"Those who have experienced Paris have advantage over those who have not. We are the ones who have glimpsed a little bit of heaven, down here on earth." - Deirdre Kelly

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Avoir un bebe - one mother's testimony

Avoir un bebe (having a baby)
Getting ready to give birth to Rory - 9 August 2001

"The body is an instrument which only gives off music when it is used as a body. Always an orchestra, and just as music traverses walls, so sensuality traverses the body and reaches up to ecstasy."
- Anais Nin

My very good friend - Amy - writes a blog, brilliantly named Domestic Observances. Amy blogs about her adventures as a 20-something woman, wife and student with a focus on green/healthy living. Amy is a nursing student, interested in pregnancy, labor & delivery - particularly natural birth/delivery. We've had many amazing conversations on the subject - I alway learn something new.

Last month, Amy posted about her experience in her Labor & Delivery clinical rotation, where she had to confront the unfortunate fact that (in the U.S. at least) if an expectant mother decides to have her baby in a hospital there's nothing 'natural' about it. Amy was understandably dismayed by all of the unnecessary medical intervention that takes place during the vast majority of hospital deliveries. Her frustration was evident. A frustration borne of knowing that such medical intervention is not always necessary, and can acutally do more harm than good. Moreover, frustration borne of knowing that she (and other nurses like her) are dealing with a medical-establishment-juggernaught where pharmceutical and surgical intervention reigns supreme. While I agree with every word Amy wrote, I also felt the need to offer up the viewpoint of the expectant mother, and how that juggernaught rolls over expectant mothers too - from the first doctor's pre-natal visit until 'labor day.'

Amy's post and my response to it has...stuck with me. It's nearly a month later - I guess that I needed that long to let it percolate in my mind and heart. I also started...remembering. It's been nearly 11 years since I learned that I was having my first child - so you can understand why I needed the time ;-) I never wanted children, I had a different vision for my life, a vision that didn't include children - or so I thought.

When I decided that I was ready to become a mother, being the professor I am, I started my motherhood-journey with research - books, the internets, and talking to my lady friends who were already mothers. While the books and internets of the late 90s were clinical, I got the real deal from talking to other mothers. And their was one general consensus - I love being a mother, but I hated being pregnant. Everyone, and I mean everyone, bemoaned how they hated their bodies, how uncomfortable they were, how they were just waiting for 'it' (their pregnancies) to be over. Still, in the end, they all encouraged me to become a mother. Of course it didn't matter, I had already decided. But I also decided that I was going to love my body and enjoy every second of every moment - and I did.

8 months pregnant with Sage - Mexico, 2001

I loved being pregnant - from day one to delivery. I felt beautiful and sensual. The more my belly grew, the more powerful and strong I felt. I wore the most feminine and beautiful clothes I could find - often making them myself (early 00s maternity clothes were pretty awful - think mumu). I didn't hide my belly, I wore it with pride. In the above photo, I'm wearing a bikini for the first time in my life - I was 33 years old.

Ballet class 4 days before having Rory (August 2001)

I danced with all 4 of my babies - ballet was my refuge.
My scanner's down, so these are the only one's I can post (sigh).

Nursing Never (4 hours old)

And, although my deliveries were ruled by medical intervention, I made the experience as much my own as I could: I brought my own pillows, blankets, a throw knitted by my grandmother, linens and lamp; lotions and oils; my iPod and player, my French Press and china (notice my Diva-red nursing gown), Peter mounted some art work and family photos to the walls, and - of course - there were flowers everywhere. And I did this for every birth. Oh, and did I mention that I had them catered - oh yes!

Full Diva! Going to have Never - 23 June 2005

A lot of people talk, write, and sing about being a Goddess, but I believe that pregnancy and childbirth is absolutely Goddess territory. Maybe if expectant mothers were encouraged to embrace pregnancy and childbirth as an empowering adventure, we'd be more willing and able to explore more natural means of childbirth. Still although my ob/gyn was totally on board with the things I did to make my experience my own, not all of the nurses were. My Dr. had to personally step in - speak up ladies! And I was lucky - both of the grandmammas and Mr. Gorgeous set up my room while I was in Recovery.

Is every aspect of labor and delivery perfect - no. But deciding what you want (beforehand) and planning accordingly is essential. Even more essential is being as informed as possible, speaking up and being able to roll with an emotional and volatile situation. Yes, my experience is my individual own. I offer it as testimony - expectant mothers take control.

As for Amy and her nursing career, I'll repeat what I said in my reply to her original post: "I wish that I had known you (now) when I was having my babies (then)." If I had, I know that my experience would have been even more amazing than it was. Don't give up the fight girl, expectant mothers and our babies need nurses like you...

Vivre! Rire! Aimer!


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