My birthright rant… You have been warned!

It is funny what you end up talking about at parties, isn’t it?  You see, today, at a Superbowl party, where, I am sure, the expected conversation is about stats and Archie Manning and what an upset the Saints just caused, Hubby and I ended up at the kitchen table talking about homebirth versus hospital birth and why we made that choice.  Until I lived here, in the land of the status quo, I didn’t realize that my choices were counter-cultural, and that, to some, they are seen as radical / fundamentalist  or just plain mental; and that to talk about them makes me an advocate, an activist, someone whose opinion can be seen as marred in some way by their belief that it is right… as if to have an opinion makes you somehow unqualified to share that same opinion.

The thing is, I passionately believe that home birth / birth center birth is by far the best choice a mother can make for herself and her baby.  And believe me, I realize that, if anyone is actually reading this blog, I will get multitudinous comments on safety and high risk etc etc.  We are all entitled to our opinion, and, since this is my blog, I get to share mine here.

My boys were both born at home, in a birthing tub, in vastly different circumstances.  Their births could not have been more different from one another; one was long and laborious, the other short and intense; one was peaceful and worry free, the other came with a chaser of anxiety; one was early, the other late; but the similarities far outweigh the differences.

From the moment I found out I was expecting, I knew I would have a home delivery, at this point, mind you, I did not know what that would look like, I just knew that I didn’t trust a medical system so adept at malpractice and MRSA infections to make the best choices for me and my baby.  Like most home birthing families, we came upon our convictions gradually but with increasing force.

The more I learned about birth the American way, the more I became convinced that I, like thousands of women for thousands of years before me, could do this with out the interventions of malpractice-insurance-shy doctors and hospital administrators.  We developed an almost insatiable thirst for knowledge of the God-given design of my body; the amazing way that all the systems of a woman’s body come together during a natural birth to relieve pain, transfer nutrition, take care of the infant through every stage.  The more I learned how I was designed to bring life into the world, the more I became convinced that doctors don’t have the best interests of mothers and babies at heart, they have only their procedures and risk-mitigation-strategies.

Natural birth has been labeled “granola”, it is associated with commune-dwelling hippies and old ladies with a kettle of hot water and some towels. The reality is so far from that as to be unrecognizable.  I received the highest level of prenatal care, far more visits than my hospital-delivering friends; we were educated to the point of confidence in any eventuality, we were encouraged to believe that this wonderful thing called  birth was not only positive but part of created purpose, that I was, in fact, more than able to meet this labor head on… pun totally intended;)

Our first son was born after 20 hours of labor, hard labor by all accounts, labor that was in and out of water, in my flat, with my husband and doula (mothers’ birthing assistant), attended by the most loving and experienced midwife.  I ate and drank and rested, it was dark and we had music playing; when my labor stalled after 12  hours, my midwife suggested I move around a bit, so we danced (well, really I shuffled while my hubby held me up). When transition came and I became convinced that I could do nothing more, they reminded me that I could, that this was expected, that he was on his way and that my lack of confidence was to be embraced as my body took over and my mind relinquished the control that it thought would spare me but was actually causing pain.  And when, finally, he was born, I brought him out and up to my chest with such joy and delight and pride and relief that I can scarcely believe, even now 6 years later, that I did it. And then he opened his eyes and it was love at first blink.  The damp dark quiet was not interrupted by screams, water-birthed babies often don’t cry, such is the gentleness of their transition; I held him as the placenta finished pumping the rest of his nutrient rich blood, and then nursed him as I delivered it.  As I stood in my own shower contemplating the sweetness of my bed, he lay in his daddy’s arms as he was gently measured and tested.

