Closer to Healing: A Guest Post by Siobhan

7 03 2012

Siobhan read my book and I was so moved by what she had to say, that I asked her to do a guest post.


I just wanted to write you a quick note thanking you for your book. I just finished reading it – I know, so late to the party – and I cannot express enough gratitude for what you have given me.

I’ve been struggling for some time with post partum “issues”. I wouldn’t really call it depression…maybe anxiety…I don’t know. I just haven’t been myself since Saoirse was born. I used to be absolutely care free, fearless, and had a good hold over my anxiety. Now, I’m so high strung and anxious – like it’s a struggle to leave my house some days. I’ve never said this to anybody, but it was almost like I was going through some post traumatic stress…but I couldn’t put my finger on why.

For the most part, I’ve worked through it, but I’ve been stuck for about a month. I’m the type of person who needs to know WHY I feel the way I do in order to completely heal. That was the issue. I didn’t know why I was feeling this way. I thought I had the perfect birth (or as close to it as I could ever really have), Saoirse is happy and healthy… really what more could I ask for? For the longest time, I thought it was because I didn’t achieve my breast feeding goals. I felt like a failure as a mother…a woman. I felt like my body betrayed me. There were times reading your book, I had to put it down and sob – not cry – ugly cry sob. It was all falling into place.

I originally wanted a home birth, but my OB didn’t do those and I was too ignorant to look for someone who did. I went into labor naturally and ended up with the practice’s midwife the day of Saoirse’s birth. I have to say most of my labor was pretty easy and I was free to move about as I pleased. I spent most of the night doing laps around the maternity ward. Then some time just before dawn they did a blood pressure check and it was “a little high” so I had to stay confined to the bed. They wouldn’t tell me what the number was. My blood pressure was a “a little high” my entire pregnancy and it never concerned my doctor. I think they didn’t tell me because they knew I would have called bull shit.

That’s when my labor started to actually hurt. I asked for some drugs – not an epidural – but the IV stuff. The nurse proceeded to mock me and tell me to just get the epidural and to stop being a “scaredy cat.” I’m covered in tattoos and donate blood regularly, I’m not afraid of needles. I do not like the idea of a needle going into my spine – it’s a spine thing, not a needle thing. When I asked for time to think about it, she then told me not to worry about any pain management because they were going to send me home because my contractions weren’t registering on the monitor. I ended up not getting anything.

Finally around 8am, my midwife came, checked me (I was 6cm at this point) and broke my water – without my knowing or permission. I could have sworn she said “Oh your water broke” but my husband says he saw her do it. It did speed up my labor and she let me get up and walk around which made things bearable again. About a half hour before Saoirse was born I got into the shower. The hot water must have really relaxed me because I thought she was going to slide out then and there. I had my husband go get the nurse – my body was telling me it was time. She was ready. My body was ready. She was coming. The nurse came and checked me and said I was only 9cm, so I couldn’t push yet. My body was pushing on its own. I had no control. So, the nurse pretty much stood there arguing with me for 10 minutes about it. Finally, I told her I would deliver the baby myself with or without them.

She got my midwife and she checked me AGAIN and even though I was still only 9cm, she said I could push. If I had to be on my back, the most comfortable way for me was with my neck back, back arched, kind of lifting my butt off the bed. Of course this didn’t fly, and a nurse held me down while she insisted my husband do the same. Luckily, Saoirse was out in 4 pushes. They placed her on my belly and I just looked at her. I didn’t cry. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t count her fingers or toes. I didn’t feel anything. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins. I physically felt like I could run a marathon at that point. I just went though the motions of latching her, all in a daze. My husband was crying. My sister was crying. I wanted to cry. I just couldn’t.

Why wasn’t I feeling that bond? Why wasn’t I lovey dovey? Why did I feel like I needed to scoop her up and run for my life? Why could I have run for my life at that point? It all makes sense to me now. I was totally in fight or flight. It didn’t end there. It went on for my entire hospital stay. I didn’t sleep for 2 days – maybe a half hour here and there – but for the most part I was awake. Breast feeding only lasted 2 months for me. I think it all goes back to pretty much being in the state of fight or flight for weeks after Saoirse’s birth.

