A Vermont homebirth.In the last weeks of my pregnancy I seemed to lose almost all ability for rational thought. Even though I knew that I could not possibly be pregnant forever, I began to believe that I would be. I felt consumed by my pregnancy; I could not do school work or housework. The only activities I seemed to enjoy were lying on the couch On the Couch is an Australian television program formally broadcast on the Fox Footy Channel and it focuses on the current issues in the AFL. This is now broadcast on Fox Sports after the closure of Fox Footy Channel.
The show airs on Monday night and is hosted by Gerard Healy. with my favorite My Favorite is an independent synthpop band from Long Island, New York. They released two CDs: Love at Absolute Zero and Happiest Days of Our Lives. My Favorite broke up on September 14, 2005, when singer Andrea Vaughn left the band. blanket, eating and playing with my first son, Noah. Looking back on that time now, I think it was my version of nesting.
The evening before my son Max was born, I had a bit of energy but was also feeling more than a little cranky crank·y 1
adj. crank·i·er, crank·i·est
1. Having a bad disposition; peevish.
2. Having eccentric ways; odd.
3. . Noah and I made dinner together; we cooked corn chowder Noun 1. corn chowder - chowder containing corn
chowder - a thick soup or stew made with milk and bacon and onions and potatoes and baked blueberry blueberry, plant of the large genus Vaccinium, widely distributed shrubs (occasionally small trees) of the family Ericaceae (heath family), usually found on acid soil. They are often confused with the related huckleberry. muffins. Noah dropped a whole carton of eggs on the floor and they all broke. I was more snippy snip·py
adj. snip·pi·er, snip·pi·est Informal
1. Sharp-tongued; impertinent: shocked by his snippy retort.
2. Occurring in pieces; fragmentary. with him then I needed to be, more because of the fact that I had to figure out how to get my large self down on the floor to clean up the mess than because the eggs were broken. My mood darkened dark·en
v. dark·ened, dark·en·ing, dark·ens
a. To make dark or darker.
b. To give a darker hue to.
2. To fill with sadness; make gloomy.
3. further when I realized the eggs were dripping through the cracks in the wooden floor, directly into our basement. In the end I threw multiple paper towels over the mess and decided my husband could clean it up when he got home from work.
When we first bought our house, I found the tiny kitchen charming and practical. As I attempted to step over the egg mess and squeeze my belly into the tiny corner cabinet for a bowl, I no longer found any charm in the tiny kitchen.
By the time my husband, Craig, arrived home I felt like a vicious, foaming pregnant monster, ready to pounce on anyone or anything that further propelled my dark mood. I was ready for this baby to be born.
One of the token phrases that I heard over and over again with both my pregnancies was that "the baby will come when he's ready." I knew that, in part, this was true. I thought a lot about the baby's need to be ready before labor would start. I wanted my baby to be ready both physically and spiritually. I did not want to rush his entrance into the world. I did, however, want to gently encourage him to at least start thinking about it.
The night of the egg fiasco, I realized I was beginning to reach my limits. Before I went to sleep Craig gave me a nice massage and I began to send the baby some loving thoughts. I told him it was safe for him to be born now, that we loved him and that I couldn't wait to hold him in my arms. Then I drifted off to sleep.
I awoke a·woke
A past tense of awake.
a past tense and (now rare or dialectal) past participle of awake at 3:00 in the morning with the familiar urge to pee pee Vox populi Micturate, urinate . This was not uncommon; after all I had a rather large baby sitting on my bladder. What was uncommon was that I had made it to 3:00 without having to wake up. I slowly made my way down the stairs Adv. 1. down the stairs - on a floor below; "the tenants live downstairs"
downstairs, on a lower floor, below and walked into the dimly lit bathroom. I immediately jumped and then I screamed. Scampering out of the bathroom was a rodent rodent, member of the mammalian order Rodentia, characterized by front teeth adapted for gnawing and cheek teeth adapted for chewing. The Rodentia is by far the largest mammalian order; nearly half of all mammal species are rodents. of some kind. I am still unclear if it was a mouse or a mole, although I vividly remember a long, scaly-looking tail. Of course, Craig came running, probably thinking the worst, and was mildly annoyed when I told him about the small creature.
After almost being eaten by the horrible creature, I attempted to go back to bed, only to find I could not sleep. My adrenaline adrenaline (ədrĕn`əlĭn, –lēn): see epinephrine. level was quite high and I could feel my heart pounding faster then normal. I mention this because my instincts tell me that the little rodent played a large role in getting my labor started. I believe that the jolt I received really jump-started things. At 3:23 my first contraction began. I tried to go back to sleep, but after two solid contractions I knew this labor would probably go fast.
