Birth: YOU can do it!

I screamed my head off during The Informant’s birth. From the minute labor got painful I shrieked, I cried, I yelled.

20130809-055302.jpgI can’t believe she’s 8.5yo!

Nobody did anything. I mean, the midwives and doula did stuff, but nobody had the baby for me, which was my subconscious goal. I, who enjoy being waited on hand on foot, did not like that labor and birth. I felt all alone despite the four people with me.

I’ve been thinking about birth a lot as one of my best friends is due soon. Also, as I’m starting my path to becoming a nurse. I don’t plan to be a labor/delivery nurse but if that’s a job available and I need a job, I’ll happily do it.


I was silent — and miserable — during My Masterpiece’s birth. I knew I could do it. I knew I had to do it. I knew nobody else could do it for me. But, man, I wished someone else could do it for me. I was very proud of myself — and shocked — when I had her in a bathtub in our Arizona home.

20130809-060128.jpgShe’s actually nursing while I type this.

With Cousin It I knew what I had to do and when I was in labor I didn’t bother calling anyone til the very end. Or even waking up My Chemical Romance. (I will forever regret not calling Lora Denton of Lora Denton Photography though. Huge mistake.) Once again, I knew only I could do it but this time I tried… not to hate it so much, if not enjoy it. I was attended by my best friend, another best friend, my family. I asked for what I wanted. The birth went as well as I could imagine! (Except not having Lora there.)

My experiences are hospital birth, birth center birth and home birth but they’re all the same: I had to do it myself. It was scary and painful — and empowering each time.


An aside, I have a friend who lived in Australia during one of her births and she said the labor/delivery nurses there do not let you lay down during labor. Here in the States women are encouraged to stay in bed. It makes them easier to monitor, I guess.


Dear Doulas: Please Get Off Facebook

Yes, this is a huge pet peeve of mine, but I also think it gets into a gray area of HIPAA.

Here’s what HIPAA says (bolded part at the bottom is my emphasis):

Protected Health Information. The Privacy Rule protects all “individually identifiable health information” held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral. The Privacy Rule calls this information “protected health information (PHI).”12

“Individually identifiable health information” is information, including demographic data, that relates to:

  • the individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition,
  • the provision of health care to the individual, or
  • the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual,

and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual.13  Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number).

I do not want to see a status update that you’re at a birth. Or heading out to a birth. I feel a liiiiiiiiittle sketchy reading that you’re just home from a birth — but I will give you the benefit of the doubt. I’ll assume that you asked the client if you could talk about it on Facebook and she gave you her blessing.

I will not give you credit for not mentioning the client’s name because COME ON NOW. Birthy people all know each other, especially in areas where homebirth isn’t legally recognized. If I know that three women are due around the same time, and are having homebirths and I happen to see that two of them recently updated their Facebook statuses and one hasn’t updated in a day or two, or I run into one at the grocery store… it’s just not that hard to figure out where you are and who you’re with.

I’m totally stalking you right now (Flickr: Simply.Jessi)

And yes, I’m a total stalker.

How did I learn to keep births off social media? Oh, you know me: the hard way.

I posted — not on Facebook, this was before Facebook, probably even before MySpace — once about a birth I was at where something REALLY weird happened. Nothing to do with the birth itself, just a weird thing happened. And a midwife saw my post and totally nailed me about sharing private information that was not my place to share. By sharing what had happened at the birth I’d shared the following

1. I was at a birth

2. It was a homebirth

3. This weird thing happened

Most of my doula-Facebook-friends are smarter than me. They do not post that they’re in the middle of a birth and something weird (or totally normal) is happening. But I do occasionally see a status about a great birth or a beautiful laboring mama or something birth-related. STFU, please! I don’t want to know! It’s not my business! (Which seems weird, right? Isn’t everything my business?!?!?) Let the mama post and let me hear it from the horse’s uterus.

Yes, I was at a birth. When “at” means, actively participating (although kind of against my will).

