A fellow Hypnobabies instructor recently brought this article to my attention. I read what this woman wrote about her birth experience and then a lot of the comments and it really made me sad.
I'm sad because instead of feeling empowered after her birth she felt like she failed (even though she had a natural birth... what??) I'm also sad to see how many other women felt this way. Clearly she struck a chord with many, many others.
I don't think any woman should feel like a failure after giving birth, whether they are induced, have an epidural, birth their baby by Cesarean-section, have an all-natural birth or any other variation. The important thing is that women (and their partners) feel like THEY are the ones who made the important decisions and did what was right and best for themselves and their babies.
I teach Hypnobabies. (I wrote here about whether it's "realistic". I think that post complements what I have to say here today.) Many women find Hypnobabies because they are scared of the PAIN that almost everyone talks about in our culture (and I do mean everyone - because whether people are all about natural child birth or the epidural they generally agree on one thing - there will be pain! We Hypnobabies folk are a bit rebellious in this regard. We are like the minority of the minority.) But most of these women who find Hypnobabies still want to have a natural child birth for various reasons. When they find stories of empowered births, comfortable births, and even PAIN-FREE births, they want that for themselves - who wouldn't?
Our minds are very powerful. We teach our students that our minds work to create our reality based on our expectations and belief systems. Well guess what? The overriding belief system in our culture is that birth is scary and painful. So Hypnobabies works hard to change these expectations for our couples. There are affirmations EVERY DAY that expectant mamas listen to. We change the language because words like "contractions" and "labor" don't typically have positive connotations in our culture.
But it is a difficult line that we walk. Because although birth can be beautiful, comfortable, and empowering it can also be the opposite. This is not a battle of "right" or "wrong". The truth is that birth is unpredictable and each woman's experience will be unique.
But it is also true that birth does NOT *HAVE TO* be a painful, traumatizing experience (the proof is in every powerful, positive, joyful story of birth that is shared). And it IS WRONG to keep telling women that it WILL BE so for them. No one can tell you what your birth will bring.
The woman in the article felt like a failure. She felt that she had been misled. She thought that she was "prepared". Clearly she wasn't prepared. I'm not saying that is her fault, it is just obvious that is is true. She mentions sexual trauma at the end, almost as an afterthought. I cannot pretend to know what her circumstances were or what she did to overcome whatever her experience was. But I do know that birth is more than a physical experience - it is profoundly emotional and spiritual too. If there are fears or experiences we are holding onto they can have a huge impact on our births.
Being prepared in our culture is difficult. Birth happens behind closed doors. Most girls grow up into women without any direct experience with birth - they haven't seen it, heard it, smelled it, or touched it. We don't know what to expect. And so that hole gets filled with lots of things. Television shows and scary stories from family and friends can fill it up with a lot of negativity and fear. OR we can choose to fill our experiential void with positive, empowered, uplifting stories. We CAN choose.
I'm more convinced all the time that there are two important factors that impact our birth experiences. Preparation is important: to eat well, to be as physically fit as possible, to be knowledgeable about our bodies and the birth process, and also about our present culture and how it impacts birth, and finally but perhaps most importantly to prepare our minds, hearts, and spirits with positive expectations.
But the second factor is equally important. And that is this: once we are in the midst of birthing our babies we must LET. GO. We have prepared. We have done all we can do. And so by letting go of any expectations we have of our completely unique birth, we can embrace what it actually brings us. This is my hope for all mothers everywhere.
Ok well let me begin by saying that my hands are clammy (yet cold) as I type this, and I certainly have some reservations about writing this publicly. But I'm also giddy and almost giggling out loud. AND I really believe that when we feel like we are about to jump off of something really high (like a cliff) and are trying to talk ourselves out of something... well that might be the most important time to do something.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking (just a little bit) about what some people might think about this post. But I'm guessing (hoping?) the most scandalized (or judgmental) will be too embarrassed (or polite) to bring it up. And in the end there are bigger more important reasons for this post then myself and what others think about me. Besides, it's my blog... and they're my boobs, so there. (grin)
Deep breath. Ok so here we go.
I took a shower this evening. It was necessary - it had been a couple days. And as I looked in the mirror I looked at my breasts and I thought, "I love my boobs. I wouldn't change one thing about them... I wouldn't 'enhance' them (even if my husband might like that), or erase the stretch marks, or take them back to their pre-nursing days..." Ok, well I didn't think *all* of that, but it was more like, "I love my boobs, I wouldn't change them" and then I just *felt* the rest.
So then I wrote some more in my journal a bit later thinking maybe *some day* it would make a fun blog post. Here is some of what I wrote:
My breasts have helped feed my babies for 6 1/2 years now - for 1-2 years they alone kept them alive.
I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to! Kids are so funny.
Back to the deep thoughts (about boobs). I was thinking as I showered how weird it is that in our culture we are all worked up about breasts. I mean it is skin. They're part of our body. And they do something really amazing. In a way, I kind of wanted to put an actual picture of my breasts in all their glory at the top of this post. But I'm not quite there yet (and as it is, my husband may think I've lost my mind!) But really, it's just so mind-boggling to contemplate how our culture regards breasts, breastfeeding, and women's bodies in general. And women want to change themselves all the time. Why?!
So this is my way of fighting back. With my boobs. Some may think I'm looking for attention (by using my well-loved, very-used mammary glands) but really this just struck me out of the blue tonight. And I'm going with it.
And now I'll probably go to bed and not get any sleep because I just posted for the world to see that I love my boobs. And I'll wake up to find that everything is just going on as it always does... but that's ok.
I hope some day all women can love their bodies for the amazing, wonderful, life-giving and sustaining entities that they are. Love your boobs ladies. They deserve it.
Besides my first giveaway, all the give aways celebrating my Blogiversary have been personal copies of books I love. Also, if you've been paying attention closely you may have noticed that the books have followed my path as a parent from Natural Family Planning and Breastfeeding, and Natural Child Birth, to Elimination Communication. This weeks giveaway ties all of these things together neatly in a pretty bow. This week I'm giving away Mayim Bialik's book, Beyond the Sling: A real-life guide to raising confident, loving children the attachment parenting way.
I bought this book mostly because I love Mayim Bialik. Honestly, I didn't "need" it. By the time I read it I had two natural births, been breastfeeding for over 5 1/2 years, using baby carriers with ease, sleeping with my kids for 5+ years, and had two kids out of diapers - one of which I had used the principles elimination communication part-time to achieve potty independence. Yeah, I guess I'm kind of a poster mommy for attachment parenting.
