Charlene’s Homebirth With Husband, Midwives (Graphic Pictures)

4 06 2013

This mother had a calm birth, a happy birth. This was her 2nd homebirth and her 6th child. She was elated and proud of herself. She should be! This birth was a victory for her. I’m sure she feels like a rock star, and she should. I’m proud of her too and celebrate with her. It’s beautiful. She makes birth look easy! 🙂 It’s going to be encouraging to a lot of women. Birth can be done, and it doesn’t have to be horrible, and it can be done at home!

Since this is a blog (and page, and book) which specializes in educating women in how to have the best birth possible, it is my duty and responsibility to keep others reading informed. I saved that for the end, though. You have the option of reading only Charlene’s birth story. For more information and education relating to some of the things heard and seen here, read all the way to the end. This is provided so that mothers-to-be and others can know more about common birth practices and make their own informed choices when the time comes.

At 39 weeks and 2 days (39 and 2 by my ultrasound, I kept telling them I was OVERDUE & noone believed me that my due date was Feb 28th!) *1  I had called my midwife Sunday March 3rd to ask her to meet me at the hospital, I had came down with a NASTY stomach bug & wanted her to give me some gravol via a shot. So my husband & I met her over there, did the usual medical mumbo jumbo (heart rate, bp etc & a quick cervical check)*2. Being baby #6 and early previous births we wanted to make sure the vomiting wasn’t changing my cervix “nope your still at 3cms as I had been for weeks, even AFTER a membrane sweeping which ended up giving me 24 hours of back labor and NO baby!) *3 So home we went. She advised me not to be suprised that if and when my stomach flu stopped I’d likely go into labor (yeah RIGHT lol if only it were as easy as throwing up to make labor start). I complained and dry heaved all night with what I assumed was more of the stomach flu so I had next to NO sleep & I kept my poor husband up whining about it ALL night lol (sorry babe) 

 I get up the next morning (Monday March 4th) after sleeping a few mins here a few mins there with cramps in my stomach (which I’m assuming is still the stomach bug) around 7am, I get my 2 oldest kids off to school with the help of my lovely mom (who stayed over the night before to help out my husband with the kiddos) and just kind of relax…. 8 am they are off and out the door! I kept feeling slight aches and cramps and tried to disregard them because of the stomach flu. By 9am I told my mom “I think something isn’t right” and BOOM it hit me like a ton of bricks… She calls my midwife and tells her “I think Charlene is in labor” she could hear me moaning in the backround and tells her “SHES ON THE WAY!” (My last birth which was a home-birth was only 4 hours from my first contraction until she was born) So my midwife was a little on edge for this one JUST IN CASE! lol.
hubby hugs Mind you through all of this my poor husband is scared to death but VERY supportive of a home-birth all he could picture was blood and guts lol. He stumbled around making last minute preparations, tidying up, chatting & getting a quick bite to eat. Checking on me making sure I was ok, he was SOOO excited to finally meet the little person he had been talking to, singing to and loving for the past 9 months!
9:30 my midwife shows up and decides she better call her attending midwife incase like I said my last home-birth was fairly quick! She calls back and informs me that there is a student midwife who is supposed to be coming in today and was wondering if she could come with, and after double checking with hubby we agreed it would be fine I was all for letting her get some more experiance (we didn’t find out until after that we were her FIRST home-birth! *4) They arrive around 10:00 or so, greetings were had and they briefed each other about me, my previous births, etc… my husband and I went outside to get some air and make some phone calls to our photographer and close friends to let them know what was going on (my poor husband couldn’t make his phone work he was so nervous)

My contractions STARTED off at about 3 mins apart and were managable but still painful but I could cope, so here we sit in my living room in the middle of my floor folding baby clothes that I was going to give to my midwife to bring to a family who needed it. This was around 11:00, laughing, joking, chatting and having a wonderful time…. The contractions were spacing out and lessening in pain so I started to apologize and tell my midwifes I was sorry, I don’t think today is “THE DAY” None the less she said NO NO we’ll stick around JUST incase (she knew, they all knew but I was in denial) 

 After my contractions became a little more painful around 12:00 or so she suggested I go lay down in my room and relax which I reluctently did because I felt GREAT in between them but I agreed…. So we were sitting in my room, chatting, laughing etc and they became alot more intense and frequent…. I looked at my midwife around 12:30 and said today is going to be the day isn’t it, she nods her head and tells me YUP, I TOLD YOU!!! My mom had JUST head off to her work to midwifecheck on things and said she would be back in an hour or so and figured we had lots of time)  After she checked me and felt the baby I had asked her how dialated I was and suprisingly I was 6-7 cm (I was NOT expecting that at ALL) I asked her how big do you think she is (just out of curious nature) She says OH ABOUT 8lbs 6ozs… I kind of giggled and said she was crazy (my last was 8 11 and she guessed 8 10) I said I am NOT having another 8lb baby!!! *5

 My contractions became noticeably stronger so my attending midwife took my 4 year old out to the table and colored, drew pictures, etc… My neighbour from downstairs popped in and I asked her if she could please take her down to play as we would be soon having the baby and I didn’t want to scare her, so off she went!

