Posted in Birth Stories, Hippy-Dippy Stuff, Parenting, stephanie2morrow, Uncategorized

Why You Won’t Have a Natural Birth

I rarely rant. I almost never rave. If I seem taller than usual, it’s more likely from my new sparkly summer wedges than from standing on a soapbox. But … well … I want to say something that’s going to make some of you furious and others of you feel justified:

Natural childbirth is not possible in an unnatural world.

And we do live in an unnatural world — X-Men, Photoshop, reality tv, fast food, Donald Trump’s hair — and we believe what we see. (Except maybe for the hair.)

Why You Won't Have a Natural Birth

Our culture encourages those same “unreal” perceptions regarding childbirth. Movies and tv shows tell us labor will begin with intense pain and agony. We are shown images of women screaming and begging to be medicated. We are told to freak out when water breaks and rush to the hospital. We listen to the horror stories of our “friends.” We ignorantly put ourselves in the hands of people who are exceptionally well-trained to handle abnormalities and emergencies, hence all our births have become such abnormalities and emergencies.

And that’s just not reality.

We are NOT educating ourselves. We have lost our communal knowledge of the art of birthing and have chosen instead to simply trust the medical profession to decide what is best for us.

You can SAY all day long, “I want a natural birth,” but if you aren’t educating yourself, your chances of actually HAVING one are practically nonexistent. I mean, if you want to be a safe driver, but you don’t read the Driver’s Manual, or learn to operate a vehicle from someone who knows how, or even take a driver’s ed class, you MIGHT get in the car and know WHERE you want to go, but what are the chances of actually making it there safely? Probably about the same as having an uneducated natural birth.

Now, by “educating yourself,” I do NOT mean taking the little hospital class that tours you through Labor & Delivery, makes you watch the epidural video and discusses all the things that “could go wrong” and how the hospital will deal with them. NO. NO. An emphatic NO.

Read for yourself: Literature from both ends of the spectrum, from Twinkle Ding-Dong Yoga Birthing toShut Up and Put Your Feet in the Stirrups. Go ahead and take the Labor & Delivery tour at the hospital, then go to an independent childbirth class. Drink in A Baby Story on TLC, then chase it with The Business of Being Born on Netflix.

Why You Won't Have a Natural BirthRead up on epidurals and episiotomies; C-sections and vitamin K shots; vaccinations and circumcisions; fetal monitoring and forceps; meconium and mucous plugs; contractions and colostrum; dilation and doulas; VBAC and PRoM; breech babies and birth positions; posterior presentation, placentas, pitocin & postpartum depression, and for heaven’s sake, PARENTING.

What determines the outcome of your labor hinges sharply on choosing to educate yourself and surround yourself with the support you need.  And, as a doula, while I heavily advocate drug-free birthing, my job is to help you have the experience you want. Schedule a C-section, squat in a cornfield, whatever. It is, after all, YOUR body, YOUR baby, YOUR decision.

Just please, please, please make it an INFORMED one.

Posted in Birth Stories, Hippy-Dippy Stuff

How low can you go?

FOREWARD

When my son talks about Ultimate Frisbee Tournaments, my brain hears:  “So this player ran down the field and dove and caught it and then he threw it and then another player ran down the field and dove and caught it and then we scored and then the same player ran down the field again and then yada yada…”

When my husband regales me with horse stuff, I TRY to listen, but I hear this:  “A horse ran to the field and I ran after it and made it run circles until it got tired and then I went to the barn to get the other horses and they ran to the field, so I ran after them and made them run circles until they got tired…lather, rinse, repeat.”

So when I share a birth story, I’m very aware that to some of you it sounds like:  “She had a contraction, so we walked and then she had more contractions and dilated to 4 and then she had more contractions, so we walked some more and then she dilated to 5, ad infinitum.”

But I’ve got a birth story to share, and I promise it won’t sound anything like that.

