goat. 

The baby started coming down after my water broke. The experience was so intense that I needed to talk to the baby through contractions. “Okay baby, let’s go slow. We will do a little bit and then take a little break. Mommy needs to take a break, and then we will go a little more. It won’t be long and then I can hold you. Just a little bit and then Mommy needs a break.” I spoke to him with each contraction. My huabsnd was concerned because he thought I was giving up right when the baby needed to come down. I told him that the baby and I were working things out together and that he just needed to be there. I was still sitting in the bathtub. I would raise myself up with my arms during the contractions, but I knew there wasn’t enough room to have this baby in the tub. I also knew I couldn’t give birth in that position. I got out of the tub and tried some different positions. I was reminded of cats and dogs who will sometimes pace around trying to find the best position to birth in. I was still getting back in the tub at that point. I reached in and felt the little head. I kept going back to one position - standing, facing the bed, with my hands on the bed supporting me. Because of his head, I had to bend my knees some. All other positions felt wrong, but this felt like it would be okay and I realized this was where I needed to be for the birth.

My husband was standing behind me and had placed towels on the floor between my legs. I had been the first to touch our baby, and he was the first to see our baby. He cried, “I see a head. She’s looking at me.” Then he told me not to push. I know there was only a split second at this point. However, I still had time to think about how well he had done throughout the entire labor and how this comment was so wrong. I thought about how he wasn’t birthing this baby and should just be quiet. And almost as soon as he said this, I felt this huge urge to push hard and get the baby out. Our first son was born at 11:45 PM on 11 November 2002, after almost 48 hours of labor. (Later my husband told me that he thought the shoulder was caught and was reaching to unhook it. I’m not sure why he thought he should do this. I’m also not sure if I realized this on a subconscious level or if the baby told me to push him out.)

Together we lifted him up. I lifted one leg up and over the cord and brought this precious little person close to me. I hadn’t wanted either of us to say the sex of the baby, as I wanted us to be able to discover this for ourselves. Luckily I saw before my husband’s excitement overwhelmed him. He exclaimed, “She has a penis!” The panicked pause was followed with a relieved, “It’s a boy.” 

My husband put two more chux pads on the bed and I sat there briefly holding our new son. It was a little cool, so I wanted to go back into the tub. My husband ran a clean, warm bath for us. I climbed in with our new little son who never cried. He just looked around, curious about everything. We waited to cut his cord until it had stopped pulsating. My husband had managed to make a few calls while we were in the tub. In his excitement, I had to gently remind him to get off the phone. I remember later, after our son had fallen asleep, we just stared at him, completely amazed by this tiny little person. I hadn’t slept in over 2 ½ days, but I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I still can’t. He is such an amazing little person.

Check back on April 9th for our second birth story and on April 16th for our third birth story. We should have a fourth birth story soon.

Read more about Lamaze’s Healthy Birth Practice #5: Avoid Giving Birth on the Back and Follow the Body’s Urge to Push.

a birth legacy…

Birth Activist is hosting a blog carnival in honor of Women’s History Month, asking that individuals write about their herione when it comes to childbirth and pregnancy. I briefly considered writing about Laura Shanley. She has done quite a bit to advocate for unassisted birthers. However, while I admire what she has done, I’ve always felt an internal strength when it comes to our decision to have unassisted childbirths (UC), and it reminded me of someone else.

My grandmother was a nosy, persnickity old woman who didn’t have any problem telling you just what she thought you should be doing. She had homebirths with the first two of her three children, including my father, but after the treatment we received from my husband’s parents and family after just mentioning homebirth, we decided to keep our decision to UC to ourselves until after our first child was born. My grandmother found out after our son was born, and the next time she called, I waited, half expecting to hear a rant from her. Instead, she stated that I was a “strong girl from good stock.” She then asked if that baby was sleeping with us, to which I replied yes, mentally cringing for any backlash. Instead, she said, “Good! That’s where babies need to be – snuggled up to their mamas!” It surprised me. She spread the word through my father’s family to anyone who brought up our decision that my husband and I were highly intelligent, well-educated individuals who knew what we were doing and would then repeat her phrase about me being a “strong girl from good stock”.

I waited again when I was pregnant for the second time, as she obviously knew we would be having another unassisted birth. She didn’t say anything until after our little daughter was born. I was speaking with her on the phone when she asked if I had had that baby by myself again. When I replied yes, she told me that was how her grandmother had done it. I was intrigued, as I never had heard this story before. Apparently her grandmother, my great-great-grandmother had birthed all 12 of her children unassisted. My grandmother told me that “she would come in from the field and have the baby. The next day, she would strap that baby to her with a piece of cloth and head back on out to work.” That was all that was ever said. I later recalled seeing a list of names at some time in my childhood. I happen to share my great-great-grandmother’s first name, albeit by coincidence, as my mother never knew the name.

When I think about who my heroines are when it comes to birth, I am reminded, not of a single person tangled in our generation’s technology and hysteria, but of all the women who have gone before me, lovingly birthing their children. These are the women who have perpetuated our species, who have raised us, and who have passed on their knowledge and strength to subsequent generations through the legacy of birth and child-rearing.