 I had asked to be checked again at about 1:30 after laboring and feeling VERY intense and she REALLY didn’t want to but she did, and I was still at 6-7 with a HUGE bag of water (my water has NEVER broken on it’s own) *6 So I looked at her, she looked at me and I nodded… she knew to break the bag *7 ….(this was about 1:45) As soon as she broke the bag I had a contraction they were coming pretty fast and becoming very intense by then and I started feeling “pushy” (I thought I had bad gas lol) After watching me bare down for about 15 mins she decided to check me and when she did she could feel that I was dialated to 9 1/2 but there was a TINY lip that just wouldn’t melt away so with the next contraction she pushed the lip back *8 … This was at approx 2:07 I remember grabbing her and looking at her so intensely that she was all I could see at the moment…*9 I layed back and looked at my AMAZING husband who hadn’t left my side for a second and said your daughter is about to be here… he just looked at me, at 2:10 I hear my front door open and my mom say WHERE THE HELL IS EVERYONE!? And she came back into our room I looked at my husband and just pushed, at exactly 2:11 I yelled out SHE’S COMING IT’S BURNING and at 2:12 our beautiful daughter Araceli was born, she was VERY upclose blue facepurple and had her cord wrapped around her neck, the plan was for my HUSBAND to catch her but our student midwife (being her first home-birth panicked and grabbed her to unwrap the cord) the cord was NOT tight but it still frightened her… She was given directly to my husband (the look on his face is udder amazement & awe) *10
dad holds baby
He had held her akwardly in amazment for a few moments and she was then placed on my chest where the 3 of us just snuggled and cuddled. newborn head plus dadbaby rests moms breastWe layed there for a good 20 mins until we clamped the cord and my husband cut it. natural breastfeedingThe midwifes layed her back on my chest so she could snuggle some more and try to breast feed (she did with success) I then delivered a beautiful placenta *11placenta that we ooohhh’d and awwwwee’d at (it is NOT as gross as people think!) by then it was about 3pm and my kiddos were getting home from school!! (way to go to school and come home to a new sister!!!!) and after about an hour with new sibling meetings, nanny meetings, people dropping in the midwives weighed her, checked her over etc… she came in at (you guessed it) 8 lbs 6 ozs and was perfect! She was born at 39 weeks 3 days (and was ASSESSED AT OVER 40 WEEKS!! LOOKS LIKE I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG!)

 This was my 2nd home-birth (my husbands first) and my 6th baby! It was AMAZING!!! It was so calm, relaxed, serene and wonderful! There is NOTHING like giving birth and laying in your own bed afterwards to bond, snuggle and get to meet your new little one!!!!!! ❤upclose newborn nurse

1. Ultrasound is often incorrect at properly assessing gestation. Women seem to have the most luck when going by their own cycles and known conception dates. Health care professionals frequently disregard the woman’s knowledge and wisdom, however, in favor of the flawed ultrasound technique.
2. Remember, cervical checks don’t tell us a whole lot. Some women don’t dilate all the way to 10, others dilate well beyond 10 when they are finally ready to have their baby. If a woman is feeling tense or nervous about progress being graded, this can affect dilation negatively. Also, it provides a new opportunity to introduce bacteria into the vagina (and the womb!). For most situations, it’s simply better to pay attention to other cues when trying to assess the closeness or progress of labor.
3. Membrane sweeps are uncomfortable, often causing cramping and spotting. They are not proven to really “start” labor, either. They are another way of introducing bacteria into the vagina and womb, though.
4. Having people at the birth– especially strangers– can cause issues. Your logical mind may be for it, but your primal birth mind desires to protect you and will sometimes try to shut down or stall the birthing process. This can cause pain and tension in labor, and causes a variety of  complications. Medical professionals, including students, and photographers can inadvertently disturb births.
5. The 8 lbs. range is a really normal, average, healthy birth weight. The average birth weight for a “full term” (37-40 weeks, and EDD determined often incorrectly by professionals) baby is about 7 lbs. 3 oz. It is not uncommon for women allowing themselves to gestate longer (true natural being 41-42 honest weeks) and having a natural homebirth to have 8, 9, 10 pound babies. It also doesn’t determine how painful the birth will be or how hard pushing will be. Head circumference (and not weight of the baby) determines how much of a stretch mom has to make during delivery. Even then, true physiological childbirth where a mother is allowed to follow her instincts yields far fewer injuries. Women have birthed 11 pound/big-head babies unassisted with no tears, for example.
6. The bag doesn’t always break on its own! Those babies are born in the caul (when undisturbed).
7. Breaking the bag during labor will not be necessary. It has become routine for a lot of health care professionals. I would suggest that, unless you have a strong urge or instinct to do so yourself, that you leave the bag of water alone.
8. Cervical lips aren’t really problematic, and pushing on one (only if the mother feels the urge to push) is not dangerous. Manually adjusting the cervix can add pain and complication to the birth. Let the mother move instinctively and she will get in whatever position is needed to resolve many issues, if required. Birth is a dance between mother and baby.
9. The hormones flowing in the room and the tunnel vision of labor-land woman creates an intense bonding opportunity and chemical exchange with whomever is the trusted individual in the room/tending to the woman.
10. The student midwife obviously meant well. I would praise her for her quick-thinking and showing initiative. However, this was not an emergency, and she kept the dad from being able to have his moment.
11. The placenta appears to be being pulled out in the picture– ouch! Manual traction (pulling on the cord) to expel the placenta is typically not a good idea and can lead to postpartum hemorrhage. It can be uncomfortable, too. Letting the mom have a physiologic third stage is ideal to prevent trauma. For some women, their placenta is not birthed til hours later.

