Archive for October, 2008

More natural birth stories

October 31, 2008

Excerpted from Journey into Motherhood:

Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth by Sheri Menelli

From Denial to Ecstasy

By Michele Zeck

You could set a clock by my menstrual cycle. But when I was four days late, I focused on all of the physical signs indicating my period was on the way. I bought an Early Pregnancy Test on my way to work, just to put my mind to rest—I knew I was not pregnant.

I went to the restroom the second I arrived. That stick couldn’t have turned positive any quicker than it did… I was horrified! At 32, I had just gotten engaged to Rich, and did not want kids at all. In a state of shock and hysteria, I tried to tell a couple of my co-workers. I was incoherent, carrying on and pointing to the stick, so distraught that I had to leave work. I headed straight to Rich to tell him the news. I could not have asked for a more sympathetic man as I sat in his office blubbering about the situation.

That night we talked over our options. Do we keep the baby or do we give the baby up for adoption? I cried and prayed until I finally fell asleep that night. The next day I had an overwhelming feeling of peace about the pregnancy. It was a go. We accepted our unexpected gift.

As we talked about the kind of birth we wanted—a hospital or home birth—I made it clear that I am against any kind of pain
medication or anything that interferes with the natural birthing process. I don’t understand why people would take care of themselves during their pregnancy but allow drugs to enter their body, and the baby’s, during labor. Our bodies are made for birthing. Labor pain won’t last forever, and there is such a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Although it can seem unbearable at times, I see labor as such a small window of time compared to the bigger picture of growing and birthing a child.

We were aware of the problems that could arise if we chose a hospital birth, but I didn’t know anyone who had given birth at home. We talked with friends about our dilemma, and they knew of a midwife who had been in practice for over 20 years and delivered over 1,000 babies. Encouraged by this sign, we contacted her to set up an interview. She answered all of our questions and talked with us about our philosophy on birthing. She advised us to not make a decision right away, to think about our conversation for a week or so.

We figured it would be smart to talk with my Ob/Gyn about home birth. So we made an appointment, but before we could see the doctor we had to fill out a stack of paperwork. Oh, brother! Then the nurse proceeded to go through her routine, or as I call it, “pushing us through like a herd of cows.” She gave us the “pregnant packet” full of propaganda, which annoyed Rich and I to no end. We just wanted to TALK to the doctor, that’s it. Finally, we were led to an examination room and I was told to get into a gown. I said, “I’m sorry, but I’m here strictly to talk to the doctor. No examination is going to take place.” Thank goodness Rich was there, or I wouldn’t have felt brave enough to stand up for what I believed should happen during that visit.

My doctor, a woman I really liked and had been to for five years, came in a few minutes later. We talked about the possibility of working with a midwife and having a home birth. While she was open to a midwife, she objected to a home birth because of the fact I had herpes. (Herpes can be passed from mother to baby during birth, but only if the mother is experiencing a breakout.) I was so
grateful that I had already discussed this with my midwife. She had put my concerns to rest right away, educating me on foods and immune-boosting supplements that would suppress breakouts. She had safely delivered many babies with moms who had herpes. To hear my doctor try to scare me with the herpes angle did not make me happy. She said she respected our feelings about whether or not to vaccinate our baby, and other choices we wanted to make, which made me feel better. However, she couldn’t guarantee she would be on call when I went into labor, and she warned me that the other delivery doctors wouldn’t be as open-minded. That was all I needed to hear. I wasn’t going to give birth under such uncertain circumstances.

After we were done with the question-and-answer session the doctor said, “I see you didn’t want an exam.” I confirmed that we were just there to talk, so the office charged us for a consultation, which our insurance does not cover. That was the cherry on top of the whole unpleasant experience.

The next day we called the midwife, Yolanda, and told her we were ready to work with her. We met the following week to fill out some paperwork and exchange expectations, and just to talk. She told us that she did not conduct vaginal exams until the home visit, which is two weeks before your due date. She had a 0% infection rate. She does not offer any drugs for pain and will only do episiotomies if absolutely necessary. During the birth she uses oil and massage to help stretch the perineum and make it more elastic. Yolanda also advised me to use ginger for morning sickness… those ginger tablets were my best friends for months. Peppermint oil was also helpful for my tummy. Our next appointment was in two months, which would put me at 13 weeks along.

Our first real appointment with a midwife was astonishing. The wealth of information she had blew me away. My husband has children from a previous marriage and even he was flabbergasted. He told her that no doctor had ever taken the time to include him in the prenatal discussions, or teach him how to help prepare a woman’s body for the birthing process.

In my second trimester I was feeling so much better, now that the nausea had left. But that is also when the fear set in… I was so scared of the pain of labor. Some days that’s all I thought about, and I knew I had to take control of my mindset. I told Yolanda about my low tolerance for pain, and asked what I could do to cope with my fears. She encouraged me to read Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz, an excellent book. It was key to helping me manage the pain issue, but also so much more. It is perfect for women planning a home birth, or a hospital birth.

