Twelve years ago, I discovered that women love sharing their birth stories with other expectant mothers. I remember one friend’s surrealist tale: she had accepted an epidural and felt free from pain. She sat in bed with her husband, ate an ice pop, and watched television till the nurse told her it was time to push. Other moms had horror stories. My sister, who gave birth a few days before me, said: “I can’t believe that you still have to go through this torture.”
I was not really excited about giving birth after this. I was terrified of the pain and even more terrified of a needle in my back. If there was one thing I knew, it was that I wanted to give birth without an epidural. I said “No, no, no,” to the needle, and the needle was what I got. The universe, never distinguishing between yes and no, delivered.
At that point in my life, I was not yet aware of the power of manifestation, my abilities as a healer, or the importance, to me, of leading a natural life (including giving birth naturally). By the time my daughter came around two years later I was one step closer. I knew better what I wanted and not just what I did not want. My message was clearer: “Yes, yes, yes” to a natural birth.
During doula training, I find myself going back in my mind to those two births, trying to figure out what made them so different. I think one difference lies with the medical personnel who attended my birth. The nurse in my son’s birth broke my water, insisted that I lie in bed, connected me to monitors, ordered pitocin, and overrode my worries about the epidural, warning me that the pain of pitocin-induced contractions would be unbearable.
My daughter, in contrast, came out without medical intervention after three and a half hours, with very little pain and a lot of (me) dancing on the labor and delivery floor. My fabulous doctor sat off to the side, quiet and reassuring, allowing me to try any movement I wanted to do, and permitting me to stay out of the bed till I needed to push.
A second difference, I believe, lay in me, in the changes I went through in those two years, my determination and will. I did not get scared but simply let the experience happen. As I think of it now, I feel so proud of myself for having been able to have the birth I wanted, express my needs, and handle the pain.
|Breakfasting with a doula book|
At doula training, I hear stories about women who have gone through natural birth and felt empowered, as though having faced that, they could now do anything. Without having ever before put this thought into words, I think my second birth has given me a similar knowledge. I was still at the bottom of my spiritual ladder, suffering from depression, in an unhappy marriage, and overwhelmed by the world. But slowly and surely I was climbing, one step at a time, toward freedom. So brave, I can hardly believe it of myself.