The Circus Act of My Natural Birth

{In this photo, I was in labor. Early, happy, excited labor -but labor nonetheless, and I wanted a last shot of luxuriously blow-dried hair, because I know by now, that won’t be happening for the next few weeks… months maybe.  It’s good.  I’m at peace with neglecting my vanity.}

So we’ll just dive right into it then…

Friday evening, the 14th I began feeling mild contractions— heavy menstrual cramps for the ladies who’ve never experienced them— or waves of the sudden onset of impending diarrhea for the men who’ve never experienced menstrual cramps.  Also, I experience a sudden congestion in my sinus cavities before each contraction.  Strange, I know… but relevant, now that I think about their location in relation to my body’s central blood vessels and nerves.

The morning came and they persisted. I knew that my labor had officially begun. How exciting!  I’d been preparing for this for 9 months and was anxious to put my knowledge and research into practice!  The playoffs had arrived, and this was the championship game.  My husband and I called/texted my parents who took our boys for the day so that I could labor peacefully at home.

It made such a huge difference to labor in the quiet, comfortable of our home.  Instead of my previous two births: basically panicking and hustling out the door for my epidural, instead, I eased my way into each contraction.  For the better part of the day, I was able to shuffle about, crocheting my blanket project, napping and lightly snacking as each contraction came and went.  I mostly experienced one or two every half hour.

The contractions slowly increased in intensity throughout the day.

 After a long afternoon nap, my husband and I took a tour of the grounds on our property.  That’s saying something for me, as I never take “tours” or hikes or walks outside… I’m not the outdoorsy type.  Walking is supposed to help gently encourage the baby further into the birth canal (gravity, duhhh).  I really enjoyed just slowly walking with and being by my husband, talking, joking and laughing. 

{On the far side of our little pond, which I never visit.  Bugs.  That’s why.  I don’t enjoy bugs or their bites.}

We decided to install the infant carseat and took a small drive to get a “dying man’s wish” of some greasy McDonald’s French fries. 
I know that’s a terrible choice, but whatever.

{my husband snuck a lot of ridiculous photos of me…}

So after a relaxing, restful day, the intensity of my contractions picked up at 4pm. I remained in our living room with our orange medicine ball, hanging over it, sitting on it, kneeling over it while crocheting the blanket I’ve been working on through each contraction.

I decided to upload a contraction timer App for my phone which helped a ton. My children have a little Pottery Barn Kids chair that I moved to and started leaning over for support.  As the contractions picked up in intensity and frequency, I didn’t want to move from the chair.  My husband made a joke that I normally would have laughed about, but as another contraction began, I told him, “No, no, no, that isn’t funny, this is serious right now…” and I began to breathe through the throbbing wave.

{My husband later told me that this photo made him think of the scene in Disney’s Tangled where Maximus hides and poorly disguises himself behind a rock… like so:}

I realized we needed to head to the hospital when I found myself in a meditative rest -almost sleeping- in between each contraction.  Yet the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart.  I knew I would absolutely refuse to get into a car for a 30 minute ride to the hospital if I’d waited any longer.

 I had probably 10 contractions which I had to work through in the car, in the parking lot and into the emergency entrance.

Of course, we enter and I’ve got a large audience in the waiting room, silently watching me work through the one contraction I had at the desk. Seriously, why were there 20 people in the waiting room at 9:30 on a Saturday night!?

I refused a wheelchair and Craig and I walked our way to the labor and delivery floor. It was difficult and I began to become emotional, knowing “this is really happening”. Craig let me hang onto him and supported me through each surge of pain that coursed through my body.

We finally made it to triage where I was examined and told I was dilated at 6cm and fully effaced. 
My doula, Maren came, as well as my OB (to my great surprise!) and we all walked to my birth room.

There I chose a chair to kneel in front of, on top of a cushion, and work through many contractions. 
Sitting on the toilet actually felt nice too, but I could tell I was making my nurse and OB nervous that I would deliver into the toilet, so I moved toward the bed…

I felt extremely relieved to not be forced to have a hep-lock placed into my hand.

Quickly, I realized the nurse attendant was extremely respectful of our crunchy wishes (no medication, no IV, ability to freely move, intermittent fetal monitoring, no vaccinations, eye goo, etc) and she asked me before she did anything to me or in preparation of the baby’s arrival.

