Posts tagged ‘UC’

November 1, 2011

I Needed to UC

This is the first guest post I’ve had on this blog. I am honored that Elizabeth McKeown agreed to write about her experiences with birth and how she ultimately figured out what she needed to do to have her perfect birth.

I gain so much insight from others experiences and that is why I wanted to share her story with you. I hope you can take something from it as I have.

As always, I need to clarify that I am not advocating unassisted childbirth. Part of this story is about unassisted childbirth, but that in no way means that is the point of Elizabeth’s story. What one woman chooses for herself should not dictate what you choose for yourself.

Thank you again, Elizabeth for writing for us.

When I got pregnant with my first, I was so excited. I read everything I could find on pregnancy and birth. I knew I wanted a natural birth, but at the young and naive age of 20, to me that simply meant no drugs. I got an OB/GYN (I still didn’t really think any other options legitimately existed, and I *knew* that to be safe, one *must* give birth in the hospital, just in case) who was very nice, and ended up getting an induction, followed by an epidural (which I gave into), and felt like a failure. The baby and I also had health issues surrounding the birth, although we were alive and mostly healthy. This was not at all what I envisioned. I concluded that labor is just really hard for me for some reason, because I knew I had a high pain tolerance so it wasn’t just that I was a wuss. I figured that maybe the induction (even though I said NO to Pitocin) must have made labor harder to deal with.

When I got pregnant with my second child several years later, I wanted to take a very different approach. With renewed faith in myself, feeling as though I were older, wiser, and maybe stronger, I tried for something much more natural. I hired home birth midwives, and thought it was so cool and forward thinking of me to do so. I knew that hospitals were over-medicalized now, and I *knew* that home birth midwives would uphold only the most natural and woman-respecting beliefs for me and my birth. Prone to going past my due dates and bound by legal standards for care, I was pressured into either getting an induction or being completely without care. Luckily, my body beat their ultimatum and I went into labor myself. Unluckily, it led to the worst day of my life– a traumatic afternoon of excruciating labor with meconium tainted waters and a nice ambulance ride after which I swiftly delivered in an emergency room. The midwives had to transfer me because of the color of that fluid, but it turned out that the baby was fine, after all. The pain and torment of this labor was indescribable.

How could I have been such a fool? How could I really think that I could give birth naturally? Didn’t I learn anything from the first birth? Who were all these other smug bitches who were doing it, and making it look easy? Why am I not the earth mother goddesses that they were? I was the most maternal hippie I knew! Why did my midwives never post about my birth, but bragged on all the other moms? Why had I been so different, and what had I done that was so wrong? Surely they were all lying, these people, and their peaceful empowering birth stories. Birth was torture, birth was pain. How could I ever give birth again? No, no women should ever give birth again. Next time– if there is a next time– I need to get into the hospital ASAP and get that epidural and just ride it out and be thankful the drugs take effect on me.

Some time passed before I considered getting pregnant again. When I finally discovered I was expecting again, the overwhelming feeling was not joy as it should have been– it was worry over how I was going to do this labor. I bounced back and forth from extremes. I wanted midwives for care, and maybe a home attempt at delivery. But this time, they needed to leave me alone. Why, why was that urge so strong? Then of course I considered that I just needed to be in the hospital and get as doped up as possible. At prenatal visits I would ask my midwives about pre-registering at the hospital of my choice, which was further away from the much worse emergency hospital. They had puzzled looks on their faces and wondered why I was interested in this. I explained that maybe just for recovery, it would be nice. They seemed confused. Well, I was, too.

So instead of staying scared and confused and angry, I had to find out why. I dove into research. I wanted to know everything about honest to God, scientific, natural labor– how the body reacts, ways to avoid fear and pain, how to handle emergencies, you name it. Why were my urges to be alone so strong, why had my previous labors gone the way they had but other women had a great time, WHY? So out of this curiosity I learned more and more about UC (unassisted childbirth). The more I learned, the more everything clicked. I felt major epiphanies occur, and it was an eye opener for me to say the least. Almost everything I thought I knew about birth and pregnancy seemed to be false. From the science and data and anecdotes of Grantly Dick-Read and Michel Odent, to the empowering experiences, sources, and facts of Laura Shanley, Lynn Griesemer, and Laurie Annis Morgan… I finally understood. This was fascinating and liberating– and healing. I read Emergency Childbirth by Gregory J. White and was amazed that even with that simple text, I better understood the dynamics of what had occurred to me in previous labors. I knew all the “errors” that had been done to me in the past. I saw clearly where everyone went wrong. I finally knew what I needed with the intellect… what my instinct and body had known all along. I needed to UC.

