My Birth Story

 

For anyone preparing for a birth, I would highly recommend:

 

Ø  Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

Ø  Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin

Ø  Mind over Labor: A Breakthrough Guide to Giving Birth by Carl Jones

Ø  Movie “The Business of Being Born”

 

My last post covered the fear-based model of medicine and how it can interfere with natural, reduced intervention childbirth. These books and information along with the hypnosis (www.hypnomammas.com) all contribute to creating confidence and empowerment in women before and during the birthing process.

 

In other exciting news, a hospital in Arizona has decided to ban elective ce-sections and labour inductions. YES!

 

Banner Hospitals banning elective C-sections, induced labor for pregnant women

http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_phoenix_metro/central_phoenix/banner-health-banning-elective-%22convenient%22-c-sections-and-induced-labor-for-pregnant-women

 

My Birth Story

 

My baby girl arrived on Monday February 28th at 2:26 am, weighing 6 pounds 11 oz and 52 cm’s long.

 

To prepare for childbirth, I did a considerable amount of reading and chose to take a very informative and intensive prenatal class that taught self-hypnosis for childbirth. I also talked to my belly on a regular basis. I asked my baby to have a smallish head, not grow too big, arrive about a week before her due date, and for my waters to break during the labor and not before. My little girl is a very good listener! She was an average size baby and came a few days early. My due date was March 4, 2011. I asked her to arrive on Friday February 25th. As you can see from above, she didn’t quite make it on the 25th, but she had her reasons. I found out a couple of days after her birth that my midwife was sick with the Norwalk virus on the 25th and couldn’t make it to any of her births that day. That would have included me! Sometimes things don’t go the way you want them but if you trust in the process you end up finding out why. In the end I was so thankful that my midwife could be there because I think my trust in her helped facilitate in the beautiful birth that I had.

 

After planning for a home birth, I ended up having to birth in the hospital.

My water broke (well, leaked) on Saturday Feb 26th, and when I called my midwife to tell her this she told me that if I were to go into labor that weekend, I would have to come to the hospital because her two colleagues were away for the weekend. As you may know, you need two midwives in attendance to birth at home. One for mom, one for baby. Also, it was snowing quite hard, so my midwife said she couldn’t come to my home as I live too far away from the hospital and have some pretty crazy hills near my home. So, the universe was clearly telling me where I was going to be birthing.

 

When I went to the hospital Saturday evening to get checked out, it was confirmed that my waters had broken. I was told that I would have to be administered antibiotics due to being Strep B positive, then induced by noon the next day if nothing happened. I was very sad when I heard this. I was sad about the antibiotic drugs and the possible induction. I knew that the rate of further intervention was greatly increased when you start with an induction. There was one glimmer of hope though, three days prior I had asked for a re-screen of the Strep B. Doing the screen more than once isn’t common practice, but I learned that the presence of Strep B is cyclical. It inhabits the genital area off and on in approximately 5 week cycles, so if you test positive at 36 weeks of pregnancy, you may not be positive come your due date. Hmm, good to know.

 

Since it had only been three days since the re-screen I assumed that the results wouldn’t be in or accessible yet. I asked if my midwife would be willing to check or if there was even any point. She went to check, and when she came back she said, “Your not going to believe this, but your last screen was negative”. So, I was allowed to go home antibiotic free and was told due to decreased risk of infection, I had up to 72 hours to wait and see if labor started on it’s own.

 

It did. Around noon or mid afternoon the next day the signs started. It began with what felt like strong menstrual cramps that only hurt if I moved. Um, no one told me about that. As long as I stayed still, I wouldn’t get a wave of discomfort. But by mid afternoon, these waves of discomfort were happening a bit more frequently and not all were movement induced.

 

At this point I thought I was still in pre-labor, which I may have been, it wasn’t very clear. When learning about using hypnosis, I was told to start as soon as the labor begins, which I intended to do but I was having trouble knowing if it had really started. But after about 6pm it became clearer. Between 6pm and 9pm the birthing waves became more consistent and increasingly less comfortable. During this time I decided to lie on my bed listening to hypnosis recordings just in case. The hypnosis helped keep me relaxed, calm and kept my frame of mind positive and not afraid. All of these components help labor progress with less chances of stalling.

