Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Birth: Putting Things Into Perspective

A Mother's Power To Birth
by Lisa

I have given birth at home twice. The hospital birth of my first son was a parade of intervention after intervention, which led to a much longer and more painful recovery than is necessary in a normal birth. Going into the hospital changed my birth from a perfectly healthy, natural occurrence into a medical situation in which my body was assumed to be incapable of birthing on its own. I knew then that it wasn't right, but I didn’t know of any other way. I didn’t realize that women had choices! When I got pregnant for the second time, my plan was to birth with a midwife in a birth center, but I soon learned that Dayton doesn't have any freestanding birth centers. Home birth wasn't even an option in my mind at first. It took much reading for me to even entertain the idea, and then when it started sounding less crazy and more interesting, I was sure that I'd have to have a midwife there directing the entire process. But when I began researching midwives to do home births, I found that there were very few to choose from in my area, that there were some serious cliques and politics involved in the small underground group, that they each charged a hefty fee (which would be out of pocket, since Tricare insurance won’t touch home birth), and that they would be opening themselves to liability with the state of Ohio, which has no laws protecting midwives. As I researched home birth more I learned about unassisted childbirth (freebirthing) and that some people forgo the midwife altogether! I became really confident in my ability to have the baby with no medical assistance, although I thought it would be nice to have someone around that had done this before. I was able to find a couple of women that attend home births for no charge, since they couldn’t guarantee their presence at the birth due to full schedules, and they didn’t have any emergency equipment beyond herbs and homeopathy and some emergency experience. They were basically available to people who didn’t mind “doing it on their own” if it came to that. They were knowledgeable and kind, and exactly what I was looking for in terms of a very hands-off approach to birth.

My beautiful daughter was born at home with these women after an exciting, painful, and empowering 9 hour labor. I carried her for 42.5 weeks, and you better believe I was getting antsy and just about as uncomfortable as humanly possible! But she came at the perfect time. Natural, spontaneous labor was completely different than the induced labor I had experienced in the hospital, and while it was painful, it was also completely doable. The pain was a different kind of pain – it had a definite beginning and end, with the end of each contraction releasing an amazing cocktail of chemicals that completely relaxed and encouraged me. Being in my home, in my bed with my own clothes, and with only the people around that I chose, gave me the freedom to do and sound like whatever I wanted. I truly can’t imagine being able to feel the same authority to experience labor as loud or as quiet, as naked or as dressed, or as up or as down as I needed to if I were in a hospital setting. I know that women do have natural births in hospitals, and I have great respect for them, because I think that it’s much harder than birthing naturally at home. I needed the complete comfort and security that my home offered in order to focus in the way that I needed to birth the baby. After this awesome experience, I knew I could never birth away from home again!

I was due with my third child on November 9th, and even though my other two children had carried very late I thought that this one would come sooner. I felt so much more "pre-labor" than I ever did before, and I was sure that that meant I would be having the baby on time, if not early. A week or two before I was due I had a strong contraction that hit me while I was making breakfast. It rendered me frozen in place, seemed to lessen on occasion to allow me to change position, pour a glass of milk for the kids, sit on the couch, and then it started up again. It never completely went away during that time, and it was very painful, lasting for close to an hour before subsiding all together. I was so excited - I was sure labor was starting. I had never had contractions without being in labor before. But after that hour it was over, and contractions didn't pick up again for about two more weeks. Once they did they were painless tightening sensations that came and went whenever they pleased, keeping to no rhythm whatsoever. Two weeks of those erratic contractions were making me crazy, and since my mom was only in town for a few weeks we were all growing concerned that she would miss the birth. During the pregnancy I was told a few times that the baby was posterior, so I can only guess that my two weeks of painless contractions were simply getting the baby into a better position for labor to actually start and go smoothly.

At 41 weeks I began losing my mucous plug, which I thought was a sign that labor would be starting very soon, as it had with Melody's labor. But, to my great disappointment, I lost little bits of it for another week before anything happened. I tried to keep reminding myself that my body worked - it had birthed before and it would do it again. God's timing was perfect, and He was in control. But birth is such a crazy, miraculous thing that I'll never be able to fully grasp, and it was hard to let go and completely surrender no matter how hard I tried. I was very impatient, and not only did I not want to be pregnant anymore, but I wanted the baby to come so that I could be assured, once again, that it would all work out and my body really did know what it was doing.