I got out of bed and this time energetically went down the stairs (attentively watching for mouse or mole). I awakened a·wak·en
tr. & intr.v. a·wak·ened, a·wak·en·ing, a·wak·ens
To awake; waken. See Usage Note at wake1.
[Middle English awakenen, from Old English Craig, who had fallen asleep in the extra bedroom while waiting for the large birthing tub to fill. What I didn't realize was that he'd only been asleep for about an hour. He encouraged me to lie down with him, and I tried to briefly, but labor was moving fast and my contractions were strong. I wanted to get into the birthing tub, which was next to the bed, but the water was too hot. Getting a bit anxious at this point, I suggested we call our midwife MIDWIFE, med. jur. A woman who practices midwifery; a woman who pursues the business of an account.
2. A midwife is required to perform the business she undertakes with proper skill, and if she be guilty of any mala praxis, (q.v. , Laura. I felt funny calling her after being in labor for only 20 minutes or so, but I knew it was time. She agreed to come right out. She would take an hour or so to get to my house.
My anxiety level continued to rise as I questioned whether or not I would be able to handle both the power and the pain of the hours to come. Perhaps what scared me most was the knowledge that I would be completely out of control of the birth process.
In order to get on this crazy birth ride I would be forced to let go of my embarrassments and inhibitions and allow my body the confidence and space to take over. This is no small feat for a woman who has grown up in the US. Birth goes against everything we've been taught to think a woman is. Birth is neither polite, nor refined. There would be no pleases and thank-yous but rather loud moans, groans and various curses. My appearance would not be beautifully put together with hair in place and make-up done. Instead I would be wild-eyed, hair frazzled and naked. There would be sex, or rather sexual energy. Again, a concept uncommon to the society I live in.
I would not be a poised, passive woman to be viewed. I would be an active sexual vessel, swelling with the sights and sounds of birth. Then there was the last cultural offense of birth--poop and lots of it. There also was a very good chance that I would throw up. This can be a nerve-racking thought for someone who lives in a society that expects women to be refined and well-contained.
Add to this the fact that our society does not accept the body's functions, such as having a bowel movement, to be entirely natural and you can see why birth is widely viewed as an unnatural event. It does indeed go against all that has been deemed natural within our culture.
Of course I was not really contemplating all of this as I sat on the edge of my bed on the verge On the Verge (or The Geography of Yearning) is a play written by Eric Overmyer. It makes extensive use of esoteric language and pop culture references from the late nineteenth century to 1955. of a panic attack panic attack
The sudden onset of intense anxiety, characterized by feelings of intense fear and apprehension and accompanied by palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, and trembling. Also called anxiety attack. . My emotions were largely in charge. Fear had begun to take over. My body was being flooded with adrenaline. My heart was beating fast, my body was beginning to shake and I feared I would pass out. I had a fleeting thought that I should go to the hospital quickly, while I still had time. Then my brain turned back on; I had to talk myself down from this ledge. I knew from the experience of my last birth that if I let my panic take over, I would not be able to go on. The adrenaline would make my contractions unbearable and the emotional pain would become intolerable.
I looked Craig in the eyes. "I'm feeling anxious," I told him.
"You're fine, you're safe, you can do this," he said calmly.
Another contraction began. I stood holding Craig's hands and looking into his eyes. I breathed with him. I pictured myself as a large, strong rock on the edge of the ocean. I pictured the contraction as a wave; I felt the powerful wave first hit me, then split in two. Slowly the wave retreated back into the ocean and was gone.
"I can do this. I can do this," I chanted to Craig.
"Yes, you can. You're amazing a·maze
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.
2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.
v.intr. . I love you," Craig replied.
In between contractions, Craig ran around, getting the birth tub ready. I paced. When I felt another contraction coming on, I would yell "Okay, okay, here it comes Here It Comes is the third EP from Doves. It was the last release on the band's Casino Records label on August 2, 1999 on limited CD and 10" vinyl. Martin Rebelski, the unofficial fourth member of Doves, plays piano on the title track. ." Then Craig would come to wherever I was and hold my hands while I continued to picture my rock.
