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Feb112008

The Gray, Grey Messenger: Recovery

I’ve come to believe there’s a specific mourning process when women have a birth different than they envisioned/wished for. Similar to the Kübler-Ross stages of mourning (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance), the Birth Mourning stages are:

- Adoration
- Disbelief
- Sadness for Naiveté
- Anger & Blame
- Sadness for Experience
- Re-framing
-
Acceptance
- Assimilation & Preparation

As with Kübler-Ross’ stages, some steps are extremely abbreviated and others exaggerated in length. Women may skip one step, jumping directly to another; fall backwards to an earlier one and then leap-frog to two ahead. (The steps are generalizations. As with everything, everyone is individual. ) It also isn’t uncommon for women to embrace more than one stage at the same time. Sadness tends to hang as a pall over most stages.

Adoration – In this stage, women are grateful for their care providers. They embrace the experience; bathe in the wonder of having a new baby, thanking their provider over and over for the “gift” of their baby/birth experience. This stage can last an hour or a year (or longer). I was in this place for 18 months after my son's birth. It took until I met a group of Bradley women for me to see there was another way of birthing.

Disbelief – Women seem to shake themselves awake to get here. They remove the veil of beauty that covered their eyes and hearts that kept them from falling apart while they bonded with their babies. Small, gradual realizations creep slowly through her skin. She blinks in the sun, wondering how she could have missed this information before. Sadness is a whisper.

Sadness for “Naiveté” – “How could I have not known this?” is a common refrain. Women want to know how they missed vital pieces of information when the entire World Wide Web sits holding it right there in front of their faces. Women cry and cry in this place... feeling so ignorant, so blind, so stupid for not knowing what (it seems like) everyone else knew, but didn’t say. Of course, how could anyone know everything? This statement is wasted when a woman is in this place; she needs to feel the full impact of the sadness.

Anger & Blame – This is often the longest and most oft visited stage. Almost anyone that had anything to do with the birth is now suspect. “Why didn’t you tell me!?” “How could you let them hurt me?” “I can’t believe she used her power to abuse me this way.” I see doulas, midwives, doctors and nurses collectively demonized, sometimes right alongside family members who didn’t protect the woman as she felt she should be. Women are usually extremely angry with themselves, as well. This stage ends marriages and creates unassisted births.

Sadness for Experience – Once she’s filled in the information gaps, this woman in mourning falls again into sadness, this time for what she didn’t have with her child. She finds a deep sadness in remembering the pain of the body, the separation from her baby and/or family, the death of the dreams she’d had during the pregnancy and the evaporation of all she worked so hard for. I find this as one of the later stages because she needs to walk through her naiveté first and pummel her fists through the stories before finding her head bowed, noticing the dripping tears.

Re-framing – Not all women come to this place or the places after this. I find that many, many women stay in the Anger & Blame stage, but have nuances of sadness with it. To get to Re-framing, I feel there has to be a battle plan for never letting “it” happen again. “It” being: being taken advantage of, being abused, being hurt in that way, trusting [fill in the blank with the care provider, her mother, the doctor, etc.] with her care and the desire to surround oneself with truly trustworthy folks. When women can take all of the information they’ve learned and super-impose it over the birth experience, they have begun to re-frame. To be able to see the situation from different angles, from different points of view, even from her different life-times, all of these help women to adjust her thoughts about how and why her birth happened the way it did. I see re-framing as an enormous leap towards healing. It isn’t discounting the experience. Re-framing doesn’t minimize, erase or invalidate the pain and trauma a woman might have experienced. Instead, it softens the colors, blunts the swords and begins to put things in the greater context of one’s life. Women who accept they cannot live a life of anger slip into re-framing effortlessly. Women, who find attention and solace in remaining in anger, struggle to move to re-framing.