I had my baby this past March, I published my book “In Search of the Perfect Birth” in April, and I’ve been running the Facebook page In Search of the Perfect Birth since.


August 30, 2011

Is It Really All About ‘Perspective?’

Perspective is something I think about often, not only with birth, but in everyday life. I have four children and two who think they rule the world at the ripe, old age of 9. I often find myself perplexed by some of the things that come out of their mouths and I often find myself repeating over and over in my head, “perspective, perspective, perspective.” What would it be like to be in their shoes?

For me to see a difference in birth it really was all about perspective. I wrote in my first entry Why about how the birth of my 4th baby was almost exactly how I’d imagined. And it was and it was beautiful, but “almost” is the keyword here in relation to perspective.

For my 4th child, Doodle, I did not set out to have him unassisted. I really didn’t. Del likes to say I did, but I honestly didn’t. And when the idea popped into my head almost as soon as I saw those two pink lines, I immediately thought, “Unassisted!?? That’s nuts!” And to me it was. At that point in my journey, I had decided that birth was good, home birth was great, but people who did it without assistance were “crazy and risking their babies lives!”

It wasn’t until a nagging feeling inside of me encouraged me to look into it deeper that I started to change my mind and open my eyes to a whole other world of birth. Free birth. Unassisted birth. Birth on my own. What a scary, extraordinary thought!

With the twins, I’d once brought up the idea of a water birth at home to my stepmom after I’d seen it on TV – not even about ME, just the idea of it – and she replied something to the effect of, “People who birth at home are crazy and risking their babies lives!” When I was pregnant with The Monkey, I brought up homebirth to Del who got a wide-eyed look that pleaded, “Please don’t tell me that’s something you want! This whole ‘natural childbirth’ thing is hard enough!” So I reneged and said maybe next time.

‘Next time’ arrived and I knew we were doing it at home. Of course I was going to do it the “right” way, midwife and all. I researched and learned as much as I could over those months. I read about as many possible “what-if’s” to be fully prepared, just in case. I knew my births weren’t extremely fast so I most likely would not be one of those stories on the 10 o’clock news about how the woman just didn’t make it to the hospital in time or the midwife didn’t arrive in time and the 3 year old had to catch the baby, but I still wanted to be as prepared as possible, just in case.

As luck would have it (probably fate), the midwife thing didn’t work out. We were under special circumstances in that we had insurance (unlike when I was pregnant with The Monkey) and yet I could not get the birth I wanted because our insurance would not cover a homebirth. The midwife we met and spoke with several times was willing to take payments as long as we paid before delivery. We were sure we could swing that since Del had just re-enlisted with the military and we were expecting a fairly good chunk of change just before Doodle’s birth.

Do you know that saying, “while we’re busy making plans, God laughs?” Yeah well that happened and the payment was delayed .. by 6 weeks! We received the money on my due date and we’d already told the midwife we had no idea when the money was coming in and broken ties with her. We were on our own and because my husband’s perspective of birth was seriously skewed by his genuine medical background (as opposed to my fake one) and he had about as much faith in birth as I did in a hospital’s ability to give me the birth that I needed, I agreed to laboring at home as long as possible and then heading to the hospital (ugh) to push. That was as much as I would compromise and it still felt like too much.

A homebirth with a midwife had been a stretch for Del and although I truly felt comfortable going it alone, even wished for it several times, I knew he wasn’t comfortable. So we agreed to go to the hospital when I began to feel pushy. With The Monkey I had felt pushy for about an hour before actually being ready to push. This all seemed like a good plan because we were only 10-15 minutes from our closest hospital and I had decided I didn’t want to be there a second longer than I had to.

When I finally did go into labor, 9 days after my due date it was very slow building. It continued for 2 days. And when things finally got serious, it was too late to go anywhere. It wasn’t planned exactly, but I was prepared and things went well. Nearly perfect. Except for Del running around like he’d lost a limb. He kept looking around, searching for something, nothing, maybe he was hoping the midwife would materialize if he just looked hard enough. Either way, I was kind of busy and didn’t have time to worry about him.

When it was all over, I was happy. Ecstatic. Over the moon! I had given birth exactly as I’d felt called to and survived. Better than survived. I gave birth to a beautiful 8lb 14oz baby in my bath tub essentially on my own (daddy caught and quickly passed to me) and lived to tell the tale. I had confounded everyone, even myself to some extent with what I’d just done and it was amazing. It was the best I have ever felt about myself in my entire life. Truly.

Del, on the other hand, had just experienced a nightmare..