Three months ago, in the comfort of my own bed, I sat snuggled up to my sweet newborn baby girl, Leela. Motherbaby- A unit of one, beaming with the glow of oxytocin, gazing into each other’s eyes. I smelled her head, nuzzled her earlobes, and listened to her baby babble, cooing back to her in a Mother’s tongue. We had just experienced a beautiful labor and free birth. I repeated to Leela over and over, “You did it! We did it! You did such a great job! I felt you in there wiggling your way out”.
It wasn’t long before my older children came into the room to greet their new baby sister. I looked around the bed and saw four faces, my husband and our three children. How would we all cope with this new addition? At the time, it wasn’t an issue. We all took turns staring, in awe, at little Leela.
Between working (Ironically, I had been busy processing several other women’s placentas), playing with the older children, nursing two kiddo, feeding everyone, and keeping the house in order- I needed that placenta medicine. One morning, after a terrible night of marathon, tandem nursing, I decided that I had enough of waiting. I pulled the placenta out of the freezer and placed it in the fridge. I decided that I would tackle it as soon as it defrosted.
Start From Seed is a local non-profit that offers doula services to women on a sliding scale. They even offer Free services to at-risk women.
So often, women who have little or no support give their power away piece by piece during their experience with the hospital system.
A doula can help you stay empowererd and help you stick to your birth plan.
Did you know that you can even get a doula for the Postpartum period?
If you are in need of a doula but don't think you can afford one, consider contacting Start from Seed.
Alternatively, there are many doulas in the area that will work with you when it comes to payment or offer their services on a sliding scale.
If YOU are one of these doulas, please contact me and I will list you here.
My birth? I was 5 weeks early, 5lbs and had only the tubes and machines to bond with for weeks. I was Alone. Fast forward 20 years. I was still struggling to figure out Love, Trust and Family. I was pregnant with my first child. I knew instinctively that I had to sort out all of my issues. My husband and I got educated, released all fears and went calmly and happily into the birthing day. We had chosen to birth at a birth center and we expected no Special Circumstances.
2 hours before the birth of my first child, in the birth center
The day went beautifully. I had even invited my mother along in an attempt to have full closure with my own birth. Labor, for me, was easy and painless. However, the last few minutes of the birth were like a boxing match. Baby was crowning. It was Us versus The Midwife. The midwife was too close, too touchy, too talkative. The midwife was telling ME what to expect, (you're going to feel a burning stinging sensation) when it was not what I was experiencing. I kept telling the midwife it didn't hurt. They laughed and sort of said, "Oh, okay then!" and the mood lightened a bit. But then the midwife started in with the counting- and Push! Push! I was really distracted by this. My mind screamed - I wasn't going to be pushing anything! My husband politely reminded the midwife that we would be Breathing the Baby down. After a few proverbial punches, I decided to get out of the birthing tub and walk into the next room to give birth on the bed. I was in charge! I climbed into the bed, buried my face down in the pillows and blocked everyone out. I eventually rolled over, facing the folks in the room. The "we're gonna need you go give us a push" continued... I blocked it out and remembered my calm. Wanting the battle to be over, I utilized Mother Directed Pushing, calmly breathing down all the while, connecting with myself and my baby. Even through all of it, as my daughter moved earth-side I experienced the most profound moment of peace.
It was the last moment I would be completely surrounding her, it was the moment I was letting her go. Alone. Aren’t we all? With my Mother and my partner at my side, it was then that I truly understood Love.
Unfortunately, my daughter was now in for a series of Apgar tests where she was rubbed, and pulled and poked while being evaluated. How strong was her cry? What color was her skin? Did her body respond with the proper reflexes?
As she took to nursing, I removed the little, pink knit cap that had been promptly placed on her after birth. I saw that my daughter had a squishy “bump” on the top of her otherwise round head. This was a reminder that I had to battle the midwife. My daughter had lost her water birth.
We all stood by and snapped photos of the tiny babe being measured and weighed while she cried and flailed frantically. She was very vocal when I had to put a diaper and clothes on her. I was sad about the situation. I was a new Mom who should have been BEAMING with happiness. I just wanted to get her home so we could cuddle. Four hours after our eyes first met, I strapped her into a car seat for our 90 minute drive home. She looked absolutely exhausted. I stared at her the entire ride home, wishing she were in my arms.
Something was wrong with the “care” I had chosen. They were marketing natural birth but selling something different.
What I experienced was a diluted version of a medicalized birth.
Throughout my healthy pregnancy I was scheduled for Standard appointments to be monitored, monthly, bi-monthly, weekly. There was nothing out of order in my files. I always felt like the 90 minute drive to the appointments was a waste of time. I always spent the drive trying to come up with some sort of grievance, something that would make the drive worth my time.
During my calm, easy labor I had consented to a vaginal exam I didn’t want to prove that I was close to birthing, to avoid being sent away. During labor I was consistently observed and tracked by a midwife with tired eyes and techy machines.
Although I provided my daughter a birth exponentially better than my own, she had an experience that I deeply regret.
^^my first daughter, being weighed at the birth center
Many years later, in the comfort of my own bathtub I sat rubbing a pregnant, laboring belly. Unattended. Unassisted. Alone. With a strong intuition, wisdom and trust, I fully enjoyed the birth of my youngest daughter. There was no poking, testing, measuring, or paperwork to complete. There was only Love and Trust and Family.
A new series for you to check out- Totally Local Tuesdays. In an effort to establish more connection with the community, I will provide links or contributing posts from other local mothers and birth workers. If you are friends with us on Facebook you can get these posts directly in your feed.