But what intrigues me about Mayim Bialik (besides that I loved the show Blossom) is all that I have in common with her. We are approximately the same age, went to school in the same period of time, I was a Brain and Cognitive Science major with a concentration in neuroscience, she has her PhD in Neuroscience, we got married and had two kids (very similarly spaced) in almost the same exact span of time - it's kind of uncanny! (And yes I want to be her friend in real life. Someday.) Of course there are differences, the biggest being her family is Jewish and mine Catholic, and of course that little actress thing she does on the side. ha.
So last winter when I heard that she had a book coming out about attachment parenting I was interested to read it for fun. I also had just really started to get into writing, and the thought of writing my own book seriously crossed my mind for the first time. Then I saw the Table of Contents for Beyond the Sling.
Ugh. Seriously? This is TOO GOOD. Too simple and direct and so well organized. I LOVED IT already and I hadn't even gotten past the contents! But now what was *my* book going to be about?? Not to mention that it didn't seem quite fair since, you know, she's FAMOUS already.
Oh well, C'est la vie. I trust that when the time comes and I am ready, my own voice and message will come out in it's own unique way. Plus, *somehow*, *someway*, I'm going to get Mayim to write a forward for my book. That will even things out!
Here are a couple of my favorite quotes and passages from early in the book:
What I had discovered, and what I seek to share with you, dear reader, is this: you already know the majority of what you need to know to be an incredible parent (emphasis hers). It was only when I believed this and began to apply it consistently to my growing family that my anxiety, worry, and exhaustion began to lift. It was then that I truly began to enjoy being a parent and to see myself as a successful parent; not a perfect parent, and not always the most patient parent, but a sensitive, loving, and confident person who truly loves this life I have chosen. That's really what this book is about: empowering you to make the best choices for your kids. (p 5)
My kids are flawed and they make plenty of mistakes, as do I. My kids are not always polite, patient, clean, wise, and quiet; nor am I, for that matter. (p 12)
I love how Mayim presents attachment parenting. She is kind about it. She does not claim to know the right way for every parent, she is only sharing what works for her family. The two examples above show how she debunks any thought of "perfection" from the first pages of the book. It's not about being perfect it's about listening to your instincts and your children.
Mayim puts all kinds of myths to rest about attachment parenting to rest (ie You have to be a "martyr" to do all that stuff! Only wealthy or advantaged people can afford to parent this way. Children will be spoiled, overindulged, whiny, etc. if parented this way. etc.) Not only does she address all of these concerns, but she does so with compassion, conviction, and humor. She acknowledges that everyone in the family has needs and that there are ways to meet these needs, it just may not be the way you used to before you had children or how you imagined it would look.
And the really cool part is that she puts her PhD to good use and explains the SCIENCE behind attachment and why it just makes sense to parent this way.
I've barely had this book in my possession 8 months - I even mentioned it here the day I received it in the mail! Mayim's book debuted a little before the controversy stirred up by the TIME cover showing a mom breastfeeding her 3 or 4 year old son standing up (not to mention the inflammatory title, "Are you mom enough?) In a way it was good publicity for her and she handled all of the extra attention extremely well. I myself wrote about being a "Closet Lactivist" and then why I think attachment parenting is the best way to parent during this time.
It's been an eventful span of time for me personally as I know it has been for her. But I'm ready to let this gem of a book go and inspire a new mom (or dad!) so that another family can benefit from all her wisdom.
Leave a comment - you may win a great book! (I will also put your name in additional times if you like my Facebook page, share a link on your FB page, or share my blog giveaway on your blog - just be sure to let me know in your comment!)
ps This is my used copy of the book and there are a few pages in the beginning warped by some water damage - in my pre-baby days I would have said it was from reading in the bathtub. Not likely to be the case anymore - no this time it is probably from one of many water spills that occur in our house daily! Don't worry it's still legible.
There is an event this weekend in the DC area called, "Heads Up! Breech Conference". Although it didn't work out for me to attend the whole thing, it came to my attention that there was a panel tonight open to the public - and it included Ina May Gaskin!
Well, since my mom flew in this afternoon I figured this was a great opportunity for me to take advantage of! So off I drove in heavy traffic, through the heart of DC, north to Maryland. The drive took just about an hour and included several horns honks (possibly one - or two - directed towards me!), one slamming of the breaks, deep, calming breaths, good music and loud singing.
I arrived with 10 minutes to spare - only to wait half an hour for the event to start. I didn't mind though, the energy of the room was life affirming - chatting women and quite a few cute babies.
It was definitely worth the drive and the $15. In addition to Ina May, Ibu Robin Lim, Betty-Ann Daviss, and Jane Evans all spoke about their experiences with breech births. They were funny, touching, and of course oh-so-wise. I laughed a lot and cried real tears when Ibu Robin Lim read one of her own poems about losing a baby.
Dr. Nancy Salgueiro was the facilitator - the same woman who gave birth live just over a year ago - streaming on the internet! I stayed up late watching her in her birthing time this time last year then when I woke up the next day watched the video - amazing.
I'm still not certain what role birth is going to take in my future. I love teaching Hypnobabies and I know that being a doula is something that might work really well for our family too. These midwives are so inspiring to me because they are living out their ideals, even the face of massive resistance, ignorance, and even hostility. Regardless of my future path, I know that their messages are crucial to moms and babies everywhere - and by extension, the whole-wide world. I felt a powerful synchronicity today, as I finish up my last Hypnobabies series of the year tomorrow, and just published Gerry's birth story this week.
Magic. Birth. Life. Babies. Miracles.
ps don't forget to comment on my post here if you'd like to win a book FULL of inspirational birth stories!
For those of you wondering, "who's that?!" Gerard Walker is Gerry's full name. As I did with Marisol's birth story last spring, I'm using my journal to write his birth story now - over 3 years after he was born! I'm sure glad I took the time after his birth to write some things down. I've also added a couple of "Hypnobabies notes" to give you my perspective now as an instructor.
Make sure you scroll ALL the way down to the end of this post, past all the cute pictures, to see what this week's give-away book is!
Here is some "stream of consciousness" about Gerry's birth - things I want to remember - in no particular order:
Thunder + lightning - here at home - more storms there (birth center) - a rainbow over the birth center (I didn't see it, but my parents got it on camera) - made me think that Gerry's birth was like the storm, and he was my rainbow at the end :)
The cable guy coming to our apartment that morning! I spent that hour or so in the shower while he did his thing... I remember Marisol poking her cute little 3 year old head into the room to reassure me, "he's almost done mama!"
Holly's (my doula) bike having a flat tire - she was still here within an hour and a half... Also I only knew Holly for less then 1 week before giving birth!