Approaching Baby Loss Topics With Conscience

10 02 2013

Recently my friend Sammy at The Skeptical Mother opened her Wall to baby loss photos from grieving parents. The topic began when she noticed a controversial post done by Dr. Amy which only showed pictures of babies who had passed away, and their parents grieving over them. For those who know Amy, I do not have to tell you that this was not done in memorial, it was done as a propaganda piece meant to convey “Homebirth Kills Babies”.

Sammy asked the question to her fans– how do you feel about this manner of sharing? The answers were mixed but the majority was very uncomfortable with being shown– without warning– photos of babies that had died, and nothing else (no accompanying backstory, etc.). If I recall correctly, Sammy did not even expose the fact that it was a post by Dr. Amy she was referencing. It seemed a hypothetical, and still received this fairly negative response. Then she decided to delete the thread because it had turned sour for so many. She found a happy medium– she invited fans to post their baby loss photos and stories on the Wall, and gave readers the choice of whether they wanted to view and offer their support.

I want you to know something about The Skeptical Mother. She did this knowing that loss mothers felt left out. She did this under much criticism by Dr. Amy trolls. They told her she would never do something like this, having not the slightest clue what was in her heart (and their common claim, against any natural birth pages, whom they are mad only post “positive” stuff).  Her  concern was to strike a balance that is sensitive to everyone but without becoming a puppet for anyone else’s sick agenda. Sammy’s choice was carefully considered in an effort to be fair to everyone… from the mother who just miscarried whose heart could not bear to see images which reminded her, to the grieving mother who wanted the world to look at and remember her stillborn baby. She thought of women who had never lost but were terrified of the prospect and felt unready to view these images, as well as new mothers who openly said they would be more than ready to share in the memories while loss moms provided pictures. TSM’s motives are pure in an internet climate full of politics and ulterior motives.

The Wall is a place where users can submit anything they want, and the only way to view it is to go to the Wall yourself and see. This is different from Sammy directly sharing on the page herself, which becomes visible to all 40,000+ of her followers in their newsfeeds (many of whom were very sensitive and planning upcoming births, some of whom let her know they would have to unlike the page if her positive content started shifting to the shocking or the devastating). So, by opening her Wall to this, Sammy was able to accommodate a very real need for loss parents to not feel neglected, have their children acknowledged, while at the same time honoring the wants and needs of the majority who do not come to her page for such emotionally taxing photos.

Even a word such as “shocking”, used above, some would take offense to, but please remember that any image of death (regardless of who it is of and who that person was to you) is troubling to most people. “Those are not shocking, it is our sweet little baby, our only memory of her,” they might say, offended. Yes, but it is also true the picture of your baby has a sadness and heaviness that most baby pictures do not. You still deserve to celebrate, and we know that.  We still have to recognize how different it will be for those who don’t share your intense emotions. And how could they? You’ve gone through one of the worst things ever, and maybe they have not. Or, maybe they have, but they deal with their pain in a totally different way than you. Therefore, we need to take extra special care with your pictures.

But don’t you think seeing healthy babies all day can hurt, too?”
Maybe. But, people who feel that way probably didn’t “like” The Skeptical Mother. People “like” her page because they like her content, not because it causes them great anguish and they want her desperately to change her ways.

People can be especially averse to seeing babies in such a way, since they are our most precious and treasured ones. It is the ultimate human tragedy. People don’t turn away as a disrespect to your babies… they turn away because their empathy is actually much too great to bear it. I would be more concerned for the folks who weren’t stirred in the slightest at loss photos than the people who are moved too much to even look.

Babies dying is a sad topic (be it miscarriage, stillbirth, or something else entirely). It’s a reality that happens, true, and there is no woman alive who doesn’t realize this. Putting her in a position where she is forced to view one of the saddest events a human being could experience will not change this, and asking a stranger to look at a photo they feel would cause them any emotional disturbance is an ill-fitting memorial to any of our loved ones. You will not get the desired reaction, you can’t force the desired reaction, and that is nobody’s fault.

I don’t think most loss mothers would expect this, but there were many disturbed Dr. Amy fans who felt strongly that this was not anyone’s problem but the person averse to looking. I say, everything in it’s right time and place. Appropriateness is paramount. Just as you would not walk into a Lamaze class and start shoving photos in the faces of people without a word, there is a manner in which we as humans interact and share that is healthy and fair for everyone. “Appropriate” may sound like a cold word to someone feeling intense grief, but their reality is not everyone’s reality, so “normal” to them versus the outside world can change significantly. If Amy fans expect everyone to change with that to the point that the Lamaze scenario above would be the new normal, I don’t think that’s a realistic or even sane goal. No, “appropriate” is in this case just another word for being considerate to everyone at the same time. It can be done. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s about respecting the needs of everyone and trying to find how to fill those without being a knife in the heart of the other party. I feel Sammy succeeded with that.