My husband and I are very private people – hyper guarded. We don’t get along with our families – they’re toxic people. Of course they came out of the wood work and made it all about themselves and wouldn’t leave us alone. I think I was so concerned with guarding her from these awful people – adrenaline always pumping – the oxytocin never flowed. I never made enough milk for her. It wasn’t until all these people faded back into their holes that I was able to look at her with amazement and cry tears of joy. So much precious time was stolen from me by these personal space invaders – the nurses up to my toxic relatives. It all makes so much sense to me now.

I’m not at the end of my healing journey, but I’m back on track all thanks to you. The next time I have a child it will be in my home and no one will need to know about it until I’m ready. I have to be honest with you though – if I were to give birth tomorrow or even a year from now I don’t know if I could do it without a midwife. I don’t trust my body. I know now it wasn’t my body that betrayed me. It was trying to protect me…regardless I don’t have the same faith in it as I used to. I think my journey will end when my trust is restored. I’m not sure how I’m going to get back to that place. I’m sure it’s going to require a leap of faith. A leap I’m a little closer to taking because of your book.

So, what was suppose to be a quick note of thanks has turned into a disjointed babble fest. Sorry for that. I guess I just wanted you to know how much your experiences meant to me. You’ve given me a wonderful gift. I’m infinitely grateful.

Siobhan and Saoirse

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart,


Misconstruing a Genius

20 10 2011

I was alerted that one of THE best minds in childbirth, Dr. Michel Odent, was being challenged by a certain infamous anti-homebirth doctor. Self-assured was I that she could not possibly intelligently refute Odent, I was shocked to see how right I was. When one cannot debunk someone properly, one must resort to smear! Also, use the word “smear”, because if you say it first, it cannot be used on you. Here’s a sampling of what was said:

Dr. Michel Odent’s claim that childbirth pain is necessary for mother-infant bonding.

Only Odent never says that. What he says is this:

The French expert said: “Oxytocin is the hormone of love, and to give birth without releasing this complex cocktail of love chemicals disturbs the first contact between the mother and the baby…

“It is this hormone flood that enables a woman to fall in love with her newborn and forget the pain of birth.”

And, nowhere does he say pain is necessary for bonding. In fact, he says with the help of Oxytocin, pain is greatly diminished for the mother. Not only does his work and literature include info on Birth and Breastfeeding in relation to Oxytocin, but he also speaks very much on the topic of orgasms. No, indeed, Odent is an Oxytocin champion– he believes in all it does for us. He warns us not to give it up so lightly when biologically, it is there to help us. He is a protector of the process, a facilitator of our easy and best births, and now he is being ridiculed by the type of people who drone on about the nastiness of birthing pools. Yes, Odent is credited with introducing these to the modern laboring woman.

Naturally, tons of idiotic commentators arrived to call him everything from a sexist to a liar. Honey, you don’t know Odent! I think he is far less sexist than the medical professionals telling empowered women they are nothing special for having a natural birth. Michel is not a misogynist– he is a feminist!  So anyway, I had to give my two cents:

You are completely misconstruing what DR. Odent is saying.  

First of all, nothing you have quoted in your attempt to paint him as this lying misogynist states that he feels that PAIN is necessary for bonding. In fact, Odent believes that the “pain” will be eased by the natural release of the Oxytocin, which is part of the function of the hormone.  

Can Pitocin do that? No. Pitocin attempts to mimic Oxytocin, but those with experience can tell you that Pit makes contractions worse, harder, less bearable. Being under the influence of Oxytocin, however, leaves many women feeling almost pain-free, some orgasmic. It IS the love hormone, the relaxation and orgasm hormone. Pitocin and Oxytocin are NOT the same thing, anymore than powdered milk or formula is the same thing as breastmilk.  