Acceptance – After re-framing, women are able to say to themselves, “I did all I could with what I knew at the time. I wish I’d known more, but I didn’t and, for whatever reason, I wasn’t supposed to. Now, I will take the information and use it in my life to never allow that same experience to happen again.” Women in acceptance are fantastic support and information for women in earlier stages. Angry women spit information; Accepting women offer it on a rose petal plate. Women in this stage are not resigned. They have found true self-empowerment by bathing in the waters of their birth experience. They offer what they know selflessly, in loving words and through methods that aren’t accusing or angry.

Assimilation & Preparation – Pulling the birth into her heart, she embraces it for all the lessons, the beauty that it was and the miracle that she still stands. She finds immense pride in her strength and feels crone-like, having seen “death,” but still pressing forward into the unknown of the future. She takes her place next to other women who’ve had similar experiences, but not in anger... in the realization that life has some really dirty tricks up its sleeve sometimes and all we can do is stand toe to toe with them – and believe we will never repeat them again.

Preparation occurs for women about to have another baby or for women who become “doulas” for others who are having their children. Birth abused women tend to become experts in childbirth information, encyclopedic in their knowledge of options and choices women might choose. Women who’ve healed well tend to hold the information gently without dumping it over someone else’s head. They offer it to someone walking by, but shrug if they keep walking and don’t take it. These women acknowledge that sometimes women have to become part of the fire before they can learn to walk around it. As much as she’d like to help her avoid the mistakes she sees heading towards her friend/sister/acquaintance, she remains close, letting them know the information is right here for her; all she has to do is reach out and take it. This prepared woman creates a birth that embraces unpredictability and the unknowns. She nods to the forces she can’t control, yet she choreographs flowing, lovely ballets for her partner, care provider, family and friends to use as guides – and insists they stick to the program as long as she or the baby don’t falter on stage. She merely asks for applause and love as she crawls, walks, runs, FLIES towards the birth awaiting her just over there in that dark corner. She gives everyone flashlights so they can help her illuminate the stage, but she also knows slivers of night hover over there, where no one can shine their lights. She doesn’t hesitate to walk on that side of the stage. She holds her head up high and floats determinedly towards her goal.

I’ve rarely seen a woman who’s gone through these stages falter in her next birth. Women who get stuck in any of the first stages have a much more difficult time creating the next birth, insisting instead on creating “the perfect birth,” or “an ideal birth.” What is sad about that is there is never such a thing. Even the most exquisite birth stories I have heard have had elements the women wished they could change, even if it’s something as small as what music was playing during the labor. If there are women who’ve had perfect births, I applaud them! How glorious for you. But, for most of us, perfection is forever elusive and not something we should spend inordinate amounts of time pursuing. We have so many other things to do, write, say and experience. We know that it is in the imperfections of our lives that we come to find our own perfect beauty.

I reach forward for mine.

Reader Comments (25)

Beautiful, just beautiful

February 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJess

I look back on my daughters birth and I loved it with a capitol "L". Even still, I have a handful of things I wish could have been different. I wish I had had people I love called and told I was in labor! I was comforted just enough in my bath tub to REALLY wish I could have had a birth pool to submerge in. My Mother put the new "Pride and Predjudice" in and the music calmed me so I wished I had told her to just keep restarting it. I wish I had written down all the movies that calm me down so that people trying so hard to bring me peace would have had the very best tools. And lastly, I wish I had been nicer to those around me, and looser when my daughter crowned, I was intolerable during labor and tight at birth. It would have been a sweeter experiance had I tried hard to relax, just "let it be".

This time around, I know what I want, and I know how to ask, and what to do for it. My daughter's birth was everything I had planned, and still there were things I wished for. I can't imagine the pain a woman feels when her birth goes in the opposite direction from where she envisioned it would go. I am not surprised at all, women mourn, loss of the experiance.

