Tuesday, December 23, 2014

giving Birth

I've been thinking a lot lately about giving birth.  Suddenly, it's almost all I can think of, actually.  I have about 9 more weeks before I expect that to happen, so it's not as if I'm running short of time to prepare myself, but for whatever reason the time for planning, processing and preparing is now

Today it's gloomy outside, the second day in a row that it's been too cloudy to photograph what I've been sewing.  So instead I thought I'd share some personal things, perhaps to give you a context for what I might share later on when baby comes or perhaps more as a way of working through these feelings myself.  Let's imagine we're sitting together over some stitching, having a heart to heart. Shall we?

bring your stitching

I gave birth to both Aria and Liam at home, planned home births with certified midwives, assistants, my mother, my husband, even little Aria attending that second birth.  Growing up, I never would have thought that would be me.  It didn't "run" in my family or anything!  But, as it turns out, making an unusual birth choice was the first of many, many unusual lifestyle choices our family would embrace.

Why at home?  Well, my research and my heart felt it was the safest, happiest place we could be.  That's a very personal, complex decision and one I'd never want make for another woman.  There are definitely many versions of a happy, successful birth.  So props to all moms!  (But, if you're curious about the why's and how's of home birth, consider these reads:  Henci Goer, Ina May Gaskin and Jennifer Block, plus the film The Business of Being Born.)

Was I scared?  Oh, yes.  Going into that first birth, I didn't know if I could do it.  I reviewed transfer-to-hospital plans carefully with my midwife and tried to keep an open mind about what would happen.  I labored about 12 hours with Aria, all slow and steady.  Lots of pain.  I'll never forget those dark early hours searching in vain for a comfortable position in the water.  And then how the morning light came, and it made me angry that I was still suffering.  And, how my mom held my hands from outside the tub, letting me pull against her and holding me together with her strong eyes locked on mine.  How I marveled that she had done this for me long ago.  How I doubted I could.  How I wished to be rescued.

That was "transition", the term they give to the last bit of dilation, before you start pushing.  I did feel desperate then, but it passed.  After 2 hours of pushing in the tub, Aria was born as soon as I came out of the water.  Because of a low lying placenta, I hemorrhaged after birth.  My capable and prepared midwives treated me with the same drugs that I would have had in the hospital to stop the bleeding and all turned out well. 

I was glad I gave birth at home.  I was proud of myself for doing what I felt was best for my body and my baby.  So, I did it again with Liam.  Only, it was so. much. better!

That second time around I truly anticipated birth day.  I knew I could handle the pain.  I expected things to be a little easier, being a second birth.  And, most of all, I wasn't scared!  One of my clearest memories from that birth is smiling between contractions as I thought about getting to meet my baby boy so soon.  It was a happy night!  Still 12 hours of labor, but I truly felt calm and purposeful the whole time.  Liam was almost 2 lbs bigger than Aria, but his birth was a joy.  Yes, it hurt, but I knew in every fiber of my being that it was worth it, that we were safe and that I could do it.  Also, I had a great, hands-on doula.  When it was all over, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment!

So.... in the years that followed, when I grieved being "done" having children, I also grieved being done giving birth.  I had enjoyed my pregnancies.  My births were experiences I treasured.   And I guess that is why I am sharing this with you.  It's part of who I am.  Giving birth to Eleni is an experience I completely anticipate.  I want to prepare well, and I want to do well. 

These days I am wondering... would I like to have a birth tub?  Will using hypnobabies (wide-awake, self-hypnosis for child birth) help to shorten my labor and/or diminish felt pain?  Would I like to have girlfriends at my birth?  How to prepare Aria and Liam to benefit from and enjoy the big day?  As well as a few more sinister questions such as, will I make it full term at all?  Unfortunately, there have been some minor complications with this pregnancy that could derail plans.  It's important to be low-risk and very healthy to attempt a home birth.  Of course, it's also important that baby is full term!

I know that some of you are pregnant, and even more of you have given birth in years past.  Whatever your story or plans, we mothers are all part of a true miracle and a privilege.  Birth is not an obstacle to endure so much as a rite of passage, a momentous event and, even... possibly, one of the best days of your life.

May it be so.

xo,

Rachel



35 comments:

  1. I have been reading a lot of posts about mom'shaving babies recently. They all make me cry. I was wondering why. I have 8 beautiful children, but with the last one I had them tie my tubes because of so much trouble with my body and my 1 1/2 lb premie. She is super healthy and growing! When you said you grieved being done giving birth I knew that was it. I don't want any more kids, I know God gave me 8. But I love giving birth to a new baby (not the pain) but the anticipation and loving on that new little one. I really don't like all the work that follows, but my little one is over 1 year and no more holding a little baby until the grandkids start ariving. So now I know I can grieve that and let it go. Thank you. Be blessed as you deliver your new little one!