On Tuesday, November 23rd, I was at Chick-Fil-A with the kids for a playgroup with our Le Leche League friends. At about 11 am I had another very painful contraction that grabbed a hold of me and didn't let go for a number of minutes. I had stood up to go to the bathroom and was frozen in place. I started to panic inside, because I was in so much pain and I thought it may be because I had to empty my bladder, but I knew that there was no way I could make it to the bathroom. After a few minutes it lessened, but it didn't release completely for a while longer. For the rest of the day I had the same painless contractions I had been having before, however this time they were regular. They stayed around 10 minutes apart all day long. But by midnight when they hadn't amounted to anything else, I went to be disappointed. I was now 42 weeks and 2 days pregnant.

At 1:15 am I awoke to a strong, painful contraction. More contractions followed and remained painful and 5 minutes apart for the next 25 minutes, so I then called my friend. I still wasn't sure if this was the real deal, since I had been let down so much before. But they were strong and regular, so I told her she could come over now. Dominic, my mom, and my older sister were here with me. My friend arrived and called a couple of other friends to join us. I spent the next couple of hours on my bed, moaning and swaying with my pillow. I tried to escape the contractions, but I couldn't. In my labor with Melody I vocalized the entire 9 hours. I yelled "ooooh" with every contraction. It seemed to help me cope - it was like I was yelling at my contractions, keeping them in check. At the end, during transition, vocalizing was all I could do to keep from feeling like I was just going to fall apart. This time, though, vocalizing didn't help much at all. I tried it a bit, but it seemed to almost annoy me more than anything else, so I stopped. When I stopped Dominic was worried that the contractions had lessened, but they definitely hadn't! With each contraction I remember rocking or swaying my head from side to side with my eyes closed, trying to run away in my mind. I held my pillow, and sometimes laid on it, but I didn't get off of my bed the entire time. My friends and family came upstairs to check on my occasionally, but mostly stayed downstairs. I was so tired, and that made the whole thing harder because I just wanted to go to sleep. I wanted to push the pause button and rest! At one point my friend, Dominic, my mom and sister were all in the room with me, and my friend was talking about something to them while I was having a contraction. I yelled at them to "Be quiet!!" And then I mumbled "just when I'm having a contraction...” I had to focus only on my body, and outside noise was adding stress. The contractions were getting slightly more intense and I was feeling a lot of pressure. I remember thinking that my water was going to break at any second because the pressure was so strong, and I felt a little fear at the understanding that there was nothing I could do to stop it. It was happening and I was completely out of control.

Around 4 am a friend and Dominic were in the room with me, and my friend suggested that I try to go pee. I did NOT want to get up! Dominic asked if he could go downstairs and get a snack (he hadn't left my side the whole time), and we said yes, so he did. All of a sudden I had a third strong contraction that didn't come and go like normal - it was sharp and didn't let up. I was standing by my bed frozen in pain; I felt stuck again. The baby was also moving during the contraction, which is something I'd never felt before and something I never want to feel again! His movement brought a whole new element of pain to the contraction. I was standing by the bed, whining at my friend that I couldn't move, and I didn't know what to do! It lessened after a few minutes and I made my way to the toilet. I can't remember if I peed or not, but I quickly had another contraction and my body started pushing. Not me, my body. It is so strange to have your body do something that you can't control. With that push my water broke and I yelled out in fear and excitement. It sort of exploded, just like it had with Melody. I knew the baby would be out any minute. Dominic says he heard me yell and ran upstairs, never getting to eat his rice! Everyone else ran upstairs, too, and grabbed all the cameras and met me in the bathroom. Luckily we have a big bathroom! Altogether there were 7 of us in there. My friend said that the water was clear, but later told me that there was meconium in the water but she had said it was clear so as not to worry me. I began to panic - the baby was coming, and I knew there was no way I could get off of the toilet in time! I was sure I'd push the baby out in to the toilet and then we'd have to get it out somehow, but I didn't know how! Watching the video I looked fairly calm, but inside I remember distinctly panicking about having the baby in the toilet. My mom asked me if I wanted to get up and I told her to "carry me". Ha! I'm 10 months pregnant, but please just lift me up and carry me to the bed! I put all my weight on her and my friend, and they did their best to lift me to a standing position in front of the toilet. I felt the next contraction, I felt my body pushing and I felt the baby coming down. Even though Melody's birth was un-medicated, I don't remember feeling the same sensations that I felt this time. I could feel him coming down the canal - I remember feeling his nose inside me. The only words I uttered were "Baby. Baby." This was my warning to Dominic to catch the baby! I felt him emerge, his head and then after just a moment the rest of him shot out. It was all in one contraction. And he really did shoot out - just like Melody. Apparently that's how I have them. And to think, I pushed Julian for an hour in the hospital! Dominic had to move fast to catch him, and because of my position he almost hit the back of the toilet! Dominic is a pro baby catcher now :) It was 4:14 am.

