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Why I have chosen to plan for an unassisted birth & then afterthoughts
Thursday, 5 January 2006
After birth
Mood:  celebratory
My Video (Every laughing at 3 months)

WOW!!! I would like to start off by saying that I am 100% thankful that I stuck with my gut instincts! Everything happened as it should have. Here is my Birth Story....but to summarize (because it's pretty lengthy):

My labor was just over 9 hours, and Robert Every was born at 1:12 pm, August 30, 2005...we are estimating his birth weight to be nearly 8 lbs, length 21". He was transverse (sideways) for most of the labor, for almost 2 HOURS of pushing! Little Every had one hand by his face and once his head emerged, he grabbed Robby's finger and with the next couple pushes, slid right into daddy's arms. It was extremely tiring, but we were thrilled with our new little angel. It took about a week for me to be able to move around half-normally, and by two months, I'd say that I was functioning pretty normally. Now, at 4 months postpartum, I feel like ME, and I am loving life. I got hit with some baby blues here and there, but I'm pulling through quite successfully. Healthy food, vitamins, water, mild exercise, sunshine, laughter, some cannabis, and a loving relationship with Robby are the keys to my sanity.

Every is doing new things all the time. Teething for about a month now, he is a drool monster. His tongue is getting creative and he "talks" up a storm, especially when he really needs to prove a point (like when his diaper is wet). His back is getting stronger and he loves standing assisted, rolling over, holding his head & shoulders up, and kick-kick-KICKING!!! He is a noisy little dinosaur. And we love him. Daddy can make him laugh more than I can, but........Momma's got the milk, and you CAN'T beat that! =)

We are staying at Robby's mom's house until we move back to Guam (YAEEE!!!!) in the spring. I am sooo excited to go back HOME. It'll be such a relief! And of course, my parents are dying to see their new grandson. I'd also like to meet my niece, Lilly already. My plan is to slowly take over my mom's health food store (Nuts & Grains) while Robby and I build up our farm.

Things are going good (with bumps ALL along the way!), and we are just trying to get home. Unassisted birth (birth & motherhood in general) has changed my life for the better and I hope all future births have the same opportunity. =)

Posted by shell024 at 9:40 PM PST
Wednesday, 13 July 2005

Initially, I was going to give birth at San Francisco General Hospital. I went to two prenatal exams there, and didn't care for the experience at all. Robby and I drove there in twenty minutes, and walked up to an institutional, boring, eerie building. We avoided all the ill-looking people and searched for the area I was supposed to be in, the Women's Health Center. Supposedly, they have a really good system of midwives who would deliver your baby. Robby sat in a chair in the waiting room, filled with mostly older women, some husbands and kids. I stood in line for five minutes, got a clipboard of papers to fill out, sat next to Robby and completed the papers in ten minutes. Stood in line for another five minutes, turned in the clipboard, got a number, and sat back down--for another 30 minutes. When they called my name, I was relieved, but they sat me in this little box room while typing my information on a computer. Another ten minutes.

"Have a seat and the nurse will call your name." Isn't that what they told me 40 minutes ago? This was getting exhausting, not to mention I felt on the verge of throwing up every other ten minutes. Robby said I didn't look too good. Finally, after another fifteen minutes, the nurse called my name. I followed her into a room with a scale and blood pressure monitor. She weighed me, took my height and then strapped my arm up to measure my blood pressure. Everything is normal--that took less than five minutes. Then I was asked to wait for another ten minutes. Then another midwife met me in a little white room, asking questions about how I was feeling.

Well, if I told the truth, she probably wouldn't have liked it, and I just wanted to leave already, so I held back the hormonal tears and said "Fine, thanks."

For about ten minutes, she asked about family medical history, and a bunch of other stuff that I felt was a nuisance to sit through. She told me that I was going to get a skin test, HIV test, blood sample, urine sample, and given a bunch of pamphlets. After waiting another ten minutes, I did the urine sample, got the skin test, waited another ten minutes and was told to go downstairs to give a blood sample. So, a total of about two hours in that area of the hospital.

When I go into the waiting room, Robby was gone, and I figured he had to move the car. I go downstairs, wait in line for fifteen minutes, wait in a chair for twenty minutes, and then gave a blood sample in five minutes. Another 40 minutes of my time gone. I call Robby on the payphone to find out where he is and it turns out that he's at home! I was furious, told him I'd take the bus, hung up the phone and burst into tears. I was exhausted, nauseated, hungry, lonely, angry, sad, and frustrated all at the same time. I bought a sandwich across the street, which turned out to be gross, and waited for the bus. An hour and a half later, before I make it to the front door, I puke out the sandwich in my neighbor's bush. Gross. I trudge up the stairs and collapse on the couch. I was about ten weeks pregnant at the time.