The next morning, after all three of us had a full night’s sleep in our bed, he awoke hungry and with very specific desires in that regard.. he took to nursing like he had the night before, and I stared in awe at the little human who 24 hours ago was still on his way out.  Birth, to me, will always be a miraculous process, a joyful participation in creation.  It matters to me how he came into the world, it matters to me how I felt about his birth and I will always advocate for others to not have to accept that, “the end justifies the means,all that really matters is that your baby is here and healthy.”  Yes, that is paramount and the result of a birth should always be a healthy baby, but not just baby, surely the mother deserves the same, a safe and healthy delivery, free from narcotics and surgeries and synthetic hormones that your body would produce on its own if you just gave it time.  OK, I have ranted for long enough…

For now, Good Night,

I remain, yours

The Reluctant Suburbanite

Grief & Hope

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD 

The Lord is my shepherd, 
I shall not want; 
He makes me lie down in green pastures. 
He leads me beside still waters; 
He restores my soul. 
He leads me in paths of righteousness 
for His name’s sake. 

Even though I walk through the valley 
of the shadow of death, 
I fear no evil; 
for You are with me; 
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me 
all the days of my life; 
and I shall dwell in the house of the 
Lord forever.
Psalm 23
Sometimes it is hard to write about life when it is so intense and personal, not to mention confusing.  Today we found out that what we had hoped was just a difficult pregnancy was, in fact, a miscarriage.  I have come to despise that word, it implies some kind of carelessness, thoughtlessness or lack of preparedness, it brings to mind other uses like “miscarriage of justice”; and I think to myself, “NO! That is not it at all!”  We have lost our baby and while they were with us they were deeply loved and wanted, there is no word that adequately covers the sense of loss, of emptiness and sadness in my heart.  

This is a season which I will long search for purpose in, and may never find it, however one thing I know; that our babe has been spared the suffering of life on this earth, and while I may never hold her (for some reason, in my head, she has a female voice), she has been taken into the greatest joy of life in the presence of God, eternal, wise and loving God.  I am sad, but not without hope, weeping but assured by His presence that Joy will come in the morning.

Thank you for all your prayers and loving support, I never knew how truly loved we were until this week, you have all blessed us beyond words.

Yours in hope
Ally

Babe, Bed Rest and boredom!!

OK, so here is the update, from my bed; at this time I would like to point out that typing without sitting up or engaging one’s abs is exceedingly hard!!

Firstly, thank you so much for all your prayers and offers of help, be assured that we treasure these and will be sure to let you know if you can help with the boys or anything; we are so blessed to have such great friends.
So, here is the situation, on Thursday we went to meet our midwife, and what was supposed to be a tour of the birthing center and meeting our midwife, was rather transformed by the fact that I had already been bleeding for 24 hours when we first met.  Amy, our midwife, is the personification of calm and the birthing center was so restful that, despite the million and one questions running through my head, I was much restored by being there.  We were able to get a look at the babe on the sonogram, and since I am only six weeks, all we saw was a sac and possible fetal cone ( for the uninitiated, this is before any skeleton or anything is visible, basically the spinal column and yolk sac- precursor to placenta).  So, I am definitely pregnant and not imagining it! That is good news!
However, the past 36 hours have been very difficult. Upon leaving our meeting with Amy, armed with instructions, assurances and a list of supplements, I started having cramps and became so uncomfortable that the only tolerable position was curled up, fetal-style, in bed. Which is how I spent all of yesterday and most of today.  My loving hubby has been awesome, taking the boys away pretty much all day so I can rest in peace and quiet, except that now he is tired too and needs a break.  Thank God for family and community.
Yesterday was excruciating, uncomfortable both physically and emotionally; not knowing what my body is doing is probably the hardest part, and since all I can do is wait and be patient, all I can do is trust God that the outcome of this pregnancy was determined before the foundation of the world and that He, in all His wisdom, has chosen to include me in it for His Glory.  
Today, I have tried to reintegrate into a largely vertical society, but find my self exhausted by even the simplest of tasks, so it is back to bed with me and a great opportunity to exercise patience, which most of you know me to be sorely lacking in!  
Please continue to pray for our health (mine and the babe), but also for Luke and the boys that they would be well in their souls and have peace and patience with this situation.
Ally