The Start of a Tradition

Every Monday, I am going to post a birth story from someone that had an empowering birth experience. I hope it will help set the tone for this blog and make women understand why I truly want to help them to feel this way.

(If you would like your birth story to be on here, just email me at broncos_baby at hotmail dot com. Or post it on your blog and put the link in the comments of my Monday story).

Just so you know, this story starts a big negative, but I love how it shows the contrast to a birth you are not empowered by, to a birth that changes the person you are.

Christine’s Story

I was just one month shy of my twentieth birthday when I had my first baby. My mother had not told me any scary stories, nor had I heard any from friends. I guess I was just too young to know much. We didn’t have prenatal classes in 1965. In fact, we weren’t prepared for birth in any way. We just went in, got weighed, and had our blood pressure taken and belly measured.

When labor started, I went to the hospital with my husband. I was put in a bare room along with a clock looming on the wall in front of me. My husband was told to wait in the waiting room. The nurses came in periodically to check on me and see if my labor was getting strong. I remember grabbing the head of the bed and bearing down with every contraction. No one told me not to do it, so I just continued to wear myself out until I was so upset that they medicated me with morphine. After that, things got kind of hazy until I got to the delivery room. I remember two men trying to grab my arms to strap me to the table. I fought them with all my strenth, but they kept slapping a gas mask on my face. I would faint away for a few seconds and then terutn to consciousness. I turned into a terrified animal, screaming and trying to scratch out the eyes of the man with the gas mask. Somehow, I gave birth to a baby girl. I don’t remember seeing her until the next morning. I was the only one on the ward who wanted to breastfeed, so I was put in a corner behind closed curtains for being an oddity.

Naturally, I was terrified when I became pregnant for the second time. I wanted to avoid pain at all costs. I arranged to have a daudal, a type of spinal anesthesia which would take away most of the pain that I was sure I would experience. It rendered me unable to push my baby out, so that I had to lie helpless and watch my son being pried out of me with forceps. I received a large episiotomy from which I have never fully recovered. My perineum was so weakened that I have very little muscle tone for having bowel movements. Again, a terrible experience.

When I became pregnant with my third child, I was encouraged by friends in Monday Night Class to consider having a midwife. The idea of natural birth was very appealing, but I couldn’t imagine myself being able to do it. However, the thought of going back to the hospital was even more frightening. During this same period, I became part of the group that founded “The Farm”. From this point on, I enjoyed my pregnancy, as I had with my first two, but as my due date approached, my apprehension grew daily. I had no confidence in my ability to give birth. The midwives responded to my obvious fear by using humor with me, teasing me about how my wide hips and generous pelvis were just made for birthing. They taught me a Biblical teaching: that there is no need to fear the sudden fear–that is, that there was no need to fear what might happen. I would know what to do when the time came.

When my labor started, it was not long before the intensity of the experience began to be overwhelming. When I focused my attention inwardly, I would be lost. But I when looked at my midwife, who sat next to me, encouraging me to breathe slowly and deeply, I began to be able to match my breath with hers, and lock my gaze into hers, drinking in her calmness and inner strength. It was tehre, available for me to draw from. At transition, I started to fall apart and scream and cry. I had never traveled this far ont he birth journey. I didn’t know the way. I began to try to back out, to say that I couldn’t go on. I wanted my husband to enter my body and be the vessel for this child. Gently, the midwives brought my attention back to the present, asking me quietly if these were the first sounds I wanted my child to hear. They encouraged me, telling me over and over how well I was doing, that I would soon see my beautiful baby, coaxing my attention out of myself. “You only have to get through this one contraction. They you can rest, go deep and relax, find peace there and strength for the next one,” they would say.

And so I made it through. Ididn’t have a tear or episiotomy. I remember that a deep feeling of joy and peace pervaded my soul that night after Simon was born. A passing thunder shower boomed overhead, with lightning turning the emerald green forest aglow. A torrent of rain followed. My husband, James, walked out into the rainy evening to bury the placenta deep under a dogwood tree. I felt a sense of wholeness and strength that has become a part of me.

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One Response

  1. Welcome to your little corner of the world! I love coming hear and reading empowering birth stories, to read your open and honest thoughts on all things birthy.

    Thank you for sharing for a whole year already! That is amazing. Keep up the awesome work.

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