Thursday, February 15, 2007


No, the baby's not here yet. We have a mere 2 1/2 weeks until the official due date. The actual timing could be anywhere from today to St. Patrick's Day (but we're hoping it doesn't go quite that long). However, I am going to start talking a little bit here about some of the choices we are making in the birth process (and by we, I mean "we" and not "me" - I am not imposing anything on Mrs. Euphrony, but we agree on these things and I support her 100% whatever she wants to do). For a resident of the United States, this will be a non-traditional birth, though it is the way most of the world (even the industrialized world) goes about it. No drugs. No doctor; we have a midwife (yes, they still exist as a profession). We want this birth to be viewed as a natural process and not as a medical condition that requires treatment, or as one that needs to be scheduled to avoid the inconvenience of waiting for ourselves or the doctors. Not that we are granola-crunchy; not at all. We do firmly believe that the medical wonders we live with are great things, but not nearly as necessary as we have been lead to believe.

To start the conversation, I give you an excerpt from the play
BIRTH, by Karen Brody, with which Mrs. E has been involved. It is a collection of the true birth stories of seven women, some good and some bad, and gives a fair representation of the different ways some women birth: planned Cesarean sections, induced labors, emergency C-sections when complications arise during labor, births in the hospital with drugs, births at home without drugs. This is the introduction of the play, and will give you something to think about.

We always had animals growing up. I remember seeing puppies and kittens being born just about every year in our house. I believe that human beings are, you know, we're animals.

When I was growing up you never took a puppy away from its mother. You left the mother alone in a dark, safe place away from noise. It seemed to me the best way to bring life into the world. The worst thing you could do to a dog is stick them under lights, start poking them and taking the babies away.

Sometimes I'd watch a dog in labor all day until she moaned and groaned so loud it sounded like a whale giving birth . . . a howling chant. Her hips swayed back an forth with smooth rhythm. I loved that moment, when the dog knew she was ready and we knew it and the babies started coming out.

Nobody was scared. The dog was in pain, but everyone knew it was going to be alright. One by one the wet puppies appeared and snuggled up to their mother. Some fell asleep. Other sucked on her nipples. I wanted to touch those puppies so bad, grab one for my own, but then I'd remember my mother's words: You never take healthy puppies from their mother.

Never. A mother needs to feel her babies next to her after they are born. A mother giving birth needs some space. Give her some space . . . love . . . touch . . . words of encouragement. This is her moment.

I wanted that same thing preserved when I gave birth.

I wanted what my dog got.
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Anne said...

Sounds fantastic! I totally agree with birth being a natural occurrence and not a medical condition needing treatment. I just wish I had known before what I now know - I would've done things a lot differently.

What a beautiful thing - enjoy every moment.

Douglas said...

My wife and I wanted a similar experience when we had our first. To our dismay, she was turned down because of some minor heart palpitations and a doctor that didn't want to sign off on anything despite no solid evidence of any real problem other than my wife's occasional elevated heartrate around the house. It ended up being a good thing though, because there were complications with the birth and my son spent the first two weeks of his life in the NICU, both at the regular hospital and at the children's hospital due to very severe meconium aspiration. The hospital had lost a kid to that the week before and R. had the most severe case of it the nurse had seen in over 10 years of practice. Now, after 2 cesareans, we know that dream will never happen, but we sometimes wonder what it would have been like.


euphrony said...

Doug, God has a way of making sure we do things in the best way sometimes, does He not?

With our girl, we had planned on a birth at a birthing center with a midwife (who also is a friend). Everything went great, until we go into labor and go to the birthing center. The midwife checks Mrs. E and discovers that since the last checkup the baby had turned and was now breach. So we go to the hospital and end up having an emergency c-section. Nothing at all like what we had wanted. But there we were and that was that.

Now, because we are trying for a vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean) we have to be in the hospital to start, but we are still going to use a midwife and not a doctor.

Anne, I think that just about everyone ends up wishing they had known something more when the birth does not go perfectly. We wish that we had considered what we would have done in case of breach positioning. Had we, the choice may have gone to deliver breach at the hospital rather than have a section (Mrs. E was pretty much fully dilated by the time they did the section). That would have been better for her recovery and allowed us to use the birthing center this time rather than go to the hospital.

A lot of doctors have nothing but disdain for midwives (and these are not just old crones practicing voodoo, but actually certified, advanced trained nurses). Most will also not sign off on a vbac, and many doctors or nurses will tell you they are illegal (a flat-out lie, you have the choice whether they admit it or not). There are few laws that say you have to be hospitalized to give birth, and those mostly for women who have had complications on previous births, and they are mostly archaic laws at that. We have a great deal more choices in our health care than what doctors or insurance companies will admit.

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