This could get long...
|What was your journey in deciding to UC?
I had a very badly managed first birth at home with a midwife, and a very empowering second birth at home with a different midwife. During the second pregnancy I was a member of a progressive parenting forum (now defunct) and was being introduced to a lot of new and crazy ideas.
One that even a lot of people there didn't care for, though, was the idea of giving birth without a medical professional present. One day Laurie Morgan (the author of The Power of Pleasureable Childbirth) came on there and tried to tell us about the problems with midwife-attended birth and the benefits of autonomous birth. We ran her off the board. But her comments set the wheel in motion for a few of us, who couldn't stop thinking about her passionate feelings on the subject and if there could possibly be anything to it.
Although my second birth was wonderful, I still had some things to process about it. Something didn't feel quite right about it, though I couldn't put my finger on it yet. I somehow in my readings came across Michel Odent, who wrote about what conditions interfere with normal physiological birth, including simply the feeling of being observed.
I was fascinated by his thoughts on the role of the neocortex in inhibiting the hormonal process, and his hypothesis that birth has been ritually disturbed in almost all cultures in known history because to do so inhibits bonding, creating detachment, which is valuable to the survival of aggressive societies.
I began to think that perhaps this could explain my vague unease with my second birth. Other readings I had done made me question the idea that it is normal for birth to be excruciatingly painful, so I focused on the great pain I had felt in transition and conjectured that the midwife's presence must have had something to do with it. I also continued to read about that which facilitates and compromises the normal (and therefore safe) functioning of the body in labor, and began to see that during my previous births there was much that was done to me, even aside from the obvious interventions, that put my baby at increased risk. So if my body would not function fully normally (and therefore not safely) because of distraction and inhibition, then I would avoid that distraction and inhibition.
With my midwife's blessing and exhortation to "Believe"
I went forward with the plan to give birth alone. I spent the entire pregnancy preparing, re-reading midwifery texts and inspirational stories over and over. Near the end of the pregnancy I felt a sweet sense of peace come over me. I had decided that I would remain open to calling one of my midwife friends if I felt I needed it (they had offered to be on-call) but I never did. A few times during the labor my rational mind queried: do I need to call J or P?
And then my body would sing back with laughter and complete knowing, "No!"
Intuitively I just knew
that everything was fine. And so I had my unassisted birth.
For the first time I had an authentic "fetus ejection reflex" (as Michel Odent has termed it) which was amazing
, and had several strongly intuitive moments that I had not experienced with my first two births (in which I was always waiting for someone to tell me what to do.) I also felt for the first time the incredible feeling of being completely inside birth
-- an altered state of consciousness that I had never fully entered with my previous births, being as part of my consciousness was always "in the real world", paying attention to the fact that people I had no natural intimacy with were watching me perform this very intimate act. But this time it was just me and my baby, slowly, slowly discovering her and floating with her inside this very sacred space.
I was abruptly knocked out of it however by the intrusion of a well-meaning but unexpected visitor, and in the days following I grieved heavily. It was rightly mine, and should have lasted for its natural duration, but it was taken from me prematurely. I realized then what had been so wrong about my first two births (aside from the interventions.) It wasn't that it had been painful. It was that it was unnatural
that I had missed an integral part of Birth. My body knew that, but I didn't, hence the vague feeling of dissatisfaction that seemed irrational given that my second was a "perfect" birth.
So I planned to give birth alone again for my fourth, and this time made sure that there would be nothing to disturb the natural process. Because I was healthy and the labor normal and undisturbed, it was completed in perfect harmony of all the parts and with nothing missing. This time there was nothing to take me out of the chemical and spiritually sacred space that I was meant to be in following the birth, and it was glorious and profound. Having experienced it and its effect on me I feel angry and sad for all the women who have ever been denied it. There was an added bonus, as well, in that with no one there to watch us, my husband and I had some very sweet intimate time together during the labor that is one of my most cherished memories. I tear up, still, just thinking about it.