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  2. I pray that all goes well for you and that you are able to have your home birth. In the end, all that matters is a healthy mama and healthy baby. I'm so very happy for you and can't wait for your joy to arrive!

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  3. Thank you for sharing this, Rachel! I love reading birth stories like yours.
    I have grieved not giving birth naturally, feeling keenly that I missed the right of passage. We were living on campus in student accommodation when Tully was born so home birth didn't seem like an option. But it was through my birth with Tully that I realised how sensitive I am to my surroundings, to all the machines, to random staff dropping in. And my poor body just shut down.
    When I was able to fight to have my miscarriage at home, without intervention, and with just Tim, it felt like the biggest thing I'd done to really care for myself. And while heartbreaking, my body did it, all on its own, and in a funny way, the pain was a joy, because I knew I needed it to process it all and heal.
    I'm so glad you felt empowered to make those choices from the beginning. Praying the rest of your pregnancy with Eleni is safe and and you can birth add you hope to.
    And Happy Christmas if I don't 'see' you tomorrow (because we're a day ahead! ). Have a wonderful time with your family! Xxx

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    1. How brave of you to undertake your miscarriage in a way that was difficult, but healing. Thanks for sharing, Jodi. And thanks for your well wishes. Merry Christmas!

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  4. What a beautiful post, Rachel. As I think about having children, and what I want for them and me and my husband, I feel society's sentiment about giving birth. That it should disregard the mother, in favor of the baby, that it should be cut short in favor of getting home on time. I have no quarrel with modern medicine - much of it is semi-miraculous. But somewhere in the hunt for progress, we seem to have left behind the experience of birth as something to accomplish, instead seeing it as something to suffer through.

    I understand the sentiment behind "all the matters is a healthy baby," but it's just not true. Mom's experience and baby's experience are intertwined. And yes, perhaps a healthy baby is the most important thing, but it's not the only thing, and there are different ways to go about making sure that happens.

    Whatever you decide to do, I wish you peace of mind and comfort in the knowledge that you will know what's right. I hope that bringing this baby into the world is the wonderful experience that both you and Eleni deserve. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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  5. My eldest daughter and son in law chose home birth. I was VERY skeptical but held my tongue and prayed for the best. I arrived at their house a little less than 24 hours after their first child, my grandson, was born. I could see immediately the benefit of home birth. My daughter and son in law were so in tune with the baby and home life...there was no traumatic transition period from hospital to home. The midwife came to the house to do the baby and mom checks. They had their second child at home as well. My daughter is a registered nurse and since becoming a mom has become a certified lactation consultant and childbirth educator. She does not stress or push home birth. She stresses how to make an informed birth decision and encourages women and couples to be empowered in the birth process no matter what the birthing place and/or process.

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    1. Good for you on supporting your daughter! Each time, my mother in law has been generously supportive of our choice to birth this way, even though I sense a hospital birth seems much more safe to her. It is a gift she has given me. And, yes, the being home part really is sweet. My midwife this time even comes to my house for every prenatal visit. Heaven!

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  6. Hi Rachel, I'm pregnant with my second, and did a homebirth with my first, and hoping to do another with this one. I'm wondering how to prepare my 2.5 year old for the birth, as I don't want him to be worried, or scared, and would love to hear what you did with Aria, or discover in your research this time around.

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    1. Aria was 2 years 3 months at the birth. I did talk to her about what it would be like and especially that mom might make some noises (I demonstrated, hehe). I had a friend watch over her and bring her in for the actual pushing part only, as the whole experience would have been much too long. We let her watch as much as she wanted, without overly focusing her on what was happening when she got distracted. Of course, she does not remember it now. I really think that if you and those with you in the room are not scared, the child will not be either, unless the child already has a timid disposition.

      I am really eager to have Aria and Liam both experience the birth this time, and fortunately, they are eager too. I want them to have this opportunity to see that birth is lovely and safe and doable. This one they will remember. I wish I'd had more opportunities to experience birth myself before my first. So glad they can have this chance!

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  7. Home births can be so wonderful and can set the stage for awesome parenting. I home birthed successfully with all five of my children. It is certainly not the right choice for every family but it is a wonderful option. I fully expect you will have a beautiful experience.

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  8. How sweet of you to share such precious stories of your life! How happy it makes me to think of you planning and preparing, again. Do enjoy, I know you do. The days my 2 boys were born were absolutely the very best of days! New life, that really had so little to do with me...it is truly miraculous, and so universal. Thank you for the remembering you have occasioned, too :)

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  9. Rosemary b here:
    I loved reading this. I am excited for your whole family,
    Merry Christmas to all of you.