Such a stark contrast from my last experiences. It was so nice to be fully mentally present and feel fully integrated into my labor and delivery of our child. Not just a vessel.

I began to be so uncomfortable that I sought different positions. The labor bed had the capability to transform into a sort of step ladder shape so that I could squat on it foreword or backward, with different handles for me to use for support or to hang onto. The nurse and Maren attached a huge metal bar, encased with soft sponge, as I decided to turn forward and rest semi upright on my back in between contractions.  (Not typical of a natural birthing mom, but it brought my tailbone some relief!)

I began to feel some relief in pushing and crying out during the intense waves of insanity that tore through my lower back and hips.

Here’s where the one man—er, woman— circus act began.

I lost it.

Completely lost it.

I was pushing, but our baby wasn’t moving.  

With each push, the pain intensified instead of bringing the reported relief that each laboring mother is supposed to experience.

As I had just finished a particularly shocking contraction, we heard a knock on the door and in walked a man with a table full of tools and medicines, “I hear someone called for an epidural?” he sang merrily.  (&!^%!@?#%*!!!!!!!!?)  

“NOOO!!!” shouted everyone synonymously. 
“no thank you, ” I heard myself squeak.  And everyone laughed at my little, polite refusal.  

Out backed the epidural man with his table of drugs.  If I had a chance to back down and get an epi, I’d lost it now, I thought to myself with a sense of finality and triumph over the temptation to escape the fear of the unknown…

The contractions were double-peaking and so closely on top of each other by now that I refused to let my OB (who’d remained in the room with us the entire time) check my cervix for progress.

When he finally did check me, he informed me that he needed to aid in pulling the cervical lip back; that it was keeping our baby from being pushed to the point of crowning.  Which explains the abnormal pain.  I was pushing our baby into a wall, basically.  

{This diagram illustrates why I was experiencing such pain.  I wasn’t fully dilated, yet still pushing.  Ouchie.}

So instead of my OB doing the typical perineum stretching that happens in the final pushing stage, he was aiding in cervical stretching. And it hurt. It was like rubbing salt onto exposed nerve endings in an amputated arm.

At this moment, I closed my eyes and did not open them to anyone for the last half of my labor.  It was me against myself, I knew, by myself.

I sang the opera:

Held a long, low note of a male Tenor with each contraction and crazily thought I might be auditioning for the part of a pirate in the musical Pirates of Penzance. (which I did do in 7th grade).

I bellowed like a blind, old cow. 
I barked like a constipated, fat dog (Craig’s favorite sound to recount).
I wailed like a banshee,
Screamed like a girl riding down a roller coaster. 

Screamed like a horror film heroine.

{Psycho, anyone?}

I Bellowed in such a way that I actually heard my OB utter the word “water buffalo” during my resting period.  

{Now I know what a water buffalo is, and what it sounds like}

When hollering proved insufficient, I punched my own thigh in disbelief of the reality of the pain. I slapped it like “DAYYYYYUMMMM!” as if I could not believe such sensations were gaining victory over me. 
I thrashed my head- shaking it saying “NO NO NO NO NOOOO!!!!!” absolutely forbidding the pain to triumph. 
And then, after each contraction, I raised one hand or the other into the air, eyes closed, like a passionate gospel singer, and slowly grasped at absolutely nothing.

{Or Mariah Carey.}

The few times I did open my eyes, I refused to focus them on any one.

I was gone. Lost. Completely lost. 
Craig tells me it frightened him to see me so lost, knowing he could do nothing to help me find my way out.

At this point, soaked in sweat, I actually sobbed, saying “I don’t want to do this anymore!!! What else can I do! Please!!” I looked my husband full in the face for the first time and I knew there was nothing. He firmly urged me on. My nurse urged me and my doula reminded me that I was born to do this. Finally my water broke— 

And I felt a new pain.  A welcome pain.  Our little boy was descending.  Finally descending.  I gave two great pushes, and out came our little boy’s head.  

“Open your eyes and look down!” I was told.  But I refused to open them until my husband placed our boy onto my chest.  

