Guest Writers

A Gift That Changed My Life: The Business of Being Born

2 Comments 07 November 2011

This post is part of a week long series leading up to the release of More Business of Being Born on November 8th. Come back to the Bring Birth Home blog daily to read the personal stories of seven women as they share “How The Business of Being Born Impacted My Life.”

by Melody Aylestock

I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine.

I used to think that women who wanted to give birth naturally were crazy.

And as for women who actually wanted to have a homebirth? ON PURPOSE?! They were INSANE. I just didn’t get why anyone would WANT that.

And then I watched The Business of Being Born. And it rocked my world.

Our first born son, Davis, who had been born in the hospital, was about 15 months old at this time, and we were newly pregnant with our 2nd (and planning on delivering at the hospital again).

The term “home birth” was still a foreign concept to me. I just assumed it meant you didn’t make it to the hospital on time! I had heard of a few friends who had delivered at home with a midwife, but I had never thought twice about it and honestly wasn’t even remotely interested in the prospect.

Full disclosure: I am a wimp when it comes to physical pain.

Plus it seemed too “unsafe.” I liked knowing that a hospital is prepared for all emergency procedures, were something to come up. My husband mentioned that there was a new movie from Ricky Lake on Netflix about home birth that we should watch, and I thought “sure!” After all, I loved watching TLC’s “a baby story” and other shows where babies were born in hospitals.

After watching this beautiful film, I was totally transfixed.

It was TOTALLY different from “a baby story.” These were women who were not screaming – not hooked up to iv’s and oxygen or laying on their backs with their legs in stirrups – women who weren’t being rushed down to have an emergency c-section. These were women who had chosen to labor in their own homes and dance, sway, move however they wanted to – so that they could feel EVERYTHING – and give birth totally naturally. They made it look FUN!

My eyes were opened to something I never knew I had wanted so badly.

I hadn’t really done any research when automatically signing up for a hospital birth the first time.

Our research was basically: “okay, we have these 2 hospitals to choose from. Which place is better to have a baby?”

In The Business of Being Born, it is stated that people will put more energy in researching what new camera or tv to buy before weighing their options about giving birth!

Isn’t that bizarre? It’s really our American culture. We watch shows like “a baby story,” or see screaming laboring women in movies, and grow up assuming that childbirth is a traumatic, scary, painful event that must take place in the hospital. We assume that as women, our bodies are “lemons,” and are unable to properly deliver a baby on their own. We think that we must have medical intervention to help us through this “illness.”

Thankfully my husband and I did not have a “traumatic” experience at the hospital with our first born’s birth, but I did feel very much “out of control” and rushed.

Since my body wasn’t progressing “quickly enough,” the doctors and nurses were telling me what I needed – for the “sake of my baby” – a double dose of pitocin, (the drug from you-know-where) nubain, epidural, vacuum extractor leading to tearing…UGH. And since I didn’t know the difference – and didn’t want to be a “bad mother” by refusing drugs that would “help” my baby, I just agreed do whatever they suggested. Plus, while being hooked up to the i.v. and fetal monitor, I was very limited in what I could do as far as moving around.

They had said in the hospital “birthing class” that I would be able to walk around, but really they made me lay in the bed for all 18 hours.

I would say I had to go to the bathroom, just to be able to actually sit up! Of course, no food or water (which I don’t understand why…because labor is the hardest work you ever do!) and with all of the conflicting drugs (which really do act against eachother), poor davis’ heartrate began to slow down, and I had to use an oxygen mask. No fun. Thank the LORD, he was born healthy and I did not have a cesarean section.

After watching “The Business of Being Born,” I began to wonder if birthing at home was something I could do!

It took us about 4 months to make the decision – and now that I look back on how long it took for me to decide this I just have to laugh. I was so insecure – unsure of myself and what I was capable of.

I am one of those people that once I make a decision, I am ALL in. So I began pouring over countless midwifery/home birth books, (especially Ina May Gaskin – I mean seriously. The woman is a rockstar!)

An interesting point she makes is that as women, we are uniquely designed so that our emotions are deeply tied into how our labor and delivery are. If we are strapped down to a hospital bed, in an unfamiliar room with doctors and nurses we don’t know coming in and out of the room, our bodies naturally take longer to labor and dilate. It is much like the concept if someone tells you to stand in front of a group of people and just pee on the spot…your body tends to freeze up!

However, when a woman is able to labor on her own non-rushed terms, in a comfortable, nurturing environment, surrounded by people who are lovingly supporting her decision (and not trying to convince her of drugs she “needs”, but instead allowing her to walk/squat/eat/lay in a warm tub of water, doing whatever she feels is right for her body), the experience is totally different.

My friends who have delivered both in a hospital and then at home or birthing center with a midwife all told me the same thing: the difference is night and day. They would do it again any day.

It’s really funny when I think about it…

Before Davis was born, I had such a totally different view of giving birth. I really didn’t understand why people would want to refuse drugs. I thought it was a “feminist machoism”type thing. I said that the only reason I would ever refuse pain drugs is if 1. labor was totally painless, or 2. I was trying to prove something to somebody. Isn’ it funny how people change?!

My mentality changed so drastically once I took ownership of my pregnancy and birth.

What once was a half hour wait at the OBGYN Dr’s office to only see the doctor for 5 minutes – who merely listened for the heartbeat, took my weight measurement and asked if I had any questions turned to hour long chats in my living room with our midwife (who I seriously feel like is my aunt or sister- I love her!!!).

She would talk about my nutrition, how I was
feeling, how my stress levels were. She would let my toddler listen to his baby brother’s hearbeat on the doppler and explain to him how the baby in mommy’s belly was growing. How deeply I cherish those sweet memories.