Many demanded all people be made to look, regardless of their sensitivities or feelings, because they contended to not was a disrespect to all baby loss victims everywhere. Some said to feel uneasy about it was the same as spitting in the baby’s face. Some openly said that their feelings were the only ones that counted, and they mocked the delicate feelings of mothers-to-be. “Think of how the loss mothers feel” got repeated a lot by Amy trolls and just other women in general, but I don’t think our sorrow for anyone can negate the human emotion of wanting to avoid subjects that are painful on purpose. Nor, a human being’s right to tell you what their tolerance level is (personally) for tragedy. Our readiness towards anything is a personal matter and depends on where we are in life. If we can’t respect that, it’s the same as saying everyone else is just a player in the story of your life. If it were that easy, you could write the script yourself and give everyone the correct emotions to feel. It’s not that simple. Humans are complex and have their own stories, and we can’t force ours on others.

*** Here is the part where I tell you that we all want stories and photos shared, but we warn “with discretion” because we understand that the way a grieving mother sees her photo versus a member of the general public are very different things. This can be very hurtful to loss mothers to hear, but I implore them not to take it as society’s rejection of you or baby, but rather a reflection of our fears. Let’s face it– no one wants their baby to die, or anyone’s to die (unless you’re an Amy troll, in which case, you want mine to die).  We are not in the habit of regularly viewing things we would never want to go through ourselves. Any image of death is usually upsetting to most people. Many have called for the changing of this taboo, and it is a separate argument entirely to discuss if it is our taboo to change. People come from all different walks of life with different philosophies and customs, and I think understanding that is very important. Where you may see your little angel, others may not, and instead be triggered into a traumatic memory, for example. Some will frankly only see death. On a cheerful and positive birth page, it would seem obvious that this content would not be typical.  Sometimes this explanation still fails to suffice for a mother so deep in her own emotions. TO BE CLEAR, Sammy and I both agree with sharing things which are accompanied by WARNINGS (to alert the sensitive) or stories (so that the picture itself is not just exploited for shock value, but contains a message, or something poignant and meaningful). ***

I want you to know that even after she decided to open her Facebook page’s Wall to this, she was accused of not really meaning it, not being genuine, not doing enough (by the Amy trolls). That’s right– first they said she would never do this at all, but when that was obviously not the case, they found something new to complain about. They make it a mission to be offended unless you not only jump when they say, but ask “how high” first. I told her this would happen but she did it anyway because her heart meant it.  She was accused of doing it just for extra likes (even though she did it knowing she could actually LOSE fans). In light of this, I have watched shady loss organizations (associated with/ran by Dr. Amy fans) disregard her intentions and vilify her. I was made privy how another major birth page made posts and statements about how *they* always have a place for loss mothers, as they attempt to constantly one-up her on her every post since TSM’s popularity spiked. Loss should NOT be a platform for competition.

This outrage is a violation far worse than taking into consideration the feelings of people averse to death scenarios. It doesn’t take the topic seriously, it only seeks to gain from it.

There are tons of places for loss and remembrance, and the good thing about those places (so long as they are healthy and not run by hate groups) is that they are already aware of the subject matter and prepared to respect and grieve with you. There are tons of natural birth pages and similar topics which occasionally share your losses in a tasteful and non-exploitative way. I assure you that just because your average birth or parenting site isn’t daily sharing photos of babies who have passed away, it is not due to not caring. It is simply not the usual subject matter of the page and not the voice they are projecting. That is all. For a parent to lose a child is a very specific facet of life and birth, and not every page is going to address it on a nonstop basis. Not every page is qualified to regularly address this with the sincerity the topic warrants. When people describe being “swept under the rug” (something we hear the Amy fans say a lot), I hope it is not for this reason anyone describes it as such.

I know I speak for most when I say “we still love you, even if your issue isn’t the one discussed the most”. I don’t talk about lots of (birth and parenting) things every day, such as adoption, or c-sections, or maternal/paternal death, but I still love all families for whom these are the big issues, as well. Every page has a unique voice and they are speaking from their own life experiences, so please don’t feel left out if the type of content doesn’t constantly address the issue dearest to your heart. And if a page isn’t speaking to your heart and needs, find other pages which do. Not everyone can be everything to everyone, but there is someone out there who understands you, and no one is ever truly alone. There is a place for all of us, it just isn’t always the same place.

Due to the outpouring of support and participation her Wall inspired that day, Sammy has decided that every 8th of every month will be The Skeptical Mother Loss Remembrance Day. Please feel free to participate if this is a subject you would like to take part in. Because it shouldn’t be about homebirth, or trolls, or popularity, or moneymaking… it should be about your babies.

Your Birth Story: What it Does & Doesn’t Mean

19 11 2012

Your birth story can only account for what is possible, not impossible.

