Wednesday, March 16, 2011

From Spark to Raging Fire

I always wanted to have natural birth - without medication. There was a desire there from before I ever got pregnant. It was stifled when I failed at my first attempt. I felt defeated and incapable of reaching my dream. I couldn't understand how anyone could have an un-medicated birth because it seemed impossible. That's why I scheduled an induction for my second baby. It was my way of taking control of a situation that felt grossly out of control.

My husband teased me. “You can't handle birth without an epidural!” I shot back “You try it and see if you can handle it!” As much as his taunting annoyed me, it spurred me forward. I still wanted a natural birth, but I didn't know how to do it.

Enter my amazing doula. She was a massage therapist who worked with my husband and had a passion for childbirth. She was certifying as a birth doula and offered to support me in labor and birth. I told her the secret I'd been keeping from everyone for years: I wanted a natural birth, but I didn't know how to do it. She was awesome. She gave me advice, answered my questions, and helped me come up with a plan. A tangible approach to what I feared I'd never be able to touch. With her knowledgeable and caring support I had two amazing natural births in the hospital. I felt I could never have done it without my doula.

When my fourth baby was an infant a friend of mine told me she wanted to be a doula. I thought “That's great for you and you'll be awesome at it, but I could never do that”. Then I had a dream. I was supporting a close friend through the birth of twins. I was the only one supporting her and advocating for her. No one else cared or paid any attention to her. I awoke with the dream clear in my mind. Thinking it was a message meant for my friend who had been unsuccessfully trying to conceive, I called her and told her about the dream. She asked “Are you sure the dream isn't for you too?”

I hadn't even considered the possibility! I decided to pray about it, and I poured my soul to the Lord. I asked if it was His will for me to become a doula, and I immediately knew it was right for me. I was stunned. I never thought I'd do that kind of work myself, but I felt as though a flame had been lit and it was pushing me forward. I was thrilled that I would be able do for other women what my doula had done for me!

I got the list of required reading for doulas in training and ordered all the books on the list. I read book after book, inhaling the information. I had an insatiable thirst for all things birth-related; I couldn't get enough.

When I got to the last book on my list I felt full. I was to the point of information saturation and everything I read was all starting to sound the same. I was done with the books, for the time-being. I started blogging about pregnancy and birth because I had all this new-found knowledge and needed an outlet for it; somewhere to share what I was learning where (hopefully) no one would call me crazy for it.

Somewhere along the line I rented and watched The Business of Being Born, and my eyes were opened to the option of home birth. I had no idea that modern day women were safely giving birth at home! Why hadn't anyone told me about this before?! If I could do it in the hospital with medical professionals doing nothing but watching, I could certainly do it at home!

The flame was burning stronger and by the time I became pregnant with baby number five I was serious about planning a home birth. I knew a wonderful midwife and I felt utter peace about moving forward with my plans. I had an amazing surprise breech birth – at home!

Some time before my home birth I'd been introduced to the concept of unassisted birth. It seemed strange and a little bit crazy at first. But so had home birth when I first heard of it, and that had turned out to be so wonderful that I never wanted to turn back to the hospital.

For the past two years I've been mulling unassisted birth over in my head. Occasionally I'd read a UC birth story or write a blog post about it. I “met” more women online who'd had an unassisted birth. Incredible strong women, so self-assured and at peace with themselves. I felt that peace about my home birth, but unassisted birth seemed to take it to a new level. The topic intrigued me and I cautiously considered thinking about an unassisted birth for my next and possibly last baby. I prayed about it and asked that if UC was right for me that my interest in it wouldn't go away, and that I'd feel peace about planning an unassisted birth. I've felt the peace, the same I felt about planning my home birth. It's been incredibly comforting, and I've been encouraged to keep learning more on the subject.

Recently I felt the desire to read come back to me. It felt like a long time since I'd read an actual book about pregnancy or birth. I'd been doing a lot of online research and that had satisfied my needs, until now. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I craved a new book. I already had a mental list of books about birth that I wanted to read but hadn't been able to get copies of yet. I felt frustrated when I thought of the cost involved in ordering them and having them shipped to me. Money I didn't have. I talked with some of my friends about the books they'd read that I hadn't yet, but it still sounded like more of the same material I'd already read. I wanted something new.

