Posts Tagged "childbirth"

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Done Like Dinner

Posted on Aug 13, 2010 in Featured, Parenting | 4 comments

Done Like Dinner

If you spend any amount of time online in places where people talk about pregnancy and parenting, eventually you run across the conversation where someone asks “Are you done having kids?” “How did you know you were done?” or some variation of that. In the real world, people ask “When are you having the next one?” and “Are you planning to have any more?” Oddly enough, these often come from near strangers in awkward social situations. This is particularly bizarre considering that the answers tend to be complicated. This is the thing: both situations address the same issue, but the online versions seem to acknowledge that there is an emotional component (some way of feeling done) whereas the real life one acts as though it were only a matter of logistics, not of heart. Yet, either way, the answers are far from easy. The decision to have children at all, or add more children to your family involves more than just finances. Not just can we afford it, but do we have the resources (time and energy and support)? There’s the practical, the part addressed by the idea of planning for children. But what about the emotional aspects? The idea of being done is emotionally tricky. It’s not like there’s a meat thermometer device that we can use to check if we are done. It includes our ideas about sibling relationships and what’s the right number of siblings. This includes how we might feel about only children. It includes how we might feel about having either fewer or more children than the culturally acceptable two. It probably includes some of our past experience: how many siblings did we have and how did that affect us. It includes our relationship and experience with the children we already have and with our partner. There’s also this rather nebulous idea underlying the concept of done-ness that at some point you just know. The myth is that as the last baby is placed on your chest, you look round the room at your family and feel complete, perfect, done. Some even talk about feeling like someone was always missing in their family before the last baby was conceived. This is like the ultimate goal when thinking about or discussing being done. It seems everyone secretly hopes they will get that unmistakable feeling and be ready to move on. The alternative is to be stuck with puppy syndrome which means that you might get addicted to the whole cycle of life that presents you with a newborn in all it’s soft, floppy, sleepy, sweet smelling glory. Every time your youngest gets to the point of walking and talking, you find yourself staring wistfully at the pregnant lady at the grocery store and yearning to hold a fresh baby again. You worry that no matter how many children you have, you’ll always miss having a newborn. You’ll never feel satisfied. It seems to me that while women seem more prone to puppy syndrome than men, it can still affect both sexes. Not so for the slightly more complex idea of being done childbearing. For women, the childbearing years are a particularly special time: the magic of pregnancy, the triumph and/or trauma of childbirth, and the challenges and comforts of nursing. These can be deeply rewarding and enriching times in the life of a mother. For some, it might be hard to let go of this phase of life, even when they feel they have enough children. Those who had difficult or upsetting birth experiences or disappointing breastfeeding experiences may yearn to do it one more time as a means to heal and gain closure. It can be hard to separate those feelings from the feeling that you actually want another child. Besides, moving beyond the childbearing years is also a way of growing older. Even as you appreciate your new level of freedom when your youngest heads to Kindergarten, it can be hard to admit that the baby years are behind you. It puts you on the other side. It’s the first step towards middle...

Read More