My water breaking in the tub - crazy feeling! Like something shooting out of me! And then it got CRAZY... I think he came out within 15 minutes or so after that. It was so intense.
Marisol in the room with Mike while I pushed Gerry out! Pushing him out on all fours - Gerry being passed to me through my legs and me getting to see him and proclaim, "It's a boy!"
More random thoughts:
"TIMING IS EVERYTHING"
I said this in the car on the way to the birth center... in between intense waves - in reference to Marisol sleeping - she had a solid 2 hour nap in the car - First Mike and she went to get my parents a parking pass, while Hollly was with me at home and she fell asleep. (Hypnobabies note: One of my anxieties/fears during the pregnancy was how Marisol would be taken care of during my birthing time. Two things were very helpful - the Visualization script - I imagined the time of day my birthing would start, how long it would last, who would be there, the help of my doula, and my parents arriving - it all happened almost exactly as I visualized! The second is the Fear Clearing track - it is an amazing way to let go of any worries and embrace whatever your birthing time brings.)
While they were gone Holly and I talked - I listened to the Hypnobabies a little - walked the hall with my phone tucked into my gym shorts waist band (My hypnosis tracks were on my phone)... I also lay on my side while Holly pushed/massaged my back. She did my upper legs a little too while I sat on the birth ball. I didn't use the birth ball nearly as much this time - I actually did lie down on my side a lot this time. Maybe because it was faster, maybe because of all my practice relaxing with Hypnobabies while I went to sleep.
While Holly and I worked together... this was when there was a storm... Holly mentioned that it made her think of good luck and I said I liked it too...
Holly thought we should call the midwives again to check in. I talked to Ebony... she said, "sounds like those contractions are kickin' your butt" or something like that (Hypnobabies Note: This is the kind of thing that we hope care providers avoid saying to mamas! The more your careprovider knows about hypnosis, expectations, the power of our minds etc. the better! Inform them so they know suggesting what a mother is experiencing is very powerful - so make sure to make those suggestions POSITIVE! But for the record, I LOVED Ebony and the other midwives, just noting this probably wasn't the best thing for me to hear at that moment!)
I replied something to the extent that, "nah, I'm tough..." I still wasn't sure if we should go in yet - it didn't seem like the waves were getting longer - they had been ~ 3 minutes apart for a while - but I still felt like I was "doing ok" through them.
This was key - Ebony asked if I felt any rectal pressure and I said no. She said if I was still working through them ok we could/should stay home a little longer/as long as possible.
I'm not sure how much longer it was, but it didn't seem like much longer... I told Holly I thought we should get the car packed up. I asked if they were closer or longer - and she didn't think so. I told her they felt different and she said I seemed more focused and they "sounded" different (I was feeling rectal pressure! I just decided not to tell Holly or Mike right then. I trusted my instincts, and as you will see it's a good thing we left when we did!)
I called Mike and he brought the car to the neighbor's driveway... He and Holly packed up and kept snoozin' Marisol company. Mike put Holly's bike on the car and we gathered some last minute things - we were prepared in every way except food, but grabbed some small snacks and O.J. that got us through until my parents arrived.
I knelt in the back next to Marisol - she stirred so I thought we should put a movie in. Mike wisely said she didn't need one. She proceeded to sleep the whole way to the birth center while I moaned through many waves next to her - not quietly I might add! Holly continued to massage my back as best as she could from the front seat - she was awesome (it was a packed car - we had a Prius then!)
I remember when we were almost there - on H st. - peeking out the window from my kneeling position. It was an interesting perspective - the world at an angle, the sidewalk and storefronts at eye-level and seeing lots of lights in the gray day. The images have stayed with me very clearly as part of my birthing time memories.
I shuffled into the birth center with the help of Holly, I think Mike carried Marisol. You could tell that people were happy and excited to see us... Ebony and Kandace took me to an exam room. Kandace was finishing her midwifery training and she did everything pretty much - she was great - calm and reassuring. She checked me and said she thought I was 7 cm, fully effaced (100%) and the baby was at zero station. I said something like "Thank the Lordy!" I was so happy.
I also mentioned that it doesn't necessarily "mean anything" because I was 7 cm when I arrived at the hospital with Marisol and still had hours before she came. Ebony said she didn't think so this time and I agreed. (Hypnobabies note: My two births demonstrate very well that WE DON'T GIVE BIRTH BY NUMBERS! In other words, the numbers/measurements never tell us exactly when baby will make their appearance. Also, I really did look forward to giving birth a second time because Marisol's birth was so beautiful and empowering. That being said, I did focus a lot on the affirmation that I deserved a fast, easy, comfortable birth - and it really was a lot faster the second time around! I'm sure there were many reasons for this - baby position and being my second-time too. But I know my relaxation and use of Hypnosis were also very helpful!)
Oh, also before they checked me I had a wave in the hall near the family room - I remember bending my legs a little - Ebony watched me closely and asked me after, "Are you pushing?" I answered with a definitive "No." but still hadn't mentioned the rectal pressure (I think it was more a subconscious thing at this point, I hadn't really recognized it consciously).
The time in the birth center went quickly - we were hardly there 45 minutes and Gerry was born (so I'm told!) They started a bath for me almost immediately... The bath took a while to fill up. Then it was too hot - so I sat by it naked for a few waves. Mike and Marisol were in the next room. I got in the tub and it did feel good at first. They even turned on the jets and Kandace and Ebony left.
Next thing I know my water broke during a wave - it was wild! And one of the most memorable moments. I heard it and it felt like a shot gun coming out of me... I was so surprised and told Holly right away and she went to tell Kandace and Ebony.
Within moments I was I was pushing and the midwives were there. "Can I stay in the tub? I'm pushing! Do you need to check me??" I think they laughed a little - No, if you're pushing it's ok! So I just realized, I only got "checked" one time!
Pushing Gerry out was fast and intense - completely opposite of my experience with Marisol. "Urge to push" does not even describe it - my body just took over. And the noises coming out of me - wow! I couldn't replicate it if I wanted to (although I try to in my Hypnobabies classes! haha) Marisol and Mike had to leave for a few minutes because it was too loud for her little 3 year old ears (I remember hearing her say, "it's too loud!") but they were back in the room to see Gerry make his grand entrance. I wanted to get out of the tub (I would have had him in the water if I wanted), so I made it to the bed and flopped on my side - pushed that way until the midwives suggested going on all fours - I also remember putting my hand down to feel Gerry's head.