Furthermore, as someone who has experienced labor THREE different ways, I can tell you from experience that Odent DID do his wife a favor. I love and trust my husband immensely but felt the need to ask him to leave the room during my last labor. It’s not because he has a penis, but because I desired solitude. AND, I had to wake him, because the poor man was asleep. The woman needs what she needs. The intellect doesn’t have to agree with it, the body DOES. It doesn’t mean anything bad about the husband, or the marital relationship, just as you giving birth via C-section does not mean you don’t love your baby.  

That’s right– neither Odent nor I are saying that artificially-had births equate to parents NOT loving their children. There are many factors to bonding. Oxytocin is ONE, and it’s a very primal and primary one. If you think we are saying adoptive parents do not love or bond, or C section moms do not love or bond, you are hearing what you want to hear.  

What we ARE saying is that Oxytocin has an amazing, multi-purpose effect– on labor, the birth, mother, baby, and breastfeeding– and women who choose not to reap its benefits are missing out on something special. Those who have experienced it have described it as THE greatest natural high a woman will experience in her lifetime.  

You can call Dr. Odent’s theories ridiculous and false, if you feel so defensive about them in your personal lives. Maybe his “theories” (based on mammalian science, accepted and understood as TRUE) offend you because they didn’t play a part in your stories and this threatens you somehow as a woman. But, for me? I didn’t understand what had happened to me and my other labors until I started reading geniuses like Odent.Then it all made sense to me. I finally “got it”. Before, maybe I would have blown it off like you and said it was not true. But yeah, he’s just totally in a fantasy world?  

Whatever. He’s one of the only true scientists in the world of childbirth. So many others, indoctrinated by their education, worship at the altar of technology and drugs as though they can do no wrong. At least Odent honors the woman and her needs above any touting of “advancement” our backwards society makes. He truly wants what is best for us, and he doesn’t have an agenda. There are no lobbyists, no drug companies, no ego-driven wars he is in bed with. It is just a man and the science he has observed. He is a great mind… so naturally, he is met with aggressive opposition.  

The only smearing I see is people here of Odent. I can’t figure out if you simply do not understand him, or if you are intentionally trying to miscategorize him to the masses.

… which, of course, immediately fell on deaf ears, as he was called not only totally wrong but a “classy” guy for leaving his wife alone during her labor. Before you judge this guy, random RNs, birthy mom types, and other MDs, please read more about this man and his career, works, and genius. He IS a classy guy. For starters, he doesn’t own any hate sites to tell non-Oxytocin-enjoying moms where to go and attack those who have experienced this amazing part of the circle of life. He isn’t part of the REAL smear campaign, to undermine the real wants and real experiences of real women, and reduce common sense, observations, and real life events to mere mythology.

Nope. He’s one of the good guys.

PS– By popular demand, here are some links worth checking out on the idiosyncrasies and differences between Oxytocin and Pitocin (besides just “brand name”).

Pit of Despair — The difference has to do with the blood-brain barrier. Oxytocin is produced by the brain and has a direct effect on brain function. But when Pitocin is introduced into the bloodstream, it does not affect the brain.

Oxytocin: The Great Facilitator of Life — In light of the prominent role in parturition and essential role in lactation, we are drawn to the view that Oxt serves the continued propagation of a species.

Thanks, Mom!— Time Magazine article:  It also helps facilitate bonding between mothers and newborns.

A relationship between oxytocin and anxiety of romatic attachment –That oxytocin and anxiety may be linked in some way in the modulation of social bonding is supported also by scattered data showing that a moderate level of stress seems to promote pair bonding in different species, including human beings [40].

“Love Hormone” Promotes Bonding — Obviously we think we know a lot about it, but should hesitate to flat out reject what little we already know (that oxytocin correlates with bonding). We are only just starting to learn how it affects us, and to blanketed deny a connection seems arrogant.

“The hormone, also known by its trade name, Pitocin, has been used for years to induce labor and promote lactation in women.  But its effects on the brain are just beginning to be understood.”

Oxytocin is a brain chemical associated with pair bonding, including mother-infant and male-female bonds, increased paternal involvement with children, and monogamy in certain rodents, according to Kai MacDonald, M.D., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSD.”