Craig caught our little Collin John Paul.  I opened my eyes as Collin was handed to me, and I was completely taken aback by the shock ofjet black hair covering his head, his beautifully colored, baby pink skin (our other boys came out grayish/purple because of the epidural I believe), and the amount of vernix still coating his little body (indicating that he perhaps wasn’t overdue like we’d all believed).  

And it was: love at first sight.  I feel bad for my first boy…I didn’t know and I was too afraid of the unknown to appreciate seeing him for the first time.

I was filled to the brim with a complete sense of peace.  Of love.  

And then I barked, “NEVER AGAIN!” to the whole room.

And 15 minutes later, I caught myself saying, “well, next time…” 

I realized my voice had a sudden similarity to that of a heavy, life-long smoker, and I laughed at my labor charade. 

This birth humbled me to my core.  It fulfilled my identity as a woman.  

My life is full of incompletes, of goals never accomplished, of things started backward, or not carried out from A-Z. 

But this one.  This I can humbly claim.  I can know in my heart, “I really did it.” 

It wasn’t easy.  It wasn’t enjoyable.  It wasn’t.  

But it was amazing. It was better than winning a sporting event.  Better than winning a gold medal.  Better than getting a raise, a promotion, a new possession, being famous, walking the runway, jumping from an airplane…better than any achievement, award, reward or drug I could ever possibly attain.  And I got to experience it.  I did.  Just me. 

And I am humbled by that privilege.

But I must admit that I’ve never in my life felt or understood the genuine meaning of the word GLAD.  I was SO GLAD it was over and completed.

Will I do it again?  

…how about asking me that question again a year from now… ;)


…and in the end, the love you take…

So here we are yet again at the end of another pregnancy.

Really, could I possibly have MORE thoughts about being pregnant?

I daresay I could and I do! Hoo Hoo hoooo.

[So here’s where I’m going to give my readers an option. If you’re my age-ish, you might remember in grade school the books where you can “choose your own ending”. At the end of each chapter, the author gives a choice to the reader to:

“A.) continue to the next chapter if you want the character to change paths.”


“B.) Go to page # whatever if you want the character to feel all warm and fuzzy and live happily ever after.”

So I’ll give the high points of my pregnancy and we can end there on a happy, fuzzy, comfortable note and not be offended, good day to you. But if you’re interested in putting personal agendas and feelings of being personally sought-out by me aside to think a little deeper, read on!]


In stark contrast from my first pregnancy, this one was “planned”. I write that word in quotations because as far as a Christian mentality goes, all life is planned by God. So what I mean is that this pregnancy was strategically anticipated by all parties involved.

That being so, I can say that these 9 months have come and gone the quickest of all of them. I’ve had less pregnancy scares (no falls, car accidents, illnesses…) and hardly any physical pain at all. My last two pregnancies came with pretty overwhelming back pain during the whole 9 months.

I am certain that the pleasantry of this experience is due to:

1.) The fact that it’s my third experience being pregnant, thus knowing what to expect makes me worlds less nervous or anxious about my body changes.

2.) Having two toddlers rampaging the house definitely distracts me from noticing and obsessing over every little rise and fall of my heartbeat or sweat production or nail breakage. Basically, I don’t have time to revel in the Pregnant Princess crown that first time moms get to enjoy. And I’ve discovered I like it that way! It has made the time go so much faster. And it edifies my belief that serving others ultimately brings about personal fulfillment and happiness.

3.) I am wiser. I’ve done a ton more networking with other moms. I’ve read a zillion blogs and articles and books about pregnancy, labor and delivery and how to ask the right questions to your doctor. I’m still learning, but I have such a greater confidence in the natural ability of my own womanhood to do what my body parts were created to do!

4.) My generous in-laws gave us their king sized bed along with a memory foam topper. The last half of this pregnancy, I folded that sucker in half and have been sleeping (as my husband calls it) in an ivory tower of back-relieving heaven.

So I begin my 40th week feeling immensely blessed and greatly thankful for the ease and peace that I’ve experienced thus far.

[Here’s the end of the feel-good chapter in my story. If you have a tendency to think that everyone is out to offend you, I’d recommend you press the little x at the top of the screen and carry on to more important tasks. Seriously, there are more important things. Really. I honestly mean it. Life’s too short to get worked up over a pathetic blog entry. I don’t do it.]