People are selfish. Human beings are consistently driven by ego, and one of those qualities includes making their story the end-all-be-all, final gospel word on certain subjects. I can be a very self-centered person and obviously believe my story can help people. I think all of our stories “prove” a lot of different things. I think anecdote is important. What it’s not, however, is a way to define everyone else’s lives, stories, or to justifiably command their beliefs. Conditioning, nature, and experience will shape these for us– they cannot effectively be imposed. Your story is not the only story that means anything.

My wife and child would have died if not for that life saving intervention from the doctor, so don’t you tell me doctors are doing wrong!

Oh, really… Well, I am happy for you, but I didn’t realize your story meant that mine didn’t happen.

Not even just men, but all people. Hmm…

When I hear the term “birth rape” I think it is such a disrespect. I was raped, and I don’t appreciate anything else being called rape.

Oh, I see. Because you were one of many to have experienced sexual abuse, you are now allowed to sit on a panel that judges what is and isn’t rape for other people, including women who were victims of actual sexual penetration rape who also describe their own labor experiences as “birth rape”. Because your rape gave you authority over all.

I am a nurse and I am hurt that you claim that nurses have abused patients! I bust my butt to save lives every day!

One, thank you for your work. Two, you do not speak for all nurses. Three, what if I told you that things you were taught help people might actually sometimes cause harm? What if I were one of those people who were unintentionally or even intentionally harmed? Would you be willing to learn with an open heart and mind what those things are which cause damage? Would you listen knowing that if you believed me, it would change how you view the world, yourself, your own profession?

Homebirth is ridiculous. I’m lucky I’m so smart and had my baby in the hospital. He needed oxygen and actually suffers today from not having had enough oxygen at birth, so at home he surely would have died, MORONS. Enjoy killing your babies!

I’m sorry you are dealing with a stressful situation. I really mean that. It sucks to face hardship with our babies. We all wish our children had only the best of health. Maybe the pride you feel over doing the “right” thing can be helpful if you are trying to cope with something very difficult, but many of us know that bad situations such as oxygen deprivation can be created in hospitals. Some would argue that you may have had a safer experience at home. Things like drug augmentation, the effect of mother’s position, prolonged labor, premature lungs, premature cord clamping… a variety of things in the hospital (and even at home) are interventions which can damage. Say a baby is in distress during labor and needs to come out now in order to be safe and healthy. Many situations in hospital can actually be causing the distress. That’s just one example. Who really knows for sure? But can this one experience mean you understand what is true and right for everyone, all the time? We all do what we feel is best, in the moment. Every situation is individual. What saves you can kill someone else. Don’t assume you understand it all. Attacking others for a choice you should feel very secure about doesn’t help anyone. And, it doesn’t prove your case.

A good healthy response to most stories and beliefs is, “Maybe that’s true, or maybe it didn’t actually happen the way that it would seem.” I don’t know about you, but when I hear a story, I hear from my heart and my mind. My logic and skepticism provides doubt where I feel intellectually unsure about what is presented, and I will do further research if I need to satisfy that curiosity. My heart will feel for them, employing my empathy and sympathy. Even if logically I do not agree, my heart understands what emotions may be painting the picture. I say, if I were in their shoes, maybe I’d agree. Can’t we all do this?

Our experiences can be so powerful for us, we take them to heart– too much. They become defining features of our identity. What that means is, when someone else’s experience comes in and seems to contradict that, our fragile identities become threatened. Our egos will not stand for that. That’s when people pop in with stories that are somehow supposed to put others in their places and shut them up, only it doesn’t. Because believe it or not, other people have stories too, that to them seem equally powerful.

I’m not immune. Like most humans I struggle with ego and identity every day. I’m an argumentative person and admit that argument stems mainly from identification with labels and forms. Who am I, without my tragedy? What worth am I, without my knowledge or cause? These things keep us trapped. To truly understand, to have right knowledge, we will exercise compassion. The best thing we can try to do is understand each other and give each other room.

Anecdote is not useless, however. It can be helpful to serve to warn others who face similar hurdles.They should serve to help our fellow man avoid undue suffering.

Everything *seems* impossible, until you’ve experienced it.

We should be trying to lessen the suffering in the world, not add to it.

Our stories and anecdotes can help enlighten us so we can take the appropriate next steps on our individual paths. Collections of anecdotes can be considered research, and all anecdote is in some regard evidence. When we use our own story as a means to discredit all other stories which also carry their own weight and power, we are living in our own reality. It’s false. It’s delusional and denial. Your story can tell people what is possible, can suggest what is and isn’t probable, but it cannot negate the details felt by others to tell the world what is impossible.



Responsibility in Birth: What it Does & Doesn’t Mean

28 09 2012

“I’m taking responsibility for my body and birth now.”

So, you’re having a home birth or a UC (unassisted childbirth, freebirth). You’ve said adios to the medical model and the conventional hospital birth via OB.

“I take full responsibility now.” Has that sentiment been misunderstood? What does and doesn’t it mean? While I can’t speak for everyone, I know that in speaking for myself I will be echoing the voices of many.