I needed to hear the baby’s heartbeat, and we finally did for the first time at about the 17th week. Until that day, a part of me was still in denial about being pregnant. I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case something went wrong during my first trimester. Once I heard that little heart beat I was overwhelmed with happiness. I really was pregnant! There really was a little person growing inside me. The reality of having a baby finally set in.

The more I read my book, Birthing from Within, the more thrilled I was and the more confident I became that I could have a perfectly wonderful home birth. Birthing at home can be a very daunting thing for most people. My mom and friends resisted the idea at first. All I heard was, “What if, what if, what if… hospitals are safer and better equipped to handle emergencies….” I told them to educate themselves about home births and hospital births
before making a judgment call. As I shared more and more information with them, they gradually opened up to the idea.

Two weeks before my due date, our midwife came for a home visit. She examined me and confirmed that all was well with the baby and me. She checked our birthing supplies to make sure we had everything we would need. Rich and I were so ready to have a baby… we were just waiting for the baby to be ready to join us.

And then, the day came. It was about 3 a.m. when I started feeling uncomfortable so I went downstairs to lay on the couch. By 4 a.m. I was sitting at the table, reading a chart in a book, trying to determine if those sensations were fake contractions or true contractions. I honestly didn’t know. According to the book, I was having some of each. I timed them, but there was no consistency. By 5 a.m. I knew they were true contractions, coming about one minute apart. An hour later I yelled upstairs, telling my husband to call our midwife.

I lay over the side of the bed, breathing and talking to Yolanda. She asked me questions, trying to discern if I was in true labor. She was just finishing up with another birth and was about 30 minutes away, but said she was on her way. Rich called my mom to tell her I was in labor and asked her to pray for us.

Yolanda arrived at the house at 7:30 a.m., bringing with her an energy of calmness. I was safe and at peace with her there. I felt the safest in our bedroom, so that is where we stayed (along with our dog and cat). I can’t remember much of what she said to me but I remember that Yolanda’s voice was very soothing. Rich was at my side the whole time. Whether I was in the bathtub or on the toilet wanting to throw up, he was there. He was my rock.

My midwife would not let me stay in any one position for too long. She believes that different birthing positions encourage the baby to move into the birth canal. She was right. By 8:30 a.m. I was dilated to eight centimeters. My water still had not broken; it never really did, it just leaked a little at a time. By 10 a.m. I was fully dilated and ready to push. My husband was a great coach, and I
clung to him like never before. I needed him, and he came through like a knight in shining armor!

Yolanda listened to the baby’s heartbeat one more time before I started pushing. Believe it or not, I asked her if she could tell what sex the baby was by the heartbeat, and she said yes.

With each contraction I pushed deeply… I wanted the baby out and I wanted it out now! For the first 20 minutes of pushing I was on the bed, and then I moved to a birthing stool. That was perfect. As our baby was crowning, she told me she could see the baby’s head and that it had lots of hair. She lowered a mirror so I could see, and then I put my hand down to feel the hair. How incredible that moment was! To feel part of the baby before it entered this world was just magical. Yolanda gave me specific instructions, telling me to stop pushing. She was preparing the baby’s opening with oil, massaging it to stretch with the baby so there would be no tearing. I started pushing again, but had to stop—as much as I didn’t want to, I knew what the consequences would be if I didn’t. With one final push, the baby emerged face up. Yolanda told me to grab my baby girl and pull her out. What a glorious experience, to pull your child out of your body and welcome her into the world!

Shea Kiley lay on my chest with the cord still attached for 10
or 15 minutes before Rich cut it. I was helped up onto the bed and started nursing my precious angel. God was good to me. Every­thing went exactly the way it should have—perfect.

A Mother’s Guidance: Having a home birth with a midwife was my key to a great birth. Birthing is difficult, that’s just reality, but to give birth in the comfort of your home can make it an awesome experience. Choose a midwife who explains everything to you and lets you know how your pregnancy and labor are progressing. She will reassure you that you are doing a great job, and you won’t be stuck in bed or have monitors hooked up to you. (That idea scared me, and felt like we would be anticipating problems.) What a story you get to share with your child—that they were born in their home!

Additional Thoughts: One of the most important things you can do at the beginning of your pregnancy is to carefully interview doctors or midwives. If you do not feel comfortable with them at the beginning of your pregnancy, you probably won’t feel any different when you are giving birth. You can find a great list of interviewing questions in the appendix of this book.

Michele Zeck is a stay-at-home mom to one daughter. Her husband Rich has managed a chiropractor’s office for the last four years.

To purchase Journey into Motherhood (48 more birth stoires), contact Sheri Menelli at 760-930-0913.

A Birth Story by Susan McClutchey

October 30, 2008

Cherishing Every Sensation

By Susan McClutchey

From the moment David and I dis­covered our pregnancy, we were awash in blissful excitement… tainted only by my fear of childbirth. After a lifetime of hearing birth horror stories, I was worried about how I would handle it. But at the same time, I didn’t understand why it should hurt. After all, pain is usually a way for our bodies to tell us something is wrong, yet pregnancy is a natural and healthy process. If Mother Nature provided us with only one way to (naturally) complete a preg­nancy, why would She make that one method painful?

