The first time, it was about a growing awareness of my own personal discomfort of having someone I was not normally intimate with present at the birth. From a spiritual standpoint it felt very wrong. I was also beginning to wonder whether the presence of my very hands-off midwife had had an adverse affect on my labor. I had studied midwifery texts and frequently talked about birth on the internet, and felt that I had a pretty good grasp of the risks specific to my situation, and what I would do if something went wrong. Frankly, the more I learned, the more I felt that the value of a midwife's involvement was over-estimated. I was healthy and my baby was in an ideal position for giving birth, and I had the loving support of two midwife friends, and knew I could count on them if I needed anything.
All that taken together made me feel inclined to give birth without a professional attendant present. I really felt, though, that it made the most sense for me to remain flexible and not get set on things going a certain way, so that I didn't know, even up until quite late in the labor, whether or not I would call one of my midwife friends. But every time I thought about doing so an absolute sureness settled over me that all was fine. I am normally very in my head, left-brain and all that, but upon actually experiencing my intuition so strongly there was no doubt in me that I really did just know.
A pretty cool thing.
The birth was amazing to me in a way that I had not been able to feel when part of my attention was directed to the birth attendant. I was completely present and aware (no "labor-land",) yet completely inside
it. My behavior was un-selfconscious and uncontrived. It was normal in the sense that it was so elemental and whole, and to experience that kind of normality was and is to me mind-blowing. It was amazing as well to be so in tune with the physical sensations -- despite how painful it was, the feeling of her coming down through me was so compelling that I wished I could relive those moments over and over again -- and to feel so connected to the baby after she emerged, as if we were still two parts of the same whole, still not quite separate, and to be in that quietness and timelessness with her and slowly, slowly, with my husband as well.
Then someone else entered the room. To have all that and then to have it instantly dissipate with the shift of my consciousness as I was forced to acknowledge the energy of someone who was not a natural part of it for me -- that was a violation that affected me very deeply in the following days and months. I had a visceral understanding then of what I had been prevented from receiving from my previous births.
After that, the writings of Michel Odent really started to pop out at me. In light of what had happened to me, the things he was saying about the hormonal process and the primal brain made so much sense. I became somewhat fanatic, then, about the importance of protecting the birth space, both during and after birth, and have remained so ever since.
My last birth was also unassisted, but this time was fully undisturbed, and I am very grateful for that experience. It is one of the most important things that has ever happened to me. I'm aware as I read back over my birth story that there is no verbally expressed joy and beauty that is in so many stories of good births, that was even in the story of my second midwife-assisted birth, and my first unassisted (but interrupted) birth. I think this throws people off a bit. Birth stories are either supposed to be sad accounts of trauma, or jubilant affairs of empowerment. I don't feel jubilant, I feel struck deep to my soul with gratitude. I feel emotional and teary and very serious. Just now, while I was writing this, I remembered something from one of my favorite books, C.S. Lewis's The Last Battle, from the Narnia series. In it he writes, "There is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious." That's exactly the way it feels.