I have two children. My son Lennon stormed in on New Year’s Even in 2008, and my son Silas was gently born one day after Halloween last year. They are the lights of my life and my proudest achievements. But they each came into this world in two very different ways.
I had planned a natural birth (in a hospital) for Lennon, but didn’t take the steps to prepare for one. To make a very long story short, Lennon was born vaginally after induction when I “failed to progress” after having broken waters for 12 hours. After the Pitocin was given, I decided on (ok, I begged for) an epidural. I pushed for 40 minutes to the sound of my OB/GYN threatening me with a c-section because I wasn’t pushing effectively, and was given a 3rd degree episiotomy literally as I pleaded with her not to. Hours after his birth, he was still sleepy and had a lazy latch, and my goal of breastfeeding him was put in jeopardy. I was bullied into formula feeding and denied access to a breastpump. Since I wasn’t aware of my options for help, we never recovered from the nipple confusion. That was the beginning of the end of our breastfeeding relationship.
Guilt & Post Partum Depression
After his birth, I was head over heels in love with my sweet little boy, but I’d be lying if I said I was happy. Fueled by frustration and heartbreak about our breastfeeding issues and eventually deciding to go against my plans and exclusively formula feed him, what I thought were the “baby blues” morphed into crippling postpartum depression. After my husband Eric went back to work, it was just me and Lennon and my thoughts – which consumed me. The last nine months had been in preparation for the moment he’d be born and I feel like I failed not only myself, but him.
Today, I am blessed with a healthy, happy, rambunctious, absolutely thriving three-and-a-half year old little boy. I often joke that Lennon’s chaotic and traumatic birth and post-partum period is the the reason why he’s often found quite literally bouncing off the walls today. Though there are many, many things about his birth that I would have changed, I’d never change the boy he has become. He has taught me so much from his birth until now, and I to look at him I feel so much love and pride.
Though in my clouded post-partum mind I felt guilty and foolish for not learning more before Lennon’s birth and protecting us from the unnecessary interventions that affected so many different aspects of our early days together, I tried not to let it bring me down. I instead took that energy and put it toward education. I immersed myself in learning about birth, the female body, breastfeeding, the medical system and it helped to heal me. I learned just exactly why women choose to birth their babies outside of hospitals, that doctors don’t always have your best interests in mind, and I learned that it’s okay – and natural! – for a woman to be in charge of her body and birth.
Taking Birth Back
My son Silas was peacefully and naturally brought earthside in the water in my own living room with only my midwife, doula, husband, and mother by my side. I don’t know if it would have felt so incredible had I not experienced Lennon’s birth the way I did. Though some mothers would have been perfectly happy with a birth experience like I had the first time around (I was lucky enough to avoid c-section after all), I wasn’t happy with it because it wasn’t what I wanted personally – it wasn’t what I’d dreamed of, the kind of birth and post-partum experience I had yearned to have. It definitely gave me perspective, and showed me that I am strong enough to make big decisions for myself and my child, and armed with the right level of knowledge and confidence, absolutely incredible things are possible. Empowering, life-changing, earth-moving things. But it takes preparation, work, and most of all: confidence.
When a woman gives birth to her baby, she too is being born. She is being reborn as a mother and will never, ever be the same. I’ve learned through my experience in birthing that by achieving the birth we desire can do so much for way we feel about ourselves as mothers, a women, humans, and spiritual beings. When a woman feels empowered in her birth, the experience has the potential to morph from simply “having a baby” to becoming completely and totally transformed in the most amazing ways.
A New Journey
I know how important it was to me to have the birth experience I wanted during both of my births. I know what it feels like for a birth plan to go completely out the window and I know what it feels like to have my ideal birth. I will help my clients to the best of my ability achieve their birth goals, whatever those goals may be, because I know how empowering and life changing it can be. Every mother deserves her ideal birth, and I want to make it my life’s work to inspire, educate, and assist her to getting as close as she can to it. I don’t want to change women’s lives, I want to help women to change their own lives.
Though I still feel a twinge of pain when I think about Lennon’s birth, I don’t dwell on it anymore because I can’t change the past. I can only learn from it. I am more confident than ever before, not only about my ability to be a great doula but in the broader sense as well. I am just beginning my journey as a doula, and I feel like I am in such the right “place” with this chosen path. Birth really can change a woman! I am so excited to take these experiences and use them to be the most effective doula I can be, and work towards inspiring women to take birth back into their own hands and help them realize what absolutely incredible things they are capable of.