With that question in mind, I began earnestly researching childbirth… and I soon found answers. The more I read, the more I realized that childbirth is not inherently painful. It is, however, extremely intense and can be overwhelming without proper preparation and support through labor. When a woman is unprepared for that intensity, she is likely to tense up and resist the process, which leads to pain.

Armed with a new understanding of childbirth, I found a course called HypnoBirthing that taught relaxation through self-hypnosis. My husband and I enjoyed the classes, but when they were over we still felt unprepared. Fortunately, we found supplemental resources on http://www.hypnobabies.com. Armed with these wonderful techniques, we settled confidently into a routine of practicing our relaxation, and waited for the big day with eager anticipation instead of fear.

We didn’t have long to wait! Four days before our due date, our sweet little man came into the world and completely stole
our hearts.

I first began to suspect that labor was close when I noticed a little bloody show late one Friday night. The show was still present the next morning, and I was having easy little surges (that’s hypno-speak for contractions) every seven to ten minutes for the first several hours after I awoke. I was so excited to know labor was starting, but I tried to remain calm, knowing it could take awhile.

I wandered downstairs, had some breakfast and made brownies for the labor-and-delivery staff. By 9:30 a.m. the surges were four to five minutes apart, but still gentle. I knew I wasn’t making dramatic progress, so I just napped and relaxed, enjoying time with my husband.

When the surges intensified, David called our doula and she joined us by noon. We were all happy and a little giggly with excitement. In the midst of our mirth, David pulled out the video camera to get some funny footage of me struggling to put socks on feet I hadn’t seen in months. He turned the camera on our doula and asked her to tell the audience who she was and why she was there. Her dazed response: “Dude, I don’t know anything about babies… I just brought the pizza!” The jovial atmosphere helped to keep me relaxed, despite my excitement, and for the next few hours we just hung out, chatting and laughing, while I used the birthing ball and listened to my relaxation tapes.

To this point, I had been concentrating on staying relaxed and visualizing my cervix opening easily. In the beginning, I worked on using deep, relaxing breathing, but soon it just became second nature. I spent quite a lot of time on my birth ball (which was really a large exercise ball). When I felt a surge beginning, I would place my hands palm-up on my knees and try to release all tension from them. I found that if I kept my hands loose and free of tension, I would automatically relax my shoulders, and the rest of my body followed the trend. After doing this a few times I could feel a tingling sensation in my fingers, and would picture all the tension in my body flowing out of my fingertips. It wasn’t something that I practiced prior to labor, I just found myself doing it.

We continued to relax and joke and have a wonderful time while we waited for me to feel that I was making progress. My surges grew more frequent, about two to three minutes apart, and lasted well over a minute, sometimes peaking twice. The double peaks concerned my doula, making her wonder if the baby might be posterior. But thanks to my relaxation, the surges were still comfortable, despite the fact I was experiencing back labor. I knew I wasn’t very dilated, but with my strange pattern of surges and the fact that they were well under five minutes apart, I decided to go to the hospital and make sure that the baby was well. When I felt ready, I had a light snack and we headed to the hospital, elated with the prospect of finally meeting our first-born child and finding out if we would have a son or a daughter!

When we arrived at the hospital, we found that we had a full moon working against us. With occupants in every Labor-and-Delivery room, we found ourselves sequestered in a tiny triage cubicle. Monitoring confirmed the healthy, happy state of the baby, but despite strong and frequent surges, I had only dilated three centimeters. My bag of waters was protruding down the birth canal and was so taut that the baby couldn’t make any downward progress. This was the reason my dilation stalled at three centi­meters, and it was causing the back labor. The bag of waters had the baby pressed against my spine, unable to descend. This awkward situation caused a lot of pressure on my urethra, which inhibited urination, but the relaxation techniques kept me from agony. Using self-hypnosis, I was able to relax and stay comfortable.

We tried walking around to see if we could encourage my membranes to rupture. Occasionally we would have to stop so I could lean on the wall while the doula and David pushed on my hips during surges (what relief!), but the nurses kept coming over and trying to have conversations with me while I was con­cen­trating. This was so distracting that we decided to forgo the benefits of walking and head back to triage.

It sounds weird, but while I didn’t actually feel any pain, I was well aware of its existence. It seemed like my relaxation acted as a wall between me and the painful sensations that some women
experience during childbirth. If anything started to shake my concentration, I would feel a dark shadow looming over me, and I worried that it was the pain about to come crashing over me like a huge wave. Luckily, that thought always made me come up with another way to relax, and the shadow never reached me.

While in the triage area, we heard three women deliver in cubicles around us, but I was determined to hold out for a room! So we just continued the relaxation, concentrated on visualizations of my cervix softening and expanding, and endured the holding pattern. David rubbed my back and shoulders when I needed it and I continued listening to relaxation tapes. By this time my surges were continuous, with no down time in between, and I knew I wasn’t progressing. But David and our doula kept me calm and comfortable, and took turns pestering the staff for a room.

