Why a postscript is necessary
Writing and sharing Ewan’s birth story has been cathartic; helping me come to terms with the experience and accept the loss I suffered of not being able to birth Ewan naturally. The response from my family, friends and now the blog community has been amazing, which is why I have decided to add a postscript, as final points to this series of writings.
So many people have shared with me, in person, on Facebook and on my blog, their own experiences of giving birth. All these contributions are to be celebrated, because it sparks a much needed conversation about this often neglected area of many women’s lives, the birth of their children. These comments have illustrated to me the suffering, indignity and lack of control so many women feel when giving birth in hospital. Hearing their stories adds rage as well as sadness to my own experience, knowing many women suffer similar, or worse, treatment than I did. It also clarifies my own thinking on this subject, of which I share a few salient, final points below.
Intellect versus instinct
Our intellect can be a hindrance when giving birth. I wrestled with mine when in labour, thinking about what I’d read, what I’d heard, letting these thoughts interrupt the birthing process. In the end I let this intellectual chatter go, turning inwards into another level, one I had never ventured into before. My body believed in myself, was sure and certain, even if my intellect wasn’t. This physical being took over, directing me to follow my instincts, switching off from the invasive, artificial world surrounding me. It simply knew what to do and how to do it. I completely switched off from my intellectual brain.
Those five or so hours of retreat into this other plane of consciousness were the longest, clearest and most profound of my life. My brain was clarified, uncluttered, pure and focused. I can only describe it as the closest I’ve ever been to experiencing true meditation, really living in the moment, where nothing was questioned, it simply was.
This experience of the beginnings of natural birth (sadly I was unable to continue along this path to its conclusion) gave me back myself. It was a gift from nature. For this most memorable of times, lifted out of the humdrum of everyday existence, I truly was myself. I was also truly at one with the baby moving inside me. We worked together, communicating our shared work and needs. We were at peace, as the heart-rate monitor indicated. I let go and accepted my body and the body of my baby, knowing and feeling both of their strengths intuitively, totally trusting that this birthing would work.
What happened to destroy this equilibrium, turning bliss into trauma? A trigger, the midwife’s voice. However, fault does not lie with this woman, who was only doing what she thought was best. There would have been another trigger, probably just as harsh, to cascade me brutally back into my everyday consciousness, and with it the clutter, the questionings, the headache, the continuous thoughts like chattering monkeys.
What I really needed, but did not receive, was a truly quiet, familiar, safe place in which to labour, alone with time to birth in unison with my baby, with my husband guarding the door, ready to intervene if I called him. This is the key; support offered from a distance, given only when asked for. As it was, misguided support was offered which unleashed a cascade of interventions which ultimately led to having an emergency caesarean under general anaesthetic.
About Caroline Jane Cole
I am a full-time Mum to Ewan James, born in June 2010. When I get chance, I write on natural parenting issues, on topics including sustained breastfeeding, baby-wearing, bed-sharing, home-education and natural living, for parenting magazines and websites. I am an active member of La Leche League GB and a trained breastfeeding peer supporter. See my website; www.stoneageparenting.com.