Next Chapter:

Here’s what’s different:

My state of mind: I have expanded. I have learned.

I’m so slow on the uptake though! I’ve got a very close friend whose mentality about birthing was already where I’m trying to get— from her very first birth! She did the hard work, the research, and networking that I SHOULD have done three and a half years ago.

My sister is also one. She started learning quickly after her first epidural experience.
I’m the lazy one. One epidural, two epidural- then something went wrong and NOW I learn. I’m only thankful that my negative experience was hardly negative at all!

I have finally learned that not only does being a mother begin at conception, it also brings a lot more responsibility than making sure you do your kegel exercises, purchase baby laundry detergent, and register at the hospital.  It’s way deeper than having the things.  It is knowing the things.

I’ve quoted Dr. Sears tons of times and here I go again. Sears says that the motto of the International Childbirth Education Association is “freedom of choice through knowledge of alternatives”. As women, we are ALLLLL about our freedom of choice. But is it responsible to freely make a choice when we’ve lazily educated ourselves about our alternatives, headstrong about just doing what’s generally mainstream? I’d say no.

My previous decisions to have epidurals were not made in full knowledge of my alternatives. All I knew is that my alternatives sounded scary, painful, dated, rolling in crunchy-granola-hippie-coombaya-beat-a-drum-braided-hair-take-an-herb-and-do-it-NATURALLLLLY nonsense. And I am not a person who likes nonsense.

If you read my blog, I think you’d be able to get that much about me. Why, with advanced technology and effective medicines today, would I choose to opt out, to just accept pain!?

Because, advanced technology and medicines are there for invasive surgery.
For fixing a serious problem.
Giving birth is not a problem.
It can be… 
But mostly, per my reading, a healthy pregnancy does not need interventions in labor and delivery.

So there I was with my first birth, just doing what I believed everyone does… Because my knowledge of alternatives was zilch. And I didn’t care to educate myself. All I worried about was dealing with pain until I got to the hospital and then my OB would take care of it.

But guess what? I didn’t see my OB for either of my births until it was time to push.
My doctor that I’d been visiting for 9 months only caught the baby and made sure everyone was healthy.

And I am thankful for him and his profession.
However, until my last birth, I was under the impression that my OB is kind of my superhero figure to save me and steer me in every right direction while I progressed through the frightening unknown of labor and delivery.

What a grave misunderstanding!

Now I know better.
I know that an OB is there to find a problem, if a problem exists, and DO SOMETHING about it.
Fix it.
But if there’s never a problem, the OB’s job is pretty boring.

I now know it is fully in my power, my responsibility, to know how to understand and cope with the journey of labor and delivery. It’s kind of disturbing to figure this out amidst a culture where everything is given (or bought) at the swipe of a finger or touch or a button; a culture where women believe themselves already the possessors of control over their own choices and their own body.

“freedom of choice through knowledge of alternatives”… I didn’t care to know.

I did what I have seen shown on TV and what my older relatives told me I better do or else I’d be “stupid to go through pain like that”.
Fast forward two births and now not only am I about to have one more birth than many of my own family and friends… It’s been a span of 20-30 years after most of my family have birthed their own children.

There is 20-30 years more research and scientific evidence contributing to the mounting evidence that intervention is mostly unnecessary, and actually likely to cause more harm than good in a normal, healthy pregnancy.

Secondly, I now know that everything we see on TV, from the movies to even the Kardashian’s reality episode of a natural birth is dramatized. Exaggerated. (I’ve not seen the episode, don’t watch the Kardashians, but a handful of friends and family who’ve never witnessed a natural birth have told me about it in horror.)

It is shown in a light to confirm every young woman’s fear: that she won’t be able to handle the pain. That she cannot bring her baby into the world without her superhero breaking her water, using forceps or a vacuum to help in such an inhuman task as giving birth.  As if, without an OB, the human race would cease to exist…

I’m very interested to know why the media portrays giving birth in this light… I could write about it but, as I think more and more, I believe I’d come off as some loony who claims it’s big pharma/big business/big insurance companies all pumping as much money-making interventions into a woman’s life as they can… Further degrading and misplacing a woman’s sense of empowerment and equality that she feels she’s somehow gained in this country by her freedom to choose…. …*ahem*….