It does mean:

  • I’m done letting other people make choices about my body or baby to our detriment.
  • I see the fallacy in mainstream literature which has been filtered and misinforming.
  • I know that Science and Medicine do not always align.
  • I know that doctors are not always right.
  • I, therefore, see the need to educate myself on a point of view contrary to those who may be incorrect.
  • I will recognize that no one cares about me and my baby like I do.
  • I understand that even doctors/midwives with hearts of gold and my best interests at heart are capable of being misinformed or indoctrinated into systems which lie.
  • I know that I contain in me maternal wisdom that cannot be learned by professionals while in college or in practice, and I honor that.
  • I will listen to my intuition in pregnancy and birth; if something doesn’t sit right with me and I ignore it, I know that only I could be responsible for the outcome.
  • I admit the illusory nature of being “under someone’s care”. By giving over my body and health to another individual, however well-trained or well-meaning, I mistakenly believed to have opted out of learning how to manage my own health and have taken a child’s role in my own health. I am not an infant and childbirth doesn’t have to be a surgical procedure, so I will take care of myself.
  • I fully accept the reality that I am the true authority over my life. I am truly the first and sole protector of my baby, as we are connected in a way that can only be felt personally to be best understood. I can no longer deny that I am in the driver’s seat and pass the buck to someone else, who may make the wrong move.
  • I trust myself. I am in tune with my body and intuition, and baby.
  • I recognize that others do sometimes make the wrong moves, and that a lot of that time, they are just doing their best. It is not always their fault, but I reject their best.
  • I accept my best instead.

It doesn’t mean:

  • I’m fully aware of the fact that I’m risking my baby’s life and that if they die, it was all because of me.
  • If the tragic occurs, it is automatically my fault, even if the tragedy were unavoidable.
  • There is no such thing as unavoidable tragedies.
  • All baby or mother deaths or injuries were “meant to be”.
  • I will be at liberty to blame everyone else for whatever happens, immediately revoking my own authority upon bad outcome.
  • Everything magical is automatically promised to me.
  • God loves me so much and my trust in “Him” is so great, that my baby and I would never die in birth.
  • I’m just going to listen to and surround myself with certain people and get sucked in by everything they say, and take their words for everything.
  • I’m not going to prepare in any way, mentally, physically, or educationally. I’m just going to leave it all up to God and accept whatever outcome “He” provides.
  • Medicine and C-sections are never necessary in birth, and I will avoid them at all costs.
  • I have no idea how birth works, natural birth just sounds really cool.
  • I have no emergency plans in place. That’s how I roll.
  • All’s well that ends well!

Being responsible means that you open up your eyes and you take in the various truths from whatever direction. They aren’t always nice or convenient, and sometimes they rock and shake your world views. Being a mature and evolving adult means having to accept that, and adapt.

If you cannot accept your role in a bad outcome when you made choices that had an obvious negative affect on your birth, that is not responsibility. If you were not totally helpless and you knew something was wrong, you had the responsibility to act on it. If you were just ignorant as to what to do, it is your responsibility to rectify that so that it doesn’t happen again.

If you can understand that this universe is a mysterious place and that life is sometimes full of senseless suffering of which sometimes truly no one is to blame, you may not only have responsibility for yourself, you may also possess tremendous grace. Not every tragedy is explainable.

I’m known for recommending homebirth and UC to any and everyone, but it comes with a catch:  first, you must be balanced. Everyone can prepare, and UC or homebirth can be for almost everyone. However, if you go into it without the appropriate intellectual or spiritual fortitude, it could be a recipe for disaster. If one is psychologically unwell or ill-prepared beforehand, and doesn’t have their ideas of what their responsibilities truly are firmly in place, the hospital may actually be their best bet. You’ll still be responsible for choosing the means, but trusting another may be more suitable for your state.

The good news:  you don’t have to start there. You don’t have to accept that. A severely out of shape person may be unfit to run a marathon today, but with training and in the right time, they become able. Get right in the head if your heart is set on homebirth. Meditate, read, learn, grow, and you’ll be ready to understand what your responsibilities are and embrace them happily.

How Birth Method is Never a “Choice”

19 07 2011


One side of a ridge is cold and foggy,

The other is hot and dry.

Just by choosing where you stand,

You alter your destiny.

Every choice you make changes you.

No matter how minor or how great, you must make choices each and every minute that passes. The irony of life is that it is a one-way journey. You cannot go back, you cannot make comparisons by trying one way and then another. There are no double-blind studies when it comes to your own life. Therefore, only wisdom will suffice to guide you.

via 365 TAO – No. 200.

I know you’ve been there– listening to your friends or acquaintances talk about pregnancy and birth, biting your tongue a little… speaking up when you can, sharing an article here and there. I hear people tell my friends not to let their babies come to term or get “too big”. I hear people tell my friends about “natural” induction methods that may or may not give them painful diarrhea. Disagreement or clarification can easily be viewed as a disrespect to one’s choices in birth. Everyone likes freedom, and everyone should be entitled to make the choices which are most right for them, right? So why am I disputing “birth choices”? Just what is a “birth choice”? Some women go to the hospital, some birth at home. Some choose docs, some midwives, some no one at all. Some get elective c-sections, some go totally natural. Are these choices?