After I knew the baby was out I think I said something like "Thank God". The whole time I was in so much pain, I was so tired, and I was sure I couldn't do it. It is the highest mountain I will ever climb. It is the most terrifying and exciting thing anyone can ever go through. And I knew I couldn’t do it. Most women either catch their babies themselves or quickly take them and hold them. I didn't with Melody, and I didn't with Adrian. Both times I didn't even look at them for a few moments; I was too busy sort of regrouping myself. I had both of them standing up, so I stayed in my position and cried for a moment. I was so overwhelmed with relief and amazement that I couldn't even look yet. Adrian started crying soon and cried a LOT. Melody had been so peaceful, but this one was angry! I finally sat down and Dominic sort of weaved the cord through my legs so I could hold him. He looked just like Julian. I looked and saw that he was a boy (I had told no one to say the gender until I saw for myself). I felt very good. Very healthy and alert. Not in much pain. I sat on the toilet and held him for a long time. After about 5 or 10 minutes my body started pushing with another contraction and I knew that the placenta was coming, so my friend quickly lifted the toilet seat and put in the sitz bath so I could push it out right into there. Very convenient!

After a little while they helped me walk back to the bed and laid there for the next couple of hours with Adrian (whose name we hadn't decided on yet). My mom cut his very long cord after it had turned completely white and stopped pulsing.
I am so grateful to have gotten to experience 2 wonderful home births. Home birth is the right option for me. I know it isn't the right option for every woman, but I do wish that if nothing else I could just encourage other women to have faith in their bodies. To trust their inherent ability to birth. I am here to tell you that your body is not a lemon. We are perfectly designed, and the many emergencies that arise in the hospitals are more often than not caused by hospital interventions. When left alone, birth is almost always uneventful. Just the way it should be ;)

I'll end this with the inscription I included in Adrian's birth announcements. I did not write it, but I love it:
Adrian Scot Gorski was born
without technology or instruments
with no assistance, by his mother's own power
in utter peace, in his own home
surrounded by love, safety, and warmth.
His entrance into the world
a testament
to the complete rightness of
birth in its purest form.

Feel free to stop by and follow Lisa's blog: Disorganized and Unconventional Ramblings

**Please let me know if you would like to share your birth experience and be apart of my blog series, "Birth: Putting Things Into Perspective" Feel free to contact me via email at This will not only give someone the opportunity to have a voice, but to educate someone on their options as a woman and mother.**


  1. Oh wow! Lisa is amazing!!! I am completely unfamiliar with this type of birth experience. Everyone I know, myself included, gave birth in a hospital. The most unconventional of my friends did it without drugs. THIS is unbelieveable! I was fascinated with her story and all of her feelings throughout the labor.

    I gave birth with half my high school coming in and out of the hospital room. It was chaotic and scary and nothing like what Lisa describes. Granted, I was 18 and had just graduated 2 weeks prior, but still, I can't imagine it would be too awful different for most people who deliver in hospitals since a doctor, nurse, or an assistant is coming in to check on you every 5 minutes! Great idea for a series, Leyna! I really enjoyed this one!

  2. Thanks so much, Sarah Kate! My entire purpose behind doing this series is to inform women of childbearing age of their many birth options.

    Also, we may plan to birth one way, but sometimes it doesn't always work out that way (I'm a prime example of that). It's just nice being able to read everyone's story and compare our previous births, or use someone's birth story as an example to help them the next time around.

    And you are right, Lisa is amazing!!!!! :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. Thank you so much Sarah! My first son, born in the hospital, was born right after I turned 18 :) I remember the constant stream of people I didn't know wandering in and out of the room, and it definitely increased my stress and in turn the pain I felt. The freedom, security, and comfort of birthing at home can't be matched elsewhere:)

    I am so glad you enjoyed my story! To educate and encourage just one person means the world to me!