I’m mildly anemic and enjoy chewing ice cubes… But only the kind that the hospitals have as well as certain fast food chains. I recently made a trip to one of these fast food joints JUST so I could order a coke with mostly ice.

I joyously took a photo of the ice with my phone, shared it on Instagram, and a friend commented saying, “oooh I love hospital ice! If you’re having a home birth this time, you better stock up if you can!”

I replied saying that I’m not brave enough to have a home birth.

But after a few minutes thought -and after I’d posted the comment- I realized that I’m actually more worried about the hospital and the limits they place on a laboring mother:

If she’s not “progressing” within the hospital’s time schedule, they’ll recommend pitocin to kick start more contractions. …and the mother who hasn’t become fully informed about her alternatives —or the female body’s natural process of laboring— will eagerly accept, believing that the hospital staff know what’s best for her body…

…and the pitocin will cause her uterus to contract so unnaturally forceful, for so unnaturally a long duration, bringing on much more intense pain than she would have to experience if her OB had simply had the patience to let her body do the work it’s created to do, that the mother will scream for an epidural to numb the pain.  

The epidural will then slow down the contractions, numb the mother from being able to sense any urges to push or be aware when she’s even contracting, that she lies there, sedated.  Time continues to tick by without any progress, so the nurses up the pitocin dosage, bringing on unnaturally heavier contractions which places distress on the baby.  Now the baby’s oxygen level drops to an alarming rate due to the intense and prolonged pitocin-induced contractions and in storms Mom’s knight in shining armor, “Momma, we cannot wait any longer, it’s time.  We need to do an emergency C-Section.”

And off she goes.  Mother believes she and baby have been saved.  And she has been!  …saved from the consequences of the pitocin that wasn’t needed in the first place.

I now know that every woman is different. Every labor and birth is different. Women should not be forced, at the most monumental event in her entire life, to feel the pressure of hospital staff encouraging her to fill the mold of their timelines so that they can get the next patient ($$$) in the bed she’s currently puttering around in.

Do I sound jaded? I really am not. I am thankful for hospitals.
I am thankful for modern technology and medication.
I am thankful for the interventions that are available when NEEDED.
I am thankful for the epidural I chose when I gave birth to our first son.

Although I now look back on it with dissatisfaction, I know I hadn’t prepared myself. I hadn’t taken responsibility. So, for my former self at that time, I am thankful for the intervention of the epidural and even the horrendously dangerous pitocin to do my job for me.

Now I know I will never, ever, ever elect pitocin above of all, nor an epidural if my pregnancies are healthy and normal.

Now that I understand what these drugs do to inhibit my body, cause more pain, and slow my progress as I try to labor, I could never seriously consider allowing them to run through my veins again.

“Girl you’re crazy, but more power to ya…” is kind of what I’ve gotten from some people and what I’ve heard be said to others around me who opt out of the medicated labor and delivery.

But I want to ask, am I crazy? Really? Have the accusers of my insanity done their homework as I have?

I wonder that an intuitive Joe or Jane wouldn’t assume if there was a medication that didn’t interfere with the woman’s body’s natural chemical process that occurs to instill a fierce maternal and primitive attachment between herself and her baby, that I wouldn’t take it?

Cause I would. I really would. I know the pain of labor and delivery.

( (she’s on FB too!)

I felt it for 48 hours before my first birth.
I felt the beginning and from the point of transition to actual birth in the second birth.

If there was a miracle drug that had no side effects whatsoever, I’d take it.
But there is no such thing.

At first I thought that the side effects were minimal. Or at least they were effects that would wear off after a few hours.
But when I began to understand the chemistry that occurs within the very first moments between a child’s contact with the world outside of the womb and how it affects the mother’s attachment, care, and physical ability to produce breast milk, I began to be completely captivated by how it’s actually possible that women are convinced to ignore it.

“oh my body didn’t produce enough..” “my pelvis was too small…” “I was deemed as unfit for a vaginal delivery”…

As women, we are allowing ourselves to be convinced of our inadequacy of our very femininity— our very sexuality.

