Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting!

Today I attended a birth and actually made it before the baby was born! I learned something, of course. Leigh (and everyone) says that you learn something at every birth. Even after you’ve attended a zillion, you learn something at each birth, and she suggested I write down the information before I forget. So here’s what I learned: Even when a woman gives birth outside of a hospital, it can still take a while for her to get comfortable.

To wit, when Kung Fu Client arrived (I will explain this nickname later), I thought We are in for a long night. She was laughing, joking around with us, chatting. Her contractions were short, albeit painful. Leigh made some suggestions, and then when we checked her again, she was almost complete! I couldn’t believe it. So, that’s what I learned. She just needed some time to get comfortable in the space.

Of course a homebirth (even when it’s not your home) is a more relaxed atmosphere than a hospital, and I’d imagine it’s somewhat like the birth center will be when we open it. But if it’s not the client’s home, she may take awhile to feel comfortable and get into her groove. And that’s exactly what happened. And then once she was in her groove, it was actually a pretty short labor.

Meanwhile, the Kung Fu nickname… She was just a total warrior. I’m always impressed when women don’t whine about the pain like I always did during my labors (“Why does it hurt so much?” I cried, when I was in labor with Sydney. “Because you’re in labor,” my midwife answered. Oh. Right. That!)

On a totally unrelated note, I have my Enrollment Verification Pak from AAMI, and I have to complete 15 items (at least) on their list before I can request my curriculum. One of the items is write a journal entry explaining how you got here and where you want to go. So I’ll start with how I got here.

I blame idiocy and Gretchen Humphries for getting me on this path. Idiocy in the form of having intercourse without using protection, and Gretchen Humphries in the form of my doula for my twins’ birth.

Prior to my pregnancy with my twins, I was happily unaware of pregnancy related information — not blissfully unaware; happily unaware. I wasn’t really into babies or kids. I am an only child. I didn’t babysit much. (I once babysat for a brother and sister who were less than two years apart and came home and asked my mom, “Why do they FIGHT so much?!?!?!”) I wasn’t particularly into holistic health care at the time, although I’d categorize myself as non-mainstream. But I still took tylenol when I had a headache and probably would have consented to a c-section if they were both breech or something. But being pregnant with twins, and twins who had Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome which resulted in 18 loooooooooooong boring weeks on bedrest, and I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about choices. God, there are a lot of choices when you’re a parent! It’s kind of cool and it’s also kind of frightening; it’s such a huge responsibility. And I didn’t just want to just do what everyone else did without doing some research. Why? Why? Why? Why is this the norm? What are the alternatives? I also didn’t want to do anything that couldn’t be un-done. Vaccinating can never be undone. Either can circumcision. I wanted to do more research. (Still do! Always.)

So, around this time I met Gretchen, who had twin boys born by c-section and a girl born at home (HBAC). My family has actually copied Gretchen’s exactly: she has twin boys followed by two girls, just like me. Anyway, I didn’t know that Gretchen was very active in ICAN and writing essays about cesarean section birth and VBAC. Because of the twin boys’ thing, and because she was just so darn nice, I gravitated toward Gretchen for advice and comfort. A twin pregnancy is just one giant bag of SUCK, in my experience. (Okay, so I also think that about a singleton pregnancy. But a twin pregnancy seems to kind of suck more. Maybe it’s because you can’t fit into anything, even maternity tents, at the end.) She offered to attend my birth as a support person, and I welcomed her. And then she did it. She gifted me with an item that changed my life forever.

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer. I sat on my bed, my ass-cheeks molding into the mattress more with each day of bedrest, and read it cover to cover.

And I was shocked — shocked, I tell you! — to learn that I had choices with regards to my birth. I could ask my provider questions and demand answers, and I could say NO. I said no to an unnecessary cesarean about a week before my boys were born. That was so powerful. I have forgotten many aspects of that pregnancy, but I haven’t forgotten sitting in my hospital room (I was staying overnight because baby A had had a decel during a non-stress test) listening to the doctor suggest a c-section, and saying NO. I didn’t think it was medically necessary. And clearly the doctor didn’t think it was either, because if it was, he probably would have forced me to have one.

So blah blah blah Gretchen gave me the book, I read the book, and I claimed my power as a pregnant woman. I’d always felt powerful as a woman. But pregnant women are, as Leigh pointed out, a vulnerable population, and being an empowered pregnant woman felt… pretty fucking cool.

I felt great about the twins’ vaginal hospital birth (with a foot-first baby B who was 2lbs bigger than baby A). I decided I wanted to help other women feel great about their births, so I became a doula. And then, when I moved here, and learned that Charlotte’s motto is “A Doula For Every Man, Woman, Child and Dog in our Metropolitan Area,” (chosen over the more traditional theme: “We Have More Doulas Than Pregnant Women”) I decided to become a childbirth educator, so I could have another way to help women.

And then one of my requirements for my CBE class was to audit another childbirth class, so I audited Leigh’s class, which is how I got to know her and her clients, and then became her apprentice. And here I am: doula, childbirth educator, apprentice and midwifery student.

Idiocy and Gretchen Humphries, I salute you!


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