Loving My Unnatural Birth Experience

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.


I’ve written at length about homebirth – my own two homebirths, attending others’ homebirths, supporting homebirths – and so I want to go back and write about my first birth experience. That was Animal and Mineral, in 2003. It was NOT a homebirth. It was in a large teaching hospital, in an Operating Room full of maternity unit staff and NICU staff, and I could have only one person in the room with me (I was single and chose my mom).

Animal and Mineral are monozygotic (“identical”) twins who had Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome while in utero. I discovered via ultrasound at 18 weeks that I was having twins. A few days after my ultrasound, I received a call from a staff assistant at a high-risk Ob/Gyn office, with information from a doctor who had examined my ultrasound pictures. He had recognized that my twins had TTTS. I was instructed to transfer my care to their clinic immediately so the “twin expert” doc there could monitor my progress.

The doctor I saw suggested bedrest, drinking lots of Ensure or Boost, and a weekly appointment with a non-stress test or biophysical profile every other week to check their statuses. (Or statii. Google seems to have a lot of answers to the question, “What is the plural of status?”)

At a NST or BPP a few weeks before giving birth.

So I did that, from 18 weeks til 34 weeks: I drank my Ensure, I stayed on bedrest, I went to my appointments, I watched TV — this was before DVR and before high-speed internet connections were everywhere; I had dial-up. I worried about Animal and Mineral, although they remained stable every week and the doctor was very positive and encouraging.

I did not want a cesarean section. I was a single mom-to-be, I was going to be a single mom of twins, and I’d heard and read that recovering from a cesarean was painful and challenging. I already had enough challenges. I was not yet as crunchy and natural as I am today but I was practical.

I agreed to an induction of labor at 34 weeks because Mineral was showing signs of Intra-Uterine Growth Restriction, and had had several heart rate decelerations during one of my non-stress tests. My induction began with Cervidal — and was supposed to continue with pitocin the next day — and ended nine hours later when I gave birth to Mineral, and then about ten minutes later to Animal.

A few hours after the Cervidil was started. In eaaaaaaaaaaaarly labor, clearly, since I’m still smiling.

It was not natural. I was in an incredibly UNNATURAL setting: not just the hospital, but the high-risk maternity floor. Not just monitoring but continuous fetal monitoring — and that’s no small feat with two babies to monitor. (See the hand in that picture? It’s my friend Gretchen. She was my doula and she was incredibly helpful.) Not just an epidural but an epidural and a bunch of lidocaine for that my epidural “window,” where the spinal medication didn’t affect me. Not just flat on my back but flat on my back in an Operating Room. Not just full of maternity floor staff but also full of NICU staff, with everyone debating whether or not I needed a cesarean section because Animal was a foot-first breech. (You should have seen the looks on their faces when my water broke and his foot slid out. Priceless.)

I did it! With some random nurse who was probably nice while I was doing it!

I had never considered that giving birth could be an EXPERIENCE; I just thought of it as a means to an end. The boys would go from my uterus to outside my body, hopefully via my vagina. Yet, for me, it was an experience. Emotionally, I was not expecting that. I was shocked by how much I’d enjoyed and loved giving birth. I was surprised by how intensely I felt afterwards when I looked back on what I’d accomplished.

It was by far my least natural birth. Yet the experience was incredibly beautiful. Giving birth showed me I could do something I’d never done before. I could survive physical pain unlike anything I’d experienced before. Even though I was young, even though I was single, even though Animal and Mineral weren’t planned, I achieved something that day that I had never dreamed of before.