Our first Totally Local Tuesday comes from local Flower Child mama Brandi Nations. Brandi is a Certified Lactation Counselor at Lifespring Lactation Services (I LOVE that... Lifespring Lactation...right on!). She offers breastfeeding support on a sliding scale stating, "No mom is ever denied services for inability to pay any amount. In-home consults, in-hospital, Skype, or over the phone. Im here for ya, ladies. Lets reach those breastfeeding goals!!". Once again, right on! As a mother who has been breastfeeding for over 4.5 years and has had many struggles along the way, I am thankful for Brandi offering this service. She just the other day helped me out on an issue with tandem nursing and weight loss.
I encourage you to take a peek into Brandi's online diary. A link to full blog post after the jump.
"We are all Flower Child Mamas. Let's believe in ourselves, seek strength, truth, and empowerment...lets love our bodies and believe in our purpose. Let's stand up for a woman's right to informed consent. Let's stomp out fear, no matter what the outcome of our births. Let's teach our daughters what their bodies can do...let's pass on our strength to them and watch how it seeps into every aspect of their lives as mothers and women...Because scare tactics protect no one. They hide the power that lies within us. They instill fear within our souls and our hearts. Every one knows women are strong but do WE know how strong we are? Let's use our birth stories both good and bad, to change the world of birth in regards to fear. Let's let it be a disease that we eradicate by encouraging, educating, and empowering other women and their partners about how birth can be. When you look into the eyes of your sleepy baby tonight, remember your strength, your worth, and your heart. Remember that you MADE this little creature, and that motherhood, parenting, and helping your babies to grow into strong happy people is a gift in and of itself. Being a mom takes strength and hope and power and love and assertiveness and knowledge and energy and patience. If we devote all this to raising our children why not devote all this to birthing them too?" - Brandi Nations
Hypnosis. What image pops into your mind? For most people they think of weird swirling spirals, pendulums, ticking clocks…
Maybe you’ve seen one of those hypnosis stage shows where people are walking around squalking like a chicken or quacking like ducks because the magical hypnotist made them do it!
The truth about hypnosis is, all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. All of those people flapping their arms and rolling around on the ground like a caterpillar are all willing participants. It’s a lot of fun and everyone in the audience gets a good laugh. In fact, some of the audience members actually end up hypnotized throughout these stage shows! Some people are more open to suggestions from strangers than others and some people aren’t open to suggestion at all (you may or may not see them standing against a wall with their arms crossed, looking bored).
Hypnosis has gotten a bad rap from stage performers! What’s it really all about anyway?
A letter to my HypnoBirthing Practitioner:
Sunday, April 26 baby Olive, my first child, was born.
The labor went better than we predicted. Active labor began around 5:00 pm, we arrived at the birth center at around 7:00 pm and she was born at 10:49 pm. It was an incredible, seamless, pain free experience. Almost no one believes me! I am so thankful for your class. It opened up the door for Derek and I so that we would incorporate daily meditation into our lives. Derek has become an unbelievable guide for my daily relaxations. Our lives are more peaceful and I can easily handle our new addition and the “stresses” that accompany her.
If I could extend any advice to the couples taking the course it would be to purchase the Stephen Halpern Comfort Zone background music. Those three songs played every night under Derek’s words. I also listened to them while I napped and bathed. We played them on a constant loop during and after the labor. As we stretched out in the tub, I could hear Derek’s voice in my ear, in real life, and I could also “hear” Marie Mongan saying, “I am happy that my baby is finally coming to me…And noooow, it’s time to relax.” At times it was Marie’s words, that only I could hear, that would cause a huge smile to spread across my face. Derek had remind me to relax my jaw. I told him, “But I’m so happy that my baby is finally coming to me.” He found this funny but reminded me again to relax my jaw.
My transition was amazing. All of a sudden, a surge came and I could do nothing but chant Lo-Lo-Lo-Lo-Lo. In my mind I was thinking over and over again “I love you, I love you, I love you”. Olive was wiggling inside my womb and I couldn’t get my attention off of her. The next bit of time was the same over and over again. A surge would come and I would chant Lo-Lo-Lo as Olive wiggled lower and lower.
As the midwife and nurse prepared the room, the midwife told me that I may feel some burning or stinging and that it might hurt, but not to be afraid. I looked at him and told him, “No, it doesn’t hurt” in a serious voice. Derek laughed. I looked back at him and he told me I was doing great. There was laughter in his voice. The midwife then lightly added, “Well, alright then”. It’s amazing how light the mood was when such a heavy thing was happening.
I thought I needed to change positions so I moved from the tub to the bed. My mom snapped a photo of me crawling up onto the bed and little did I know, she was crowning! They told me to turn over and try lying on my back. When I rolled over they said, “Reach down and feel your baby’s head”. I was wide eyed! I looked down and there she was. I took and big breath and pushed her head out. The whole world rocked. Her head was really lumpy looking from where she had been only partially out. With the next surge I pushed the rest of her out. I must have connected with some past birthing experience because I didn’t prepare to push her but I still knew exactly what to do. It was really powerful.
Two hours later I took a nice hot shower and prepared to take Olive home. She was 8 lb and 11 oz, 21.25 inches long and absolutely beautiful.
I just wanted to say thank you. You’re doing a wonderful service. This experience has inspired me to spread the word about natural childbirth. Olive’s birth was the most incredible high. I wish every women, man and child could experience what Olive, Derek and I did. I felt every bit of her as she came out into the world. It was the last time I would be completely surrounding her. I understand why it feels so great to hug her and hold her and the natural relief of letting her go.
August 25, 2013… 9 am I woke up to my 2 year old son asking to nurse. As he nursed, I held him close to my big baby belly, the room darkened by thick curtains. It was the first morning in weeks that I hadn’t wondered, “Will my membranes release this morning?”