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  10. i have three children, my youngest two were both home births (first born was a hospital transfer). my littlest girl was a home water birth.. i got to catch her myself. each birth was unique and beautiful and life altering.

    i'm currently 36 weeks pregnant with a little surrogate baby.. it's my cousin's baby, conceived after alot of heart break and loss. this baby is a planned home birth as well, and i'm very much looking forward to welcoming this very special baby at home, surrounded by family. it should be a very special experience for all involved!

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  11. oh Rachel, such beautiful thoughts. i can understand where you're coming from regarding birth. i suppose it is what led me to become a doula and lactation counselor. my last birth did not go as i had hoped - though our baby was healthy and so was I so i felt i shouldn't complain - and i'm not complaining. and yet, it's funny how these things can affect us, too. it was something i had to make peace with. i hope you are able to have the home birth that you are hoping for. merry christmas, Rachel! <3

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  12. I guess there's some aspect of babies that we all grieve for being over. For me, it's nursing. I loved every aspect of nursing, watching her grow on my milk alone. I pray this birth goes smoothly for you.

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  13. Many blessings to you Rachel & Eleni on a peaceful and gentle homebirth!! We were blessed to have all four of our babes born at home. The days my children were born were amongst the very best days of my life. Those first days with the new baby are nothing short of magical and you are so blessed to have that in your very near future. Cherish every moment!....I know you will!

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    1. I am surprised to hear from so many who have experienced home birth. Didn't expect that! Amazing how these digital connections can touch us in more places than we'd guess. Thanks for your blessings! Happy Holidays!

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  14. Exciting times, little Eleni will be here before you know it. I never considered a home birth but I can see the attraction. Like you, I really enjoyed being pregnant (those hormones were amazing - I felt soo happy, each and every day (after the morning sickness) and so at peace with the world; I really loved the way I felt when I was pregnant. I wish they could put those hormones in a pill.) I can totally understand you grieving for that. I've had four children and I still get a little misty eyed over the fact I will never feel those little internal baby movements again (unless I eat too many habaneros) and I will never breastfeed again. I know some people don't enjoy pregnancy/nursing so I feel especially blessed to have really loved it. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Rachel, and all the best for 2015!

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  15. Wow I'm so excited for you Rachael! I think home birth is such a gutsy choice. What baby wants to stay at the hospital with that stale AC air and basically be forced to wait out 2 days there for insurance purposes. With my third we left the hospital right after 24 hours passed, not making a lot of friends with the staff over that choice. In the past my doctor delivered all three of my babies, but after recent events with some failed pregnancies I didn't think she cares about my well being, just the bottom line, so I've switched to a midwife practice, something I'd never do before. I even hired a doula (a very strange lady with an alternative lifestyle but I figured if I'm looking for a new experience I might as well go for it!) and might attempt natural this time. I don't know. I'm scared about that part because I've always had a epidural that worked with no I'll effects. But I'm definitely going to give birth in the hospital. My first baby was almost delivered by c section when her heart rate went erratic (and she had mild heart issues that cleared up on their own before her first birthday) but I remember being so scared as they wheeled me to the or and so thankful my doctor was there all suited up in her scrubs ready to proceed in what felt like 20 seconds. It's such a tough choice Rachael, but I know you'll make the right one for you and your family. Only you can! I can't wait to see photos of baby Eleni. It will be such a happy day when she is born:)

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    1. Jamie, I know it seems very far-fetched, but you might want to consider hypnobabies as an alternative to epidural, since you are already considering alternatives to epidural. I would not have seriously considered it myself, but a very close friend used it with great success and had a painless birth. Seriously. So crazy. Anyways, it's basically about blocking the pain messages from getting to your brain and with hypnobabies techniques you can be present and interactive with those around you while remaining under self-administered-hypnobabies-pain-block. Again, not for everyone, but if you're interested try watching some births on youtube. There is an interview with midwife on youtube where she shares her observations on birth experiences for her clients who do and don't use hypnobabies. I found it very informative/convincing.

      But always, what is right for you. No judgement! I just like sharing these things because we don't know about new ideas until someone we respect shares them =) Blessings!

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  16. PS each birth got a lot easier for me...the last two only took a few pushes and they were born! It was way different than the first time. Here's hoping it is as easy for you!!!

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  17. I'm so glad to hear of places where women have choices. Home births are not an option everywhere (some states have legislation that restricts them or makes it quite hard to find a provider). This discussion is important, and I appreciate you sharing your experiences! I wish you well as you prepare!

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  18. You live the life I did not have the courage to live when I was your age. Thanks for letting me live it vicariously through my "safe & conventional" choice.