Once on all fours I was pushing so hard they all were like, "whoa, slow down!" a couple of times and I was able to pant and slow down (afterwards they remarked how in control I was. It was a nice compliment, but I wouldn't say "in control" was exactly how I felt! I was just riding the birth super speed highway!) I could feel his head coming out but at one point asked, "What's going on?!" and Ebony was like, "you're delivering your baby!:
When he came out they passed him through my legs to me - "Take your baby!" - and I was the one who got to exclaim, "It's a boy!"
My parents arrived within an hour or so of Gerry being born which was good because we didn't have much to eat and I was STARVING. One of my favorite memories is eating a very soggy sub - they had left the sunroof on their van open during the storm (remember the rainbow?) Well, that was the best sandwich I ever had, rainwater and all!
We stayed at the birth center just about exactly four hours. Enough time for me to get cleaned up, for Gerry to get looked over, and to start nursing. We were in our own bed (ha! that's right, family of four - ONE bed!) that night by 9 pm.
The next day two midwives came to check up on Gerry and me at home. What a luxury!
And from there on out it was just us - settling into life as a family of four! Life is good.
There you have it! The birth of our little man, Gerry.
This week I'm giving away the book Journey Into Motherhood. It is an awesome book filled with inspirational stories of natural child birth. This was on our required reading list for becoming a Hypnobabies instructor, and is also on the recommended reading list that we give to our students. I highly recommend it to ALL expecting mamas (and papas!) whether you are planning a natural birth or not, because the stories are so beautiful and powerful. If you've never read or seen natural, empowered birth this can totally re-frame your perspective on birth. Changing your ideas and the images in your mind about birth is a huge first step towards having your *own* beautiful, empowered birth.
So please, leave a comment below if you'd like your name put in the drawing for my copy of this book! Also if you want to increase your odds - like my Facebook Page, share the link on Facebook, and share on your blog and I will put your name in 1 more time for each way you share (just make sure you let me know in the comment)! I will pick a winner in one week when I put my next give-away up!
This is an invitation. To stop and reconsider ideas that you have held tightly, maybe for a long time. To ask questions. To look at someone else who holds a different idea, belief, or conviction than you do, with eyes of love. To speak honestly and with love and to listen earnestly and open your heart.
I'm not sure why I'm called to write on this particular topic at this specific point in time. Perhaps it is the strong relationship between my last post on NFP, contraception, pregnancy, abortion, and how all of these relate to women's empowerment and the world we live in. And of course there is the imminent election - abortion keeps popping up on my radar as the election approaches. (Of course I already kind of gave away where my presidential vote is going here!)
In the interest of full-disclosure (gotta walk the honest walk!) I will state up front that I definitely identify more strongly with the "pro-life" movement at this point in my life. But I have considered myself "pro-choice" at other times. I also have experience talking with close loved ones about abortion - those on either side of the issue - and I know that it can be discussed both passionately AND compassionately.
That being said I believe that part of the problem is the "dichotomy" of "pro-choice" versus "pro-life". This is not a simple issue and even people who call themselves one or the other, may have very different views or ideas than people in the same "camp" as them.
Frozen fingers hover over the keyboard. Where to start? Which "side"? What is THE ANSWER? I'm afraid I don't have the answer but I do have more questions. As with many controversial issues, if you start to read about abortion you will quickly start down an endless rabbit hole of information and of course, opinions. For someone like myself (a Gemini of two minds, wishy-washy, open-minded, undecided - whatever you wish to call me) this can be very confusing as you click, read, and follow the infinite path. (Comments, as always, are particularly deadly! Beware.) Instead of clarity you may end up with your brain twisted into dendritic knots. I may not have anything new to say, but I do have my own unique experience and perspective. Hopefully writing about abortion may bring new transparency and open conversation on a very sensitive issue.
For me, it helps to break abortion down into relevant and irrelevant issues and the questions that we must ask ourselves. There are other people's stories and perspectives to consider. And when all that is said and done, after we've done the research, and asked the questions, what do our spirits whisper to us when we get very still and quiet.
To me the most relevant issue is the baby. Is it a baby? Is it a fetus or embryo or zygote? Is it just a ball of cells that feels nothing? When is the point of viability?
The biggest problem with abortion is that we don't really know the answers to these questions. And actually all of these words are just terms - scientific words - to describe the process of growing and developing. As in all things that we humans break into stages to understand them - pregnancy, childhood, the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly - these separations are artificial. Everything that is needed to form a whole human being is there when the sperm and egg are joined together.
What about pain? When is the baby able to feel the pain of an abortion? It is clear that there are abortions being performed on babies who feel and some who are "viable". I recently heard of twins born at 24 weeks gestation and surviving. About 12% of abortions are in the second trimester of pregnancy, and, although rare, some past 20 weeks. This year a baby was born at 21 weeks 5 days and survived. The point of "viability" is a huge gray area in the argument for allowing abortions.
To me technology does NOT always = better. It has not proven better in birth, in our food sources, or in caring for our children. But with improvements in our medical knowledge babies are surviving against all odds at more premature stages. Also as we get clearer images of babies in the womb through ultrasound and other images we get to see exactly how human babies are from a very early stage of development. So in a bit of an ironic twist, technology is showing us very clearly the miracle of life that begins as a baby in a mother's womb.
I recently read the book Unplanned, by Abby Johnson. I believe everyone should take the time to read it - both "pro-lifers" and "pro-choicers" and everyone in all the shades of gray between. Abby Johnson was a director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas who ended up having a dramatic conversion after witnessing and participating in an abortion. The description of that event alone makes the book a worthwhile read. Also since she was a very active participant in the pro-choice movement, and now the pro-life movement, she has a very unique and informed perspective.
Did you know that there are Abortion SURVIVORS? Yes, people who were meant to be aborted as babies but live. Awful but true.
I was thinking the other day about what children might have to say on the issue of abortion. Now, I'm not suggesting that we all ask our kids what they think, because in my opinion it is not a topic that children should be burdened with (heck, I'm still barely able to wrap my brain around it!) But I have a decent idea of what most kids would think and say. Kids have a way of cutting through everything - fancy rhetoric, scientific terminology, and emotional baggage - and I'm pretty sure kids would naturally be against abortion. Here you can find some voices of children and their feelings about abortion. I'm not saying that children can understand all of the complexities surrounding abortion, I'm simply noting that kids have a way of seeing things how they are and they are much better than adults are at trusting their instincts. Thinking of their reactions, thoughts, and words can help us reconnect to our inner-voices.
I guess it's pretty obvious that I've convinced myself that when talking about abortion, we're talking about taking a LIFE. I have a difficult time seeing much of any other way (but as I've stated, am willing to read material that may change my mind).