Then it came to me: “Born Free”. A dissertation by Dr. Rixa Freeze about unassisted birth. I'd been following Rixa's Stand and Deliver blog for a long time, but I'd never read the dissertation she'd written for her doctorate. It wasn't a physical book I could hold in my hands and read, but it was definitely long enough that I would consider it a book, and it was available to read online for free.

I threw myself into the dissertation, and I've been loving every bit of it. I want to print copies of it for myself and my family. I'm feeling the flame of my passion for birth suddenly grow in leaps and bounds, and it feels again as though I'll burst with excitement over my new-found knowledge. I've been posting bits and pieces on the Mamas and Babies facebook page, and I can't seem to stop thinking about it and smiling.

I apologize to anyone who might get tired of hearing me talk on and on about the same subject, but I can't keep my mouth shut. I feel an urgency to share what I'm learning with anyone who will listen, and even those who would shut their minds to the very concept or call me crazy.

The flame of my passion burns hotter and brighter than ever, and I'm loving every moment.


  1. I've also been reading her dissertation since you posted it on Facebook! I had a semi-accidental UC with my last birth, and am now planning one! I'm not hiring a midwife for prenatals this time either.

    That story is here if you want to read it:

    It has been a journey for me as well. Although all my births were natural (birth center and 2 at home), it wasn't until the 3rd pregnancy that I ran across the idea of UC. I felt very drawn to it and read much about it. I was so thankful I had such a fast labor that I was able to have a UC. I now feel very comfortable with UC, and am excited about our upcoming birth. We still have several months to go.

    I imagine you are familiar with Laura Shanley's website. She has so many great UC stories there. I also am on a yahoo group you may be interested in: Thanks for sharing your passion! :)

  2. Christy, thanks so much for sharing your story and information. What a beautiful birth you had! I haven't really look at Laura Shanley's site yet, but I plan to. I might look into some UC groups like the one you mentioned, because there's some information specific to UC that I want to find.

  3. I was kinda forced into mine but I will never go back to the hospital at this point and with all the mess going on in NC with CPMs and such, that won't be an option. I was able to give into the process completely while in the comfort of my home and surrounded by only those that I wanted there.

  4. Thanks for sharing this :)
    my mother is one of the most doctor oriented people I know (I am not) when we told her we were planning a homebirth, I expected a lot of backlash. But I got none...she said to me, Mr. So-&-so delivered all three of their children, i'm sure you guys will be fine. I was happily shocked lol I explained to her that a midwife would be there and she looked confused...she thought birthing at home meant NO ONE there (as in a UC). I explained to her the difference between a midwife attended homebirth and a UC and she just shrugged it off and said 'call it what you want,
    but if you're having a baby at home why are you going to invite a midwife?' I stopped trying to explain it, but considering that I live in the middle of nowhere, it really made sense to me...odds are good that we might not get our midwife here in time...and this isn't exactly my first rodeo lol and ever since then i've just had this nagging voice telling me that we should prepare for a uc..maybe as something we'll decide we want or maybe as something we're just faced with...but thanks to you for sharing all the uc information lately :) you're certainly not alone in your quest!

  5. Mychel, what a beautiful experience!

    Becky, I find your mother's response to be really interesting! When we were planning our last baby's home birth one of the things that helped put our family's minds at ease was the fact that we had hired a midwife for prenatal care and birth support. They seemed comforted by that, and so were we to be honest with you. I do worry about how they'll respond when they find out I want to give birth unassisted. I think they would be outwardly supportive but secretly worry, and I don't want them to worry for my sake. Especially when I feel so peaceful about it.

  6. I checked back to your blog and wanted to mention something based on the comments. I still haven't told a lot of people that we are expecting again, but our families and some friends know. No one has freaked out about our UC plans and not hiring a midwife for prenatal care either. However, this baby happens to be due when we take our annual road trip halfway across the country to a big music festival where we camp out, and my husband competes in the flatpick guitar contest. My husband and are are happy to go anyway and have the baby on the trip if it happens that way, but this is apparently too much for his parents, who think we're crazy. I guess they can handle us birthing alone when we have access to the local hospitals for an emergency, but birthing in a tent in a campground is just going overboard. So, we'll see what happens...