February 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAubrey

It's interesting to consider that it's not always the mother herself who goes through a grieving process after birth. My best friend had her first baby last year, and I am having to process my own feelings of disbelief, sadness, anger and blame at the way her birth experience turned out. She requested to be induced on her due date, and ended up with a c-section less than twelve hours later.

I had hoped that I had given her the information and encouragement which would have enabled her to have an unmedicated vaginal delivery, which was something she had said she was hoping for, but when it was all said and done, she actively made choices in the opposite direction.

I wish that I had been able to convince her to make other choices, that I had been able to show her how wonderful birth can be, and to empower her to believe in her own body, instead of accepting it when the doctors told her that her pelvis was too small to birth her 7lb 2oz baby, and that even with an almost immediate abundant supply of breastmilk that a few bottles of formula wouldn't hurt.

I am grieving for her birth experience, possibly more so than she is grieving herself right now.

I'm sure that this happens more often than we realize, whether it is a family member, friend, or care provider who mourns the loss of another woman's birth experience. We may be mourning alongside the mother, or we may be mourning on our own. But each of us needs to go through the process and come to terms with the situation.

Maybe my friend's next birth will be different. Maybe not. Either way, I will continue to be her friend, to quietly offer the information I have, and to love her as a person no matter what choices she makes in life and in childbirth.

Thank you for this post. Your ability to embrace women and families at each stage of their recovery process is evident, and I can audibly hear the care, concern, and hope you have for any woman who must travel this journey of self-realization. Keep up the good work!

February 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKristyn

Thank you for posting this. It has been 4.5 years since my traumatic c-section. Unfortunately I am still stuck in Anger and Sadness, even after 2 VBACs. It's comforting to see this process written and to know that what I am still feeling isn't crazy or unreasonable.

February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSam

I think part of my mourning period has been that I did know different, but still felt the need to go to the hospital to birth my baby. She had the trisomy 18 possibility (though didn't end up with that thank God), and I'd had meconium at every birth and read that the suctioning does help avoid the problems with particulate mec. I went to a hospital with a level 3 nicu, and am still really not comfortable with ME birthing at home. I did have a blood clot this time, a midwife probably could get it...but I do see that the on call OB worked quickly when he saw me bleeding and got it out. Anyway, I mourned that I knew hospitals are intervention filled places, and yet I still felt that was my only option. I don't know any midwives, and the ones I see advertised are all hospital midwives. I had previous births happen within two hours of being at the hospital, not much intervention occured in two hours. So, when my baby was OP and it took 5 hours, more intervention happened. I was angry with my husband for insisting I go to the hospital when I felt I could walk around more, angry with myself for letting them put me on the monitor, and not just getting myself into the shower. I asked. I felt so weak. And, then, when it was all over, no one would talk with me really (except my husband). The OB just came in, caught the placenta, said his congrats, and left. The nurses cleaned me up in silence most of the time. I had five nurses in the room when the baby came out, and it seemed they all went about their business and didn't speak to me. I wanted to yell...someone talk to me. I didn't yell. I mourn what I didn't do. I didn't have the "not knowing" mourning, but rather, the "I think I can handle it in the hospital." The labor pains make me not fight like I would normally. And again, who wants to fight with those who should be your support? So, I guess I'm still working through it. My best births have been the fast ones (slow at home but fast in the labor room). I act calm so the nurses have no idea I will be delivering soon, and they are taken by surprise as the baby flies out. I am left alone to labor with my husband until the last minute. But, I'm in the hospital in case the baby is not breathing (my #5 born had an apgar of 1 right after birth...), or if I have bleeding or bp issues. That safety net is something I choose to use, and yet feel the tradeoff caused me distress this time I've not experienced in my other births. So, if I don't do a homebirth, I have to figure out how to have it be different next time without freaking the nurse out completely. I don't want a fight. I have thought of becoming a doula or some such...midwife, I don't know. Even a lactation consultant would be good. So, maybe there is a place for me in my 40's and 50's to help other women. Right now, as a near 38 year old, I'm working to raise my children and teach them to make good choices in life so they aren't taken advantage of whether in birthing their children or in other places. But, even if you KNOW what to do, you can still find yourself bullied. Coping with that is difficult, but not impossible. I'm just glad I can remember that my labor was very much traumatised, but I still had a lovely birth of a lovely baby to go back to. It's only one day in her life and her birthday was beautiful. My birthing day...it was only one day also. I have a baby's life to look forward to and a wonderful pregnancy to look back on. The hospital part of birth was only one day, and only five hours really. So, I can put it all in some sort of perspective...it was traumatic, and it's okay to mourn the traumatic. I just cannot let that 5 hours own my life. I have a glorious life with six children I birthed without pain medication. I get to watch them grow up, I get to stay home with them. My body is the main food source for the first year, and I'm learning to extend that at least to the second year. My children have a strong foundation because of me. That's a lot more than a bully of a nurse that bugged me for 5 hours. Of course, if anyone said that to me in the first month after my last birth, I would have felt very angry and then felt guilt.

