Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Warrior Birth

"Next time I'm just booking a cesarean."

"My first birth was so traumatic - I want drugs the moment I start labour."
"I can't walk through the door of a hospital again."
"I think we'd better adopt our second child."

To all the women who say these words...
Please know that it wasn't your fault.
It wasn't your faulty body.
It wasn't your faulty mind.
It wasn't that you lacked will power.
It just wasn't a normal labour.
No guilt or blame.
It just wasn't a normal labour.

If you were surrounded by loving, caring people.
If you did the best you could, but the birth still shook you to your core.
If it was long and hard and unfathomable and didn't feel right...
there is usually a simple explanation.
Something just wasn't quite right.
It didn't have to be something big.
It could have been a sweet pair of hands by the baby's face,
or a head tilted to one side,
or facing out a hip,
or looking upwards.
Just bad luck on a big day.

This is the baby who didn't get the memo
about optimal positioning for birth.

Picture the baby who will come out simply and easily.
She's tucking her head down on her chest,
facing mum's bum,
has her hands in her pockets,
and is going to win the Olympic gold medal for the skeleton competition in 2030.
She's aerodynamic, flexible, adaptable,
and able to negotiate all turns with the grace of a pro.

She's lucky
born in the bathtub,
with her mum laughing.

Don't be hard on those babies who didn't get the memo,
those babies whose mums made those scary comments after the first birth.
These babies will never follow the crowd.
They'll be fiery and challenging, but totally brilliant (that's my girl!)
They're the ones who create great architecture, great music.
They are born with these passions tucked deep inside.
(Or maybe that's just me trying to put a positive spin on a difficult labour.)

The posterior/transverse/deflexed/asynclitic/compound presentation baby
tries to negotiate the birth canal
like a pine tree on the edge of a wind-swept cliff edge.
Bent, twisted.
He faces the hip, or faces forward, chin up, whatever the consequence.
This is not a birth for the faint of heart.
This is a warrior's birth.

So, when a woman calls to tell me about her first birth,
that long, epic first birth,
the one that she never thought would end,
and says that she can't ever do it again...

I ask her to thank her first baby for all the work that he or she has done.
We must not worry him or blame her.
First births are unrelenting in their demands,
because that is what is needed for us to be the best mothers to our children.
I remind her of her strength, her courage, her power as a mother.

She must have been a warrior to make it through
and out the other side.
She needs to know that it can be different,
oh, so different the next time.
I, too, have made it through that kind of a birth
then danced in the shower with my second.

She is not alone.

And, like Katie, she may choose to have her next baby at home, with the fan on, in the summer.

And, like Jasmine, she may not actually believe she's in labour until it's almost too late for a car ride, and then pant and blow through the tunnel to the hospital, and have the baby quickly on the other side.

And, like Lisa, she may find herself doing the "buzzard lope" around the house, and only get on a bed for the last few minutes of a beautiful labour.

And, like Trish, she may choose to have a vaginal birth after cesarean on her living room floor, while the trees blow outside.

And, like Shelley, she may not believe that her second birth could actually be easy until the last minute, and give birth standing up in the hospital bath-tub, then order baby back ribs for dinner.

She is not alone.
She can do this,
no matter what happens

This is her story.

- Jacquie Munro, Vancouver Doula, Slow Birth, Slow Planet


MoonWiseMama said...

You are so eloquent, and your words always have such an effect on me. This is beautiful. Please, please, please write a book. I'll be the first in line to buy it :)

With much love and many blessings,


Stassja said...

Thank you so much for this. I don't comment much, but I always read. Due with my second, an HBAC after a ten lb, asynclitic baby, over 40 hours of labor and four of them pushing...these are the words I need to hear. Thank you.

ebbandflo said...

I am smiling as I read your comment on the feisty, warrior baby and birth. I still haven't gotten around to 'regretting' my difficult first (only - but not because of this) birth (induction, C-section and so on) - I think it's because I still get such a kick out of gazing at my feisty, brilliant little warrior who has never taken my word for anything since that first appearance (chin out, face up and looking where he was going next) and has always forged his own way in the world. I do wonder however, what his entry into the world would have been like without induction. Would he have read the memo and conformed (and would that have altered his personality now I wonder)? or (as I suspect) would he have 'blazed his own path' as he has done so since then (and makes me amazed and proud at his self-confidence)? Whatever, but we still continue to butt heads together on a daily basis in our life together. :)

PS: as usual a beautifully written blog post which I've enjoyed reading, thank you

House of Buster said...

That was beautiful! I just found your blog, and that brought happy tears to my eyes. As both of my children didn't get the memo about facing the 'right' direction!

Anonymous said...

This totally resounded with me, Jacquie. When Riley was born (after my long and difficult labour) a year and a half ago, I was sure he'd be an only child. Now, with an amazing healthy and cheery toddler on my hands, I'm feeling the pull to motherhood again! I've posted your poem on my blog (with credit to you, of course).

Jasmine said...

Such beautiful and healing words Jacquie. You made me cry (happy tears!) Thank you for being in my life and for helping to welcome my two beautiful girls into the world.

Judy Baskerville said...

Thank you. Just thank you.

After being stuck in non-progressing labour (head not engaged) for three days, my firstborn finally emerged with a hand firmly on his face in the homebirth I had given up on when I called the midwife for the third night in a row. And now in a few short months before his second birthday, he'll be a big brother. Thanks for reinforcing the hope my husband & I have for a beautiful second birth.

bee*in*the*balm said...

thank you for writing this. i know in my mind that things happen for a reason, even emergency c-sections after months of planning for a homebirth, but my heart still cries from time to time.

Anonymous said...

"Please know that it wasn't your fault."

I don't even know you and these words mean more to me than anything anyone has ever told me.

Thank you.