INTRODUCTION
Birth Mama was only worried about two things:

  • Transporting the 40 miles to the hospital in the dead of winter, and
  • Staying calm, relaxed and peaceful. (She had been very stressed and anxious the last time, and did NOT want a repeat.)

CHAPTER ONE
The Call came just after midnight. Contractions 10-12 minutes apart, she is ready for me. I threw on clothes and hit the road, stopping only to fill my empty gas tank. Six blocks from their house, her husband calls (NEVER a good sign), “Steph, we are at 4 minutes apart, we need you now.”

Seconds later, I let myself in the side door. Hubby starts loading things into my van. I find her laboring in bed, eyes closed, internally focused. I remind myself: she wants calm, relaxed, peaceful. I rub her gently across the back, listen to her moan, and discern that contractions are MUCH closer together and we are not going to have a long, slow labor at home.

Holding her hair back and doing my best Julie Andrews’ impersonation (who once said about herself, “Sometimes I’m so sweet, even I can’t stand it.”) I whisper, “You’re doing so great we need to go on and transfer.” Inside my head, Gilbert Gottfried is shrieking, OH MY GOODNESS, THIS IS TOO FREAKIN’ FAST!!!”

The next contraction finds us squatting in the driveway. Her mom asks, “Are we going to make it to the hospital??” Calmly I smile and hear Julie Andrews say, “Most certainly we are going to make it!” (Internally, Gilbert panics, “probably not until AFTER the baby comes out, but we’ll definitely make it!”)

Now the 40-minute drive…and though I could drive crazy fast and get us there in 30, there is a laboring woman on her knees in the place of my center console, so safety has to take precedence.

Through all of this, I am pretending to be cool as a cucumber. Driving 80 mph, talking over my shoulder in my best Mary Poppins voice, “You are doing such a great job! Practically perfect in every way. Take a deep breath through your nose and blow it slowly out your mouth. Goooooood.”

With every mile, contractions are growing more intense, and suddenly she responds to one of them with a screeching dolphin-call. I speak in a soft, low tone, and quite possibly with a British accent, “Remember what we talked about. Keep your throat relaxed. Bring your voice down low. Moan it out. Remember: LOW.

From the floor behind me I sense the beginning of the next contraction…her throat tightening, her shoulders rising, her voice starting to squeak with the pain…and the next moment I will forever remember as one of my Favorite Things (“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and labor contractions…”) She brings her dolphin screech down to a deep Darth Vader growl, and for the next 45 seconds I hear, “low low low low low low low low low low low low…” as she literally chants the word “low” through the entire contraction!

Now I become a living GPS, with a slow, lilting voice.

julie andrews (2)“Only 10 more minutes and we’ll be there.”

“Three more contractions and we’ll be at the door.”

“Just a spoonful of sugar and the baby will be out.”

Maneuvering the parking lot like Speed Racer, swerving around parked cars and cigarette-smoking nurses, I zip to the front door, jump out and grab a wheelchair. After some chair-not-working-and-what-do-we-do-about-the-bags confusion, the four of us glide through the deserted hospital corridor, up the elevator and into Labor and Delivery.

It is 2:02 a.m.

“We’re here to birth a baby,” my Julie Andrews voice tells the desk nurse.  And even though we are pre-registered, the nurse asks for insurance cards and social security numbers and due date and Groupon Coupons, and a request for laboring mama to get on the scales.

Clearly, they are not understanding, so Gilbert makes an appearance outside of my brain, “Ladies! THIRD baby here! Doesn’t matter what she weighs as she will weigh 14 pounds less in a very few minutes! We need a room STAT!”  (I try to speak their language, you know). 

Finally sensing the urgency, one of them calls, “Room 4!” and in we go. Birthing mama stands up out of the wheelchair and grabs the bed as I instinctively take my place behind her. A splash hits my shins and runs into my shoes. “My water broke! My water just broke!” Why, yes, yes it did.