Once that is clear in my mind, there are some things that just become irrelevant. One of those is that there are people in the "pro-life" camp that are hypocritcal. This ranges from statements such as "I don't want a white, middle-aged man telling me what I can or cannot do," to "Pro-life people care about a fetus but then don't do anything to help real, living people (poor children/mothers etc.)" or "How can you be pro-life and be pro-gun/pro-war/pro-death penalty".
Sure, there is hypocrisy. There is hypocrisy everywhere. But that doesn't mean that we reject everything the Hypocrite believes just because that is what they believe. In fact, the Hypocrite may have some things right.
Another argument that doesn't sit well with me is "It's my body". It seems pretty obvious that there are always two bodies involved in abortion.
Another irrelevant, peripheral argument that come to my mind is the world's population. Yes, there are a lot of humans. Is this a problem? Could be. Is abortion the answer? I don't think so.
The Gray areas:
Finally, we get to the hardest part of this topic. The mothers. Our mothers, sisters, friends, and daughters. Women with stories. Women who feel trapped and out of options. Women without a partner, or an abusive partner, with few financial resources or with big dreams. Young women and old women. In the most horrible cases, women who are taken advantage of, abused, even raped - often by people that should love them. In the case of poor women, the hard-reality that they cannot give a child the life they dream of. And of course the children that actually live this reality - of poverty and lack, or even worse of pain, abuse, and neglect.
From the Facts on Abortion, "At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and, at current rates, one in 10 women will have an abortion by age 20, one in four by age 30 and three in 10 by age 45."
30%of women by age 45 will have an abortion!
For me, this is not about judgement or condemnation. Many women I know who are pro-choice readily admit that they don't feel abortion is right for them but they don't think it's for them to decide for another woman. We *feel* for the mothers that come to a place in their lives where they feel like this is the best decision for them. Because the truth is:
NO ONE *WANTS* TO HAVE TO HAVE AN ABORTION.
I don't have the answers to these terrible, unfair, inhumane circumstances. I believe the big questions we need to ask ourselves are -
Are we fighting AGAINST the world we actually live in now?
Are we aiming for what we know the world SHOULD BE?
I know it's idealistic, but I want to aim for a world where abortion isn't even necessary. I know that all "the bad stuff" is still there - it's still happening every day. So we work to end these terrible things. We reach out with compassion and love to those who aren't as fortunate as we are. But we can't use one, or even many, bad things to justify another. Two wrongs never make a right.
Holy Tangled Monkey Chains! I know that this post was hardly an unbiased look at the "sides" of abortion. In the end I make up my mind based on what makes sense to me and what my heart is telling me. The only thing I know for certain is that most likely I will change my mind again tomorrow and the day after that. I welcome other respectfully stated viewpoints here.
I do think I've shown that I respect and understand parts of the "pro-choice" perspective and the "pro-life" perspective. I'd like to propose a paradigm shift to "pro-humanity" - the humanity inside a woman's womb, the humanity of the pregnant woman who feels alone, trapped, and without options, the humanity of the father of the child in the mother's womb, the humanity in the religious and non-religious, the humanity in politicians and priests, and for everyone in between. Because I love humanity.
The first time I was introduced to Natural Family Planning (NFP) was when Mike and I went to our "Pre-Cana" or marriage preparation class. A young couple talked to us about the hows, whys, and benefits of NFP. They definitely left a strong impression on me and the biggest thing that I noticed is how much they seemed to LOVE using it.
But I wasn't quite ready to take that "leap of faith" and for the first year of our marriage I continued to take the pill to prevent pregnancy. A year later the timing felt right. I knew we would want to start a family (relatively) soon and didn't want to continue with a chemical contraceptive. Also I had decided to convert to Catholicism around the same time. The decision to learn and use NFP felt right.
Why was I drawn to this method? More importantly, why do I feel so strongly about it now that I want to spread the word about it? Well, first of all it is a great method both for preventing pregnancy and also maximizing your chances of achieving pregnancy when you want to. Because your body isn't dealing with any foreign chemicals you are free every cycle to decide what is best for you and your family. There is no waiting or worry that you may not be able to get pregnant because of the contraception you've been using.
On that note, check out this awesome post about birth control. I believe most people will learn something that they didn't know about the various forms of "birth control" and why these prevention methods may not be the best for you. I'm not going to rehash them all because the author does a great job of breaking down each form of contraception and explaining what the real, very serious physical and psychological health issues that are associated with each type.
"But what about EFFECTIVENESS?" you ask. (I can hear you yelling all the way over here!) Before letting you in on the rate of effectiveness you need to know that NFP is NOT the rhythm method (or counting days), it is a method that uses a woman's fertility signs (basal body temperature, cervical mucous, and cervix position) to determine with a high degree of certainty when her fertile time is. Yes, you are going to get very familiar with your body. No, it is not gross (well you may need to retrain your mind on this one, but I really believe it!) Yes, it is a wonderful and beautiful thing.
With that said, let's have a little drumroll please...
(INSERT DRUMROLL SOUND HERE)
When properly practiced NFP has an effectiveness rate of over 99%. That's right, I said OVER 99%. (See the aforementioned awesome article for some links to studies about the effectiveness of NFP in areas of the world where it is the norm.) I can tell you from experience that NFP is VERY effective both in preventing and facilitating pregnancy. Both of our children were completely "planned" and very much desired pregnancies. In addition I used NFP to prevent pregnancy for a full year between the time of stopping conventional contraception to the time when we started "trying". Once we were ready to "try" it only took 2 cycles for Miss Marisol to be conceived.
So in addition to the health benefits I reap from NOT using chemical or barrier forms of contraception, I still have peace of mind knowing that we can effectively use NFP to prevent pregnancy.
"But what about our sex-life??" I hear you wondering now. I mean surely using this method will have an impact on *that*.
Fear not, as my new favorite article notes:
"It might be misleading, however, to say that there are no side-effects of using NFP. There are some: NFP couples report increased respect for self and spouse; they almost never divorce; they report an increase in communication with each other and an increase in the quantity and quality of intercourse. (emphasis mine) For me, I think women deserve to have these side effects."
Wow. So what more is there to know? It's safe, it's effective, it costs virtually NOTHING once you know what you're doing, and it improves your marriage and sex life! That sounds too good to be true - but I'm here to tell you that it's not.
I believe EVERY WOMAN should have this intimate knowledge of her body and cycle. For me, my fertility signs have only become clearer and more obvious with time to the point where it takes very little effort for me. Yes - there is a learning curve in the beginning, and it takes time and commitment to learn, but it is SO worth it! I am definitely going to make sure that Marisol and any other future daughters (wink wink) are armed with this knowledge later in life because I believe this is so much more powerful than any other "birth control options". (I'm not going to keep information about contraception away from them either, I do trust that they will know what is right and best for them when that time comes). I really feel so strongly about NFP because of all the benefits I have felt in my life. I think it's rather obvious, but I still feel the need to state that this method is NOT "just for Catholics" or "religious" people - it's for everyone. I am infinitely grateful to the Catholic church for introducing me to this method before I was married though.