I continued using the birthing ball and taking walks to the bathroom. I guess I was being overly optimistic by going to the restroom all the time—I still couldn’t urinate. Eventually I reached the point where I needed to remain on my side with my eyes closed to stay relaxed. I hadn’t had a break between surges in a few hours, and it took all my concentration to stay calm. At some level I knew that I had every right to be frustrated by not having a room, but I just kept telling myself that I would be holding my baby very soon, so a few hours didn’t really matter. I found myself thinking about getting angry, then realizing the harm it would do, and consciously deciding to be patient.

Finally, around 10 p.m. we got a birthing room! Once we were settled in and had the lights turned down to a comfortable level, I knew my body needed my water to break in order to progress.

I discussed the situation with my doctor and we decided to intervene. It was the right thing to do, according to what my body was telling me. She broke my water just after 11:00 p.m. I remember being surprised by how warm the liquid felt when it came out, and somehow that warmth helped me relax even further. I was dilated to five centimeters, but after my water was broken I actually regressed to four centimeters. Again, I had the fleeting thought that I should be frustrated by my lack of progress, but decided such thoughts were not helpful and remained patient.

Having my water broken was a huge relief to my body, and I was lucky to experience a rest period when my surges were only occurring every five to seven minutes. I took that time to go into deeper relaxation, and I napped. With the membranes having released, the baby could finally move down. The pressure on my cervix really got things moving. When I awoke, I was in transition and things became more intense. I was having trouble staying calm, but David and the doula were miracle workers. They helped me regain control by telling me how well I was handling the surges, and reminding me that I was not going to experience anything more difficult than what I had already handled. (They also kicked out the rude anesthesiologist, who laughed at us when we declined an epidural and said to let him know when we needed him.)

By 12:30 a.m. I was dilated eight or nine centimeters. Only a few minutes later, I began feeling my body push with the surges and asked for the doctor. When she arrived, she confirmed that I was completely dilated and told me to push when I was ready. I was relieved to hear that—my body had already begun pushing without my consent!

When I shifted from my side into a sitting/reclined position, the surges stopped almost completely. I was in absolutely no discomfort and felt no surges, but since so many people were standing there watching me expectantly, I still put on a show of pushing from time to time. I felt like a stage actress who made a grand entrance in front of a full house and promptly forgot all her lines! Everyone was so fixated on me, and absolutely nothing was happening! It sounds silly now, but I was so embarrassed about not having any surges after asking for the doctor. I tried to discreetly use the technique of breathing the baby down when I
wasn’t actively pushing. Despite my being ridiculous and trying to do it without anyone noticing, it worked! The baby was nearly crowning, but I wasn’t working with my body anymore. I was annoyed that I had to do all the work, since I wasn’t having surges to help things along. I finally asked to roll onto my side again, and instantly relaxed into a wonderful surge that brought the baby to crowning without any work on my part.

I rolled right back and started pushing with gusto. I loved this stage! Prior to the birth, I had done perineal massage while using relaxation techniques, and visualized crushed ice coming down before the baby’s head, cooling and soothing everything before it stretched around him. As a result, the pushing felt
wonderful and the smooth warmth of my son’s face and body emerging from me felt like a massaging caress. I could feel every magical little detail of him as he moved through and out of me. I marveled at the sweet warmth of his skin against my birth canal and cherished every sensation. It seemed as though the entire world came to an expectant halt and nothing existed except those of us in the room. Everyone responded to the sacred but joyful feel of those moments by using hushed tones to give me quiet encouragement and exclaim over the beauty of the event.

Our beautiful son Luke emerged peacefully into the dimly lit room and was passed immediately into my hands, where he lay while my husband checked to see his gender. The cord was very short, so he stayed on my stomach for several minutes until it stopped pulsating and we cut it. His brow was furrowed as he peered back and forth from my face to David’s with a look of both concern and interest. He had no interest in anyone else in the room, and the three of us just gazed at each other in awe as David and I told him how happy we were to meet him. From that moment we were so utterly in love with him that we could barely breathe as the weight of that devotion settled into our hearts. I will never forget the feeling of his warm little body in my hands and my surprise at how clean and soft he felt. I had braced myself for him to be slimy and bloody, but he was soft and clean and perfect.

Despite 19 hours of labor, I felt ready to run a marathon. Before I even delivered the placenta, I told David that I was looking forward to giving birth again—our doctor nearly fell over with shock! Both my doctor and doula said they had never seen a more serene and beautiful birth. Nurses from throughout the ward came by to discuss the hypnosis techniques we used. Apparently we were the talk of Labor & Delivery all weekend, and I like to think that hypnosis for birthing will be taken more seriously there in the future.

I had no soreness or aching whatsoever after the birth, never needing so much as an aspirin. I loved my pregnancy, but the joy of those 40 weeks pales in comparison to the exhilaration of Luke’s birth!

A Mother’s Guidance: We worked hard to create a wonderful birth experience. The HypnoBirthing classes, supplemented by tapes from the Hypnobabies website, were invaluable tools for us. Since our first pregnancy, we have made it our mission to let the pregnant women we meet know that they have options—that birth doesn’t have to be a painful, drugged and medically-controlled experience. We are currently expecting our second child and are using the Hypnobabies course exclusively this time.

Additional Thoughts: It really is possible—a pain-free labor with an orgasmic pushing stage. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin can provide additional information on releasing the fear of pushing.

