Gunnarr’s Blanket

(Gunnarr has the traditional Scottish spelling and is pronounced “gun-er”.)

I began an afghan for Gunnarr before he was born. Of course we didn’t know if “he” was a boy or girl so I chose a lovely green color – organic cotton – a lovely yarn and a challenging pattern for my knitting skills. Certainly doable though. I’d been knitting for a couple of years and knew all of the stitches.

Well.

It just wouldn’t come together. I tried and tried, frogged and frogged… and only NOW, with his 9 month birthday looming, is it nearly complete. It was quite a journey, but of course, so was his pregnancy and birth. I’ll blog about the pregnancy another time, but for now will talk a bit about his birth.

I had the MOST lovely home labor I could have dreamed of. Predictable labor pattern, totally what I wanted with my husband at hand, in the water, candles.. music… got the 10 cm and felt like pushing after about 6 hrs. I couldn’t believe how fast it was going! 🙂

And I pushed. And Pushed. And PUUUUSSSHHHEEDDD. Nothing. Changed positions, used homeopathics, contractions hard and strong… the little fellow wouldn’t budge.

Now, of course we hasn’t a little fellow at all. 🙂 He weighed 10 pounds and 8 ounces and was 23 inches long! But I’ve seen 10+lb’ers be born slick as a whistle, easy and in a state of bliss… it just wasn’t happening for me.

6 hours later, Gunnarr plugging along just fine, he was born surgically in our local hospital. He was fine, I was devastated. Even though I made the decision to transport, even though he was ok and so was I (physically) it really REALLY hurt.  A few months later I attended a butter birth… big baby whose mother I now call my friend… and she had MY birth. And it hurt again.

Then today, as I am finishing up Gunnarr’s afghan…. it suddenly started just falling into place… the last few stitches, the edging… all of it. And it hit me: “This doesn’t look exactly like I envisioned it but it still is a nice little blanket!”

Sometimes crap happens. Sorry for using that word, if it offends anyone. But it does. And it’s messy, and it stinks, and well… who wants it? Not me! But it happens. So we clean up the mess and move on. And once in awhile, something beautiful turns up in spite of it. 🙂

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VOICES: VBAC Women Share Their Journey

OH, it’s such a beautiful little book! Keep in mind that this is coming from the publisher directly (since it takes about 3 months to get it onto Amazon) so it ***CAN*** take 4 weeks to arrive. It shouldn’t and probably won’t, but I did have to warn you. I SO hate waiting for books!

Voices contains a full chapter of statistics and research surrounding VBAC success rates, real risks vs. fear-based risks, and the TRUTH about the risk of uterine rupture compared to other obstetrical emergencies. I’d like to say that this book was written for women wondering if their care provider is “right” that it is too “risky” to try to VBAC, but doesn’t have time or energy to sift through a mountain of studies or a pile of books that include only a small section on VBAC. It is also written for the woman who knows instinctively that she will have a VBAC and needs to win over a partner or care provider. But…

The real power of this book are the women’s birth stories. They are SO powerful. They are the true, real stories, unedited and unadulterated. They stand on their own. You will be changed by them. If you don’t understand what the “big deal” is about VBAC, then this book is for you as well.

At the end of the day, I believe in women having the right to birth as they choose, on their own power and in the climate and surroundings of their choosing. For women choosing VBAC and for their care givers, this book is a vehicle for those freedoms.

So many women today face VBAC “bans” or so many restrictions on their labors that they walk in the door with one foot in the operating room. Let’s put the TRUTH out there. I believe women are wise – and capable of making decisions based on facts, not fear.

Off-label drug use

I understand that the off-label use of pharmaceuticals is a normal occurrence in the medical world. I get that. What’s not cool is that this is done in maternity care as well with dire consequences.

I’m not talking about the random, “uh-oh”, I’m referring instead to the drug company themselves issuing statements saying “We do not endorse the use of this product for any use other than that described on the label.” Yeah, they’re probably just covering their b*tts but still. They said it. Yet it happens everyday in the labor and delivery department of nearly every hospital in the country. It has become so commonplace to induce labor that not only have we stopped wondering how/if this affects the baby or the mother we have now started grabbing whatever drugs we can find that give us “a better induction outcome”.

Hrrumph.

Bishop’s score be damned. God created women’s body to birth. With consideration made for the odd-one-out with pituitary damage or other disorders that truly make her body hold onto her baby long past safely, using drugs to begin labor before the body begins to open up on it’s own is risky risky risky.

Births are kindof like bowel movements. They happen on their own. Can’t plan ’em, can’t stop ’em, can’t hurry them along. Bowel movements happen (errr… I can’t help but think of a certain bumper sticker I’ve seen alot of right now).