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    1. Loretta, My mom often marvels at how women today have so much more support for making unique choices due to the proliferation of information and connection from the internet. Don't be hard on yourself! And thank you for your support today.

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  19. I am due in less than 2 weeks with my first baby. It will not be a home-birth, but I really enjoyed reading your story. Have a great holiday and a safe and happy delivery!
    -Brittany

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    1. Oh, how exciting to be due so soon! Blessings on your birth. May it be safe and happy and the best of new beginnings!

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  20. Totally agree with your perspective. I couldn't stop talking about giving birth after my first. I thought the whole experience was wonderful! I did have quick labours though all five were less than four hours. I think I am lucky in the baby making department. My Mum was also a trained mid-wife so handy to have as support :-) Good luck with your preparations I'm sure you will be completely organised. Best wishes and Happy Holidays.

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  21. Hope everything goes well for you and the birth is as uneventful as possible. Home births are a special and beautiful thing. I had high risk pregnancies and was not able to make this choice, but I had the privilege of being the 'babysitter' of a 4 year old on the day her baby brother was born. When it came time for the actual birth the little one and I were sitting on the front porch singing Old MacDonald. I felt blessed to be a tiny part of this miracle.

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  22. I've said it before and will say it again. You are an amazing person in many, many ways. I hope all goes well for you and that you are able to realize this birth at home. I've read a few recent articles that indicate a home birth is actually safer for all than a hospital birth ... assuming, of course, there are no other complications.

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  23. Thanks for sharing your story! I must admit to getting a little teary reading it and imagining your wonderful family and how you're going to be adding to it again so very soon. Life is a many splendid and varied thing and it's so wonderful to share in how people approach it and the miracles in it. I don't know if we'll ever have another baby, but I like to take comfort in the fact that if we do I won't be as scared of the unknown as I was with our son. I hope you have a really enjoyable 9 weeks and another wonderful birth experience, I can't wait to read all about it and celebrate another little miracle coming into the world. Hope you had a fabulous Christmas!

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    1. Oh, what a sweet note! I love how you said that life is a many splendid and varied thing. That's the truth! And as I've grown up I've really been able to see and feel how those variations make life all the more beautiful. Well said! And enjoy the long weekend =)

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  24. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I just had my 3rd at my midwife's birth center after 2 hospital births (induction turned cesarean and scheduled cesarean). I understand completely. I loved my birth.

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  25. I just love reading your blog, you write so beautifully. As a nurse I have been lucky enough to be present for a few births, as well as having a daughter of my own, and nothing tops it. It's so surreal to be there when a new person comes into the world! I will give some unsolicited advice that you are free to ignore about friends. One of the mom's I nursed had brought two friends with her, and to it was, well, awkward. I know that it wouldn't be that way for everyone, but it's such an intensely personal event, with nothing kept secret, and her friends just didn't know what to do. They couldn't really visit, they wanted to help but there wasn't anything to do, and at the end they left shortly after the baby arrived because it was really a time for family.
    If you have the right friends, then it could be amazing, but I know this wasn't quite what they had hoped.
    I love that you do home births though, and I love the Business of Being Born! If I didn't live 2 hours from the nearest midwife and hospital it would definitely be something I would consider. All the best to you, and I hope you have a wonderful experience and that it's the one that you want!

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  26. Rachel, It's fitting that It is this post that I read today. I'm thinking of you as I prepare for the trip to Quiltcon - as with anyone who is long term TTC I secretly wished I wouldn't be making this trip (just in case I got pregnant). I was flipping through photos from the last Quiltcon and thinking fondly of that dinner / mixer / evening of talking for several hours straight - I knew I should stop here and say hi! I knew you were preparing for birth instead of Quiltcon, which is a little bit of the reason I haven't been following so closely here. That's ok though, I do hope you understand. I know you can do this - you've got it. I'm sending you all the encouragement and mom hugs I have.

    I delivered my daughter at a hospital which has a birthing center, and a team of midwives. The midwives were awesome. I had prepared for birth, but hadn't gone in with any intentions or plans - and as a result i ended up with an epidural, and a nap. Thankfully the midwives knew how to manage that epidural so I was eased off it toward the end - and was able to move around / experience my daughter's birth more than the traditional epidural patient. I think that had I not been told to get out of the tub (to get an IV, because I was asking for the epidural) - that I would have progressed without medication, and much quicker. But such is life. :) I think the second time around (and hopefully there is a second time around for me), I would consider home birth. I've read and read and read.... (I love the memoir "Baby Catcher" by Peggy Vincent), and I have one dear quilt friend who is nearing certification as a CNM, and my very best friend from college is just starting on the same path. I feel like with the proper support I would enjoy (!?) childbirth naturally.

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