“You’re not woman enough”

Oh yes you are. Do your research. Know your body. Know it.

This is why I’m an NFPer, a pro-lifer, an “earthy child”.
Because a woman’s fertility is not broken.

She needs to take responsibility for it and knowledge of it.

I write this with an immense thankfulness for my younger sister as well as my dear friend and her family (The Fords!).

If they were not in my life, continually and gently discussing these matters with me, sharing their own knowledge and engaging me to read and see for myself… I’d probably have a scheduled c-section this Friday.

So now I write, not to point fingers. Not to guilt moms who choose a medicated birth (can I say for the hundredth time that I’ve had two epidurals!?). Not to make women feel inferior who’ve not breastfed or worn their baby in a Moby Wrap.
But to give them the idea.
I didn’t have an idea.
I didn’t have a dang clue!

What I did have were and are strong women who were taught or motivated enough to find out for themselves and weren’t afraid to share their findings with me.

I have written this whole diatribe, obnoxiously blabbered my firm conversion to natural birthing… but I haven’t given birth yetttt!  [insert dramatic musical note]

I still may choose some form of medication.  I may.  However!  I now fully know what the consequences might be if I do choose medication.  And that is good!  I cannot be unsatisfied with my labor and delivery, knowing the possible consequences of my choices. I can’t say, “Wow, I didn’t know!”

I believe that makes all the difference.  

So that’s what I have to say about this pregnancy. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve gained a lot.
I want to know more!

When tasting truth and genuinely honest information, a passion is created in me that I cannot walk away from and that I feel absolutely selfish not to share with others. Especially when I feel called to writing as a way of “feminine evangelization” as it were.

So if you’re sitting there, a’thinkin’ that I’ve got YOU in my mind as I wrote this, rest assured… I’m much more vain than to think about specific individuals as I write:

I’m thinking about MEEEE. Me, and the changes I’ve stumbled joyfully through to become a better version of myself.

I only hope to encourage others to think about themselves too, as they see my human changes over time, fearlessly displayed across this pathetic little blog. I’m not afraid of criticism. I welcome it. How else can I know myself and grow? I’ve no desire to sink into a cozy little mudpit and stay who I am today forever. How boring.

If you’ve stayed with me this far, I want to thank you for opening your heart to my tripe :)  

I’d love to leave this entry off with one of the most powerful things I’ve heard be said about giving birth.  It comes from a documentary that my friend Heather brought over for me and I nearly begrudgingly watched (because it’s kind of pro-homebirth, and since I don’t know much about it, I was, of course not interested in FULLY EDUCATING myself about it, hahaa!  We are all so obstinate, aren’t we?!)

Until recently, love was a topic for poets, novelists, philosophers. Today it is studied from multiple scientific perspectives. with mammals in general, there is immediately after birth…a short period of time which will never happen again and which is critical in mother/baby attachment. 

Until recently, in order to give birth…a woman, like all mammals, is supposed to release a complex cocktail of love hormones. As soon as baby is born, when mother and baby are together, both of them are under the effect of a sort-of morphine…an opiate, natural morphine endorphins. We know the properties; they create states of dependency. Addiction. When mother and baby are close to each other, it is the beginning of an attachment. But today, most women have babies without releasing this flow of hormones. 

I’ll just give an example of animal experience. In general, if you disturb the hormonal balance of a female giving birth, it’s simple the mother does not take care of her baby. It’s simple. If monkeys give birth by cesarean section, the mother is not interested in her baby. It’s simple, easy to detect on an individual level. So you wonder – but what about our civilization, what about the future of humanity. If most women have babies without releasing this cocktail of love hormones…can we survive without love?

The point is, I am not introducing theories…this is not about theories…I bring together facts. what we know today. The point is to bring some facts together at the right time, to create a new awareness. 

Dr. Michel Odent
OB/GYN & Researcher

The Business of Being Born

A few references:

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OHH hai. So I’m deciding to take my “maternity leave” from my blog for a while. As the weeks stretch on, I’m finding myself increasingly uncomfortable, irritable, completely forgetful and with total negligence of grammatical correctness (which irks me greatly) … Continue reading