I haven’t written a blog in months.
I could say it’s because I’m pregnant and haven’t felt well, but as my new friend Robyn helped me realize this week, that’s not the whole truth. I’ve actually felt great since hitting my second trimester stride and managed to get a lot done…the first trimester was more like being hung-over, exhausted and seasick at the same time. But, unlike before I was pregnant, when I measured my accomplishments from a calculated, goal-oriented place, today I measure them in moments of relaxation and good meals…which is totally new for me. I’ve always been the meal-on-the-go, workaholic type. To be honest, I haven’t written much because I just stopped caring about the world of information for a while.
Instead of following the news and flushing out topics to write about, I’ve grounded into my body and gotten out of my head. No longer globetrotting and fighting evil, I am at home, preparing for my homebirth. I’m listening to relaxation CDs, doing yoga and anticipating the imminent arrival of this new person inside of me. Though I know very little about this little being (I’m not even sure it’s only one!). I’ve resisted our mainstream birth-culture, which dictates I closely monitor and measure and compare my baby to averages and statistics. I don’t know what sex I’m having and am consciously trying not to attach an identity before he or she enters the world. I talk to her all day, I sing to him at night in the bath, and I look at the wildflowers behind my house and wonder what it was like to see them with fresh eyes.
When I found out I was pregnant, the only thing that was really clear to me was that I was going to do this my way, as informed as possible and willing to stand up for what was right for me. I suppose that’s how I’ve done everything in my life.
After watching some documentaries on birth (Ricki Lake’s The Business of Being Born is an excellent place to start), I was shocked to see how in the last 50 years, childbirth left the home, entered the hospital and became “business managed” …and amazed at what a negative effect such change has had on the outcome of labor. One in every three babies in the US is born by cesarean-section, most of which are directly caused by previous medical interventions. Women in this country are terrified of giving birth and have been convinced that handing their power over to the medical establishment is the responsible thing to do. We have lost control of our bodies’ and our babies’ experiences of childbirth. The percentage of women who elect to have cesarean births is on the rise and has become the popular way to birth among celebrities. We’ve ended up fitting childbirth, one of life’s greatest miracles, into our busy schedules and taken all the grit and joy and spontaneity out of it.
Along with our counter tops, our hands and our shopping carts, birth has been scrubbed and antibacterialized.
My partner and I quickly decided that a hospital birth in the US was not for us, so as an uninsured human rights activist/writer my first instinct was to find another country to give birth in. I have family in Mexico and thought perhaps I could have this baby down South. The plus side was that the cost of having a baby in a Mexican hospital is considerably lower than the US. The down side was that Mexican c-section rates are even higher than the US. Most of the traditional birth knowledge in Mexico has been abandoned for the “miracle of modern medicine,” much as it was in the US in the past few decades. Moving to Europe, getting new jobs, and being far from family seemed a little drastic. So we went searching for something else.
To my surprise I found what I was looking for in the hills of the Rocky Mountains, my own back yard. A direct entry midwife who has been birthing babies at home for 34 years, long before it was legalized in Colorado in 1993. With more than 1200 births under her belt, I knew I was in good hands and dove right into the philosophy and ritual of homebirth. We decided against doing an ultrasound unless there was a red flag that emerged through my prenatal appointments. I’ve spent hours with my midwife, talking about proper nutrition, preparing for the immense emotional changes that come with being a parent and reviewing the approach we will take during the actual birth. She has become a good friend and when I leave her office, she hugs me and tells me she loves me…and we all get excited and joyous for this baby’s entry into the world.