A week later I go back to get a pap smear, another urine sample tested, and waste another hour and a half of my time. I knew I was fine before I went to the hospital. Why did I have to wait around for some midwife to tell me to eat properly, when she probably doesn't even follow a healthy diet herself? The only thing what was wrong with this pregnancy were the stressful hospital visits.

At about twenty weeks, it is time for my scheduled ultrasound. Great, another day at the hospital I won't go into detail about how angry I was that Robby just dropped me off instead of staying with me. Feeling all alone, I walk into the x-ray area, filled out a form and waited with a bunch of WEIRDOS. San Francisco General Hospital's x-ray waiting room is NOT a place I can sit in for more than five minutes. I stood in the hall, crying, hoping I'd still be able to hear them call my name. About 40 minutes later, I am called, to wait in a room of course. Finally a lady comes, gives me a night gown to change into, behind a curtain. I did that, felt VERY uncomfortable and had to walk down a hallway passed a bunch of strange people to sit and wait on a chair for another twenty minutes.

Finally, my turn. I follow a lady into one of the dark quiet rooms. I laid down on my back and waited. And waited. She came in, started talking about her sister-in-law, and put the cold gel on my stomach and then scanned around. I was excited to see my baby, and find out if it was a boy or a girl. Of course, I was still hurt about being there alone. The lady x-raying me couldn't be more annoying. She just talked and talked and talked. I just kept asking about what was on the screen. The reason I'd come to wait another hour and a half in this hospital--my BABY.

It's a boy! I knew it. I had this little revengeful voice in my head telling me not to reveal it to Robby for awhile. So, another two hours spent at the hospital. Robby picked me up and we went home. And no, I wouldn't tell him the sex of the baby, until the evening of the next day.

A couple weeks later, I decided that I didn't want to give birth in that hospital. Since Medi-Cal would be paying for the birth, I had to find a place that accepted it, and was somewhere I could deal with better. The Sage Femme Birthing Center was the only birth center that would accept Medi-Cal. Run by midwives, offering water births, drug-free encouraged, but had the drugs available and the UCSF Medical Center as a backup for an emergency. Sounded great! I would attend the orientation three weeks later. Over those three weeks, I admit to myself that I'd REALLY like a homebirth, but just shun the idea away, as it would cost about four thousand dollars. Something didn't feel right about the birthing center. I wanted privacy. I didn't want to have to meet a bunch of people and try to feel comfortable with all of them. Even though the birthing center seemed way better than the hospital, I got this feeling that it wasn't where I wanted to be. Then I started thinking about the PAIN. Wait a second, this is my first time, and I am going to have to GIVE BIRTH. That means labor! That means pain! And I only have Robby here with me, which I'm grateful for, but wish that one of my friends could be there too, or my mom.

While browsing the internet one day around my fifth or sixth month, for pregnancy and birth chat rooms or message boards, I found one called the MotheringDotCommune forum, from Mothering magazine's website. There were topics concerning everything about motherhood and life in general. Under the Birth & Beyond forum, I saw the title "Unassisted Childbirth".

Is that even possible, let alone legal? Well I guess there are a lot of women who end up giving birth at home, or in a car, or other strange places without any doctors, midwives or nurses. It never really occurred to me that you could PLAN to do that though, except maybe in rural areas, or other countries. I clicked on the site, and low and behold, there were tons of postings about unassisted childbirth. There were women on this forum who had planned unassisted births! I was amazed. Something clicked in the back of my mind that somehow, THIS is what I've been looking for. I am still very skeptical though, and doubt that I could do anything like this. After reading about things like cutting the cord, bleeding, and women writing nonchalantly about how wonderful their births were and that it was the best decision they had ever made.

I needed to learn more. So I looked up unassisted childbirth in a search engine, and to my surprise, lots of site popped up! I began reading women's personal stories, comparisons of hospital births vs. unassisted home births, and then I wanted the hard evidence. Statistics told me that infant mortality rates in U.S. Hospitals were much higher than many other countries (about 20 some), and higher than the rates of homebirths in the U.S., assisted or unassisted. Suddenly, I am sucked into a world of research. I spend hours (more like all day) on the internet, just reading and reading--women's stories, midwives' stories, doctors' stories, medical research, world statistics, and most of all, talking directly to other women on the internet. I asked question after question, the skeptic that I am. For about two weeks, I just read, and research, and talk to women on the internet, who have had unassisted births.