I learned the method through a home study course through the Couple to Couple League. The home study course used the book, The Art of Natural Family Planning, but has the added benefit of getting support from someone knowledgeable in the practice. So as you learn to chart your cycles you mail them to the person and they help you by looking over your analysis and giving you feedback.
I highly recommend this book and home study program if you are interested in learning about NFP. If there are live courses with an instructor near you, that may be an even better option.
This week's giveaway book ties into this topic but is specifically about how breastfeeding can help space babies for families using natural methods.It's called, Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing: How Ecological Breastfeeding Spaces Babies by Sheila Matgen Kippley.
After the birth of a baby many mothers that practice NFP and choose to breastfeed are able to prevent pregnancy for many months through lactational amenorrhea. Most doctors will tell new moms that as long as baby is exclusively breastfeeding (no bottles or pacifiers either), that baby is nursed on demand (including during the night), and the baby is less than 6 months old, then it is safe to trust lactational amenorrhea to prevent pregnancy. This is a very conservative interpretation. One of the biggest factors that affects a return to fertility is night nursing (or the lack thereof). The easiest way to continue to nurse your baby throughout the night is to sleep with your baby. With my two children I experienced 27 months of no periods after my daughter was born and 31 months after my son's birth (yes, over 2 1/2 years!) Needless to say I love that part of breastfeeding and co-sleeping. I know that not every mom's body reacts the same way mine did - even moms who practice attachment parenting. However, it *is* true in native cultures the average age difference between siblings is 3-4 years old without any use of contraceptives. So families that use NFP and ecological breastfeeding don't necessarily have huge families and babies very close together in age. At this moment my family consists of two children 3 years apart in age (6 and 3) - oh, and none currently on the way either (wink).
After Marisol was born, I wasn't sure how or if I would know when my fertility was returning, but I trusted and waited and sure enough my body began to give me signs. I was fairly certain of the first time I ovulated - even before having a period. This is definitely an advantage to learning about your fertility signs before having children - when the pressure to understand your body is less (in my case I could not have been terribly upset if I got pregnant again since I knew we wanted to have a second child!)
After Gerry's birth I felt even more confident about when my fertility was making a comeback - so much so that I packed my "feminine products" when we took a vacation to Florida last winter - and sure enough after over 2 1/2 years my dear friend, Aunt Flo, made her comeback appearance while we were there! I'm pretty amazed at how in tune with my body I am now.
I realize that this book will be for a very specific person - but if you are in your "baby years", and are breastfeeding and co-sleeping then this is a great book for you. I read it quite a while ago but remember it being a great resource for me when my babies were tiny.
So please leave me a comment here to let me know if you would like my copy!
Sometimes I have the weirdest thoughts go through my head (ok, lots of times!) Often the analogies that pop into my head have to do with birth - I'm cool that way.
So yesterday I was unpacking the van while Mike watched Nascar and did puzzles with Gerry, and Marisol watched Cyberchase on the computer. I was so proud of myself for getting so much done even though I am sick and we had just had a long day of packing up that morning and driving home (about 5 hours).
But it was actually the perfect thing for me to do after sitting in the car for so long. I got to stretch and move my legs AND I got some quiet "alone" time (we mamas take that however and whenever we can!) So I'm walking back and forth to the car and thinking how this was just the perfect "window" of time for me to get some things done - the kids just wanted to veg out. And I was like this is just like the window of time right after a baby is born and they're awake in a quiet alert state for a few hours before sleeping (is anyone having a hard time with this analogy? Come on - stretch yourself! Like I said, this is just a stream of consciousness moment from me to you. I didn't say that it made total sense!)
Of course then I had to think of exceptions. Like I'm sure there are times when we get home from a long road trip and the kids are tired and whiny and cranky and just want to cling to me and I don't get anything unpacked, or laundry done or food put away. Just like I'm sure there are newborns who go to sleep pretty quickly after birth. Because life really isn't all that predictable is it? But when we have a perfect "window" for something to occur, it feels so good to take advantage of it! So keep your eyes and heart open and let life keep flowing through and around you.
(I need to create one of those cool signatures for my blog - anyone know how to do that?)
ps These pictures of my alert babies are not just after birth, but they are two of my favorites from when they were just hours and days old. If I ever do this baby thing again I'm going to get more pictures of them when they are fresh out of the womb!
As a Hypnobabies instructor I have had to learn how to walk a very fine line. A basic premise of the class and of hypnosis is that our minds are very powerful and will work to create that which we dwell upon. So OF COURSE we want to feed the mind ONLY positive messages about childbirth. Hypnobabies does this really well - through affirmations, hypnosis tracks and scripts, and videos of beautiful, empowered births. Every mom also creates a special safe place for herself and her baby and a Bubble of Peace for times when there is negativity in their environment. This tool helps them to keep positive messages around them while keeping the negative away.
The tricky part is also embracing the fact that birth is inherently unpredictable and that every mother and baby's experience will be unique. Some birthing times (labors) are long and some are short. Some mother's stay very quiet while birthing and others ROAR their babies out. Some mama's can switch "off" (a Hypnobabies self-hypnosis tool) laying down and relaxing very deeply while experiencing pressure waves (contractions), while others prefer to be in "center" so they can stand or sit up and rock during waves. Ok, so you get the idea - each birth is DIFFERENT.
A criticism that often comes up of Hypnobabies is that by encouraging this positive mindset for women's births - that birth can in fact be peaceful, comfortable, and joyful - that we are setting women up for disappointment.
I believe that this statement underestimates women and I know that this mentality undermines both women using and NOT using Hypnobabies for childbirth.
First of all, I know that birth CAN BE all of the things listed above - because I experienced at least 2 of the 3 and I know many women who have experienced it all - some even having what they consider PAIN FREE births. So the question is, how is it helpful for us to prepare a woman by being "realistic" - which usually implies that birth has to be painful or difficult?
I did not have what I consider to be pain-free births either time. Yet they were both empowering, beautiful, enjoyable and life-changing experiences. My birthing time with Marisol lasted almost 48 hours and was very intense at the end, yet because it was such a powerful experience when I was pregnant with Gerry I looked forward to his birth with excitement. That's right - I couldn't wait to give birth again!