Blessings!
Dawn

February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I agree with probably 99% of this, having gone through all of it and, I admit, occasionally I dance back to the anger stage, though it's becoming less frequent. I just wanted to mention that it is very possible for women to also choose an unassisted birth outside of the anger phase. Many a rational woman decides on UC out of much more than anger. I'm not saying you believe that all women choose unassisted birth out of anger, maybe you are, I don't know. But there are many reasons, we're not all medical professional hating people with something to prove.

February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCreepyUCMama

Kristyn,

Gentle question: Why are YOU mourning your friend's birth if she isn't? Isn't there something better to do with your emotions than expend them on someone who doesn't even need them?

I understand what you are saying and have certainly heard it enough over the years... in fact, have probably had similar feelings myself! But, as we get older and more mature, it becomes obvious that people *rarely* make the same choices we do or would and wishing they would really is quite a waste of time.

We can play "What if" forever.

If she'd have chosen the path you wanted for her and she had an unmedicated birth and it was so horrible, so painful that she never wanted to have another child, how would you feel? How would she feel towards you?

When we offer advice and the person takes it and it works out great, they take all the credit. When they take our advice and it ends up horrid, WE bear the brunt of the anger; it was all our fault.

When you can shake off the truth of her not taking your advice... and that it didn't make either one of you wrong or bad that she didn't... when you can see that her choices were HER choices and they fit in the context of her life, you will, I believe, be able to let go of that anger and pain she never even felt that you think she *should* be feeling.

No more do you want her to wish medication and immobility on you as a way to empower yourself in birth does she want you to dream of an unmedicated birth as a way towards her empowerment.

I hope this makes sense and that you hear the gentleness I am trying to impart in a less-than-ideal way - through words.

February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

UCMomma,

No, not saying ALL UCs come from the place of anger, but I would bet at least 95% do. Even if it isn't anger at their own previous births, it's displaced anger at someone else's birth experience.

I think some women can get really caught up in other peoples' lives here on the Net and absorbing a woman's sadness and anger is easy when the poster is eloquent and passionate. I think women who need to belong to groups of angry people can find UC a magnificent project to get behind. Some women thrive in Anger, get enormous amounts of attention from living in it and rattling the cages of the establishment while using angry words punctuates this type of woman's life.

It's really hard, sometimes, knowing what to do with women's anger and sadness. I wish there was a vat we could dump it all into, or an incinerator that could destroy it while leaving the heart untouched by the flame.

Instead, those of us who watch helplessly as woman after woman angrily files past can merely sit and wait until she has spent that anger and can have a discussion that isn't volatile and hostile.

Most women do get to an easier place. Some, however, never choose to. It's a new day everyday to ball up the anger and hurl it willy-nilly to those she considers her enemy.

All I can do is sit quietly and sigh.