Susan McClutchey is a chemical engineer and her husband is currently a stay-at-home father. He also acts and does development work for local theaters and charity organizations.

Excerpted from Journey into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth by Sheri Menelli

Inspiration for Vaginal Births after C-section

October 29, 2008

I just found a really great blog that i had to share.

This blog has positive birth stories and great information. Great especially if you need to be inspired for an upcoming vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC)

http://empoweredbirth.typepad.com/

Options and Pain Relief During Childbirth

October 29, 2008

I think that most women don’t realize that it is possible to reduce the pain of birth just by learning about their options. In fact, it is possible to have a painless birth or even an orgasmic birth.

I’ve experienced two painless births myself. I didn’t have an orgasmic birth but I did have at least two clients who did.

The first painless birth was with my first baby. The second birth was with my twins. I had an unusual set of twins in that they were mono-amniotic. They were wrapped up in each others cords 10 times! So, I did end up with an unexpected c-section. Unexpected because I wouldn’t consent to one until I was at 9 cm and was certain that this was the right decision without coercion. However, I did get to 9 cm without pain. I even started talking through my contractions at 8 cm because I got bored of waiting for them and I had to speak to the doctors and dozen residents who were in my room.

Although I had a spinal for the c-section, I never had any medication whatsoever AFTER the birth. Not even a tylenol. Nothing. I felt like I did too many sit-ups but I wasn’t in pain. I’ll have to write the whole story up one day but for now I’ll just say I used the power of my mind – just another birth option.

Why would I mention a c-section when I’m dong a blog on natural birth? Because when you educate yourself fully with independent childbirth classes, read great books, get a doula and learn several tools to help with reducing discomfort during labor, you will change your birth. Usually you will prevent unnecessary medical intervention but in the case of a true medically necessary intervention, you’ll find yourself feeling empowered and calm. No fear.

The biggest gift that I was given for the birth of my twins was my own book, “Journey into Motherhood”. After reading and re-reading the stories during the process of publshing the book, those stories of empowerment stayed with me. Despite having unusual circumstances at the birth of 29 week old twins, I had a really great birth. I always felt like I was in control of my decisions because I was. I had decided to be.

I’ll be posting these birth stories from the book daily. Read the additional comments and the author’s notes. You’ll find a lot of options to make birth better and easier.

More Baby Birth Stories

October 29, 2008

A Love Letter

by Anna Stewart

Listen, my child, I have a story to tell you. On the day you were born, my whole body smiled.

The morning of your birth day, I got up about 8 a.m., had a bowl of shredded wheat and orange juice for breakfast, and read the newspaper. My friend Sue called at 9:30. I told her I was tired of waiting for you to be born.

I hung up and tried to sit down on the couch again, but I was too uncomfortable. I was feeling cramping and pressure low in my pelvis. So I walked around the house, feeling restless. The cramping got more intense in just a matter of minutes. I called your dad at 9:50. “I think I’m in labor,” I told him, “but I’m not sure. I’m going to take a bath so why don’t you finish up whatever you’re doing and come home.” I sounded calm but then I started to cry. I felt strange—lightheaded, flushed. Dad was home in 10 minutes. He found me leaning against the shower wall, the hot water massaging my back.

Before Dad got home, I talked to you. I said, “OK Kyle, this is it. We’re going to birth you now. You tell me if there’s anything I need to know. We’ll do this together, gently, easily. I love you so much. I can’t wait to meet you and hold you in my arms.” I know you heard me. Do you remember?

My uterus was squeezing you down into the birth canal, hugging you tightly, pushing you down firmly and softly. My contractions were two minutes apart, each lasting about 30 seconds. Dad changed his clothes and called our birth assistant, Alice, between contractions. I wanted him close to me during them. I got out of the shower and walked around the house between contractions. It was hard work but I felt exhilarated, energized, excited.

Alice got to our house at about 11 a.m. and watched me through a few contractions. I was focusing on relaxing and keeping my voice low. Alice asked me if I was nauseous. I was. She said, “I think you’re in transition. We had better go to the hospital.” It hadn’t occurred to me that I would have to go anywhere. I was fully concentrating on our belly hugs.

Dad drove to the hospital in a hurry, arriving in six minutes. I was trying to hang on in the back seat as he changed lanes. I didn’t want to sit down. At the corner of Broadway and Arapahoe, I cried out, “I feel his head. I think he’s coming.” You were moving down the birth canal, gently and easily, just like we’d talked about. Dad was worried you’d be born in the car!

Dad stopped in the emergency entrance. I closed the car door and tried to walk to the maternity wing, but I only got about 20 feet before another contraction took over. I leaned on the pay phones in the lobby and moaned loudly. Heads popped out of doorways all down the hall. A nurse nudged me into a wheelchair and rushed me to the maternity ward.

When I was ready, the nurse checked my cervix. I was completely dilated. She wanted me to start pushing you out, but it wasn’t time yet. Dad put on the CD I had been listening to at home, Ocean Dreams. You and I had listened to it many times as we rested and prepared for this moment.