Gerry's birth was much faster that Marisol's. The end was very intense. Did I feel like Hypnobabies failed me because of this? No way! It was (again) one of the peak experiences of my life and I know that using the home-study course and listening to the tracks faithfully helped me have the best birth for me and Gerry that I could. (To clarify, Hypnobabies does not ever promise anyone a "pain free" birth. We do help women work towards the most comfortable birth possible for each individual and baby. Also, I only used Hypnobabies for my second birth.)
It is realistic to expect that birth can be safe and enjoyable. Most of the time birth will happen the way it is meant to for mom and baby if they are left alone. What isn't realistic is the current culture of fear that surrounds birth.
There is a line in our Hypnobabies scripts that reads, "You are comfortable with any path your birthing takes, knowing it is the best one for you and your baby". All suggestions are repeated many times so that these messages can really be absorbed by expecting mama's on a conscious and subconscious level. I love this one because it highlights that each birth is a journey for mom and baby and that in the end we have to let go and enjoy the ride.
I am proud to be a Hypnobabies instructor. I'm learning to teach my students to the best of my ability and then let go of all outcomes. I'm learning to trust that my students are getting what they need to from Hypnobabies. We cannot control birth just like we can't control life. But we can prepare ourselves and our minds, and I believe Hypnobabies is a powerful way for pregnant women to do just that.
This is the second part of the birth story of Marisol. You can read the first part here. I want to preface the rest of her birth story with a few thoughts. First of all, if any Hypnobabies students are reading this, definitely use your Bubble of Peace (BOP). Marisol's birth was long but completely endurable. It wasn't till the end that the intensity really felt painful and was a very small part of the whole experience. It is so amazing to read her birth story almost 6 years later. For one, I just know so much more about birth than I did then - even though I read numerous books and took an extensive childbirth class - it is just a lot to learn and assimilate in a relatively short time. Then there is the fact that I made a huge paradigm shift when I used Hypnobabies for my second birth and then became an instructor. It is strange to read my first birth and see the words "contraction" and "labor" instead of "pressure waves" and "birthing time".
But even though my perspective is different today, I would not change one thing about her birth. What isn't written here, as part of her birth, is how I felt in the days and weeks that followed her birth. I was literally on a birth high. I felt like Wonder Woman herself. I was so empowered by the experience that I literally could not stop thinking about it. I fell in love with my midwife and wanted to be her new best friend. I watched more births on TV in the weeks after than in the months leading up to Marisol's birth (there was a great show on at the time called "House of Babies - it was a birth center in Miami where many moms had water births). Basically it was the beginning of me becoming a "Birth Junkie".
But most importantly Marisol's birth began the journey that I am on today. She came into our lives and changed everything. I am so grateful for her and for everything I have learned from her. I tell my students that Birth is really just the portal. It is an important one to be sure, but it is the doorway to their new lives as parents.
Finally, a word of caution for those of you who may be "uninitiated" into the world of birth... I transcribed my story from my journal word-for-word - including references to bowel movements. I know that for some it may be "TMI", and so this is your warning. Even for myself ("Mrs. Share-All!"), it is pushing my comfort levels leaving it in there. But it is part of my story and it is *often* part of birth (don't think much explanation is necessary - just think of the force of pushing, the size of what women are pushing, and the placement... it's not a surprise that poop is often part of the equation!) What is interesting to me is that even in my own private journal I referred to it as "#2" - I couldn't even bring myself to call it what it is in there. I hope that as more women share their stories it becomes less taboo to share these things so women realize that such things are *normal* - to be expected and NOTHING to be ashamed of!
And with that said, I give you the rest of Marisol's birth...
On the way to the hospital I had 3 or 4 contractions. It was about 10:30 or 11 am when we arrived. Some of this I remember like I'm still there - some is a bit vague - I want to write details but not too boring...
I remember holding the garage elevator for Mary Ann but it didn't want to let us! Started making beeping/buzzing noises at us... I remember making it to the maternity "check-in" having to fill out paperwork and having a contraction there... I was definitely more inhibited in front of other people, like I would try not to be too loud... the secretary (nurse?) was actually talking me through it - "Just breathe through it" - I thought it was kind of funny/weird since Mike and Mary Ann were right there...
Then to triage - ahh... triage. I was definitely there longer than I expected. Mary Ann wasn't allowed in - they took her to the waiting area and then our birthing room. I had a contraction standing there waiting - just as Stephanie's (Mike's sister) friend Stephanie (also) who is a nurse appeared - then they gave me a gown - Mike came with me into the bathroom - I peed, put the gown and some underwear on - had another contraction - someone actually knocked! Then we went to an area curtained off - two nurses helped me there - they were young and nice. They put the external monitor on me and April showed up around that time - she said I didn't have to lie down which I was so relieved to hear because I had told Mike I didn't know how I could do 20 minutes in there.
So I could stand up for contractions - but then the paddles would slide off! So April or a nurse wold try to hold it so they could keep the baby's hearbeat. What a joke. They needed to see 3 jumps from baseline - 25 beats/minute or something like that.
April also checked me there - and I was 7 cm! ~80% effaced - Man I was so happy! Everyone was like, "what great news!" I remember April also commenting about how relaxed I was when she checked me...
Finally they let us go to our room - they had to hook me up again to get one more change in the baby's heart rate. I've never had my temperature and blood pressure checked so many times in my life either - through labor and all the next day for our stay. I remember having a contraction while a nurse was doing something - the EFM - and she didn't stop and I definitely felt more uncomfortable - I thought April looked annoyed.
April jiggled the baby around and finally got the last heart rate jump.
After that... I labored! On the birth ball - in the bub - on the toilet - I don't remember to many specifics of what I did. What I do remember is the people - how great they were, things they said, things they did for me... Mike was great. I was leaning of hanging on him all afternoon. He didn't say a ton but he gave me water, reminded me to go to the bathroom, kept me covered in the tub - and he never left!
The two nurses were great also. I think Louise (Grandma "Weezie"?) and Rachel was the young one - training. Louise kept telling me what an amazing woman I was - that she couldn't have done it... She told people outside too - and that she would have asked for something by then... Afterwards she told me that she had been present at many births and this was the most peaceful first birth she had ever been to... Rachel was great too.
And April - I have April on this pedestal right now - I was soo excited that she was on call - the 1 appointment I had with her was great - we talked a lot and I really liked her. She never pressured or rushed Mike and me - and she was present most of the day. She was so great!
And of course Mary Ann - our doula. She was also wonderful - massages, wash clothes, suggestions for different positions... we were both so glad to have her.