Not every woman considers birth an experience, but that’s how it felt to me. And I will always cherish that first experience.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


Three surprising reasons I chose a homebirth

While I chose a homebirth for My Masterpiece because I believed so much in natural childbirth, by the time I was pregnant with Porcelain I had a few different reasons:

1. I’m a wimp.

No, really, I am. Planning an unmedicated birth and then going to a hospital is like — to me — being on Adkins and then going to a chocolate buffet. Most of my doula clients were hospital birthers, and those labor and delivery nurses like to push epidurals under the guise of sympathetic pain management. Every couple hours you hear: “Would you like something for your pain?” “How would you rate your pain, on a scale of one to ten?” Meanwhile, at home, my response of, YES, GOD, YES, and IT’S A SEVENTEEN might have gotten me a drop of Rescue Remedy. If My Chemical Romance could find it.

2. I’m lazy.

I don’t want to sit in the car while I’m labor. I don’t want to pack a bag. I don’t want to answer stupid questions by a triage receptionist about whether or not I have a car seat, or if I’m being abused. And most of all, I don’t want to clean up afterwards. After Porcelain’s birth, my midwife cleaned my toilet. I showered in my own shower and climbed into my own bed, and My Chemical Romance brought me a sandwich from McDeathald’s because it was Christmas and it was the only place that was open when he drove my mom to the airport.

3. I’m incredibly self-centered.

The idea of a STRANGER taking care of my baby and me on one of the five MOST SPECIAL DAY OF MY LIFE is absolutely unacceptable to me. Are you changing my sheets because you’re on shift and I happen to be there? No, ma’am, as they say here in the Carolinas. I will not be your “patient.” I only trust certain folks to see my va-jay-jay and although I may pay them, I also love them.

Hospital Doula Experiences: The Machine That Goes PING!

Just over a year ago, I was a doula at a hospital birth for a couple I didn’t know well. They’d hired me late in her pregnancy, and she was planning a hospital birth. It was not a very unmedicated-birth-friendly hospital, but the mom wasn’t 100% certain she wanted an unmedicated birth.

While at the hospital, mom was doing well for a while, but things got intense for her around 6cm (this hospital did a lot of vaginal exams ). Around the same time, one of the monitors stopped working. She wasn’t on continuous fetal monitoring, so I don’t recall why exactly this was such an issue, but it was.

It was an issue. It was an ISSUE!

My client’s nurse called some other nurses on the floor, none of whom could fix the problem. She eventually called the charge nurse. The charge nurse couldn’t figure it out. The charge nurse called the IT department, and two men from IT came to work on it.

Back when I was getting my iron infusions, while pregnant with Porcelain, the IT department was there during one of my infusions. They were fixing something with the computers, and it was really weird. There were all these people with cancer getting their chemo, and I was heavily pregnant and getting my iron — and then there were these IT guys chattering about computers and TVs and other stuff while they tried to re-program the computer. Normally the infusion center was a very quiet, calm place — the nurses and doctors tried to maintain that mood — and having random IT guys there just changed the ambiance.

And so it was for my client — except this time the nurses didn’t even seem to notice that they’d completely changed the mood of the room, or didn’t care. I literally cringe thinking about my client laboring at 6cm while two strange men stood a few feet away, talking about the computer systems and asking if any of the other rooms on the hall were having that problem. And it was loud, the machine was beeping, everyone was talking. It really bothered me. My client was laboring and nobody thought, “Maybe we should talk about this outside the room. Maybe she needs to concentrate, or it’s difficult for her to relax with all of us in the room.”

Then again, maybe the nurses — and the IT department — were so used to women with epidurals who are not as conscientious of their labors, that they didn’t realize my client was unmedicated and experiencing intense contractions.

Either way, it was icky for me. I pretty much stopped working as a doula after that. There were other reasons — mostly my family — but I do not miss walking into hospitals with clients and not knowing what’s going to happen to them there.

But you don’t really LOVE your obstetrician.

You may like your obstetrician. You may enjoy your visits. You  may find peeing in a cup, getting on a scale (fun!), having your blood pressure taken, and chatting about your pregnancy to be lovely. But you don’t really LOVE your obstetrician.

You can love your husband or partner, your children, chocolate chip banana muffins and playing dominoes.  You can love a good glass of Pinot, long walks on the beach, and a full-body massage. You can love your siblings.