At one point when I was pushing hard, working with you, squeezing Dad’s hands, I noticed Dad was crying. “What is it?” I asked him. He could barely speak. I kissed him. “We’re about to have a baby. Our baby,” he whispered. That was the moment he fell in love with you. He hadn’t seen you yet but he knew he loved you as much as anyone can love someone.

Slowly, the top of your head emerged. Dad could see your black hair. My body stretched big enough so your head could pass through. You were born at 12:54 p.m. on Friday, October 7th. You started breathing right away and making little noises. Finally, I got to hold you in my arms. I was so happy… my whole body smiled. I whispered in your open, curving ear, “Welcome Kyle. Welcome to the world. Welcome to your family. We are so glad you’re here.”

A Mother’s Guidance: Practice surrendering by breathing and relaxing to music, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy when the reality of impending birth is coursing through you. I took an independent/alternative birth class and read tons of books, especially other women’s birth stories. At that time, one of my favorite books was A Good Birth, A Safe Birth by Diane Korte and Roberta Scaer. I also like Penny Simkin’s book, The Birth Partner. Having a doula made a huge difference, both prenatally, because I could talk more about my feelings than I could with my OB, and during the birth. A doula reinforced the belief that birth is natural, and helped me stay centered and not get lost in the hospital environment. I also “daydreamed” a lot by meditating to the same ocean sound track that I used in my birth.

Additional Thoughts: Before your child is born, write out your vision for an ideal birth. Writing down your intentions will help your mind and body to manifest that. Then let go of that plan, so you are holding no expectations. If you can think of your contractions as belly hugs or bear hugs, you will perceive those sensations as something more pleasant.

Doulas are a wonderful addition to your birth team; they provide great emotional support, and so much more. There are two large organizations that certify doulas: Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators (www.alace.org) and Doulas of North America (www.dona.org). Interview at least three doulas, and choose the one that both you and your parenting partner feel most comfortable with.

Anna Stewart reads this story to her first-born on his birthday every year. They live in Colorado, along with her husband and two other children. She has published over 250 articles, essays, columns and reviews, and is currently marketing two books for publication. She can be reached through http://www.motherhands.com.

A story from the book …

October 28, 2008

I thought I’d post one of the first stories in the book. Actually, I’m planning on giving the book away as a PDF.

Yes, give it away! I know it sounds crazy but I’m out to get rid of the fear of birth.

Like Thunder Rumbling Through

by KELLY CAMDEN

Being pregnant brought me renewed vitality, but as every mother knows, there comes a time when you have had enough of being pregnant. Maybe it’s your body’s way of preparing for the separation that is about to occur. In addition to your own anticipation, there are the questions, the phone calls, and people dropping by with hopes of seeing you in labor. Your hormones are shifting and everyone wants to know, “HAVE YOU HAD THE BABY YET?” Maybe these social annoyances are nature’s way of conditioning us for the patience we will need as parents.

It was August and hot, of course. I was pitting the forty pounds of cherries that I had picked from my favorite orchard. I needed a project to pass the time, because I was nine-and-a-half months pregnant. As I finished laying the fruit in the dryers, I began early labor. I had the typical stream of emotions. Mostly I felt excitement: it’s finally happening! I had prepared our living room for the birth a month before with a birth kit, birth stool, and a variety of other things we would need.

Home birth is a common occurrence in rural areas of Colorado and many women hire a licensed midwife. My midwives, Suzanne and Jeanette, gave me such special care and attention throughout my pregnancy; I knew I could rely on them during my birth. In the last weeks, we had been in contact every day, either by phone or by home visits. When I called to tell them the good news, they assured me that they were prepared to come at any time.

Since everything was ready for the birth, I decided to go out to dinner. I was hungry and I figured this was my last chance to just sit and eat. Besides, my baby’s grandparents had just pulled into town and I wanted to visit with them. It was sort of nice, but my meal and conversation were continuously interrupted. I would be in the middle of a sentence and suddenly trail off… losing my train of thought; another contraction. I was surprised that they kept coming so regularly. The grandparents, seasoned in childbirth, understood my incoherence, but I felt awkward when I couldn’t carry on a conversation.

After dinner I walked home, and put everything and everyone else aside. I labored through the night, sweating, moaning and even vomiting at times. During my pregnancy I had read every book on childbirth that I could find, watched lots of videos and talked with nearly every mother in town. I understood the physiology of childbirth, and part of my coping mechanism was to rationalize each sensation I felt. When there was immense pressure in my lower back, I told myself, “OK, the baby is against my back and I can counteract this pressure.” Luckily, the baby shifted positions after a few contractions, so that feeling didn’t last long.

My midwife came over and spent the night with us. Although her presence was comforting, I knew that I was the only person who could give birth. I retreated to the deepest parts of my mind, reviewing scenes from my childhood like an old film. Every spoken word, whether or not it was directed to me, became a distraction. I wanted silence. I just sat there, letting my body do its work. I didn’t want to move or be touched, just to be still. Contractions came and went, and in between I would drift off, resting without sleeping.