 

So I was just lying there minding my own business when at around 9:00pm the waves were all of a sudden about 5 minutes apart, and this continued for about 30 minutes. It was then that I felt nervous about being too far away from my midwife and at my request my husband called her to report our progress. She told me that because my baby was positioned posterior, the labor was going to be up and down and not to jump the gun in terms of going to the hospital. I wasn’t convinced that she was right until while taking a shower to prepare for the journey to the hospital, my contractions stopped and the next one was 25 minutes later.

 

So, I lay back down on my bed, put my headphones back in and chilled out. I think it was shortly after this that I began complaining about the waves getting pretty painful and my husband suggested the TENS machine. That really helped. I remember thinking to myself around this time that I should try to do some of the ‘moves’ that can help turn a posterior baby to a more ideal birthing position, including the “simple” option of hanging out on all fours. Um, yeah, that wasn’t going to happen! It hurt way too much. Now, I think my tolerance for this kind of thing is pretty good and I really really wanted my baby to come out the right way (it makes labor and childbirth soooo much easier) but you weren’t going to catch my on all fours, no way, ouch. And you know it was painful if it was going to improve my experience, yet I wasn’t willing to do it.

 

At around 11pm, my husband had completed filling the birthing tub. He thought although I couldn’t birth in it as planned, I could hang out in there to support the labor. As I climbed into the warm tub I had a pretty substantial contraction, then I sank into the warm tub and immediately had another, and as this was happening my body temperature was rising due to the pain and the warm tub. So, I hung my body over the edge to try and get cooler, and then had another contraction. My husband said they were all of a sudden 4 minutes apart, and I was asking him to help me out of the tub. I don’t know about you, but when I experience pain I often break out into a sweat or feel really hot, so I guess the warm tub wasn’t the right option for me at that time.

 

As I got dressed, very slowly I might add, I had a visual image flash across my mind. I saw a baby’s head coming down and out, soon.

 

So, we called the midwife again.

 

It was about 11:45pm. My husband told her that it felt like that if it progressed too much more without a care provider present, I might be “in trouble”. Once again, she told me not to get too excited. She reminded me that this labor would most likely continue to go up and down; this could be another false alarm. She then asked me if I wanted to come to the hospital for pain medication or to be near her. Although at the time, the pain meds were starting to sound very attractive I told her I thought I could manage for the time being, it is just that I wanted to be close to her. I would feel safer that way.

 

It only  took me about 20 minutes to get from my bedroom to the car. I was really struggling to walk by this point. While we traveled to the hospital, I listened very intently to another hypnosis track. I knew that being on a bumpy car ride while being in labor wasn’t going to be the best of times, so I wanted anything I could to help me. It did help, although I was thinking to myself “well, I’m going to be at the hospital anyway…. Maybe I will ask for some meds” It was getting that bad. On route we stopped and picked up my sister who was invited to be there for the birth.

 

We arrived at the hospital around 12:30 or so. At this point I couldn’t really walk anymore and had the TENS machine on full blast. I was beginning to feel like the discomfort was becoming unbearable. I was put in a wheelchair and pushed up to the Labor and delivery ward. I felt like I was in a movie, you always see the pregnant lady in the wheelchair. It felt so cliché. Mind you, at that moment all I managed to mutter was “I am so thankful for this wheelchair”

When I got there my midwife was already there waiting for me. She checked me and said with a surprised little smile on her face said that I was 9 cm’s dilated! She was shocked, I was shocked and I we were all pleasantly surprised.

 

SO, I had a whole new rush of confidence, and thought to myself, if I can make it this far without drugs, I am going the distance. At around 2:00am I was told that I could start pushing, this was the first moment where I felt afraid. I was afraid of what it would feel like to push a baby out. I am sure you are surprised. So, I asked my sister to play the “pushing baby out” hypnosis track, and as it played I regained my confidence and felt ready to take the next step in the process.

 

As my midwife reported the progress, I think I misunderstood exactly how far along the baby was in the birth canal. So, thinking she was further along than she truly was, I began to think, “I keep pushing with all of my might and she isn’t out yet? Well, that’s enough of that!”  About 8 enthusiastic pushes later, Jayla came very quickly out into the world. The speed at which she popped out surprised everyone in the room especially the midwife. She said “Oh my god, baby!” and didn’t quite manage to catch her.