I propose that it usually is not. Having a choice implies that there are multiple, potentially equal options. I no longer believe this is true, as undiplomatic of me as this sounds. This isn’t like choosing chocolate or vanilla, or preferring to wear a red shirt to a blue one. It isn’t tomayto, tomahto, preferences are swell! If only it were that simple.

You can almost predict what is going to happen to whom just based on conversations. One friend will try for a natural birth in a hospital and thinks this is achievable, avoiding all inductions and interventions. Another thinks that using a midwife will be the key to having all her wishes respected, and that she calls the shots. One thinks that she will only be induced “if necessary”. One seems just fine scheduling her repeat C-section a few weeks early. The list goes on, and you can almost tell exactly what is going to happen to whom, based on their “choice”, their personality, and their location. This one will get a C-section for “failure to progress”. This one will endure a hard labor in a medical environment because their husband wants her to. This one will take the drugs and intervention, but beat herself up over it. And, all may put on a happy face while holding their babies… and the next time they get pregnant, they will do it all over again like nothing is wrong, even if inside things didn’t feel right to them. Many, many women are pushing it all way down and suffering in silence, thinking their births were just “normal”. Hey, “normal” doesn’t make it right.

Take heart– We almost ALWAYS go into it naive. It doesn’t matter how smart or educated or caring you are. Don’t be offended if I insinuate you are or ever have been naive. I was naive. We have ideas that don’t ever get challenged until its our turn at bat, and then we are shocked into compliance. It’s fun.

I know it’s not Song Saturday, but I can’t help but think of and include this:

We always have a choice… Or at least I think we do. We can always use our voice– I thought this to be true … it’s not always that clear. I’d love to give my self away, But I find it hard to trust. I’ve got no map to find my way Amongst these clouds of dust.

Choices without information aren’t actually choices. I see the illusion of “choice” as the problem, rather than our ability to observe and predict what will “go wrong” in each other’s labors. The illusion of choice and the fight about it is dividing us, when the goal ever only was and should be to extend a hand to rescue each other. I don’t feel women really have a choice if they weren’t aware of their options when they decided. I don’t feel women really have a choice when they are aware of the options, but those are marred with common misconceptions and never get further explored. If your information has been filtered or controlled (and you didn’t even know it), or if you don’t seek to know more all on your own, how much of a choice did you really have? Most people think that homebirth is dangerous, and that birth in the hospital is always safest. What would you say if I told you that the reverse is true? What if I pointed you to information that blew your mind, and made you question every little thing you were ever told about pregnancy and childbirth? What if I could prevent a lifetime of regret, or a day of trauma?

There I go, sounding like a “UC Evangelist” again. I can see why the comparison would be made there. Both are zealous, both want desperately to save people. I like to think that’s where our similarities end. 🙂 I have heard “you’ve got to let people find their own way, Elizabeth”— which is very Tao of them, only I can’t get the memory of feeling like I was dying an excruciating death out of my head. Another Taoism– not regretting the past. A folly for sure of mine, birth regret! What can be done about the past? Why waste time regretting anything, particularly if it made you who you are today? But my motivation for helping people lies in not ever wanting anyone to have to learn the hard way these lessons I have learned. Sure, “choices” made me who I am today, and yes I am awake, alive, teaching, and happy. However, the severity of these things is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. You don’t have to make the “choices” I made. There has got to be another way to reach spiritual and physical truths other than that. And I seek to end suffering.

So, here I am, shouting out, hoping someone is listening…

It is with heavy hearts that we tread lightly with our friends on topics like “birth choice”. We feel such a sense of responsibility to inform people. We so want to shake them and tell them all the “nevers”, dispel the lies… but they do have a choice to walk their paths. Even if that choice hurts them. If we step on toes, we will likely be disbelieved anyway, and possibly lose friends over it. That wouldn’t help them, either, would it?  The conclusions will be any of the following:  a) you are just fanatical, b) my birth will be different, c) I just have different needs than you, d) I am better and stronger than you and thus will not be affected. Even if any or all of these are the case, it doesn’t actually promise one a better birth or mean the “fanatic” is actually wrong. So, what?

Some people will live their whole lives in denial. Most women will wear smiles and tell you nothing was wrong with their births. I think it’s a lot to process, and most people aren’t comfortable with living life in a way that forces them to face inconvenient truths.

I’m treading carefully as I can with people I know or love. I think that pregnant people get SO much advice, and everybody’s got an opinion, and most of them are damn strong ones… but, coming from my own personal place of pain, of course it kills me to see anyone go through what I went through, or worse. I just don’t know if most people are ready to hear this or not. If they are ready, conversing will flow easily. If not, I step carefully to let them be the directors of their own destiny, dropping little hints of enlightenment where I can along the way.

But for the most part, I preach to the converted or those who stand on the edge, readying themselves to jump in. 🙂 Here’s to hoping we are all creating less pain in the world!

My past choices were never choices. The only birth choice I made was THE only real choice for me, and that was to be free. It was something I had to do, and the only singular thing, so maybe that wasn’t even really a “choice”, either. See what I mean? It seems to me that birth method is never really, actually, honestly a “choice”.

Hugging, or Strangling, Destiny?- Elizabeth

We Are All Accountable.

6 07 2011

POWER can be uncomfortable, but it’s yours,

whether you like it or not.