I suppose a very few women come to UC out of "education." (Although, who's the teacher? Anger!) I know that UC women really believe they are making wise decisions, but I also know they/you are ignoring amazing amounts of information in order to remain in the place of seeing a UC as safe.

And believe me, I *know* I sound like an OB talking to a midwife! I blink, wondering whose voice that is saying those things. But, really, truly, the more time I spend in midwifery/birth, the more I know there is so much to know.

Seeing 8x10 glossies doesn't show the massive amount of work that went into making the photo shoot look effortless. (Strange analogy, but it seems appropriate.)

February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I might just agree with you there, at least somewhat, and while I do still belong to quite a few online "communities" for the UC world, I found that a lot of the anger there was contaminating my own inner peace so I've had to take a step back and look at that from further away.

I think that the majority of UC people do arrive there from a place of anger, if not at the time then at least at first; I may very well be among them. And I also think that very few women arrive at UC from a strictly educational stand point, though there are some out there and they are fascinating.

Unfortunately, too many women come to UC from fear. Trust is hard to earn and often harder to give. I'd argue that many UC women, myself included, feel that it is our only option to protect our babies and ourselves in the current birth climate. At least a great deal of my decision to have an unassisted birth came from feeling like I had no other safe option, and that is not intended to be a generalization against the medical community.

There is also the issue of us "ignoring information", and I'm not angry at you for saying that, but something to consider is that a lot of us disagree with what a medical professional considers dangerous. There are many more militant moms out there than me, and I don't even begin to speak for all UC mothers out there but consider that an expectant mother might have a difficult time believing someone and/or trusting them when they come in with information and would like to discuss it and are immediately dismissed and/or ordered to obey. If more medical professionals would see this as a partnership instead of barking orders things might go better. And I do not think that a woman who is choosing obstetrical or midwife care should just do things blindly but I also take issue with the wording of "letting" a woman do whatever they want.

Again, a partnership, a collaboration, something along those lines would be a great step forward to making things feel like less of an "us against them" war. I know there are care providers out there working towards this and that is exquisite, but there just aren't enough.

All that being said, I don't think that even if all of that happened that UC should be removed as a valid birth choice, just like I don't think that UC should be the best or ideal birth choice for every one.

It's been over a year since I had my UC, technically my UBAC, and looking back at where I started and where I am now, I can say that if I get pregnant again, I will plan another UC, and as long as that continues to feel right to me, I will proceed with it. If it doesn't feel right, I'll seek out another alternative until it does like I've always done. I don't begrudge any mother their birth choice, ok ok, I admit, elective cesareans do irk me, but I'm no right fighter, unless it's with my husband, because damn it, there just is a right way to do dishes! But I digress.

And for the record, I rather liked your photo analogy. =)

February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCreepyUCMama

Yes, let's visualize gathering all mothers' grief and sorrow and regrets, and all the suffering we ourselves experience via empathy, and let it all fly away in a balloon until it's a tiny speck on in the sky! If only we could all take a collective cleansing breath and let go.

I had the same question in my mind to Kristyn about her feelings for her friend's birth... My births were fine; but it was in no small part my vicarious experiences of the bad and the ugly that propelled me to the (let's face it) fringes of maternity care that is provided by home birth midwives.

I was sad and upset and humiliated by many a birth not mine. Interesting, isn't it? It is part of a growth process, of wisening and maturing hopefully? Maybe true empathy and open-minded listening skills come naturally to others; I confess I have at times been rather judgmental and self-referential about others' birth experience. I have found myself trying to politely pretend I wasn't thinking that the person I'm talking to was duped into a c-section. Oh, not a pretty path to let your thoughts wonder down!

February 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJudit

Maybe it's a path childbirth advocates *have* to walk... judging, second-guessing, *feeling* the pain and sorrow others "should" have felt.

I could make an entire blog about Processes! "Seven Stages Towards Becoming a Childbirth Advocate," "Six Ways to Know You're Destined to Become a Doula," "Ten (Required) Steps Leading to a Career in Midwifery."

