Gentle Births

Today I reflect on two recent births… one is my daughter’s third baby- her second daughter. I viewed the slideshow that Tracey produced for us from the beautiful images she photographed at the birth, only 13 days ago. The laughter- the intensity- the beauty made me cry once more as I remembered having her little head emerge into my hands. It was such a gentle birth. (you can read about this birth and see some photos at my personal blog

And I reflect on one of the few cesarean births that I was a part of yesterday. A healthy mom who did everything right- she eats great- is in good shape, had the mind body connection- no fears going in- so in touch with her spiritual connection not only to her God but also this baby girl who grew within her. And somehow after more than 37 hours of labor did not bring forth her daughter the way she planned.

I often think of the indigenous woman and what would have happened to her in this situation. She would have labored for another day- difficult labor like this mom had- and perhaps brought a baby forth from her vagina without incidence. But this mom upon examination in the hospital- the exam that would determine if she would stay or go home also brought with it a rupturing on membranes. Not on purpose or with any intent- but bulging forth it just released. And then 23 hours later brought with it a fever that caused this little girl to have such an increased heart rate that she was telling us she would feel better outside of her mom’s body quicker than later. Now perhaps the indigenous woman would not have had an exam that caused this- but more than likely a bulging bag would be breaking sooner than later anyway.

But when this direct occiput posterior baby was lifted from her mother’s abdomen- having not signaled us that she had been laying like that- and I wonder if only after a very late epidural did that happen- after a long, arduous and unusually patterned labor that seem to have a fully occiput anterior presenting baby- albeit a pendulous uterus- all of which we did all the “magic tricks” we could muster- using all of the spinning baby techniques we knew of- her normal birth weight body emerged with beautiful APGARs leaving us wondering- why?

I want to scream out “unfair” and am left feeling like although I feel this cesarean birth was truly needed- it was still so sad. So sad to seem the mother writhe with anguish over the interventions as they unfolded. She had gone intervention free except for the exam where her water released- for more than a day of contracting- and had to be open to interventions as her labor became more unmanageable as fatigue and lack of progression overtook her.

I cry for the women who have to have cesareans at all- but am not saddened by the choices this mom made- they were truly doing the next best thing- but saddened by the why it had to happen… and wonder why this baby girl declined to be born as we all desired. We had such a supportive team of nurses- Ann and Nancy were the best! We had a super supportive midwife who only wanted the birth to be as the mom desired- there were no hidden agendas- only love and support. The friends and her partner who were there were lovingly fully supportive of this mom. And as a doula, I gave her my very best. So the why lingers in my heart. As the physician entered the room with his verdict- one we all knew was the only logical option at the time- he too had been fully supportive of avoiding this all day long.

So at the end of the day, I still stand by my phrase, “control is merely an illusion.” That will someday be a tattoo across my abdominal scar and as much as I hate the truth applied to birth- it is still true. And just as I was thinking of these two births, Joni sent me this link today- one I want to leave you with- a view of birth very different than we usually consider- gentle birthing- enjoy and take care!