You cannot love cats, because cats are unlovable assholes who make people wheeze and cough and cry.

You can think your obstetrician is a really nice, intelligent human being who is experienced and has a great bedside manner. But you don’t really LOVE your obstetrician.

LOVE is not offering an induction for convenience sake (his or yours). LOVE is not “giving you more room” to push out your baby by cutting your perineum. LOVE is not timing your labor so that you end up with a c-section and a label on your body “failure to progress.”

No, no, really, you’re wrong; I truly do love my obstetrician!

Okay. Just know that it’s not an exclusive relationship on his part; your obstetrician is married to the hospital where he practices. And the hospital does not like you. Nor do the nurses he sees on the side. They roll their eyes at you behind your back — just the latest swoony pregnant woman — and smirk, knowing that, when push comes to surgery, he will choose the hospital and its rules and the nurses over you. He will choose his own schedule over you.

If you love your obstetrician, you’re either in an unhealthy relationship or you don’t know what LOVE is, or you have some really strange ideas about LOVE and need therapy.

North Carolina Birth Freedom March

In which I nursed in my car, in a parking garage, while marching, while standing during a moment of silence, and while meeting with my representatives. Afterwards I nursed in a fabulous Mexican restaurant, in the same parking garage, in my car, and at Ikea. I have two of those Target nursing tanks, and while I think they are terribly unsupportive, they’re great for when you might have to nurse in front of a smarmy old man politician and you don’t want him staring at your tits — or your extra tummy skin.

Seven of nine Jugs attended — including Mary F. Poppins who is neither an American citizen nor a resident of North Carolina! We represented. We attempted to caravan, but all bets are off when it comes to traveling with babies. Originally I was going to drive with four moms and four babies in my minivan — filling it to capacity — but it was quickly kiboshed when two of the Jugs saw the situation. It would have been a squeeze.

I’ve made long drives with children before — last year I took the oldest four to visit my parents, by myself — and it sucks, even if everyone has room. My expectations were very low. Still, the ride there was great. I got up super early so I could nurse Porcelain 2453543 times before we left, and she actually made it the entire 3 hours without needing to stop. We got there and she nursed for about an hour straight, while Little Miss Popular and I talked our way into using a bathroom at the department of education building.

The march itself was incredible. There were so many families out supporting CPMs in North Carolina! The final count was about 600 people. This is a completely grass-roots movement, and organized entirely by North Carolina Friends of Midwives. We marched. Most people had signs and babies in arms, in strollers, walking, toddling, nursing, holding signs, and attempting to hold signs. There were moms, dads, and even grandmas and grandpas.

After the march, we gathered between the two political buildings and formed a circle and held a moment of silence. Russ Fawcett, leader of NCFOM, gave a speech, and encouraged all of us to meet with our reps.

So I did. And one of my reps sucks. He is completely against legalizing CPMs in North Carolina. And he was born at home with a midwife! When we pointed that out, he said, “Yes, and if anything had happened, my mother would have died.” But she didn’t. He was the smarmy obnoxious politician like you see on TV. He was also very condescending and patronizing. I half expected him to reach across the table and pat the heads of us silly women with our silly little ideas.

The next rep was much better. He said he didn’t understand what all the fuss was about and he supports legalizing CPMs. He is all for supporting a bill. Then he asked us to support his campaign manager as the leader of the state’s political party. So he wanted to trade political favors…? I felt like I was on The West Wing.

We went out to eat at this awesome Mexican joint — it was a great meal — and then got on the road again. And, as I’d predicted, the drive home wasn’t quite as easy. The kids cried. And cried. And cried. And sometimes slept. And there was traffic. But we eventually made it home, and really, I felt so energized from being among so many amazing women. And so glad that I know so many amazing women! While I guess I can still call myself a doula and childbirth educator, I’m not working and not planning on working again for a long time — and yet my heart is still there, with the women who want to learn about birth and have the birth of their dreams.

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