I can see it now!

I think empathy is what Kristyn's feeling (talking about you like you aren't here, Kristyn, sorry! I know you are), but to a deep and (possibly) debilitating way. I think, with time, those of us empathic souls learn to remove ourselves from the victim/put upon/friend/loved one (choose your word) or else we can find ourselves deep in our own depression that the other person doesn't remotely have similar empathy for.

I soaked up sadness like a sea sponge early in my birth/doula life. I'd listen to stories and sob right along with the woman. Today, I weep quietly, but one of the great things I learned in therapy: If the person you are crying about begins to take care of YOU and YOUR feelings, the empathy has gone overboard.

So, if Kristyn's friend says so much as, "It's really okay, Kristyn. I'm okay with my birth," then looking at how much empathy is too much is in order.

(Thanks for letting us use you as an example... real life stuff speaks louder than hypothetical situations - AND this issue is CRUCIAL, so I REALLY appreciate your being here in this capacity. It really is quite a loving gift to us all.)

February 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

You never publish my comments but I wanted to let you know that this one was a huge one for me and I thank you for it and referenced it in my blog.

Much love as always,
Housefairy

February 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHousefairy

Housefairy,

The only reason I wouldn't publish a comment is if it is a personal note directed towards me, which yours usually are!

If I had your email address, I would respond. :)

Do you WANT me to publish all of your responses? (Thank goodness... I get to ask!)

February 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Wow! I really loved this post! I don't know if I've gone through every single stage and, if so, in what order, but I see so much truth in what you are saying in general. (I've posted my too-long birth stories on my blog--perhaps someone outside the situation can see the stages better than I.)

I relate to Kristyn in a small way, mostly just severly doubting the "original" necessity of my friend's c-section (i.e. I don't really doubt the eventual necessity, but wonder if all the interventions created that necessity--something I don't think she wonders about herself--yet.) But I would say that I had post-partum depression for a good week after her experience! I think it also really shook me because I had recommended her doctor and was in total disbelief that he could be part of such a terrible experience including almost every intervention in the book. All I can do is admit that I don't know enough about the situation (or medicine!) to be able to definitively say, "No! Nothing that happened should have happened!" and be a support to her in the future should she express grief over how things went.

It has been good for me to step back and use considerable discretion in sharing what/how much I know/have learned with other women, because it seems to get me too emotionally invested in the outcome of their births. I even have to admit that many facts I now know are indelibly etched in my mind because of my own experiences--they are so well-known (and important) to me because I learned them as a result of sorting out my thoughts on my births. So I shouldn't be disappointed if someone doesn't listen to me. I need to extend a little grace. There are too many things to know all at once--and even if you do know them, they might not stand out to you until you look back and realize, "Oh, I guess I did learn that, but it must not have grabbed my attention at the time!" (Becoming selective about what/how much I tell women is actually part of why I've written my birth story essays--a way of expressing myself quite strongly without venting to any one person. If someone wants to know--it's there, but I'm not going to make her read it/listen to me!)

Thank you for your well-thought-out post! It was so refreshing to read!

February 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I definitely feel like I have been going through these stages the past year except my birth was mostly natural and done in a freestanding birth center. There are things I would have changed that were my choice directly, but I'm not sure if those would have changed the outcome. Others things I blame others for. I did not have a c-section nor was I induced with pitocin (had cytotec), but I still came away with feeling like I had a horrible, extremely scary birth experience. I am searching for recovery so that one day I may find peace in my heart and that maybe I will be able to have another child. I havent yet found stories like mine because on the net they all center around bad c-sections or inductions while natural birth is seen as an ideal when all is perfect and good. Obviously I'm between the anger/blame and sadness stages. I dont know what to do to make the next birth better. I'm very alone in this process right now and I just wanted to let you and others know that even a mostly natural birth can push someone into a grieving process such as you described.