The research told me that unassisted births were safe, in fact, the safest way to give birth. The women's stories were my added proof. I had a much higher respect for the female body and its capabilities. I learned about the actual process of birth, physiological, mental, and emotional aspects. Articles and books told me what actually happens, down to the individual hormones, while pregnant, before, during and after labor and birth. Never have I been so interested in the female body! All because I wanted to learn how these women go about having unassisted births, and how it would be possible for me to do the same. I look up just about every possible "complication" along with its cause, effect, prevention, and solution if it were to occur. To my surprise, I found that most of these so-called complications are actually caused by others' (such as doctors or midwives) interference with the birthing process.

Also, many of them depended largely on the health of the mother throughout her life, and during the pregnancy especially. I feel that I take better care of myself, especially with USANA, than most women around me. My life has been threaded with nutrition and learning about health (mostly from my health conscious mother, with my own interest). During college, I considered becoming a nutritional counselor, but couldn't push away my passion for art.

Many of the complications were caused by nutrient deficiencies or bad habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, doing drugs and living under extremely stressful conditions. Well, I didn't do any of these, and am taking what I believe to be THE highest quality vitamins and minerals available (another story). I stay away from sugary, or highly processed foods, along with eating mostly good fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Oh, and plenty of water is a big must. I drink red raspberry leaf and nettles tea to help strengthen and tone the uterine muscles. Also, I take alfalfa capsules, which aid in digestion and are very good for the skin (help remove toxins from the body). Staying away from and being careful not to create any stress is a big priority for me. I stretch, walk a lot, and spend a lot of time doing yoga and relaxation exercises. I also have a pretty healthy sex life, which helps to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles used in birth, provides relaxation throughout the body, and aids in preparing or "ripening" the cervix before birth. Along with all this, I have been doing perineal massage as well to prepare for birth.

Slowly, I felt like I was beginning to really understand what normal labor and birth should be like, and how it can vary from woman to woman. I had done over a month's worth of research, and had skipped my appointments at SF General, letting them know I would no longer be seeking their care. I take my blood pressure once a month with a monitor that I bought, check my weight periodically (although unnecessary if you are eating a healthy diet), and I naturally monitor my body all the time for anything unusual anyway. I now knew how to identify any "complications" and what to do if any should occur, which I doubt they would. Robby of course, had been absorbing all this information as I told him, or as he asked. We talked about what his fears or worries were, and addressed each one. We established under what conditions we would go to the hospital, which would be UCSF, ten minutes away. There will be a birth plan written out as well, in this event. It was decided that we were going to have the safest birth possible, as we are mainly thinking of the baby. Unassisted was the clear way to go.

I frequent the MDC Message Boards, especially the Unassisted Childbirth forum, reaffirming my decision and beliefs. Whenever a question popped in my mind, I posted it and got responses from women of all kinds, from all places. It takes the actual research and interactive learning about pregnancy and birth, along with conversing with real mothers who have had unassisted births of all kinds, to really understand why I have made this decision. This baby is probably the best thing yet in my life to happen to me, right after falling in love with Robby, and I don' want to settle for any minimum. I want the best, I want the safest, I want the beautiful for my child's entrance into the world.

Some may think, "It's just birth! Go to a hospital already and get over it." That is not how I feel. This is something that is really important to me, and I know some women who are scarred for life by their birth experiences. I don't want my view of childbirth to be skewed in that way. Initially, when I thought I had no other options, I settled for the status quo, following along with what you're "supposed to do" in this society, accepted the norm for what it was, no questions asked. Now, thankfully, I believe in taking responsibility for yourself and your children, which begins at conception. No longer have I given this up to some medical "expert," who rarely ever witnesses or even believes in real, natural birth in its pure form, untainted, unharmed, uninterrupted. Nor do I believe that I am "brave" or "daring" to be doing this. It is those women who go into hospitals, uneducated and unaware, whom I consider to be brave and daring. I was one, uneducated, unaware, plunging myself into the hospital realm, scared to death of what was to come. How brave to just go forward anyway. Luckily, I came across unassisted childbirth, which lead me to actually learn about my body, what my real options concerning birth are, and how to not be afraid of childbirth. Now I am excited about what is to come!

Posted by shell024 at 3:05 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 13 July 2005 7:09 PM PDT

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