Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Musings on Powerful Birth

I have been thinking for two months now about what made Eagle's birth so different from my last one. I was not at all unhappy with Bear's birth--I did not feel bullied or ignored or disrespected or any of those other things that so many women talk about. On the contrary, I felt empowered. But something about this birth was, well, more empowering.

I tried to narrow down each birth to just a few words, and this was what I came up with:
Bear: relief, out-of-it, disconnected, tiring, fulfilling, empowering
Eagle: intense, personal, hyper-aware, primal, powerful, peaceful, beautiful

Both births were unmedicated. Both births were in the place of my choosing, and with a provider of my choosing who respected my birth plan. I went into each birth well-educated about the process and what to expect and what I would need to do. Each birth was proceeded by mental and emotional (as well as physical) preparation on my part. With both births there was a point where my care provider had to step in and help facilitate the baby's getting out. Both babies were healthy. Both times I had a relatively uncomplicated recovery.

Labor with Bear was 23 hours long--but when it started it started, and over the course of the day it gradually increased in intensity until he was born--just like the books say. Early labor with Eagle occurred in little fits and starts over the course of two weeks (causing me no small mental and emotional exhaustion because I kept thinking this was it...and then it wasn't). When the time came though, I was wakened in the night (by Bear actually), and within minutes was in active labor and Eagle was born a few short hours later. Eagle's labor was more intense--harder in many senses--and yet shorter. Ironically I spent the 'active' part of Bear's labor in bed (because I was tired). While laboring with Eagle I found I could not bear to lay down, I had to be upright and constantly moving. Even while I was pushing Bear out, I was sufficiently exhausted that my contractions were several minutes apart and I was falling asleep between them. While pushing with Eagle everything seemed to move very quickly, and even as he was coming through the birth canal it still seemed a bit surreal that this was finally happening.

Because Bear's coming had been preceded by so many losses, I spent much of my pregnancy connecting to him. I talked to him, sang to him, and during labor thought mostly about finally meeting him. Eagle's pregnancy was such a busy time that I didn't connect to him in the same way...on the other hand, I did get in tune with my body in a way I had not before. During labor I was excited to meet him of course, but I was mostly focused on myself, my body, and what I was doing. It was an entirely different perspective, and for the purposes of labor, I think a more effective one.

During my labor with Bear I was an active participant, but I was following directions. I was too tired and out-of-it to do anything else. While laboring with Eagle I was the leader, doing what felt right when it felt right, without being told to breathe this way or push that way or wait just a minute. I was hyper-aware of every sensation, but I also had the energy and presence to be able to respond to them, so they were more manageable in spite of seeming more intense.

Bear's birth was empowering and triumphant. Eagle's birth was a thing of beauty and peace...and a whole new kind of power.

"Cradle of Love" by NancyBright
used with her permission


Christa said...

It's so funny you posted this today because I was going to do a post about how I finally understand what people mean when they say birth is beautiful. I have always seen the beauty in other people giving birth, but I couldn't imagine me giving birth as beautiful, until now. Primal is the perfect word for what happened in my room 11 mornings ago. Everything I did was instictual and without effort. My husband has a totally different view on birth now, and when people ask him, even the same day, will we have a home birth again or go back to the hospital, he says we will only go to the hospital if there is an emergency. He believes in me, in himself, in the natural order of things now. If I only changed his opinion of birth... I have done enough.

~Aimee~ said...

I have similar feelings about my two births, the first in a hospital with an epidural, and the second at home in the tub. I also had different expectations going into each birth. But the part I love most about this post is the picture at the end. That picture was hanging on the wall of the bathroom I gave birth to my son in. How perfect is that?

Mallory said...

I loved reading the different perspectives from your births. I have often wondered how the birth of this coming baby will be different from Bug's birth...in more ways than just one being at a hospital vs. home.

nicole said...

Wow, interesting post! I have never had a natural birth by choice... (my first one was natural, with back labor, but I wasn't prepared for it to be natural, and had a HORRIBLE experience.) I swore I'd never get pregnant again after that... but somehow it didn't work out that way!! ha ha! Anyway, I have always been afraid of doing it naturally since my only experience with it was so traumatizing. So I've had epidurals with the other 3 births, but I have always wondered what it would be like to do it naturally. I would like to try it, but I have very little support from my family and friends. They all think I'm crazy. But I might just do it anyway this time. I'll need to do some research and get prepared if it is something I decide to do. Thanks for your insights... it was helpful to me.
However, I don't know about the water birth. It just seems like too much work... especially in my case with 4 other kids running around! But I'll look into it.

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