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Megan,

I think you are equating natural birth with a vaginal birth. I wouldn't call a cytotec induction "natural" at all! Your birth experience must have been very difficult and I absolutely understand your going through the stages... anger, frustration at (seemingly) no one to understand what you are trying to say... you are a perfect candidate for our Red Tent night; I wish you could come!

I encourage you, as you look around the Net, to consider changing the idea/thought that your birth was "natural." That might help others to hear what you are saying.

And, just as a piece of information, it isn't uncommon for women who've had "perfect" births to mourn aspects of their birth. I hear it often enough to know you really aren't alone.

*gentle hugs*

March 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I read this months ago when a fellow natural birther re-posted it on a natural birth message board (crediting you, of course). It was right on track, and is right on track for helping moms heal. Great post.

June 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

This is a magnificat piece!
You're a wonderful writer. This should be handed out at every ICAN meeting!

22 years later and I finally recognize that I have gone through all the stages.

About the 3rd year after that birth I changed my career, and attended school to become a midwife, at nursing school I realized midwifery was not "my calling" I needed to be a childbirth educator, doula and lactation consultant! That is what I continue to do today.

It probably took me about ten years to authentically be in the final stage.

Thank You for these illuminating words, I have never read a better assessment of the process of recovery from a birth that was disappointing!

Ruth

July 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRuth

I'm still at the anger/blame stage over 6 years after my daughter's birth, which despite the act that my daughter is the most precious, wonderful thing, is still a very traumatic memory. She was ventouse (failed) followed by forceps and I had a huge episiotomy which took a very long time (about 6 months) to heal. I never felt as though I got a satisfactory explanation and felt very guilty at my'failure'.
My second baby is now overdue by two days and I am absolutely terrified of a repeat experience. I cannot seem to feel any reassuance at all.

July 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I have been very angry over the past two births, forced cesctions (against my will). Why were they forced? All because I don't give birth on time. The doctor complains that the baby will be too big, or something will go wrong if the baby is not born on HIS calendar. I told the doctor that he is going against my genetic code. My grandmother gave birth to all four of her babies a month late, and all were no more than 8 lbs. My mom gave birth to all three of her babies a month late, and they were all a month late. My babies won't come on the doctor's time table so I have been thrown into a surgical procedure where I have had nurses complain that a doctor spilled amniotic fluid all over her shoe, and the rest of the assistants carry on conversations like I wasn't there. I watch myself thrown into a cattle like state for slaughter as I can see my naked body on top of a cold metal table from the reflection of a light fixture over head. I struggle to recover with tons of medication that makes me labor to stay awake and nurse my sleepy, drugged baby (also under medicine by my milk). Why all of this? Because I don't give birth on time. I live in the state of IL where they consider giving birth at home as illegal. I plan to escape to another state to give birth at home in another state so I don't have a social worker show up on my door step threating to press charges of child endangerment for taking charge of my birth (that is what they did to a mom who gave birth just a couple of miles away from me). How do I not feel angry when they threaten my right to give birth the way God intended?

August 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

And what if the way God intended included a vaginal birth with a sick or dead baby? Is that still how you want to give birth?

Just so you know, babies who are very post-term tend to shrink, not continue growing because the placenta stops functioning.

If you *do* think you should go ahead with your plan to go past 42 weeks, I hope you will include non-stress testing and/or bio-physical profiles every 2 days. It pays to take a look at what the placenta and amniotic fluid are doing.

I understand the compulsion to presume the medical establishment is over-zealous when they are so much of the time, but there ARE times when they really do make the right decisions. When everything turns out fine and dandy, it can be tempting to say, "See? Everything was just fine in there!" when, for all you know, the baby could have begun the downhill slide towards diminished mental capacity or even death very shortly thereafter.

I'm sorry you feel so maligned and misjudged. I hope you don't have to experience WHY the medical folks feel the fear they do about post-term babies. They've just seen a lot more than you.