Birth HAPPENS as well. Babies are born when it is TIME. If we have accepted that every other body system has knowledge to know when to open and release, then why can’t we accept the body’s wisdom in birthing when it is time?

You might have had a Cytotec induction. And so did your sister, your friend, aunt, daughter’s 2nd grade teacher… and all went well. On the surface perhaps. But what did it do to that baby’s emotional/psychological health to be so rudely pushed into the world before he/she was ready to come? And what about the women reading this who is a victim of a cytotec induction who is grieving the loss of her womb? Suddenly hurrying a baby out seems less important when faced with an emergency cesarean to save your baby’s life and a hysterectomy to save yours.

All from a couple of tidy white pills manufactured to treat ulcers. Who’da thunk?

Oh my goodness.

This has to be the single most ridiculous “invention” I’ve ever heard of in relation to women’s health. Good grief.

Ever heard of GOOD NUTRITION strengthening and giving elasticity to pelvic floor tissues?

Ever heard of emotional/psychological conditioning to learn to accept the labor waves instead of fighting them?

Ever heard of, oh I don’t know, BIRTHING WITH A MIDWIFE? 🙂

Goodness. I applaud the idea that episiotomies are ugly, nasty inventions of man (which, by the way, nearly every “invention” in relation to birth has been an unmitigated disaster). But seriously folks. A balloon in the vagina to stretch out vaginal floor tissues? Good grief Charlie Brown.

Just about given up…

When quite unexpectedly I happen upon a blog by (of all things) a DOCTOR. 🙂 I love doctors really, truly. I’ve met and known some fabulous ones, wonderfully caring individuals who are stuck doing what they love in a minefeild of insurance risk-assessments and mandatory hospital protocols. My heart goes out to them. Truly. If I were 20 again I would most certainly go to medical school. It would the ultimate test of my belief system, and would surely try me to the core. I like that kind of thing.

Anyway… I digress…

This blog, it had the most beautiful birth story on it, written by a doctor. If all midwives could be SO lucky as to have a collaborating physician like this one. This is the stuff dreams are made of.

A Welcome Surprise

Enjoy.

Morning Musings

Sorry I haven’t been too great at blogging consistently these past couple of months. I’ve been trying to “gestate in peace” and just be a mom. The calling to birth and women won’t leave me be though, so I’ll try harder to get it in on a weekly basis. Thank you for reading. Pass it along if you are moved by any of it. Trash it if it’s luke-warm. Email me if it makes you mad. All emotional responses (and logical ones) are welcome. 🙂                  ~Kelly

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I’ll tell you, this advocacy stuff is rough. I get emails from women all over the country sharing their birth trauma stories (and sorry, this is TRAUMA we’re talking about here, not a “bad experience”). I cry alot. It’s hard to do this while I’m pregnant. The idea of facing a hospital to birth again makes me queasy. Yeah… that’s a generalization I know. Not all hospitals are bad, not all doctors are terrible selfish money-grubbers. I know this. But the stories… how can I not be impacted by the horror of a mom being “reprimanded” by her OB for not agreeing to an episiotomy, so when she was being stitched up SANS numbing agents (which the OB refused to use saying, “You said you wanted natural, this is natural.”) had to also hear, “This is what you get for not letting me cut you.” And for the mom who, upon transferring from homebirth because of thick meconium in the water (good heartones though) had to listen to the attending OB nurse comment, after a 3 hour wait, “Well if you were still home nothing would be getting done for your baby so what’s the hurry?” Or the mom who was promised a VBAC only to get to the hospital in labor and find out a cesarean had been written into her chart at 20 weeks. When she balked the doctor said, “Listen, you were never going to get a VBAC. It’s ok. You’ll have your baby in your arms in an hour.” She walked out (WARRIOR WOMAN!!!) and had her baby at home, vaginally, assisted by her husband that same day. 3 hours later.

It sounds like I’m reporting from a 3rd world country doesn’t it? But I’m not. No… if only it were that easy. This is US. This is the United States of America where FREEDOM is supposed to RING TRUE. But it doesn’t. Heck, HONESTY doesn’t even ring true anymore. My sister had so many adhesions from her first cesarean that she was onthe table with her 2nd for 6 hours getting cleaned out. Even after that she was never told why that happened, that it was likely to happen again, and that her cesarean was not medically necessary. Informed consent? That’s the stuff fairy tales are made of. And you’re more likely to get it at a car lot than in an OB department.

But being the eternal optimist that I am, I know that however our births turn out, whatever bumps we face along the way, wherever these roads take us… the fact that we are HERE, together, talking about birth means that we care about humanity and the future of birth in our culture. Yeah. Uh-huh. That’s us. The broken, the healing, the healed. We care, and we’re not going to give up until someone listens, until things change, until we see that normal birth is safe for our daughters and grand-daughters. 🙂