While I was taking all those chinese herbs and desperately trying to get pregnant that WHOLE YEAR (ack) – a co-worker of mine was studying to become a doula (my husband and I called these people ‘doolers’ – a spin off of the french word for PAIN) – if I didn’t happen to really like this person, I’d have talked some shit behind her back about being a hippy. Oh wait. I talked shit to her face. Her cubicle shelves were full of books about natural childbirth and while I talked shit I was also incredibly curious. I’d thumb through the pages full of illustrations of YONI’s and photographs of pelvic bones…and full-on shots of crowning. They totally freaked me out. It was like all the ‘Missing Manuals’. The rated “R” stuff. The stuff left out of the What To Expect When You’re Expecting! book.
I’d never been all that in to that whole getting in tune with the power of my body thing. This coming from a person who struggles with even saying the word ‘cervix’, let alone getting acquainted with its characteristics. It seemed like too great a stretch for me. The impossible. Like I would be a total poser even if I tried. Until something clicked in those pages and it changed me. The more I read about the process of childbirth, the more fascinated I became with it. I was totally in to it.
I never considered myself a good candidate for a no-med labor – and I’m writing about this, at all, because if I could inspire even just one person to rethink their own labor, that would be so cool. Im all about the path of least resistance. Gimme the quickest route from A to B. None of that its all about the journey and not the destination whooha. And here I was facing the greatest physical feat of my life. I was scared shitless of how a person was going to come out of my body. Before I got pregnant I had a conversation with my then gynecologist that went something like this:
“You know, I’m really a wuss, and I am going to want pain relief as soon as I get to the hospital. OKAY?”
to which he replied
“No need to worry, we can arrange that.”
Brilliant! It’s all as simple as that. And then I read my hippy friend’s Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth book. I chuckled through the pages of birth stories thinking ‘These, most definitely, are not my people’. But somewhere deep deep down in my toes, I thought – maybe there is something to this.
I never thought I needed to be ’empowered’. That was not a very compelling argument for me. But HOLY SHIT PEOPLE listen to me when I tell you how fucking EMPOWERING it is to feel every bit of your labor and a child come out of your body. Let me tell you about THAT kind of ADRENALIN. Let me tell you that there is in fact no greater high in the world than the one I felt lying in that hospital bed with half my junk hanging out of my whohaa gazing at the child that had just been separated from me.
I laid up in my hospital bed with raging hormones and throbbing Pam Anderson boobs saying “Why the hell did i just do that? That was for CRAZY PEOPLE!!!” I didn’t immediately get what all the hype was about. I felt cheated. I felt STUPID. I thought there was no way in hell I’d ever do that again. We would adopt next time around.
I was empowered though – and when you emerge from something like that, you can’t help but want to share that kind of journey with the world.
So anyway, from one wuss to another here is my advice to you:
READ! Read about what your body was CREATED to DO. Learn about how it works. Knowledge is power. The more you understand about the mechanics, you will begin to appreciate how FRIGGIN AWESOME and amazing it all is.
Align yourself with people who believe that your body can deliver your baby without help. This means finding a MIDWIFE. Someone who isn’t paid to send you to the O.R.
Get a birthing coach – DOULA. They are worth their weight in gold.
Screw the birth plan. I had no qualms with being ‘open’ to an epidural if I really really wanted one. I didn’t want to draft up all these rules for myself and everyone else about how it had to be. I knew what I wanted. I would know what I was capable of when the time came. I just kept on breathing. Minute to minute. I got through 10+ hours of this until I was checked and someone said “you are 7-8cm!”. By the time you get to this stage of labor you are on another planet. And for me, I could not be bothered on that planet to even THINK about asking for an epidural. It was all I could do to BREATHE. I was along for the ride at that point. There was no turning back.
When I pushed him out – I have never felt so out of control in my life. I screamed like a rabid beast. I thought I would die before he would ever come out of me. And when he finally did, okay yes – I felt SUPER HUMAN. I felt indestructible. I thought there was no pain or struggle or conflict in life that could ever touch me after that. That feeling, combined with the amazing euphoria of seeing the life you have created emerge from your body – is something surreal.
Anyway. The bottom line?
I didn’t need to be a Superhero. But boy did I ever need that experience. It transformed me. THE PROCESS. All the preparation. The execution. The delivery. It shook me to my core – rocked me off my axis and put me on a new course. It was the best thing that ever happened to me and I did nothing but allow my body to be completely present for the event.
ANYONE can do it. We are ALL very capable. Even the Captain of the Wusses.