Unlike the hospital setting, where a classroom-sized clock is staring at you from across the bed, I had a tiny clock placed strategically behind me. But in the childbirth time warp, the hours, minutes and seconds didn’t hold any meaning. Soon the sunlight was shining softly into the room. My labor was changing. I felt the baby moving, like thunder rumbling through me, and I had to surrender. I pulled together every bit of strength I had left. Suddenly I was re-energized, as if I had slept through the night. For every bit of pushing, I had to do just as much letting go. I could not hold on to the fact that I was totally naked in front of a room full of people, or consider the sounds I would hear coming from my mouth. I understood why they call it the “urge to push”—I remember asking Suzanne, “Do I have to wait for another contraction?”

Finally, at 9:03 on a Monday morning, my son was born. The midwife immediately put him in my arms. I was stunned—the sight and sensation of holding your own child for the first time is not truly conceivable before it happens. He did not cry or breathe right away, and it seemed everything was in slow motion. I was speechless and holding my own breath. My midwife said, “Talk to your baby!” as she suctioned his airways and he began to breathe.

I felt as if we were calling his soul into his body. My words were probably a jumble, but in my heart I said, “I’m so glad that you’re here!” I watched him fill with oxygen and a rosy color spread through him. He was aware, but silent, and we watched each other closely. I felt that I was looking at a stranger, and gazing into the eyes of an old friend. Maybe, as he gazed back with a slightly wrinkled brow, he felt the same way. I barely noticed when our physical tie, a purple and shockingly rope-like cord, was severed. We had completed the journey and evolved into two individuals. With some practice I was able to nurse him, and we reconnected. Afterwards I began to cry. I was sobbing, not only tears of joy, but also relief and gratefulness. I realized the fullness of my being. Every muscle, every hormone and every action of my body was nature. I had experienced the completion of one cycle, and the beginning of another.

A Mother’s Guidance: I did not take any birth classes. Instead, I read midwifery books and spoke with women who had faith in the birth process. Some of the books that I read were Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin, Heart & Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy & Birth by Elizabeth Davis, Birth without Violence by Fredrick Leboyer, and Immaculate Deception and Seasons of Change, both by Suzanne Arms. I read everything that my midwife had in her office, and anything in the library that supported normal birth.

The secret to having a great birth is… hire a midwife! Finding a midwife for your hospital or home birth is the best thing that you can do for yourself and your baby! The midwifery model of care encourages freedom of movement, use of water during labor, and no separation of mother and baby. Midwifery care is very respectful of the process that mother and baby are experiencing.

Additional Thoughts: Kelly mentions that she strate­gically placed her clock behind her. You will find that it is much easier to labor if you are not concentrating on how long it’s taking. If you are giving birth at a hospital, drape a towel over the clock or take it off the wall.

Kelly Camden is the mother of two boys, both born at home. She has worked with families as a labor support and postpartum doula since 1999. Kelly facilitated the creation of the Albuquerque Birth Network (www.abqbirthnet.org), an organization that educates the community about options for healthy pregnancy and birth, and advocates for evidence-based care.

We interrupt this story …

October 28, 2008

I’m all about going green lately. Well, maybe not lately – I’ve been interested in the environment for a long time and trying to find ways to support a green movement. I’ve started buying organic food not only for the better flavor but I don’t want the pesticides and hormones in my body nor in my family’s body. I also want to encourage organic farmers to keep doing it right.

When I had my twins 3 1/2 years ago, I tried going to cloth diapers but I just didn’t get the family support i needed and to tell you the truth, I needed to learn more about how to do it. Now I regret all the money I threw away in disposables and the amount of trash I contributed to.

It wasn’t until a year ago that I discovered washable – reuseable feminine pads. It never dawned on me to check to see if they existed. Well they do and they are awesome. They are soft and comfortable and they will save you money in the long run.

Do yourself a favor and check out willowpads.com. Please, tell your friends about it. I wish someone would have let me know there was an alternate years ago.

Remember, these are a great thing to have around right after childbirth.

By the way, I have no stake in this company and won’t get a thing for referring people. I just wanted to point it out and help out Catherine Bolden who has put so much into helping women, babies and the environment – yes she sells diapers too!

Labor Natural or With Medication: The Big Question

October 26, 2008

Continued …

Or maybe this is a digression again.

When I decided to write the book, I decided on having only stories of Natural Birth. Little did I know that I would create a firestorm of controversy. Didn’t know that “natural birth” was a loaded word or that the planet was so divided by natural versus medication.

My point was that it was possible to have a painless birth without medication. It really is. I had one and I’ve had plenty of past clients who can attest to this. I also have lots of friends in the birth world now who know this to be true. There is a whole world of women who have experienced the phenomenon of painless birth but it is still a taboo subject.

I thought that the book would be embraced by those wanting medication at birth. It would give them confidence that if someone who didn’t have any type of pain medication could do it and have a very good – sometimes painless – experience that they could have one too whether or not they took medication.

My agenda was “Your body, your baby, your way”. Give people all the facts, take away the fear and birth will become much better! You’ll make better decisions during pregnancy and during birth and have a happy birthday despite labor.

Learn from the successes of others.

To Be Continued:

How to Get Published: Publisher or Self Publish

October 26, 2008

continued:

I have so many people ask me how to get publshed that I thought I’d interupt the story to answer a few of those kind of questions.