I occasionally would have moments of doubt – and she would affirm me by saying, “Melody – your body was made to do this. You CAN do this. You’re doing a great job.”

I remember at our first “meeting” when she came to our home, she said “I remember this house! I delivered a baby here about ten years ago!” It made me feel like we were living in a hallowed house. A baby had been born in this house once before. And it was about to happen again.

At other times, when people would ask me things like: “Wait – you’re having your baby at home? On purpose?!”

Or “You are crazy. Isn’t that unsafe?” And so the occasional nagging doubts would start to creep in but I would speak truth to myself. I KNEW I could do this. I WANTED this. This is how God designed my body to work.

And then I found the Bring Birth Home community. And Kaitlin Rose and all the thousands of like-minded mamas in this loving community would affirm eachother and write of their beautiful births. And I knew I wasn’t alone.

Plus – we knew that we weren’t going to act foolishly were any emergencies to come up. We knew that our midwife was beyond competent and highly trained to intervene if we needed help. We had asked her so many questions before making the decision (which is what I highly recommend any woman to do when interviewing midwives)

People ask me if I regret having given birth in the hospital with Davis.

Honestly, I don’t.

I am beyond thankful that he was born healthy and without complications, but were I not to have had that experience, I don’t believe I would have been as passionate as I was about wanting to have a homebirth the 2nd time around. I would probably be more scared and insecure of my decision.

I think it’s awesome for women who don’t have the hospital experience and know they want homebirth from the very beginning. I had just never known of what my options were the first time. And I can’t live in regret – but i can be thankful that The Business of Being Born made me aware of the choices I have – and that birth can be a beautiful and empowering and HEALING experience.

And let me just tell you about my homebirth. It WAS healing. EMPOWERING. Beautiful. Peaceful. Relaxing! PERFECT. Intimate. EUPHORIC. Life-changing.

You can read the full story here : Caedmon’s home birth story.

I will also use this post as a shameless plug for hypnobabies. I used this program to learn how to relax and enjoy labor (and it totally worked.)

 

I never even realized how strong I was…how incredible I was, (not to sound arrogant – but you homebirth mamas know what I’m saying, right?) how awesomely designed my body was…until I gave birth the second time. What I had once not been able to feel, (due to meds and epidural in the hospital) I was now able to feel, because I WANTED to.

And I wasn’t scared. I was on cloud 9.

I gave birth in a tub of warm water in our bedroom.

Right at the foot of our bed.

And even now 15 months later, sometimes in the middle of the night I will hold my baby boy right in that exact spot he was born and I will close my eyes and breath in his warm milky breath and nibble on his chubby earlobe and press my nose to his forehead and remember at the peak of labor when I felt him moving down – and knowing that MY BODY was doing it.

No one was making me push when I wasn’t ready to. My body naturally pushed when I had a contraction.

It was so peaceful. No one was yelling “PUSH! 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10. COME ON! PUSH!!!” My husband was rubbing my shoulders – my doula was giving me the best back massage of my life – my midwife kept saying “you are doing GREAT. Your body is doing exactly what it needs to do.” And I relive that exact moment when my midwife said “reach down and feel your babies’ head!”

I just felt so powerful and primal and deeply connected with the millions of women in the earth’s history who had ever done this before. It’s one of those indescribable moments where you just KNOW you are ALIVE.

And it was such a necessary journey for me to become the woman I am today.

{Please understand: I totally get it that homebirth is not for everyone. I have several friends who have had high-risk pregnancies or medical conditions that won’t allow them to have a natural birth, and I totally understand and respect that. Please know that I am not judging them, nor do I think any less of them. This was just a decision that was very right for us. My goal is not to make any woman who has no desire to have a natural birth feel any less of a woman. I just want you to know that I used to be totally skeptical, and am now so very thankful that we were able to have this experience.}

I love the moment I became a mother for the first time.

Yes, it was in the hospital. Yes, it was with medicine. But that moment changed my life.

And I love that moment I gave birth at home.

It was a re-birth for me. It changed who I was. It grew a confidence in me that to this day helps me out in everyday life. When I am going through stressful times or having a terrible day – all of a sudden I have a flashback of my husband whispering in my ear “you’re doing it! you’re doing great!” And I think “yes, I can do this. I can do anything. I gave birth. I GAVE BIRTH.”

And I promise I am not an
emotional person.

I’m just not. But every so often, I remember that perfect moment when my midwife helped lift my sweet baby Cædmon out of the water and place him on my chest – and I still get tears in my eyes as I relive -in the exact spot- that night that healed me and changed me and gave me the confidence and strength I never knew I possessed.

I know that The Business of Being Born is what opened my eyes to what I could do.

What we as women can do. Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” The Business of Being Born did that for me. It gave me hope that birth could be beautiful. And it is.

So thank you to Ricky Lake and Abby Epstein, for opening my eyes and helping me see what new dimensions I would have more than likely missed out on had I not seen your beautiful film. I absolutely can hardly wait to give birth again.

Your documentary was a gift that changed my life. And I am so glad you gave.

Melody blogs at “Ramblings of a Lovesick Mommy,” where she likes to record all of the adventures she has with her little family (which includes her husband and 2 sons, dog, 14 hens, and whatever lizards or frogs her toddler wants to catch that day). Her 2nd son was born at home, and the BBH community played a very encouraging role throughout her pregnancy.

Your Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Karen says:

    Beautifully written – thanks for your honesty and sharing your passion!


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  1. Win A Copy Of "More Business Of Being Born" Here | Bring Birth Home - November 8, 2011

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