Meet my kids.



Each one of them, born differently.



She was a hospital birth. I had a birth plan and wishes for natural delivery, but with an OB/GYN. Things happened in that birth that I will forever question myself on, and things with my daughter’s health as a result. If only I had just spoken up, if only I hadn’t just taken the doctor’s word for it, if I only had chosen differently.

That is my burden, but in context of my life and my personal evolution, I made the choices then that were most fitting of me, and given my awareness of my own naivete and ignorance, I have forgiven myself. In other words, I did the best I could at that time with what I had.


He was born in the hospital, although it wasn’t at all how I’d planned. By this point in my life I had grown stronger, more aware of our systems, more resistant, but I still wasn’t quite all the way there yet. My outrage at the positions I would be put in, at the things that were done to me without my consent and without respect for my feelings, would ultimately catapult me into learning the truth about birth that I carry with me today. The horror and disgust taught me some very hard lessons, and valuable ones.

Despite what others did from the outside, despite any chance at legalities I may or may not have had claim to for some actions, I was still an adult capable of making choices (although I wasn’t strong or smart enough yet to make the right ones). I was accountable.



Wrestling with my thoughts, trying to figure out what the medical industry had to offer me that I hadn’t yet tried, trying to figure out how to outsmart the system, find the secret formula of care I needed and how I could get people to agree to let me, I discovered their answer for me:  nothing. No one was going to save me. No one was going to speak for me. I had to save myself.  After going more than half the pregnancy not having a clear idea of what I needed to do, the dawning which occurred to me left me without any health care providers. I was both scared and liberated, emphasis on the liberated.

I had finally spoken up. I had finally said no. I had finally realized and  exercised my accountability. And now, under the birth which went only in a way that I had chosen, I had no one to thank nor to blame but myself, and it was good. I was healed, the birth was the healthiest of all of them, and I understood my own strength. The truth is, the power had been mine all along. I just hadn’t understood that.

I had forgiven myself of the past mistakes I had made, and did not place the blame solely on my care providers. While I still have my feelings about what should have been, I also realize that I had been an accountable adult all along. In fact, I had been THE primary accountable one. All my mistakes were my own, and anger and hurt feelings aside, the weight was not just to be placed on all the medical pros ever “responsible” for me.

There’s a strong anti-natural and anti-home birth movement out there. A favored evocative tool of that group is the anti-homebirth story, often wrought with tragedy. The end tone is usually that it was somebody else’s fault. I can’t help but think the whole time listening to these that there were other accountable adults there in these seemingly avoidable events. There were people with nagging intuition telling them something wasn’t right. They did nothing. There were uncomfortable mates wanting strongly to seek emergency help but doing nothing. There were quiet birth support friends shaking their heads in the corner, making meek suggestions while watching on, doing nothing. Sometimes there were even other experts giving their okays but then passing the buck. Are you seeing a trend here?

And somehow… it all comes down to the midwife– homebirth’s favorite extreme. Exalted wrongly as the hero as much as wrongly demonized as the villain.  When a bad outcome happens in a hospital, we take for granted that a doctor is educated and did all he could. Occasionally there is a lawsuit, but more often than not, there is respect and forgiveness and understanding. In a homebirth, the midwife gets the opposite of this– the opposite of the benefit of the doubt. Why? Because it’s easier to blame them? Because society takes them less seriously? Because in the backs of our minds, we doubted them and natural birth somehow, all along?

I am not saying that midwives or any medical professionals are not and should not be held accountable for their choices. No sir. But, they do not shoulder the blame alone. Wherever you could have a say, wherever you could have made a choice, so do you. We are all accountable.

I shoulder the blame for any time I did not exercise my right to say no and right to choose, and the med pros who saw me shoulder blame for anything they ever did which was against me. The times they did things against my knowledge or will, the times they would not give me what I wanted out of only policy-keeping, the times they acted in any way not like a friend, the times the information given to me was untrue, the times things were only done for their comfort or their convenience, etc. And, I forgive myself for my part in not calling out the BS, and made peace with that. Now that I know better, I will DO better. I make a promise to myself and I keep it. I will protect myself, because don’t be fooled– nobody else is looking out for you; nobody else has your best interests at heart. I can’t be mad at myself for who I was back then. I meant well. I thought I knew what was right. But, I lived and I learned and now I’m taking those lessons with me and moving ahead.

If you choose to place all the accountability and blame into someone else’s hands, that is an illusion. Even if you always allowed someone else to make those choices for you. If you had a voice to use and did not, you played a part in your experiences in life, whether you like that fact or not. Don’t assume that just because someone is a professional and has seen more birth than you that they know better than you. If you don’t agree with something, or something doesn’t feel right, it is your duty to yourself and your baby to act on that intuition.  Stand up and be accountable for your birth. Whether you make a choice or don’t make a choice, that is still a choice.

This is NOT advocating “blame the victim” mentality; it is advocating the cessation of setting yourself up to be the victim.

Once you accept your accountability, you can forgive yourself for your past choices and move on. At the end of the day, you really must be able to forgive yourself or you will not have peace and healing. Let yourself off the hook.