The Difference Between You & Me Is…

24 09 2012

The difference between you and me is this:

You’re busy telling women to soak up being told they are beautiful by their doctor while their asshole gets pushed out.

I’m busy telling women how to avoid getting their assholes pushed out.

Several weeks back I wrote a status post where I declared that I want women to be liberated from the feeling that they could not have done it (given birth, or survived birth) without their health care provider. My point is that, truly for most of us, we could do more than just survive birth– we could thrive in birth.

A new “fan”, who said she joined because she liked “all my beautiful birth stories I shared” (obviously didn’t know me very well!), told me that she wouldn’t have changed a thing (sound familiar?), and that her doctor assisting her birth is exactly what she needed. I told her that my message was simply that most women don’t need medical assistance or interference to deliver a baby, but she kept nominating her doc for the sainthood, letting me know that he was right there holding her hand, telling her how beautiful she looked “while her asshole was being pushed inside out”, or something to that effect.

I informed her that if she truly had an emergency then I’m glad her doc was there, but that birth is not an automatic emergency, and that her position was pretty much contrary to the beliefs of this page. We are about getting women to understand their power, not believe completely in the power of the docs. I told her that blind reliance is scary, and she contended that it was “not scary at all”.

This woman gave birth in a hospital and didn’t question our system, only had praise for it, and she wasn’t at all getting the point of the message I was trying to get across. It got more heated with our back and forths and she ended up calling me a psycho bitch, so I deleted/banned her. I don’t ban everyone, and I don’t ban people just for disagreeing like some pages do, but if you come to the “wrong page” (for you) and keep arguing the core beliefs of that page, and ultimately resort to calling me names over it, well… you need help towards the exit.

So classically, I was able to boil down all the gist of what was going on between us (and what I should have said) well after the fact of her leaving. There you have it, in the intro. And may it stand as a testament to what so many of us have come to understand about walking away from medically managed birth.

Lachlan: Jolene’s Unmedicated Hospital Birth Story

28 11 2011

The following is a guest post by Jolene, who had an unmedicated, peaceful birth with her first baby in-hospital just 2 days after Thanksgiving! Jolene, isn’t it cool that some years Lachlan will have his birthday on Thanksgiving? -Elizabeth


So, Friday morning I woke up just fine aside from a little bit of swelling in my feet from being on my feet all day on Thanksgiving. I woke up at 3 am in order to go Black Friday shopping with my mom & sisters. I went in and out of stores, bought a few things for Arwen for Christmas. Even went so far as to buy a special baby for Arwen that could be fed and changed with the intent to give to her as a gift from Lachlan. I joked about going into labor early with my mom & sisters because of second hand cigarette smoke rather loudly in line behind some women who kept lighting up… I guess I sort of jinxed myself! Although, I had done that the week previous when the dr’s on the military post were trying to get me to wait until the 29th for a Dr’s appt. that it’d be great if I just had him this weekend while my entire family was here and before they even got a chance to see me. Needless to say, Michael has banned me from ever saying something like that again. lol.

Anyway, back to the story, we got back home around 7 am and I laid down for like an hour before I heard Arwen up and moving around. I got up and made breakfast for everyone, and coffee for my parents, Michael, and Grandma. Was cleaning up dishes from the night before and all of that… I noted that I had pain in my lower back, but didn’t think much of it. Like I said, I’d been on my feet A LOT prepping for them to be there and doing Thanksgiving prep and cooking.

All day long, my mom, Grandma and I went through clothes people had sent for Lachlan. We washed them and folded them and put them into bins by sizes. I’m really thankful we got this done, because it came into handy when I realized I’d be needing clothes ASAP! We watched movies as a family, cleaned up, and I made a trip to Walmart with my mom & sister for pizza fixings to have a pizza party. I realized at this point that I was losing my mucus plug, but I also had read so much that said it could be days or weeks before anything happened so I didn’t read too much into it.

When we got home, the pain in my back was also in my stomach, but I didn’t really do much aside from sit in my glider and watch movies. I thought relaxing would help…Around 10 pm I climbed into bed hoping sleep would help, but after a little while I realized that was futile. So, I got up, filled the bath tub and soaked in a warm bath for about a half hour or hour. I got out of the tub, and climbed back into bed, Michael massaged my back for a while. But, soon I told him just to go to sleep because my parents needed to go to the airport in St. Louis for 2 am and he had to drive them (at this point it was midnight). I couldn’t bear laying in bed another moment, so I got up and got back into the bathtub. Within moments I was vomitting, and vomitting again… When I got out of bed, I couldn’t walk/talk through the contractions, and I threw up yet again. So, finally, I woke Michael up and asked if he’d take me to the hospital. I knew I was in labor at that point, I think before that I was in denial.