 

Due to her swift arrival, I did have some third degree tearing and other complications following the birth, but I was well taken care of. The complications were never a state of emergency, but as the post birth unfolded it became clearer as to why the universe wanted me at a hospital for this birth. That isn’t to say that I couldn’t have given birth and then made my way there safely. It was just more ideal that I was already there.

 

I am currently working on my next blog post; I will do a quick run down on being a new mom. But one thing at a time.

 

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Childbirth

I am 6 months pregnant with my first baby. This has been an interesting journey filled with some mild nausea, fatigue, incredibly tender breasts, moderate mood swings, a growing waistline (that initially challenged some of my body image issues), and finally a growing belly with a real live moving baby inside! As you can imagine this journey has also led me to a whole new area for me to learn about in my life: childbirth.

Earlier on in my pregnancy, I had decided (but not definitively) that I wanted to try for a home birth. I was somewhat unpleasantly surprised at some of the responses I got from people; I really thought that there would be a more supportive atmosphere about the whole thing. That isn’t to say that everyone has had a negative reaction, but more than I thought would. It seems to me that a lot of people feel that there are too many risks involved with the choice to birth at home. As I began to learn and read more, I learned that although there are risks, some of the perception of childbirth is partially due to the way it has been either handled in the recent past and how it is portrayed in films and television. The unrealistic portrayal or sensationalized stories shown on TV have contributed to a general feeling of fear around the whole idea of giving birth.

Just so that you know, before I carry on, I have now settled on the idea of a home birth and am feeling very confident with my decision. That being said, I have told my midwives that if they see any reason between now and the time my labour begins that I should change my plan due to any risk of complication I am 100% open to it. I trust in my care providers and want them to be the ones to use their professional judgment to guide me through this process.  As they educate and inform me with my options, I will then draw upon my knowledge and make the best decision for my baby and me.

Our culture relies heavily on the western medical model to take care of us and have all of the answers, especially during times of vulnerability. Giving birth is one of the most vulnerable times in a woman’s life. The problem that I have noticed around relying on the western medical model for childbirth is that hospitals aren’t the most calming environments. And, although there are a lot of amazing Doctors and Obstetricians out there, often they see things from a “seek and diagnose” perspective. This can be extremely helpful when you have an undiagnosed medical problem that needs medical attention, but that isn’t always the case with pregnancy and childbirth. When you are pregnant and giving birth (in a situation with little to no complications) there is absolutely no medical problem at all. There is no disease, no dysfunction, no need for a cure; it is a completely natural part of the life cycle that has existed for as many years as mammals have been alive!

The prenatal class that I took really educated and inspired me. During and after the course I felt compelled to learn more, so along with the course material, I did some further reading. I learned that when a woman feels safe in her environment, has low lighting, people speaking quietly and positively, and has the appropriate support with no negative emotions or influences around her, the chances of having a less complicated birthing experience increase. This can include the potential for less pain due to less stress and tension and quicker birth times. A woman has to feel like she can completely trust her body and allow herself to open up to the experience instead of fight the feelings or the fear that may come up along the way. Fear will always come up, and that is OK. What isn’t OK is unnecessary added fear from others or outside influences such as an accepted cultural notion that women are merely the patient and should do what they are told because they haven’t been given all of the empowering information that they deserve.

This brings us back to the hospital environment. Hospitals often create a more fear-based environment, with the possibility of individuals including doctors, nurses or midwives entering the room and, without meaning to, do or say something that induces fear into the woman. When a woman goes into fear, her body can actually react by slowing or reversing the birthing process. When this happens to a woman, the care provider may wonder what is wrong, go into their “seek and diagnose” mode and then introduce interventions. When ironically, if the atmosphere hadn’t been negatively affected, none of these things (aka potential risks) would have entered the equation. As I mentioned before, a woman and her newborn are extremely vulnerable during this process and it doesn’t take much to have an effect on her, positive or negative. So, why not offer the most positive support possible!

I feel like if I chose to give birth at home, I have more control over my environment. It feels safe, familiar, quiet, and I can control who enters the room (or house).

