Birthing

Birth Short Stories

Posted on Oct 3, 2011 in Birth Stories | 7 comments

Birth Short Stories

{Last month I put out the call for SHORT birth stories. I wanted to see what would happen if we were restricted to tell our stories in fewer words. What would stand out? What would we decide absolutely had to be told? How would we get creative? So here are the submissions, in 100 words or less}. Hazel Water broken, contractions slow. All day walking walking walking the house. Beer, nap, lovely. Sun sets. Now so fast! Pounding the bathroom wall. Doula’s eyeballs, “haaaaaaa, haaaaaaaa, haaaaaaa”. Even transition won’t keep me from clicking “next” when Christmas music comes on the IPod shuffle. Friend’s restaurant caters. Team takes turns eating in the kitchen while I privately push. Baby comes down down down, then wriggles into the water. Papa lifts her up. After all this waiting, 286 days, she is here, on my chest, one eye swollen, red heart between her brows. He whispers, “She’s a girl”. My girl. – Emma Summer, Your Fonder Heart   Done in 90 minutes! (And 100 Words or Less) Contractions on Halloween Trick… or Treat? Trick. Two days later… false alarm? It’s time! ER : “Pregnant lady in distress” Orderly: “Can’t find the only working elevator” Crawling zigzags throughout a darkened lobby Maternity nurse: “Too soon – let’s monitor” NO! “Need to push” “Can’t be! Let’s start an I.V” Uh-uh! Three primal screams, the busy room paused Daddy: “There’s a HEAD in that water!” One more push… Caul birth. Snip. Whoosh! Baby on tummy “Don’t cut that cord!!!” Anxious doctor: “Can I cut now?!” “Wait! OK… now” Nursing newborn Uneasy staff “It didn’t cry!” “Is it OK?” EVERYBODY OUT! Babymoon…   – Alicia C., McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts **Note: Alicia submitted the cutest picture to go with this story but as of 11:00pm PST, wordpress will NOT let me post it without automatically mucking up all the code for this post. Argh. Hopefully, I’ll be able to add it tomorrow.   Tegan With my second child, I was determined to have a natural birth after having an epidural and induced labour with my first child. I read 7 books and many, many natural birth stories online over the 9 months that I was pregnant with her. My labour pains began at 1:10 am and I was excited. I told myself to relax my cervix and pictured her sliding down. My mantra: Woman have been doing this since the beginning of time, you can do it! She was born naturally at 3:30 am that same morning and I was home by 6 am. – Tanya, matedo-tanya.blogspot.com   {Finally, my birth stories, dutifully shortened, perhaps the only way they will ever get written.} Rain A few days past my due date with my first baby. Contractions start at bedtime, hours after a stretch and sweep. I labour through the night, in and out of the shower, as our midwife sleeps on the couch. Early morning, she suggests breaking the waters. Soon after, I am Pushing. Ring of Fire. You are born at sunrise. Our eyes are locked in yours – minutes pass before we check to see that you are a boy. Then, retained placenta. I still remember the golden autumn sun reflected on the lake as I stepped out to the ambulance.   Noa We spent all that day packing to move. Every minute of the next three days is planned out. At 4:30, my water breaks. Three weeks early. Change of plans. Scrambling with my sister to finish cleaning her guest room. Send the kids to the park. Wash the towels. Fill the birth pool. Friends pop in to say hello. Midwives arrive. An hour later in the summer evening sun I am pushing out a baby girl on the bed, just as the pool is finally full. Too early. Too late. House full of kids & neighbours – it’s the perfect birthday party.   Silas Turn off the light, tired. Contraction. Call the midwives. Call Kate. Wake the little ones. Pacing round the house. Child’s pose. Into the lukewarm pool. Relief. Pots boiling on the...