August 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I'm just curious- why, when the poster mentioned the family history of going 'over dates' is this irrelevant? It seems to me like you are taking the medical route with this one and just pulled the 'dead baby card'!

"And what if the way God intended included a vaginal birth with a sick or dead baby?"

So, from my pov, you just did what you have criticised doctors and OBs doing. This despite the mother stating her family history of going 'over time'. This arbitrary timetable that women are *supposed* to fit into just doesn't work for some mothers, but then as soon as they go outside the timetable *somebody* throws the dead baby card onto the table.

I've had midwives do that to me before, which is why I no longer look for midwife 'support' in labour. I've experienced the various levels of 'support' and mostly found them invasive, intrusive, interruptive of the labour process and generally not helpful to me. I don't do any of the traditional testing because I don't see the point in undertaking an increasingly invasive series of tests that are little more than assesments of my baby's 'viability' and recommendations of termination and/or pronouncements of disability/death likelihoods. Uh, no thanks.

Yes, I UC. No, I'm not uneducated. Yes, I know what can happen- my last homebirth was traumatic for a variety of reasons, none of which a medical attendant would have been useful for. Yes, I take it upon myself to educate myself. No, I don't experience myself becoming so tuned out that I couldn't recognise an emergency situation: my observation is that 'trained medical/birth assistants' contribute hugely to that inability to tune into oneself, because they often- be it for personality or insurance reasons- can't stay out of the process.

I am aware that lots of midwives don't like UCs- one of your recent posts was directed at hospitals and medical professionals regarding what it would take to encourage women back into hospitals. Perhaps midwives could also learn why some women don't even want a midwife at their birth and learn from that, rather than assuming it's from anger or 'unresolved issues'. Certainly, each birth has presented me with lessons to process AND that doesn't mean that I choose UC because of 'anger'- my last birth was UC and as I said, it was traumatic in different ways. I have been working through that, am at peace with the process, have an excellent emotional support network AND I *still* don't want a midwife present.

August 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRimfire

I did say that if she chose to go post-dates that she consider testing to make sure things are okay. One *can* take family history into account yet still acknowledge the possibility that genetics might not have the final say in the health and well-being of a baby in utero. Four babies does not a fact make.

You can take my words and whirl them around your UC finger, seeing what you like... what your vantage point thinks you see... but others see things differently from where they stand. You are eloquent, but your views are still skewed.

Prenatal testing should absolutely be voluntary, BUT, women should have ALL the information about the *why's* of the testing. Your belief that tests are to encourage abortion or to scare women with false reports is ludicrous.

Many women choose testing to prepare themselves for what is to come.

Discovering spina bifida allows women to birth their baby in the safest way possible (cesarean) and to have a pediatric neurosurgeon on hand to repair the meningocele within the first hour postpartum.

Women who want to know if their baby has Down Syndrome don't just want to know so they can terminate the pregnancy, but so they can make sure their child is cared for properly... a pediatric cardiologist handy, for example... after the birth.

I encourage expanding your myopic mind a little and see that not every advance, piece of technology, intervention, doctor, nurse, midwife or idea is hell-bent on screwing women out of a beautiful birth experience.

(Hmmm... probably kind of harsh, but I've been around death for 2 sleepless weeks and don't have as much patience as I might have otherwise.)

August 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I am hoping this reaches you! With your permission, I would like to have a hardcopy of this post to include in the resource packages I offer to the womenwho take my "Making Peace with Your Birth" workshop. I facilitate this workshop in Ottawa, ON, Canada. Please email me at mothernurture@sympatico.ca to let me know if I can.

Wonderful, beautiful, insightful writing.
Julie

September 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Keon

Thank you, Julie!

If you can give me a couple of days to re-write/pretty up the piece, you are more than welcome to it.

I'll email you, too. Thanks for asking!

September 30, 2010 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

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