Well, wish me luck. I may end up birthing in a hospital and I may end up having necessary interventions to aid in my experience, but I feel so good about the fact that I have educated myself on this topic and get to make informed and educated choices.

Our minds cannot compute

Last summer I went to see the movie Avatar.  I sat through the entire movie with my jaw dropped to the floor, for many obvious reasons. The main thing that struck me was how much symbolism there was in the way of spirituality and the current condition of the human race and the planet. I won’t go into detail here because I know that there are Avatar websites dedicated to this kind of conversation, but I will say that I left the theater so shook to the core that on the car ride home my husband and I were talking about “all of it”, the planet, the cosmos’s, the creation and the universe.

I re-visited a question I haven’t considered for many years, mainly because I find the question too overwhelming. That is, does the universe really go infinitely, or does it come to an end somewhere? And, if it ends somewhere, and we are in a big, let’s say universe box, well then, what is on the outside of the box? And, what is outside of that box? Wouldn’t there have to be space outside the box? Do you get where I am going with this?

What I realized about these questions, and many similar questions, is that we simply cannot ever know the answer. Simply, our minds cannot fathom it. This begs the question, what else can our minds not compute? There are a limitless number of things that our minds just can’t understand. Can you and I be okay with this reality? I have noticed that often the people who are the most comfortable with this notion are also generally happier.

When it comes to how our minds work, my main interest is in healing and health. I believe that there is an inseparable relationship between our beliefs, which are shaped by our minds, and healing. I am talking about my experience with the movie Avatar and the questions it provoked as a way remind us of how much our beliefs affect us.

The author, spiritual teacher, and medical intuitive Caroline Myss, also touches on how our minds cannot reason our way out of an illness, in her most recent publication “Defy Gravity”. Myss says, “our current framework for how we’ve structured healing is that the target is always a conversation around “what’s the reason this happened?” A lot of us will say something like, “it was meant to be”, as a way to feel like we understand why certain events happened the way they do. But actually being able to accept that things are happening as they are meant to is actually harder than just saying the words.  Just as accepting that we (the human race) may never have all of the answers to life’s big mysteries, including the mystery of  “why is this happening to me?”

In this post I am not going to go in to the depth of the mind and healing, I will explore this and more around holistic healing in future entries.

So, where does this leave us? Humble. It leaves us with a choice, a choice to stop trying to rationalize everything. Get out of your minds and start experiencing living. We spend so much our time in our minds that we forget to pay attention to our beautiful bodies and our connection to the earth.

As an experiment, for one day or hour walk around with the thought that your mind is useless and like everything around you is brand new and all you have to do in that moment is experience it.

For those of you who know me, you are probably thinking to yourself, yeah Kendra, you’re one to talk! Who here is the biggest “obsessively thinks to much” of all? Yours truly.

Well, I’m practicing 🙂

Women’s Liberation, gone a bit too far?

Mrs Edwards & Fri Kussin from The Library of Congress

Day 3

Proving how tough I was seemed to be a theme of my early teens in to my mid twenties. In PE class I would try to run the fastest (for a girl) and be the best at all of the sports. At that time I associated appearing physically strong with inner strength, and strength is often associated with masculinity. Too further solidify my strong exterior I joined a women’s rugby team when I was twenty and played as a second rower, then a winger for five years. For some women, sports, competition and physical strength are not about ways to substitute for lack of inner strength, for them it is just a part of who they are. For me, I discovered, it isn’t.

After 5 battered and bruised years of rugby I was forced to quit after one too many injuries. A year later, when I was 26, I turned to my roommate and said, “I don’t own one pink item”. That year I decided (or my subconscious decided) that it was time to begin to embrace my feminine side. I used to look at the color pink as girly, princess-y, weak, high maintenance-y, and so on. You get the picture.  So, that year I bought a couple of items of clothing and some bed sheets in pink and dammit it, it felt great!

Pink from Zach Klein

A few years after I began embracing the “pink”, I started to notice issues in my dating (or lack there of) life. I noticed that there seemed to be some sort of general confusion in the city around how men and women were meant to relate, in the context of dating. Men weren’t approaching me, I wasn’t approaching men. We all seemed tentative. As if due to how equal we were, we didn’t know who was supposed to ask who (among other obvious fears around approaching the opposite sex).