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Call for Birth Short Stories

Posted on Sep 4, 2011 in Birth Stories, Birthing | 5 comments

Call for Birth Short Stories

I love reading birth stories but sometimes I find them a little long. As someone who is still writing my 6 month old’s birth story, I recognize that it’s often really hard to decide what details to put in. How much back story is necessary? Which twists and turns in the story need to be put in? How many TMI details do I feel comfortable sharing? For the person telling the story, it is all gloriously relevant. Every action, reaction, in-action, every word, every intervention, every moment…it all coalesced into the birth experience of that mama. As a means of documenting a life-changing event it is understandable that mama wants to get all of it down. Not to mention, some of the back story or early seemingly insignificant events take on meaning as the story progresses, explaining why things were done or not done. I’ve read a lot of birth stories and I see how they change depending on the audience. The ones posted on forums within days of the birth are heavy on the details, plot point after plot point, this happened and then this happened. The ones I’ve read in Mothering magazine may have less details and more dialogue, more thoughtful reflection, more arc. It occurred to me that a shorter birth story forces you to really boil it down to the salient details. What stood out for you from that birth? Was it the time of day? The way the room looked, the shadows on the wall? Was it the care you received? The interventions you either asked for or refused? Was it the person who held your hand? Was it the baby’s gender? Or the baby’s health? If you had to tell your story in 100 words or less, what would you feel was absolutely vital to share? So I’m putting out the call. I want to hear your stories. I want to hear the most important parts of your birth stories, the parts that resonate with you right now, in this moment – because certainly the details that matter now might be totally different than the ones that mattered in the first days postpartum, or that will matter when your baby is 20. The Rules: Your story must be 100 words or less. I will not post stories that are 101 words or more. I will email you back and ask you to shorten them. I realize that this is a totally random arbitrary number but it gives us a framework so I’m going with it. You can do whatever you want in those 100 words. It can be a poem, it can be a paragraph, it can be point form, it can be a haiku. It can rhyme, it can be complete sentences or it can be fragments. As long as you put whatever matters to you in that story. If you choose to give it a title, the title will not be included in the word count. You can submit more than one story. Send one for every birth if you like. Or if you want to, you can write more than one about a single birth as long as you are clear that they are describing the same birth and you were interested in comparing points of view, exploring multifaceted emotions. My hope is that each one can stand on its own. I’m not interested in multiple short stories that just continue the same story; I don’t want a mini-series. If you write more than one about the same birth, please add a note indicating that both stories are for a single birth and I will post them together. You may include 1 picture with each story. Send your stories to aaronandalison@gmail.com by September 30, 2011 at midnight PST. Please add your name as you would like it to appear and the link to your blog, twitter or facebook pages if you want me to post them. Depending on how many I receive I will begin posting 5 each day starting October 1, 2011. I reserve the right to change the...

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International Day of the Midwife

Posted on May 5, 2011 in Maternity Care Options | 2 comments

International Day of the Midwife

I just got back from the dentist. I really dislike going to the dentist but I needed a filling so there I was, lying in the chair, upside down, with my standard issue protective glasses, feeling very anxious. From my vantage point I could see a small bit of the ceiling tile, a big square bright light, and the faces of the dentist and the dental assistant. They were talking back and forth about something banal in the office. They passed instruments back and forth above me. My fists were clenched. The noise of the drill echoed in my head and I smelled burning tooth. At one point, the dentist was pushing hard on my jaw in a way that was painful. I was having a hard time swallowing. With the rubber dam in, I couldn’t speak or ask them to stop. I didn’t understand everything that they were doing, nor did I know what all of the tools were for. No one saw the need to explain step by step what was happening. I was powerless. I had no choice but to defer to the dentist because he has Knowledge that I do not. And I thought to myself, “this is not natural.” And then, with relief and wonder I thought, “Thank goodness the births of my children were not like this.” And I felt terribly sorry for the many many women who experience their children’s births the same way I experience the dentist. I thought of that ridiculous comparison between natural childbirth and having a tooth pulled without anesthetic. I thought of all the ways that medicine and power and birth are in such a huge big jumble in our culture. So today, International Day of the Midwife, while I was at the dentist I felt love, respect and gratitude for all the midwives out there: The ones who, in a world where birth often looks like this: photo credit: Mwesigwa can make it look like...