My Grandma volunteered to go to the hospital with me, because at this point we still thought my parents would be going home and Michael would be taking them to the airport. My sisters would stay at the house with Arwen, so we didn’t have to wake her. It was 1:30 am at this point. Of course my mom flipped out when she realized I was probably in labor and she was refusing to go home. However, my dad had a commitment he had to be home for today. So, with many tears, I left them behind and headed for the hospital. Michael, stayed with me while I got checked in and I walked myself to the ob-gyn floor. They weighed me, then set me up in a room. Once they heard my symptoms, they checked me, and the nurse informed me I was 8 cm dialated. (This was 2 am). Michael, who obviously isn’t familiar with the scale for dialation and what it means, then asked if he had time to take my parents to St. Louis without missing the birth (St. Louis is 2 hrs away). The nurse laughed and said he probably didn’t have a chance to make it to the next town and back. When Michael informed my mom of this, she flat out refused to leave and told him she was walking to the hospital if he didn’t come and get her lol. So, he left quickly to get my parents.

The nurses who were with me, were amazing. They flat out asked what I wanted with my birth and vowed to help me achieve exactly what I wanted. One told me plain and simple that I was running the show. At this point, I was so exhausted from the past few days, I was finding it hard to do anything but focus on Lachlan and waiting to see him. I think he was the only reason I was staying awake at that point. I literally laid there, focused on the tv which was turned off, but served a good focal point, blowing through contractions. Meanwhile, Michael was on the phone trying to get Delta airlines to push my parents flight back so that they could be there.
I was at 9 cm before I even knew what was happening, and was feeling the overwhelming need to push. The doctor (who was a Captain Obvious type) was against me starting to push before ten, but the nurse basically reiterated that I was in control of my labor and they coached me through starting to push. I started pushing around 3 am. Michael, was holding one of my feet still conversating with Delta airlines woman, who was quoting a 50.00 fee for pushing the flight back. She kept commenting how calm I was lol. They could see his head immediately, but he kept going back a little bit with each push. However, they kept commenting on his amazing head of hair, and how much he was moving. His head was moving back and forth even in the birth canal!

My mom and Grandma stayed in the room, as well as Michael and well by proxy, Delta airlines woman. lol. After about an hour, the airlines woman told him they’d taken care of it and there’d be no fee for the flights to be pushed back to 5pm. She wished me good luck and hung up…probably good for her, because half way through pushing I asked for the phone to tell her off. (My only weakness during labor is that I apparently threaten airline workers who work to ruin my perfect labor and delivery and threatening my husband who was making jokes the entire time…lol).

The most intense pain came when his head finally came out, and in a way that was even overshadowed by my need to see him! I sat up and watched as he came out, with one hand in a fist near his face (the reason it took so long for him to come out while pushing). Then he in essence, waved at me, and the doctor set him on my stomach. I asked them to delay clamping his cord, and they did. Michael got to cut the cord, and teared up while he took a mess of pictures. He’d been updating facebook the entire time and apparently felt it his duty to add more pictures. I’m glad for that, because as much as I thought I’d be all about the pictures, I was so much more all about Lachlan and just looking at him. I still can’t stop just staring at his every feature. He is so absolutely perfect.


My Grandma was so excited to be there for her oldest grandchild’s baby’s birth and it was the first birth she witnessed, aside from her own births. My mom, Grandma and I were busy crying and spending time with Lachlan, while Michael went and got my Dad from the waiting room. He immediately joined the crying party when he saw his first grandson. Of course, this is very special for him because he has all daughters and a granddaughter before Lachlan.

They allowed me all the time I wanted to spend with him, feed him, etc before they cleaned him off. He was 8 lbs 1 oz, 20 and 1/2 inches long and his head circumference is 14 in. Originally it looked like one of his eyes were brown and one blue, but I realized the next day that their both blue! Also, something you both will love to hear! He’s what they refer to as “naturally circumcised” so he’ll be left just as he was born, he’ll have no cutting at all. I am SO happy for this! My little man is just perfect as is.

My husband then called everyone he knows and let them know Lachlan was here, and that his wife was a soldier. I had no meds, didn’t cry or scream or anything near that. I was actually more complaining I was exhausted than anything else and just wanted to see him already! All of my nurses have been amazing, and we’re supposed to go home tomorrow.

Lachlan is just perfect! He’s been eating every two hours since birth and has stayed with me, they have been great about letting us have every choice with him. Including honoring our request not to give him a pacifier or supplement with formula at all.


If you’d like to share your birth story, perfect or imperfect, e-mail us at

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.