This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Another Fantastic Step on the Journey to Fully Inhabiting My Body

Let's move to those aforementioned things and change the song into one with a major-chord feel!  First of all, I'm totally freaking stoked about my baby these days.  So much so that I just edited the curse word out of that sentence.  I'm not excited just about the baby, but the part that comes before the baby: the birth.

This I know is "just" a threshold to the real deal, but it's a huge, not-too-many-times in a lifetime threshold!  And my god! I love suspense and drama.  I love the click-click-click that precedes the big drop in a roller-coaster ride.  I am clicking-clicking, I can see the whole amusement park! We're almost at the top! Holy Squeal!!  Moments of these realizations cause an adrenaline rush in me that is white-knuckled exciting.  Here's why I describe my anticipation of birth as exciting.  I'm on my road.  Oh. My. God. I'm on my road and I can feel my preacherly tendencies getting all revved up to tell you about it.

When I found out I was preggers, after I got over the shock, I thought "my ideal is to have this baby at home" then I thought "having this baby at home is really kinda 'out there' I better see what the hospital option looks like."  Stupid fucking doubt machine, my ego is!  I decided to explore my options, but I had erroneously narrowed them, because giving birth at home just seemed too log-cabin, too bloody mess, too unknown and frankly kinda scary for me to conceive of.  I narrowed what I viewed as my options to
A. hospital birth with a doula or
B. birth center birth with certified nurse midwives.
This was early on, so after I narrowed my options in my mind I proceeded to put off thinking about birth so I could instead freak on some painful hormone/emotion cocktail for three months.

Those first four months of pregnation were tough, emotionally speaking.  In physical terms I have had a really rosy pregnancy the 99% of the time, I've been blessed that way.  But my already pretty taught emotions were all over the place with me worrying about Hadj working at job when he didn't want to, and about me not working a job when I wanted to, about being supported by my man entirely, about the validity of my existence, about where I might find community and friends: big heady emo bullshit was raining on me daily for weeks.  And this year's cold, wet summer was not helping.  All that freaking out was compounded with my feeling generally, existentially, confused the entire time.  I wasn't confused like "what day is it?" or "where did I put my damn keys?" I was confused like "why don't I have an opinion? why don't I care? what happened to my sense of intuition and confidence?"

The mid point of my pregnancy was pure kismet. (Side note: I just learned, thanks to wordnet.web.princeton, that kismet is defined as "the will of Allah." Interesting. And apt.)  One of my close confidants came to stay for a week and I had a glorious, many hours to wax on and on about my emotions, thoughts, and reactions to life.  I got great feedback, questions, and encouragement in collusion with a taste of who I was before I got lost internally.  I also was given the name of a psychic/medium/reiki master in my area and decided to drop the dough to get an appointment with her.  After this time with these women I felt really clear again and grounded in myself.  Then we took a two week excursion to spend time with Hadj's family in Colorado.  Then we returned home and I got down to the nitty gritty with the third trimester rapidly approaching.

It was time for me to find a doula (labor coach and advocate) so I hit the google and began making appointments and calls.  My first three calls returned negative, as the doulas were already booked for those weeks and could not take me on.  This news startled me and I worried I'd waited too long so I sent a blast email to a dozen area doulas hoping to get at least three who'd be available for that time to interview.  I knew I would instinctively know the doula when I met her, but I had a list of guiding questions, just to seem put together I suppose. 

The first doula I met was awesome and we talked like old girlfriends for two hours, even sharing an enthusiastic hug and promises to hang out again soon at the end.  The second doula was nice, but that's what you say when you know it's not going to work out.  The third doula I met was the one; she was maternal but not foreboding, sweet but savvy, informative, and most important, really empowering.  She listened well and I was able to open up and ask her the magic question that had finally re-emerged: Do first time moms really have home births?

What a doula does
If thought about rationally, this question seems to have an obvious answer, but in this culture? Oh honey no, it's a different story.  She smiled and, god, sometimes I think about her and I want to hug her, because something about that day, about her, and the information she was giving me, even probably about the strength I had gathered from my previous two interviews, aligned just right and suddenly the option to have my ideal was back on the table.  And it wasn't scary.  It was thrilling. 

Part of the perfection of all this continues with the fact that this doula happens to be a labor attendant for an incredibly established midwife in my area.  We got on the subject of this midwife and I grew more and more excited.  I wanted to meet this wise woman.  I wanted her to help me birth my baby and I wanted to do it at home, in my home, with my man and our animals and our scents and our lights and towels and food and views and all of it.  I wanted it all and more importantly, that felt really possible. 
When Jessica Mitford, author of The American Way of Birth, sought to describe the essence of birth, she reverted to her mother's description (as women often do): "It's like trying to push an orange out through your nostril." I liked everything in her book except that statement.  Birth is nothing at all like pushing an orange out of a nostril.  Nostrils weren't created to do anything of the kind. Nothing larger than a little mucus comes out of them. A vagina is able to accommodate the size and shape of what it contains, whether we are talking about a penis or a baby.  The big "secret" is that it is better able to accomplish this task when we can imagine or "picture" this happening. -Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
A few days after I met this doula and heard about her midwife, Hadj and I drove to the midwife's home.  We sat in her comfy living room for little more than an hour and talked about ourselves.  I barely needed it.  When I'm on the right road I never feel lost and I knew I was on the right road.  There are several common reactions people have given me when they hear I'm going to do this birth at home, naturally.  The first thing they always want to talk about is the pain.

woman image from Anne Pasko's Gallery of Available Mixed Media
doula image from Natural Creation Blog
flower image from Flickriver

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