I then remembered my mom telling me about dating in her teens; she said,  “Back in my day, it was simple.  Girls had girl friends, boys had boy friends. If a boy wanted to date you, he would have to ask you out, you would then consult your day timer and pretend you were busy and a popular, then tell him when you were available” It was a game, a simple game. There was clarity in who played what role.

Since the feminism movement there have been some very important and amazing changes in women’s role in society. I agree that before then, some of the attitudes and beliefs according to our current standards are absurd and unreasonable. But there might be something to be said about the clearly defined roles that still existed as early as one generation ago.

I think that being born in a generation where our mothers may have fought for gender equality, a result has been that some of their daughters may feel the same sense of pride. We want to honor and continue the legacy of our mothers’ hard work, but have we taken gender equality a bit to far?

I was recently introduced to an incredible movie called “What about me”.  Among all of the beautiful people, images and music in the movie there was a section dedicated to world-view opinions about women. I was struck by one of the comments made by a woman who articulated better than I could what I have noticed:

“The archetype of the man basically being in charge of the material realm and the women being more in charge of the emotional psychological and spiritual realm, actually works quite beautifully. We made a mistake, we thought that liberation meant that we were liberated to go out and be like men and we sacrificed some very feminine aspects of ourselves in the name of feminism. We came up with a generation of hard women and soft men and it didn’t work for anybody”

I think that there has to be a balance somewhere in all of this. If we begin to consider this perspective, maybe we can find that balance.

During the period where I was struggling with relationships, I began thinking more about my femininity and continued to read self help books.  I began to realize that what had gotten lost for me was fully embracing my femininity.  I started viewing it as extremely powerful instead of weak. I learned to look at the “girly” side of myself as an amazing, built in, inner strength that was already there. I had, until that moment, failed to acknowledge it.

In the past few years I have discovered just how girly I am! It shocks me a bit to think back to my rugby playing days, how did I ever think that was a good idea for such a sensitive soul as myself?  Ah well, I am sure I was acting out someone’s aggression…. Maybe even my own 😉

Ps – In regards to dating in Vancouver, I met my husband speed dating. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Respect your Elders? Respect your Children!

Day 2

“Respect your elders” is what I have grown up with, as a social rule. My parents would tell me to address my friends’ parents as ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs.’ unless told otherwise . They also told me to always be polite and respectful to older people. When I was ten, I guess older could have been early as thirteen years old? Hm.

I don’t know if it is the ‘times’ or if this consideration should have always been acknowledged, but what happened to telling the ‘elders’ to respect the children?  We are in a time right now of great changes on the planet and if the internet could be used as a metaphor for the speed in which we are obtaining and processing information, we had better start respecting the young ones. I am referring to children from as young as one day old until well, until always…. I believe that our youth are being born into a more conscious time and on top of that have more access to information than ever before in history. It will be possible that from way earlier than we think, they may know way more than you or I want to give them credit for. We are afraid to give them credit because it scares us. And if you were brought up like me, to believe that the older you are, the more you know, your ego may want to get in the way and assert it’s wisdom.

I am by no means diminishing the fact that as we grow older, we do gain life experience and wisdom. I am simply just throwing out there the idea that the next time you talk to or observe a young person, even if you pretend for a moment, consider that they might know more than you, or that you may learn something very valuable from them.

Smarter than you think

Consciously Aware?

Day 1:

Conscious awareness, communication and creative expression, that is why I have started writing. My hope is that if you connect to what I have to share, we can communicate and share our experiences as a way to build a resonance in the field of conscious awareness.

I never thought of myself as a blogger, but a series of events in my life has lead me here, lead me to write. The “weird coincidences” have all converged into my new reality. I am no longer seeing them as “weird” or “coincidences”; this is my life happening right now.

I hesitated starting this process for a few days because I thought to myself “where the hell do I begin?’ There is so much to say, but I guess that is how we all feel! Well, especially when you are a non-stop-talking-Gemini like myself .

Due to my nature, and the fact that I have started writing, I feel that I could go on forever but no one likes to read any one “blog” or “article” for too long so I will stop here and wait to see what my mind unlocks the next time I write.