Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Heroes


I'm sure you have heard it said that every birth is unique, each its own story. But no one talks about how deeply that story is written into women. Each woman's birth story is carried in their bones and sinews. It has put its stamp on their bodies and breasts and the very energy contained within their cells. This is how they know "birth" to be.

I have been very lucky in my life to able to attend women in birth. I am constantly in awe of womanhood, its power and its grace. Every birth IS a story. I have so many stories jammed in my head and packed into my heart. Some are private stories only shared with a sacred circle. Others are meant to be shared with the world. Some demand to be shared. So it was with my preemie twin vaginal birth. Now I want to speak about cesareans. Next post I'll share a recent positive cesarean birth story.

For many years I struggled with each cesarean birth my clients had. I took it as a personal failure. If I had just been a better doula this wouldn't have happened. I could have, should have, rescued her. Over time I grew to understand that these stories weren't my stories to write. They belonged to the birthing woman. They were her story. I tried to let go of my arrogance in thinking I held the power and turned it back to the mothers. I am there to help a mother find her own path. Success or failure is in her hands not mine. This attitude helped me, but did it help them?

Recently I have begun to question and be more critical of the whole idea of cesareans as being failures. I have never been with a mother who just gave up. Every one struggled mightily; pushed themselves to the edge of their personal precipice and beyond. How can that be labeled a failure? Who is to blame for this stigma?

The ugly truth is the blame lands squarely at the feet of the natural birth movement. A movement which is near and dear to my heart. A movement which sprang up in direct response to the over medicalization of birth. A movement which wanted to give women back their power; their belief in their bodies.We wanted women to be in awe of their own strength and abilities. A movement I signed on to many years ago. It gave me strength to do my work and replenished me when I was tired, weak, or hopeless. A movement which has branded the heart of every woman with a big fat F who began labor with the intention of birthing vaginally and ended up in the operating room . You failed at the very essence of womanhood. Enough.

I want all the mothers who have courageously fought to win that medal of female honor, only to see it fade from their grasp, to know they are heroes. They are the walking wounded who gave it all in battle for their comrades; their partner and child. Many suffer with post traumatic stress disorder. Some face on-going health issues. All of them have had their bodies invaded by friendly fire and have the scars and internal adhesions to prove it. Why do we treat them as shoddily as the returning Vietnam Vets? If you are for the war, people who believe in the medical model, you are numb to their tremendous sacrifice. If you are an anti-war protester, pro-natural birther like me, you actually have the unbelievable gall to question their loyalty to the cause. Enough!






Isn't it enough that she stayed the course for 9 hours at 8 centimeters without ANY pain medication? What about the fact that the last 4 hours were with pitocin to make her contractions even harder? What if you knew she was in active labor for 26 hours with back pain from a posterior baby? Enough?


Isn't it enough to join the club of "successful" birth if you labored with no medication and then pushed with ALL your strength for 3 hours at home AND THEN had to face your fears of transferring to the lion's den? Your midwife, your doula, your husband, your mother, didn't they all do everything they could? Why isn't that enough?


What about the mothers who train for the war but never get to feel their mettle tested? Herpes outbreaks, breech babies, high blood pressure, intrauterine growth retardation, or their baby's size can have them falling on their sword and relinquishing their bodies to be invaded for the sake of their children before a single shot has been fired. Their birth dreams laid waste upon the surgical table as the fog of war descends upon them.

What about this mom so great fully full of life? First she was told she would have to have a cesarean because her baby was breech. Then she went through an external version to turn her baby, only to have her water break with no labor. She did everything she could to make labor start. She and her husband held off the medical staff for hours and hours and finally, with time running out, submitted to one of her biggest fears; pitocin. After many hours on pitocin her baby's heart rate climbed. Could this be from infection? No mother wants to risk her baby. So she said yes to her deepest fear; a surgical birth and was wheeled off to the operating room. Surely she did enough. Would you have had her say no? She allowed them to cut her body open for the sake of her son. Isn't that enough?

                                             It should be enough.

Welcome home to ALL the mothers who began their births with the bright shiny intention of a natural un-medicated vaginal birth. As you marched off to do battle, you hoped against hope you would come home whole. You raised the banner of natural birth high above you. You held tight to your talismans of homebirth, nurse midwives and doulas believing they could bring you home safe from the war. You counted on your training from Bradley, Hypnobirth, or yoga to sustain you in the trenches. Bravo to those of you who made it through; war weary, battle hardened and whole. But let us not forget the walking wounded that sacrificed it all. Our highest motherhood medal of honor should be reserved for them for their bravery and selflessness. My heroes.

Welcome Home

Ruth M.      Miriam M.       Rebecca P.       Megan B.       Larissa H.

Yselle L.      Kelly B.          Kristina G.        Suraya S.       Wendy M.

Fara H.      Rochelle W.       Shelly F.          Sarah M.R.         Shannon L.

Katelen F.    Anna R.           Jenna M.          Star A.           Colby L.

Janet M.        Eva N.         Gwendolyn S.     Amy E.         Kambria D.

Stacie S.     Jennifer W.        Bridget B.       Georgie W.       Amy O.

DeAna C.     Amy H.           Jennifer K.         Traci C.        Heather S.

        Kat K.        Michelle L.        Tomi M.            Cindy L.          Linda S.       
                      
   Patti D.         Steph W.        Sarah R.          Kendra W.       Lisa N.
 
Sabrina S.       Anna T.       Glo       Stephanie A.       Annie R.

Kathryn D.       Sara M.  

Do you have a hero that belongs on my memorial wall?

After 20 years of listening to mothers and witnessing births;
I have more names than I can remember.
Each is an important story.

If you or a loved one or friend belong on my wall please let me know and I will include them.

Thank you to the mothers who allowed me to use their stories and photos.

Next post will be a mother facing down her fears 
with a planned cesarean birth!



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