Thursday, August 06, 2009

No Hospital Homilies For Me!

The third "9th" was her road--not 9th Street, or 9th Place, but 9th Road! Arlington's weird like that. Tammi was outdoors, weeding, as I approached. I waved from my car, as I signed off of a rare phone call with my sister. A gardening midwife. Fits!

We started talking right away as if we'd met before, though this was our initial intake. I was surprisingly taken aback by the neat-as-a-pin interior of her living room, the clean berber carpet, the feng shui of it all. No one could find themselves uncomfortable here! I was parched, and Tammi was happy to oblige my request for a tall glass of cold water.

So, I'm committed to doing this! I feel empowered. Brave. Even nervous, but I am readying myself psychologically and spiritually to take on this experience differently than I did with my first two children. I am ready to trust myself, my Father in heaven, and Mrs. Tammi McKinley with the birth of Stephen Lawrence!

Birthing at home. Women around the world squat against a tree and birth babies in all sorts of climates and environs, but in America we have medicated birth and turned it into a dire emergency worthy of latex gloves, pale green masks & beeping machines. Before there were fetal monitors and doppler instruments, there was the Grand Creator of all Life--and a plan for birth which managed to work for...oh, you know...THOUSANDS of years! Yes, yes, many remind me, infant mortality was high in the pre-industrial age...

Do you realize that the infant mortality in AMERICA is higher than almost any modern country? True. We're second to LATVIA!! I read it in The Post, and here is CNN's report on this shocker! And, those are babies born with all the medical interventions you can muster up! Vacuums suck babies into the world. Forceps pluck & pull them out. Knives are ready to cut into Momma to extract newborns at the show of a stray eyelash (*blink*). But, our babies die here...just like anywhere else in the world. We have not perfected this process. Why? Because the truth about Life is that nothing is perfect, and we have no guarantees--even that we get to hold the babies we carry in vitro.

I know women who have tragically (even painfully) lost their babies at all stages along the 9-month waiting period, as well as those who've held their babes in arms as they passed away within hours of taking their first earthly breaths. Truthfully, no woman is immune. Not you. Not I.

Now, with that sobering thought in mind, let me tell you about my two babies' births. I labored for a mere 5 hours with Logan. Some at home, some along Hwy 64 West, some in a soothing "hot" tub, and the final bit for 45 minutes on a queen size bed. It felt really fast for my mom, husband and me, but it was just perfect, because I was able to play my laboring music (hand-selected songs that take me to a "happy place"), and get into a rhythm with my body and emerging Baby Boy. I know my 5-hour labor is not necessarily typical, but then I didn't take any drugs which altered my body's reactions to the natural processes going on within me...AND, I think I have an unusually strong pain tolerance. Mom birthed my sister and me quickly, so it's apparently in my genes.

But, Teagan's birth was briefer... a LOT!

My mom sneezed at 4:45 AM, I woke up, my water broke, and it all began. Our 35-minute drive to the hospital birthing center was almost 5 minutes too long. Same as Logan: labored at home, labored in the car (SCREAMING, "Don't Come Yet, BABY!"), briefly labored in the room. VERY briefly! Teagan was born within FIVE minutes of my entering that room. I was unable to undress myself, and she was born while some clothes were still on me. I almost had a parking lot baby.

She was perfectly healthy, but the birth was totally out-of-control frightening to me!

Before I go on, I want to say that I do not want my post to come off as a judgment of any mom whose birth was 100% hospital/medical/typical of American births today. A dear friend recently C-sectioned, and I cannot make a call on that process for her--it's none of my personal business, and the event has passed. Sweet Baby Girl is here! THAT is the most beautiful icing on whatever cake sits beneath.

Many, many friends of mine (& family) have not had the birth experiences I have--my sister-in-law was in labor for something like 35 hours!

But, in light of Logan's & Teagan's births I have to make a decision that matches MY body's reaction to this process, and the fact is, I move FAST when it comes to birthing babies.

So, now we live in Northern Virginia. What do you know about DC traffic?