Another thing I noticed is that I hardly looked at the clock. Everyone thought we would have our baby by afternoon sometime since I was already 7 cm - we had Mary Ann go tell our families... but Marisol had other plans for us! I also remember that I never felt like I wanted to ask for drugs - I think I figured I had made it this long and it couldn't be much longer. Also I was very relaxed between contractions - I actually slept between them towards the end - at the bed and in the tub. I think I really felt confident about not needing drugs Saturday night (well actually Sunday morning 2-4 am!) When I was in the tub - I just realized - I can handle these contractions. I did well with breathing low "ooh" noises, and once they were over I wasn't in any pain.
I think I'll just list random things I remember from that afternoon-
- blue Popsicle, honey stick
- April saying, "I can't believe how with it you are between contractions!"
- Me telling Mike, "I still have to push!" (I was pretty tired)
- The worst contractions - on your back!
- Listening to music - Sarah McLachlan, Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Tracy Chapman
I think they were mostly surprised how "mild" I stayed - I never really got mean (with Mike for example) actually I said sorry to him at least once - and to Mary Ann when I leaned the chair back on her... I still was smiling between contractions when they told me how great I was doing - almost till the end.
I don't know what time it was - but I was starting to wonder myself - I wanted that "urge to push" to come! I was getting tired... no wonder with 2 sleepless nights! April decided to check me...
She said... you're about 8 1/2 cm (I'm convinced she added the 1/2 to make me feel better) I don't remember when... but soon after April brought up breaking my water (it had only broke partially - she could still feel it bulging) Also, Marisol was posterior.
I looked at Mike to see what he thought about breaking my water - he kind of shrugged his shoulders - I asked April if there were risks - especially with the umbilical cord - she felt that this far along and the head being so low, that it really wasn't a risk at all. I also asked if it would hurt and she said less than getting checked.
So she broke my water - I think she tried to turn the baby's head then - I'm not sure - she had me stay lying for a contraction so she could feel what was happening - but I can't remember if that was before or after breaking my water.
After my water was broken I tried different positions to "turn" the baby - "polar bear" (on the bed on hands and knees) and on the toilet. Those were some tough, intense contractions! I remember saying, "I don't like this position much" and on the toilet, "how many more do I have to do?" "Ok, I'll do a couple or 1 more" I think April was gone... I got back in the tub - I wanted to get to the pushing stage so bad! I remember also saying "This hurts!" but I never asked for drugs... The tub contractions were really tough - but it felt good in between - I couldn't relax or stay still during - I would basically say I was "writhing" I would grab at the side of the tub... I remember wanting April to come back because I kept saying I wanted to push - but I couldn't tell if it was an "urge" to push or just my wishful thinking - I think the nurse checked me at one point but I can't remember - that may have been earlier... I also remember feeling like I had to poop, and saying I think I had to throw up in the tub - they put the container in front of my mouth and I was pushing involuntarily at the end of a contraction. I remember Mary Ann saying these were all good signs - I don't know if that I believed her at that point! (I remember April and Mary Ann saying, "Stay with it" during these tough ones and although I still don't know how you do that - it helped me! Sports mentality I think :)
I actually fell asleep before the last contraction in the tub - They were all standing around looking at me! I thought it was pretty funny (I wasn't laughing at the time though) I vaguely heard April say something to Mike about me sleeping and a baby... then bam! The last contraction and I was rolling around! I think I was in transition at the time and the doubt was there... I wanted to push but wasn't sure - April checked me in the tub and said there was only a "lip" that I could push through.
So I got out of the tub - I think I wanted to - They asked if I cared to put the robe back on - I didn't care either way - I guess I did? (there's a picture of me with it on) at some point Mary Ann suggested the sports bra I had brought - I agreed - but found it humorous that I got naked in front of everyone to put it on.
We tried pushing in the bed - My urge to push wasn't strong - and sometimes I was pushing with my stomach instead of down low... April suggested moving to the toilet to help... I was glad to push there because I went to the bathroom (#2!) several times - It definitely helped me push correctly too. That part surprised me - I thought pushing would come very naturally - also my contractions spaced out a lot and weren't very strong... once again everyone was is the bathroom staring at me - this time on the toilet :) Everyone was so nice though - I made a joke about it smelling and blamed it on Mike - we flushed after every push - Mary Ann didn't get it (my joke) and April explained it to her... I also was very impatient during the pushing phase - I kept asking, "What's going on?" why were they so far apart? - April thought I was pretty funny about that - it was just so weird having everyone just standing around waiting for me to have a contraction! After 3 or 4 pushes I wanted to go back to the bed - I didn't want to continue on the toilet.
At some point Mike was on the bed behind me - I can't remember if it was before or after the toilet - but neither of us were very comfortable. I also tried with the bed propped up...
I think I was very tired at this point. I went #2 one more time - in bed! I thought I felt it but wasn't sure. April suggested a side lying position - when they helped me roll sure enough - more poop! But the nurses were awesome and it was cleaned up before you knew it.
It is amazing how none of this embarrasses you at this point. I knew it could (hence the joke in the bathroom) but didn't really care that much! Anyways - once I was in the side-lying position it went fairly quickly - April was motivating me by saying - let's see if this baby has hair! She said my pushes were very powerful and it wouldn't take many now (it took quite a few - but, hey I was tired!)
Pushing was definitely quite a feeling - April helped me a lot - she said it will burn and all that, but you will get mad! and push right through it. That helped me a lot! They had a big mirror for Mike and I to see (he was behind my head) - somehow I ended up diagonally across the bed - with my head almost off... They had me touch when just a circle of her head was showing... I couldn't believe how soft it was - April and the others kept exclaiming about all the hair!
The strangest was the head coming out then going back in... There were 2 or 3 pushes when I thought this one I get it out! But no... Almost but no cigar... Finally on the last few the head wasn't going back in or as much - I was like - "I don't know what to do! What do I do with my legs??" Everyone said just to relax - and I finally said, "I can't" or "It's hard to relax" or something and they said it's hard... Definitely very weird having a head stick out between your legs! Finally (they were holding my one leg up each contraction... each time I would be like... I think one is coming - and usually it was they were just so far apart and so gradual though! Very different from stage 1 labor contractions)
Finally her head crowned- April told me to rest (with some of the pushes I was shaking like crazy in between - I was grunting like crazy and turning so red too! April said it was ok) And then push - I didn't need a contraction...
She was pushing me down while I pushed and finally the head was out! Then it's kind of a blur - did they suction? (her nose - probably) her shoulders and body seemed to come out quickly - and the body coming out almost felt good - it just seemed so easy after the head!
They put her on me and there were hands all over her rubbing... someone asked "Mike what is it" he wasn't sure and asked, "Girl?" and someone confirmed, "It's a Girl!"
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.