Saturday, September 25, 2010

No longer an urge

Today is the day that my daughter was born by urgent cesarean at 35 weeks for fetal distress, three years ago. She was a teeny, tiny 4lb 7oz bundle brought to me and stuffed into my neck where I couldn't see, but only kiss her sticky cheek.

Every year around this time I think back to her birth and I find that the further I move away from all of my birth stories, the less I feel the need to relive them. There is an important healing that happens every time we tell the stories of something that changed us; we reap information and healing and integration every time the story is told.

I started to share my birth story, and I realized that I didn't really need to anymore. I don't need to write it out, I don't need to relive every terrifying moment. It was scary, and it was one of the hardest, most courageous things I've ever done. I did it, and it's done.

When I look back at the births of my sons, at the time I was very upset and even traumatized. I look back and think that I had pretty good birth experiences, all in all. A lot of my suffering was my own creation- hanging on to an outcome to the bitter end as my plans were decimated by pre-eclampsia and a baby who needed to, but was just not ready to come out. Not having the knowledge about what I was agreeing to when I asked to be induced - these were what I used to call mistakes, and now I just consider it a part of their stories. No more urge to look back and judge myself. I realize fully in my soul that I have only EVER done what I knew best in the moment to do, and that bitchy nurses and impatient doctors and doulas with bad breath were all just players in my story. They weren't what defined it unless I empower them so.

Who was *I* in those moments? How did *I* show up - for myself - for my birth - for my babies?

I don't mourn for a birth I never had. I do wish I could have gone into spontaneous labor at least once, but then I remember that my regrets are rather privileged in a world where women give birth to long dead babies with no one at their side, on hefty bags in bays of other women also laboring, in facilities lacking even basic supplies. I didn't get to go into spontaneous labor but knowing that I had a really great chance of surviving my births, that my children had a great chance at survival, that I had every tool at our disposal should it be needed, that my pre-eclampsia was caught early and not when I went into seizures giving birth - it humbles me.

I am not minimizing my births by comparing them to someone else's awful story; these are my stories and I claim them fully. I claim the Divine Mystery that tells me that no matter how well you plan, something that will surprise you is up ahead, I claim full responsibility for the choices I made, and I claim the lessons I've learned because of my births.

This is Eidie's gift to me today! Happy birthing day to us both. May her uterus never be cut and she birth in the arms of those who love her, should she decide that making babies is something she wants to do. ;)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Well rounded midwife

I was chatting with a couple of my midwife friends this morning at a birth we were at. I really enjoy and value these discussions- I am learning that I yield something completely different from talking in person with these topics than when I'm online. (Not the least of which is that I am usually easily understood and rarely ever have to explain myself or be defensive of my position, but I digress..)

Going back to a discussion I had with one of these lovely midwives about my choice for schools and how I originally thought that I'd want a school that was in alignment with my values about birth. As soon as the words left my mouth I knew they weren't what I really wanted. Why do I need to go to a school that just affirms what I already know? What I really want is to be challenged by my education. I don't want to be bored or agree with most everything. I want to have my boundaries pushed. I want to work with wide spectrums of people in different communities, countries - I plan to work hard not to develop my position but develop my sense of self in the world, my sense of community. At this moment, knowing what I know today, that feels like a healthy approach to midwifery.

A friend and I had a discussion about whether we'd take VBACs once we were practicing. Her position at the time was that you couldn't call yourself a midwife, and be pro-birth, if you didn't take VBACs and asked me if I would take them. Considering my last birth was a cesarean my own response surprised even me. I said I didn't know. I don't know who I will become through my journey. I've met more than one midwife who is in support of say, HBAC for example (homebirth after cesarean) but who has only ever experienced uterine ruptures and serious outcomes when they've attended them. They had the wisdom to know they did not need to bring their fear and concern to these births and have elected not to attend VBACs at home. It isn't anti-birth or anti- woman, it's pro-sustainability of practice, pro-sanity, and even pro-birth/woman/etc. for the midwife to know what her own boundaries are. Sounds healthy, if you ask me.