Finally, the birth tub was ready. I climbed in. Initially, the water felt good. Then a contraction came on and it felt more painful than before. The contraction ended and I felt the urge to go the bathroom. Craig helped me climb out of the tub and into the red robe Noah had given me for Christmas. I walked to the bathroom quickly, not wanting to have another contraction while walking. When I made it to the bathroom, I sat down on the toilet. The urge to go to the bathroom was very uncomfortable. I knew that cleaning out your bowels is an essential part to giving birth. What I did not realize was that I was beginning to push. I decided to stay on the toilet for my next contraction. I had read in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth that the toilet is a very efficient place for women to labor. This is because labor, like elimination, involves our sphincter muscles Noun 1. sphincter muscle - a ring of muscle that contracts to close an opening
anatomical sphincter, sphincter
muscle, musculus - one of the contractile organs of the body .
However, efficiency also meant stronger and more painful contractions. I immediately jumped up and screamed as the contraction began. I was not able to relax through that contraction and the pain immediately reminded me of the importance of relaxing through contractions.
Luckily, my midwife, Laura, arrived around this time. I recall hearing our screen door slam and Laura dragging in her carload carload
In commodities trading, a railroad car or truckload of grain that ranges from 1,400 to 2,500 bushels. of birth equipment. I stayed in the bathroom, alternating between sitting on the toilet and standing. The contractions were coming faster now. I began to despair; I felt I couldn't take much more. When Laura entered the bathroom all of my defenses began to break down. I started crying and telling her how hard this was. She rubbed my back and gently smiled, "I know sweetie, it's hard." Then she hugged me.
This exchange mirrored the relationship I had had with Laura throughout my pregnancy. My hour-long appointments were often spent crying, whining and complaining about the state of my emotional and physical self. It wasn't that I had an especially hard pregnancy; it was more that I found in Laura what a small child finds in her mother--unconditional love, understanding and support. So while I walked around with my "I'm so happy, I'm having a baby" face for the general public, when I saw Laura that face melted away and I was able to express my turmoil.
My labor moved quickly after Laura arrived. Time is a funny thing during labor. It becomes both irrelevant and irregular. At times mere minutes seemed to last an hour and hours were only minutes. At some point after Laura arrived, my water broke. While I know a lot of the details of my labor will begin to fade away Verb 1. fade away - become weaker; "The sound faded out"
dissolve, fade out
change state, turn - undergo a transformation or a change of position or action; "We turned from Socialism to Capitalism"; "The people turned against the President when he stole the after a while, I expect this experience to linger forever.
The experience was so unexpected. I stood swaying in the bathroom and as the contraction came on, I noticed a different feeling, and then at the peak I felt a warm pleasurable pleas·ur·a·ble
pleasur·a·bil gush. My water had broken and was now running down my legs onto the floor. I knew my water would probably break during labor, but I didn't expect it to feel like an extremely powerful orgasm orgasm /or·gasm/ (or´gazm) the apex and culmination of sexual excitement.orgas´mic
n. . I had read a few stories about women having orgasms during birth, but had always thought they must be the exception. After all, birth is widely viewed as being an all-horrible, painful event.
After this contraction I fell to my knees, with my cheek resting on the edge of the tub. I recall the coldness of the tub on my face and the feel of the bathroom rug under my knees. I was at a point in my labor where anger and regret were sweeping through my body as fast as the contractions. I recall making a silent pact with myself at this time: I told myself I would never again promote homebirth or natural birth, if only this hideous hid·e·ous
1. Repulsive, especially to the sight; revoltingly ugly. See Synonyms at ugly.
2. Offensive to moral sensibilities; despicable. experience would stop. I yelled at Laura "I am such an a**hole, I could be in the hospital having my epidural epidural /epi·du·ral/ (-dur´il) situated upon or outside the dura mater.
Located on or over the dura mater.
n. right now."
Transition was so intense that I began to drift off in the minute or so between contractions. I woke up to hear Laura saying to her birth assistant, "She's involuntarily pushing."
"I am?" I thought. As my anger began to melt away, sheer desperation began to wash over me.
"I can't do this! It's not working," I cried out.
"You are doing this, your baby's almost here," Laura told me as she rubbed my back.
She's lying, I thought. She's just telling me that, I really have days of this left.
Laura suggested I get back into the birthing tub. I resisted at first, but then realized anything had to be better then the bathroom floor. Normally, the walk from our bathroom to the bedroom where the tub was set up is not a long one. On this occasion, it seemed as challenging as climbing the damn Andes mountains Andes Mountains
Mountain system, western South America. One of the great natural features of the globe, the Andes extend north-south about 5,500 mi (8,900 km). They run parallel to the Caribbean Sea coast in Venezuela before turning southwest and entering Colombia. . With Craig's help I somehow made the hike and made it to the tub's edge. I jumped into the tub as fast as I could and submerged myself in the turquoise turquoise, hydrous phosphate of aluminum and copper, Al2(OH)3PO4·H2O+Cu, used as a gem. It occurs rarely in crystal form, but is usually cryptocrystalline. water. "Ahhhhh." I immediately felt the truth of water taking the edge off of labor pains labor pains
Rhythmical uterine contractions that, under normal conditions, increase in intensity, frequency, and duration, and culminate in vaginal delivery of the infant. .