Did you look for an Agent?

No, I never looked for an agent nor did I look for a publisher. In September 2003, right before I decided that I wanted to write a book, I took a wonderful 3-day course from Dan Poynter in Santa Barbara on How to Publish.

Ok, hold on, why would I take a class like this when I had no intention of publishing a book?

Well, I had two friends who had told me about Dan Poynter, Kim Wildner, who had already publshed her book. I met Kim when I was producing and co-hosting a radio show in San Diego on birth. Pamela Chilton had also mentioned him and his books as great references.

My husband and daughter (who was 2 at the time) were planning on taking a trip to Santa Barbara the very week that Dan was offering a workshop on publishing. Kim pointed that out to me and I thought that the class would help me learn how to promote my CDs. (I had two hypnosis CDs out at the time – one on breastfeeding and one for stress and fear relief).

I took the class and really didn’t think I’d be publshing a book.

I came back from the seminar when this idea unfolded. I think it had been there for a while but it certainly wasn’t crystalized. I do remember working with my co-host Dee Nipper a bit on creating a book but it never really got off the ground. Dee got busy with other things and her ideas and mine differed enough to cause my enthusiasum to wane.

So back to when I decided to write a book:

I had a lot of information from Dan Poynter on finding a publisher versus doing it yourself.

The big disadvantage of going with a publisher is that they don’t usually help you to publicize the book. If they do, it is only for a few weeks to get the books off to the reviewers. They might help send out some other galleys and do a press release but for the most part it is your own responsibility to promote and sell the book.

At the time I did have the money to publish (Although it ended up costing me 5 times more than I thought it would with all the unforseen expenses and lessons). I also loved marketing and promotion so I figured that if I’d keep all the extra income by doing it myself. I was also afraid that if I did go with a publisher, that I’d lose the creative control of the type of stories that they wanted in the book. I kept seeing them forcing stories upon me that mirrored the current state of birth. I also thought that the whole process of finding an agent and working through the publisher’s timeline would take too long. After all, I was determined to be finished in 3 months. This couldn’t be too hard, right?

I started White Heart Publishing back in late 2003. I know I came up with other names but they were already taken. White Heart conveyed that the book was coming from my heart in a way that would help humanity. It felt pure.

I dove into every book I could possibly find about publishing, marketing, etc. Good thing I taught myself speed-reading a few years earlier. I also got onto several publishing newsgroups and joined Publishers Marketing Association. I devoured all information that I could get on this subject.

To be continued:

The story of laboring on Journey into Motherhood

October 26, 2008

… Continued

God please make it stop! I don’t want to write or publish a book! Can’t someone else do it?

I was a woman obsessed. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It sucked because I didn’t want to do it.

Ok, how hard can it really be to write a book? – I reasoned with myself.  If I write a book like Chicken Soup for the Soul – a book with stories that others wrote – I won’t have to be a great writer.  I can probably publish this book in 3 months.

It will be a massive bestseller. It will sell to a big publisher for $4.1 million dollars. I’ll bump “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” off the bestseller list. Then I’ll write a series of these books and change birth forever. (I have a someone large imagination)

I had to get birth stories.

I had had hundreds of couples in my years as an independent childbirth professional. I started emailing past clients for stories. Most were very slow at writing a story. I had to get more stories fast.

I posted on newsgroups for new moms, I bought advertising in the electronic newsletters for Mothering and Midwifery Today. I asked all my friends and family to pass the word too.

At first, I told everyone that I wanted Beautiful Birth stories. I figured that would be the title of the book. I didn’t realize as I expanded beyond my own clients that beautiful birth stories meant something very different to most people.

My whole purpose of finding stories was to find ones that would reduce the fear of birth. I also wanted to find hospital births, birth center births, and home births. I wanted to find as many childbirth methods as possible. I didn’t want a book only on hypnosis for childbirth birth stories. I felt that many women who hadn’t taken those courses wouldn’t be able to relate to the bigger message and picture. I wanted stories that every pregnant woman would be able to connect with.

What I received was a lot of horror birth stories. Most of them made me sob. They were stories so full of fear, massive interventions, distress, emergencies, etc. I was so distressed that I called my friend Kim Wildner. She assured me that I’d find more positive stories out there and that I wasn’t losing my mind. After reading so many negative stories, I was wondering if the stories were positive and I just had a convoluted way of looking at the world of birth. Certainly, most of the stories that I was reading weren’t ones that would inspire me to want to get pregnant or give birth.

Did these women purposely send me horror birth stories? No, I don’t believe so. I believe that they thought the stories were great, beautiful, etc. They had never heard positive stories so how would they know that their birth was so tragic it would break someone’s heart? How would they even know that their was a different way? They couldn’t possibly.

They didn’t know how they were affecting other friends, family and strangers by telling their stories. They all thought that they were preparing them for birth. Well, little did they know that they were helping to create more pain and complications then are necessary for birth. I’ve actually met people who won’t have kids of their own because they are so afraid of birth!

I wish I had known that I was going to write about this process. Had I known, I would have kept better notes about the process.

To Be Continued …


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