Birth Stories

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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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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A Culture of Less

Posted on Mar 8, 2010 in Birth Stories, Birthing, Featured, Parenting, Simple Living | 16 comments

A Culture of Less

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Vintage green! This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month we’re writing about being green — both how green we were when we were young and how green our kids are today. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Today is my birthday. Thirty-two years ago my mom started having contractions while she was grocery shopping. She went about her day, took care of my older siblings, visited with my grandmother. After my dad got home from work, grandma left and around supper time, I was born at home. Grandma called to say she’d thought of a name if the baby was a boy and dad informed her, “Too late; It’s a girl!” Grandma came back, made everyone dinner and they had leftover birthday cake from mom’s birthday on the 7th. And so it is that I grew up thinking that homebirth was special, not dangerous. And so it is that twenty-seven years later, I had my first homebirth. In some ways, I think that this is as vintage green as it gets. The oldest thing in the book: having babies the way our bodies were designed to, without a lot of wasted resources and unnecessary technology. There are plenty of instances where the resources and technology are useful, life-saving but increasingly, birth, like our culture as a whole, is characterized by excess and waste, with damaging consequences. Homebirth is only one of the green values I picked up from my parents without even realising until I was older that it was green. My parents moved a lot while I was growing up, from the Yukon to the Canadian prairies to BC, but I think at heart they always think of themselves as Northerners. The term encompasses everyone up north and a Yukoner probably has more in common with an Alaskan than they would with anyone in the rest of Canada. A northerner is a crazy mélange of hippie and redneck: 4x4s and guns mixed with folk music and a back to the land mentality. My dad subscribed to Mother Earth News and the Canadian counterpart, Harrowsmith. They had good friends who lived year round in a Tipi. It was there in the North that they decided to have me at home. At the time, in the 70s and 80s, it was just how we lived. A kind of quiet environmentalism that was born of Depression era great-grandparents, exalted by our Mennonite heritage (world-renowned cheapskates) and idealized by the Northerners and hippies. They were a product of their location but also of their generation. Now, I wouldn’t really classify my parents as environmentalists at all. But when I think back to the green actions of my parents, what comes to mind is this: Before recycling, there was reduce and re-use. My parents reduced and re-used like nobody’s business. We wore hand-me-downs. We never had new furniture; it was always used or antique. We didn’t buy fancy toys. My dad fixed things when they broke: from electronics to the car to the plumbing. My mom had a garden and she canned. My mouth waters when I think of her pickled beets and carrots, her canned pears and peaches. She sewed dresses for my sister and me for special occasions. We were a single car family and we drove used cars. My parents only bought one new vehicle ever: a 1974 International Scout. They still have it. We shared bedrooms. We lived within our means, never on credit. Even when my dad went back to University with three kids in tow. They did not over-consume. They did not throw things away. They reduced. They re-used. Tonight I look around my house and see the same lifestyle. Fifteen year old minivan, used or antique furniture, a house smaller than we might like, a garden. A willingness to build things, grow things, borrow things, make things or do without things rather...

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My birth stories

Posted on Oct 27, 2009 in Birth Stories, Birthing | 0 comments

My birth stories

I believe that a lot of good can come from people who find the positive in their birth experience and share it with, well, anyone who will listen. This is an age where between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 births occur by cesarean. Most women never experience birth before they find themselves in labour. Our society has very little practical experience with normal birth and we are afraid. But there is a rising tide of people who know that birth needn’t be treated like a disease or a medical emergency waiting to happen. There is a growing movement that is shouting and stomping feet and demanding maternity care reform. Change is coming and I sincerely believe that the day will come when we have the best of both worlds: the safety of modern medicine and the sanctity of trust in our bodies and the birth process. That change starts every time someone tells a positive birth story that empowers women to learn more and fear less. I was born at home in the Yukon in the 1970’s. I am so thankful to my parents for this gift: opening my eyes to the beauty of home both that very first time, and again when I birthed my son into my home as an adult. I am grateful for my mother’s dutch doctor who, at my older brother’s birth, showed her that maternity care didn’t have to look like the standard North American medical model, a man who brought new ideas to a prairie town on a new continent and changed the course of birth in my family. Both of my children were born at home with midwives in attendance. Neither birth went exactly as I’d hoped it would. My first resulted in a hospital transfer for retained placenta. My second caught us unprepared three weeks early and ended up being a neighbourhood event. I had envisioned quiet and intimate, not neighbours in the kitchen eating pizza. But when a 10 year old boy who had just seen my hour old daughter exclaimed “This is the best birthday party I’ve ever been to!” I saw the power of sharing positive experiences with everyone around us. Maybe when this boy becomes a father he will remember, just as I remember my mother’s dutch...

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Voices: What Story is Your Birth Story Really Telling?

Posted on Apr 28, 2009 in Birth Stories, Birthing, Featured | 0 comments

Voices: What Story is Your Birth Story Really Telling?

I recently had the opportunity to share the story of my son’s birth with a university class on Child Development during Infancy (conception-3 years). The students are in their early twenties and many had never seen a birth before nor had any prior exposure to the basics of childbirth. As I wrote out my story, I became increasingly aware that I couldn’t just tell it the way I remembered it. I had to bear in mind that the students would be forming impressions about childbirth from my words. I had an opportunity to cut through the noise of birth as pain and talk about what else it can be, beyond just a physical experience. I realized that to be taken seriously I would need to acknowledge that birth IS painful but I also decided to focus on the experience itself: preparations, perceptions, emotions. I spoke about why I chose to have a homebirth in a rational way so that my words would not be brushed aside as those of someone “brave” or “radical.” I had to make very calculated decisions about what to say and what not to say and I got to thinking about the stories our birth stories really tell. Is it a story of fear, pain, control, joy, courage, triumph, peace, dignity, sorrow? Do the details we give and the words we use convey what we intend? Are we aware of our audience when we casually explain about the day we gave birth? Do we pay attention to the fact that there might be a young pre-teen girl there who is soaking it up? What do we want listeners to take away from our tales? In a culture where birth is a medical event, we owe it to future families to tell a positive empowering story if we can. Young women today are bombarded with stories on tv and in the media of childbirth as being so painful and dangerous that the only way they will get through it is by putting their trust in the authorities, giving up the power in their bodies and taking the multitude of drugs offered to manage their birth safely. We can help shape future mothers’ perceptions of birth by carefully choosing our words when we talk about ours. Regardless of the circumstances—whether it was a blissed out waterbirth or a cesarean for breech presentation—we are the ones who tell our stories. We can choose to be positive and inspiring or to instill fear and dread. It’s your...

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