Thursday, February 23, 2012

Birthing Children and Beyond

I had a dream the other night that HD and I were at this homey type medical center of sorts, and I realized I was pregnant and in labor. We asked them if we could hang out in one of their rooms, and let them know if we needed anything, and then I felt the familiar and exhilarating feeling of my body pushing without my input, and I went with it, and out slipped a 10+ lb boy, smooth as butter.

When I woke up I had that familiar, "Oh, I miss that!" feeling. Baby lust. Or rather birth and baby lust. Disappointment gently brought me down when I remembered that no, we had decided that we were done adding any biological children into our family and had taken permanent measures last spring. I know some people have post-vasectomy babies, but honestly I don't feel that that is in our future. I really am happy and peaceful with our family just as it is. But OH! The rush of birthing. . .

You may be thinking I'm completely insane here, with this talk of missing birthing. ;) I'll get to that later. What I realized later that day, as I was pondering this in the shower, is that I STILL have the opportunity to birth, just not children. In fact, I have many things inside me that WANT to be birthed, and I've been fighting them. It's terrifying, you know? Birthing something, especially something that feels really big, changes everything. Life as I know it will be different. Better? Quite possibly. But the fear is still there.

And I think that's what the dream was trying to tell me. I've done the terrified, fighting-every-minute-of-it birth. My first birth was a pitocin induced, anxiety ridden, force myself to the end type birth. I actually think W had tried to be born weeks earlier but I had refused to allow my body to let him out. Fear. Absolutely. So he was induced and there were points where I had my arms and legs and face clenched so hard that they would go numb and be stuck in one position, and my husband and doula would lovingly massage and help me relax. Points where I felt that my body was being ripped apart. I know the pitocin had a lot to do with it, but I also know that I was absolutely working against my body by tensing up. And because narcotics make me throw up constantly and the whole "needle in the back" thing freaks me out (and that I'm incredibly stubborn ;) ) I made it through with no pain meds. What helped the most was our amazing doula, who would bring my attention to places that I was tensing, and help me relax them. Honestly, I was so disconnected from my body at that point that I didn't even realize that I was doing it. She reassured me that what was happening was normal, that I COULD do it, that I WAS doing it, and that we were all really okay.

That's where I've been lately, with these things inside me that want to come out. I'm having this type of birthing experience. I allow things to come out a bit, and then I freeze, or close back down, or tense up. And I KNOW that doing that when giving birth to people increases pain. Exponentially. And I'm seeing how I'm doing that right now, and causing myself pain.

I drew this a few weeks ago in my journal, because words weren't able to express how I was feeling.

My second birth was much easier. I was more in tune with what my body was saying, and I was less afraid of what would happen once the baby came out. I WAS very afraid that she'd be overdue and the doctor would insist that we induce again. My water broke at home on her due date, labor started immediately, and in an hour and 15 minutes I was checked at the hospital and was 7 cm already. As I labored at the hospital I could hear the nurses whispering in disbelief that I was so quiet even without an epidural. I was listening to by body and breathing and staying on top of it with the help of HD and a very good friend. I kept waiting for the "body ripping apart" feeling and it never came. After another hour I was ready to push, but I was told I couldn't because the doctor wasn't there. So I sat on the bed, trying to be a good patient while my body pushed my daughter down for at least 20 minutes. She lost her cone head, I ended up with internal tears, and I lost my rhythm with my body. When the doctor did show up, I felt frantic and couldn't push effectively. On the squatting bar, on my back, nothing seemed to work until he said he'd have to cut me and I jumped back up onto the squatting bar (yes, there was laughter about how quickly I moved ;) ) and got her out with some external tearing. But, she was out! And I remember thinking, as he laid her hot, slippery body on my belly, "I LOVE this!" And then I met her and loved her too. ;)

So that birth is an example of knowing better how to follow my instincts, trust that I know what I need to do, but getting caught up in what OTHER people feel that I should do. Their rules and expectations and requirements that, in this case, mostly led to more pain when I followed them. It never occurred to me that I could say "Sorry, I'm pushing her out now with or without the doctor!" And a lot of the time, it doesn't occur to me that I can birth those other things in me in ways that aren't expected, that don't fit the norm, that come at times when others are unprepared even though it's the perfect time for me. Just because they don't realize it's right doesn't mean that it's wrong. Whew. That can be a hard one for me!

My last birth was incredibly peaceful and calm. Intense, yes, but only a bit painful, and I never felt out of control. She was 6 days late, apparently she wanted to hold out to be born in the spring. ;) We decided to have a homebirth since (among other things) the hospital had just gotten in the way and caused problems with the previous birth. I knew that my body knew what it was doing, and I trusted our midwife and her apprentice completely if either of our bodies would need help. I called the midwife around 6 am. For awhile I needed to walk THROUGH contractions to work with them (unlike I'd read/heard that I'd have to stop and focus on them), and then I sat on the toilet for awhile. I was able to feel things changing inside of me, the bag of water bulging through and then breaking, feel into each second by second as I marveled at how I was more present than I had ever been. So very, very cool. The apprentice got there around 7:45, checked me, and said I was 8 cm. Actually, I was complete at that time, but since the midwife wasn't there yet and I wasn't pushing, and the birth pool was too hot, she decided to lie to me. ;) (And I'm so glad that she did, because it allowed me to listen to when my body was ready to push, instead of panicking that I needed to push NOW because I was dilated to the "correct amount".) I stood in the birth pool, waiting for it to cool down, swaying and dipping and when I felt like I was going to loose my grip, breathing so deeply that I could feel the very edges of my body with my breath. Eventually the water cooled, and the midwife arrived, and I had the urge to push. And L came out, with both fists by her cheeks (that was the pain part ;) ), and I caught her. And then I sat back and we floated in the water for awhile. She was born around 8:45.

THIS is the type of birth that I dreamed about the other night. Where I know that I have the strength to do it, the support around me that I need, the TRUST that it is all working out how it needs to be, and no one around me telling me any differently. Completely empowered to help what is inside me move through and out in whatever way comes up within whatever time it happens. No judgement, just presence with what is happening NOW, knowing that what is happening now is okay and fine and perfectly where I need to be. Bliss.

This realization has helped me through the last few days. They have been incredibly emotionally intense, and stopping the "I need things to change so life can be easy!" voice and instead treating the waves of emotion moving through me as contractions, breathing deeply, focusing only on what is going on in my body, and at times feeling my very edges with my breath when I feel I might loose it, has really REALLY helped me through without screaming at my children and breaking things. ;)

After I understood what the dream was trying to tell me the other day, I decided I wanted to paint that birthing energy. I'd let out the resistance energy on paper, and I wanted to do the same for the other side of the spectrum. I also wanted to be able to look at the energy of how I want to move through this birthing of these not-children and remember. And this is what came out:

Painting it felt so good that I felt joy zing through my body at times. I am so incredibly awed and humbled to have played a part in its creation. It makes me smile just looking at it. And I want to do it again! I want to let that 10.5 lb baby boy slip out like butter, empowered and present and full of trust for each experience in each moment, no matter how intense or painful or untimely they may be. Just relax into them, knowing they are just right, are purposeful, and are taking me exactly where I need to be. WANT to be even.

Yeah. :)


  1. Great post Kathryn! I love how you are connecting with yourself and finding more of you and accepting more of you, finding the joy. May you have many more joyous births! :) Beautiful artwork and such a progression in the two.

  2. Beautiful! Yes birth can be an amazing experience, even with the pain ;)