The water folded me into its warmth, surrounding me with that wonderful weightless feeling. I grabbed onto the edge of the tub and let the rest of my body float to the top. The contractions began again, and I quickly found that sticking my face into the water and moaning moan
a. A low, sustained, mournful cry, usually indicative of sorrow or pain.
b. A similar sound: the eerie moan of the night wind.
v. helped me to integrate the sensation that my whole being was beginning to open up. I could feel myself stretching and opening further then I ever had before. The power that I felt surging deep within my cervix cervix /cer·vix/ (ser´viks) pl. cer´vices [L.]
2. the front portion of the neck.
3. cervix uteri. was unlike any I had experienced. Life was pushing through.
I began to push with the peak of the contractions. At first I pushed timidly tim·id
adj. tim·id·er, tim·id·est
1. Lacking self-confidence; shy.
2. Fearful and hesitant: problems that call for bold, not timid, responses. , then more forcefully. It felt so good to help this baby out.
At some point Laura had dropped a beautiful white light into the bottom of the tub. I know she did this so that she could see in the dark room, but for me the light was a source of inspiration. As I was pushing, I looked for the light. Its warm glow at the edge of the dark pool illuminated the turquoise water. It comforted me, encouraged me to feel safe and reminded me that there was light to this hard experience.
I pushed for quite a long time; all along Laura was showing me on her fingers where the baby was. Our baby was gradually coming closer and closer. I still held some doubt about whether or not he was truly that close. Not because I didn't trust Laura, but because I was convinced I would be suspended in this state forever. But I knew Laura's words were real when she told me he had a full head of dark hair.
Around this time Laura started to hear some irregularities in his heartbeat. The baby was having a hard time pushing past my pelvic pelvic /pel·vic/ (pel´vik) pertaining to the pelvis.
Of, relating to, or near the pelvis. bones. I didn't realize at the time that the baby was stressed. I do remember suddenly having the thought that he wasn't going to fit. When I told Laura this, she told me my pelvis pelvis, bony, basin-shaped structure that supports the organs of the lower abdomen. It receives the weight of the upper body and distributes it to the legs; it also forms the base for numerous muscle attachments. was huge, that I had more then enough room to push this baby out. I quickly felt reassured by Laura's words.
Laura really wanted to get the baby past the stress he was experiencing--she encouraged me to sit on the birthing stool and push in the water. I resisted but then pulled my round pregnant body up onto the birth stool. Gravity did the trick. It brought the baby down fast and his heart resumed a healthy beat.
I climbed back down into the water and had a short "rest and be thankful phase" before the baby was born. When I felt it was time, I climbed back onto the birth stool. Craig kneeled behind me on the outside of the tub, with his arms entangled en·tan·gle
tr.v. en·tan·gled, en·tan·gling, en·tan·gles
1. To twist together or entwine into a confusing mass; snarl.
2. To complicate; confuse.
3. To involve in or as if in a tangle. in mine. He held my hands as my body involuntarily pushed.
I was so thankful that my body had the space and support to push in its own time. No one was yelling at me to push or holding my legs back. I was doing this. It stuns me that even when not medically necessary medically necessary Managed care adjective Referring to a covered service or treatment that is absolutely necessary to protect and enhance the health status of a Pt, and could adversely affect the Pt's condition if omitted, in accordance with accepted , many women are still subjected to coached pushing.
I very soon felt the ring of fire sensation of the baby crowning. I briefly had the urge to hold back, and then silently chanted to myself a phrase I had read somewhere and had been thinking throughout my labor. "The only way out is through, the only way out is through." Laura told me to pant pant
To breathe rapidly and shallowly. through that burning feeling, to let my body slowly stretch. I panted a couple "who, who, who's." And then there was no more controlling it.
My body surged with uncontrollable power and the baby's head was born. Laura encouraged me to feel his head. "NO, pant, pant, OUT," I gasped. One more quick push and--"AHHHHHH!" His body promptly slithered out. Laura placed him on my wet, deflated de·flate
v. de·flat·ed, de·flat·ing, de·flates
a. To release contained air or gas from.
b. To collapse by releasing contained air or gas.