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Anticipation

Posted on Jan 8, 2011 in Birthing, Featured | 11 comments

Anticipation

I work part-time in a midwifery clinic as the office administrator. In this position, I get to see a lot women, partners and children as they go through the months leading up to the birth of their babies. I welcome them to the clinic, offer tea, tell them about the lending library, show them how to use the scale and the pee test strips. I see the couples as they wait for their appointments to start. I watch them gaze at the wall covered in baby announcements. I hear them giggle as they both try the scale. I listen as they discuss a book choice or show pictures to their toddlers. There are a lot of reasons I like my work but I must say that it’s such a privilege to be the quiet observer of this third trimester anticipation. Whether it’s a first time mom or a seasoned veteran, as she approaches her due date it seems all these couples/families slip into this otherwise unseen state. It’s a mixture of trepidation and excitement, wonder and worry. And there is nothing like it. No other life change brings anticipation like this. Not a new job. Not a move. Not even getting married. Welcoming a new (unknown) family member changes your life—for the rest of your life. It’s exciting. It’s scary. There’s no way to prepare for the emotional impact of welcoming a whole new individual permanently into your heart. It’s exciting to meet them for the first time and it’s an adventure to watch their little personalities emerge  over the coming years. But there is also apprehension about how your life will change, how your family will adjust, and about who this little one will be. To me, that sense of anticipation is the epitome of the magic of pregnancy. Maybe it’s the glow people talk about. Last year, when I didn’t know if we’d ever have any other kids, I would watch the mamas and envy them. I’d been there twice before so I recognized well that look of joyful expectancy. The funny thing is when I was in the middle of it, living it, I ended up taking that feeling for granted…until it was gone and life went back to normal and then I recognized it for the first time. Now, every time I see a pregnant woman, I see that anticipation just oozing out of them. Even the calmest and most nonchalant of midwifery clients, even the quick glance of a stranger on the street, reveals a woman waiting for a life changing event. And here I am now, just about 34 weeks pregnant with my last baby, sore and uncomfortable and tired, and full and round and heavy with the weight of all that anticipation. Only this time, I’m aware of it, I’m honouring it, I’m reveling in it because I know there’s nothing else that compares to this and I know that this is my last chance to live it completely. How about you? Do remember that feeling from your...