She lays down as we get her lower half undressed, feet still dangling off the bed. Dr. M. commands, “Let’s get you all the way up in the bed.” Before hubby and I can even get the head of the bed raised, one nurse is trying to get her shirt off, because apparently it’s critical that she wear pale blue cotton to push out a human. Another nurse is trying to velcro straps around her belly.  Seriously?

I politely ask them to “get real”, just as she is hit with one MASSIVE contraction – her feet and head on the bed, the rest of her body imitating the St. Louis arch. gilbertShe looks wide-eyed at me and declares,“I’m on my back! I’m on my back! I don’t want to be on my back!”  I understand completely, and assure her as SOON as this contraction is over, we’ll get into a better position. Before I finish my sentence, Dr. M. announces, “We’re crowning and…yes……..THERE she is!”

And Gilbert Gottfried screams, “WHAT THE…???”

Posted in Just Funny, Parenting

oh say, can you see?

For those of you who have known me for say, longer than 28 minutes, you have surely already heard this story.  But I refuse to apologize for the retelling of this July 4th classic.  Much like our other unique holiday traditions: grilling pork chops for Thanksgiving dinner, sleeping in on Black Friday, and watching “Die Hard” at Christmas, this family classic must be revived in honor of the Fourth.

The summer I was barely pregnant with Kevin, my daughter, Kacey, was a very precocious, almost 6-year-old. One day in June, she marched down the hall of our apartment, donning her blue daisy outfit, hands on her hips as she proclaimed, “Okay mommy, I’ve been thinking about this. If I’m gonna be a big sister, there’s some stuff I need to know. I know it takes a mommy AND a daddy, but what I don’t get is how they get together!”

Bother. She’s FIVE. I had hoped I wouldn’t have to have the sex talk with her until she was like 12 or 35.

However, I’ve always held the belief that if a child is old enough to ask a question, she is old enough to deserve an honest answer. But exactly WHICH answer? How do I explain this simply enough for her to grasp without damaging her innocent little psyche? (“Well honey, you know on Sunday afternoons when mommy lets you watch a Disney video and daddy closes our bedroom door..?”)

Um, no. That probably falls under the “Scarred for Life” category.

And then I remembered Lennart Nilsson’s book, “A Child is Born”. Perfect. It even has tasteful photographs.

sperm humanSo I dug through all of my hippie birth books and soft-porn breastfeeding manuals, and proceeded to show her anatomy diagrams (i.e., “boy parts” and “girl parts”). After that, we moved on to images of the egg and sperm. We talked about how the female usually just has one egg, but the male has millions of tiny sperm and they swim around really really fast.

This is the point where swirling finger gestures were involved.

We moved on to prenatal ultrasound images, and ended with birth photos taken from a “northern” perspective. She seemed content with the explanation, and I breathed a sigh of relief that “the talk” (or rather, the first of many talks) was satisfactorily accomplished.

Fast forward ten days. We went out to the lake, along with my parents and 10,000 other people to view the July Fourth Fireworks Extravaganza. We sat on the bank of the lake amid the throng of spectators, when one particularly interesting firework exploded. First it burst white, then hundreds of tiny little swirly sub-bursts followed. It was gorgeous. The crowd “OOOOOHHHED” and “AAAAHHHED”, then my diminutive, but very loud daughter declared…

fireworks with swirls“Mommy, LOOK – SPERM!!!”

A hush fell over the crowd. Eyes stared and glared. Pretty sure my dad swallowed his tongue. My mother gasped in reactionary disbelief as though to say, “WITH WHAT SMUT HAVE YOU BEEN CORRUPTING MY GRANDDAUGHTER”S MIND?”

I, well I was mortified.

Kacey and I then had another talk. “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to candidly proclaim your truths, please, PLEASE remember we hold this truth to be self-evident: there are some things you never, ever say in front of your grandparents.”