How about this fact? In an article from three weeks ago:
"Washington, D.C. Made Top 10 Most Traffic-Congested Cities – Traffic Jams Persist Despite Recession."

Top Ten? It is NUMBER 2, behind L.A.!

No, I do not live in DC proper. I live 25 miles outside of the city. We are a "bedroom community" to the nation's capitol. Traffic out here is steady, heavy & somewhat predictable, but baby-labor is not! What if I start laboring at the same time as I did with Lo & Tea? We were on 64 West with both babes during morning commute times, and my husband wasn't breaking any speed limits to get us to DePaul!! I got to the hospital around 8:30/9-ish for Lo, and 6:30 AM for Tea. Those are PRIME traffic jam hours in this neck of the woods.

Would I prefer a highway birth, with the dirty car floor at my feet, and the kids in the carseats feeling confused and scared as Daddy tries to decide whether to keep advancing towards the hospital or pull off of Fairfax County Parkway & endanger all of our lives as he helps deliver our son in cramped quarters?! But, if this baby follows Logan's or Teagan's patterns (i.e. my body's mode of birthing), then that possibility is pretty high, on my way to meet up with the OB/GYN at the hospital 8.22 miles southeast of us.

So, I've thought, & I've prayed, & I tried to make it work, driving out to an OB/GYN 11.63 miles from home, taking Fairfax County Parkway to Rt. 50 East to Lee Highway. Highways. Parkways. Routes. It's heavy traffic! In the end, that facility and I had a different idea about my birth plan, and it was easy for me to walk away.

That is what led me, today, to a safe, sweet, peaceful house in Arlington, Virginia. That is why I took the advice of 16 homebirthers in my local homeschooling community and set up today's interview. I believe in a Creator God who designed my body to do this thing!, and I know that He has given me everything I need to do it well, and even solo, if I needed to! Women, today, simply do not trust our bodies. We don't understand them, and I think it is far too easy to trust the white-coated professional who tells you what to do, where & how (but not always why!).

Hmmmmmm. Sort of reminds me of some people's criticisms of the Church! When the homily was in Latin, and frescos and stained glass were meant to illustrate the point to the masses of illiterate, people just trusted what they did not understand (literally! Even as Latin became a "dead language!"). They trusted the man in the white robe & peaked hat. They did not ask questions, and they, therefore, did not always come to know the depth of faith that I feel I have access to today. The Church fell apart by leading by the "Follow Me Because I Know Better & I Say So" leadership style. Some of those men in peaked hats horribly misused their authority--permanently devastating many people. Our recent American history reports some of the worst abuses of authority the Church has known.

Are today's hospitals not today's Old Time Religion with new coats & caps?

Maybe it's the Protestant in me that prefers relationship! Relationship with my Savior which starts at my opening my own copy of Scripture and kneeling at my own bedside talking to the One who made me; and relationship with my children as they work with me to enter this world. Oh, yes, this fits me much better than the sterile, brightly lit room that begs for my insurance dollars to fill the coffer. The parallels are getting stronger in this metaphor! Shew--that's a whole new essay!! Thinking aloud, here...

Anyway. We'll be giving birth in the living room. Oh, man, am I glad I have women around me who prodded me to consider it more seriously! Thank you, Ladies!

Oh, had I a golden thread
And a needle so fine
I’d weave a magic strand
Of rainbow design
Of rainbow design
In it I’d weave the bravery
Of women giving birth
In it I’d weave the innocence
Of the children over all the earth
Children of all the earth
Far over the water,
I’d stretch my magic band
To every city,
To every single land
To every land
Show my brothers and my sisters
My rainbow design
Bind up this sorry world
With hand and heart and mind
Hand and heart and mind
Oh, had I a golden thread
And a needle so fine
I’d weave a magic strand
Of rainbow design
Of rainbow design

Eva Cassidy, "Oh, Had I A Golden Thread" lyrics

1 comment:

rhicarian said...

Homebirth is a wonderful experience! Like you, I had my first two in the hospital and then had my third at home. My hospital births weren't bad, but still, home is the place to be! Best wishes!