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Begin at the Beginning

Posted on Nov 9, 2010 in Childbirth Options, Featured, Parenting | 9 comments

Begin at the Beginning

Forgive me for being a bit obvious here: Natural Parenting came pretty naturally to us. When I look at the list of principles that make up the natural parenting philosophy, I identify with so many of them that it’s hard for me to think of just one that might resonate more than another. I can’t even really pinpoint how or when I came to incorporate them into my life. Sometimes I end up in a situation (like the sign-in sheet at La Leche League meetings) when I am asked where I first heard of La Leche League or co-sleeping, or when did I first become interested in homeschooling or midwifery, or when did I decide to breastfeed and to leave my son intact, and I just can’t say. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know about those things, yet the truth is that somewhere in my twenties I must have started absorbing the Natural Parenting principles from somewhere, little by little. I have a feeling that the process was very organic, each of these ideas meshing with some part of who I was already. There were no epiphanies; just a feeling that “hey, this makes sense—how could I do it any other way?” If I had to say what opened the door for natural parenting in my life, I’d have to start at the beginning, and for me, that is homebirth. I was born at home and thus, all my life I’ve understood homebirth as a legitimate option. In grade school, I was more interested in the fact that I could wow my classmates as the only one not born in a hospital. I didn’t give much thought to the significance in terms of birth options or maternity care reform, but subconsciously I must have realised that I was proof that hospitals were NOT a vital part of the process of birthing a baby. In University I took a class on the Psychology of Health where one section looked at maternity care around the world. I was instantly enraptured by the system in the Netherlands. In the Dutch system, prenatal care is delivered by midwives and general practitioners, unless the patient is deemed high risk and transferred to the care of an obstetrician. Thirty percent of Dutch births take place at home and every new mother receives free daily in-home post-natal care visits by a nurse who helps with chores and gives assistance establishing breastfeeding. Sitting in this class in my early 20’s I knew that I would be seeking midwifery care for my own pregnancies. Midwifery care was attractive to me in the beginning primarily because the midwifery model of care is so strikingly different than the medical model. For a really in depth explanation, I highly recommend Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, but in a nutshell, the midwifery model of care views pregnancy and childbirth as normal, natural parts of life.  The midwifery model believes that birth unfolds best when left alone and that the fewer the interventions the better. Even though I’d never been pregnant before that rang true for me; I didn’t believe that pregnancy was a disability or that birth was an emergency waiting to happen. I guess what it came down to is that midwifery validated what I’d known deep down my whole life—that birth is a safe and normal part of life. Nevertheless, when I was pregnant with my first my attitude toward homebirth was “we’ll see.” I thought we’d explore it, talk it over with the midwives but that it was more likely we’d have a homebirth with our second baby. I thought back to my mom saying that one of the reasons she had me at home was because she’d already given birth twice before. She talked about it like it was no big deal, but there was always the underlying explanation that she had experience. And me? In my first pregnancy? Of course, no experience. Over and above the fact that many studies have been done recently that verify the safety of homebirth, a few things...

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Five

Posted on Sep 21, 2010 in Birth Stories, Featured, Parenting | 4 comments

Five

Last night, before tucking Rain in bed, we read him this poem from our new Gateways book: When I have said my evening prayer, And my clothes are folded on the chair, And mother switches off the light, I’ll still be four years old tonight. But, from the very break of day, Before the children rise and play, Before the greenness turns to gold, Tomorrow, I’ll be five years old. Five kisses when I wake, Five candles on my cake. Five years ago today, Rain was born at sunrise, on the last day of summer. It was a glorious sunny morning and Trout Lake was still and calm, reflecting the golds and greens of the park. When I think of the day he was born, I cherish that vision of the lake, even though I saw it because I was on my way into an ambulance for a retained placenta. At the time, I thought we’d be back in a few short hours to soak up that sunshine with our new gorgeous baby. Unfortunately, within an hour, my infant son and I were seperated for the first time and I spent the next few hours unconscious. We spent the remainder of that day in a window-less recovery room at BC Women’s hospital and didn’t get home until dinner time the next day. That glimpse of the lake as I stepped out to the ambulance is the only moment I had of that beautiful last day of summer in 2005, the day Rain joined us. That moment of blinding sun after a long hard night is the way I think of Rain, who, despite his name, really is a ray of sunshine. He is wild and tender, a great story teller, a brilliant inventor, an infectious laugh and a barrel full of energy. And he is five. How things have changed in these last five years. As I feel this new baby fluttering in my belly, I find it amazing to think of the person I was when I first felt Rain kicking. I still feel very much like I’m just a novice at this game called parenting, yet I’ve learned so much since those early days with baby Rain. Five years certainly is a respectable start. Looking at my boy, so big and still so little, I can’t help but feel that five is a bit of a milestone. Perhaps because five is often associated with heading off to Kindergarten, five feels like the beginning of a long slow letting go. Granted, I truly believe that letting go begins the moment you feel that first contraction. Nevertheless, five seems to mark the time when our kids will begin to go out into the world, at least for parts of the day, without mom & dad. That part fills me with wonder and pride and sadness and my heart swells and I get just a tiny bit choked up as I give him five kisses when he...

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