2. belly. His eyes were as blue as the water he had been birthed into, his hair dark as Laura said. My little elfin elf·in
a. Relating to or suggestive of an elf.
b. Made, done, or produced by an elf.
2. Small and sprightly or mischievous.
3. baby was born.
The sun was coming up as Max was born; I recall the sun seeping seep
intr.v. seeped, seep·ing, seeps
1. To pass slowly through small openings or pores; ooze.
2. To enter, depart, or become diffused gradually.
1. in through the bedroom blinds. The birds were awake and singing. We all later agreed that the birds were louder then we'd ever heard them. I do believe they were singing him his welcome.
Craig cried when he saw Max placed on my belly, just as he did with Noah. I recall him exclaiming, "Look what you did!" His voice was full of pride and wonder. His voice retained these emotions over the days following Max's birth, when he repeatedly told me I was his hero.
I am so proud of the path Max's birth took. I needed to feel and to know that I was able to possess the strength to go through my birth experience. I had not felt empowered by the hospital birth I had with my first son, but defeated and helpless. These feelings carried over into the first months of my first son's young life. With Max's birth I was determined to pull from my own strength and to begin our relationship feeling whole, healthy and empowered.
My positive birth experience has spilled over into many areas of my life. It has sent me on a journey that I had never imagined. I had read many times that women had found empowerment in their birth experience. I had begun to cling to Verb 1. cling to - hold firmly, usually with one's hands; "She clutched my arm when she got scared"
hold close, hold tight, clutch
hold, take hold - have or hold in one's hands or grip; "Hold this bowl for a moment, please"; "A crazy idea took hold of an unrealistic view that if I could birth this child on my terms in a respected space then I would achieve empowerment. I imagined standing tall, a bright light shinning down from above; a superhero su·per·he·ro
n. pl. su·per·he·roes
A figure, especially in a comic strip or cartoon, endowed with superhuman powers and usually portrayed as fighting evil or crime. cape draped drape
v. draped, drap·ing, drapes
1. To cover, dress, or hang with or as if with cloth in loose folds: draped the coffin with a flag; a robe that draped her figure. around my shoulders, my baby in my arms. Perhaps even the Rocky theme music playing in the background. Needless to say this was not the exact experience that occurred. However, giving birth to my son in the way that felt right for both of us sent, perhaps even pushed, me on my path to empowerment. The opportunity to have faith in myself during such an amazingly powerful event has encouraged me to find my voice in other areas of my life. I have begun to feel more confident as a mother, a lover, a friend and everyday citizen. It also has pushed me to pursue the journey to find my authentic self. I wish this experience for all women who, no matter where they choose to give birth, are able to walk away from the birth feeling proud, respected and empowered.
Imagine if that was our reality in the US. Imagine that we had a nation full of proud, respected empowered women. I dare say that we would be living in a very different culture.
Dance with me little one. I feel you tugging I feel you pulling My uterus contracts No, I'm not ready Your dance sways, then stops. Days later, My belly swells The days grow long Will you come tonight? I am ready to dance now I caress you I send you welcoming thoughts I coax you out onto the dance floor My uterus remains silent, inactive Finally, you wake me up Let's dance mama I want to sway gently, back and forth You want to jitterbug. I follow your lead. We jitterbug. We dance, as I've never danced before. Sweat forms It's time The grand finale Our hearts beat The drum rolls I can't keep up now You keep coming My uterus contracts We are explosive You come rocketing into my arms We collapse into each other Take a bow little one We've danced our first dance Jennifer Carusone Transition "It will rip me in two." Blood runs down my legs "I will split open." The bathroom rug splashed with red "**** Natural childbirth." I drop to my knees "Ahhhhhhhh" I press my forehead on the cool edge of the tub "Make it stop." My hands grip the side of the tub. "Please.... God." Jennifer Carusone
by Jennifer Carusone, ALACE ALACE Autonomous Lagrangian Circulation Explorer
ALACE Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators
ALACE Association of Local Authority Chief Executives (UK) trained Labor Assistant and Childbirth Educator
Jennifer Carusone currently lives in Northwestern Vermont with her husband and two beautiful children. Her passions include midwifery midwifery (mĭd`wī'fərē), art of assisting at childbirth. The term midwife for centuries referred to a woman who was an overseer during the process of delivery. In ancient Greece and Rome, these women had some formal training. , painting, writing, and the outdoors. She wishes to dedicate this article to her loving midwife, Laura.
Copyright [c] 2006 Midwifery Today, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Midwifery Today Issue 79, Autumn 2006. www.midwiferytoday.com / PH + 1 541 344 7438