Sunday, January 16, 2011
Unassisted Childbirth Survey
Name (and alias if preferred): Guggie Daly
Contact information (for follow-up): Facebook or blog
Describe yourself (i.e. Personality, background, education, occupation):
I like to say I’m 2nd generation alternative, meaning it was my parents who worked through the issues of birth trauma, vaccination injury, breastfeeding sabotage, etc and I was the baby who experienced it. The first-born is guinea pig I guess you could say!
I’m a bookworm who enjoys puzzling things all the way to the end. I can’t leave things undone. My mom promoted an environment of unschooling for me. I was homeschooled from beginning to end and graduated a year early, ready to go to medical school through a scholarly bridge program (where the length of undergrad school is reduced). I couldn’t align medical school with my values and left on a depressed note, wondering if I was doing the right thing.
Looking back, I am glad I did. I dabbled in my own business and worked as a retail manager while going to a local private university. Right now, I'm on hiatus from a degree in neuroscience and a full time mama.
Why did you choose unassisted birth?
I considered unassisted birth as a default, because I grew up in a freebirthing family. After 3 military hospital births, my parents switched to unassisted birthing. The idea therefore seemed normal and unassuming to me. And when I intensely studied American birth culture during pregnancy, I discovered unassisted birth fit my own philosophy and evaded the horrific depths of the culture out there.
I simply view birth as an intimate and normal aspect of the family unit. It is not inherently dangerous or wrong or scary and I do not need someone waiting by my side to swoop in and save my baby.
What was the hardest part of the decision?
The hardest part was trying to decide if I should openly tell others or not. I’ve heard the horror stories and we are in an anti-homebirth, certainly anti-UC area. When I was pregnant with my first child, CPMs were illegal, too. It took until my daughter was almost 2 years old to share my birth story. The second time around I felt more accepted through the Facebook community and shared my son's pregnancy and birth online.
How did people react when you told them your plans?
The first time, I didn’t really tell anyone other than our parents and my siblings. For others I simply said we were having a homebirth, which in my smaller group of friends was pretty positively accepted. The second time around, I was moved to tears at the level of support online.
Every step of the way was a positive one with friends from all corners of the globe cheering me on, offering advice and giving our little family well-wishes. I remember when I was growing up, unassisted birth for my parents seemed a bit secluded and even lonely. It was shunned even in a local homeschooling group and my mom often voiced her sadness that no one was around to talk about unassisted birth. She wrote letters to Marilyn Moran for companionship. (Marilyn is often considered the first modern American woman to promote UC. She is the author of Birth and the Dialogue of Love.)
With the internet, seclusion is no longer true!
Did you have a spouse/partner involved? Describe your relationship:
Yes, my spouse is very supportive of homebirth, although he did need questions answered about unassisted birth. His original concept was that an assisted homebirth was better than a hospital birth, so why go the extra mile for a husband/wife birth? We watched a few documentaries (he especially loved The Business of Being Born) and read Marilyn Moran’s book and by then he was eager to do it.
Briefly describe each of your birth experiences:
My first birth was long and slow. I have numerous gymnastic injuries and it seems these might have impaired dilation and stopped efficient contractions. My contractions were asymmetric and kept my daughter’s head tilted (asynclitic) after she tipped into the birth canal. I labored for about 2 days before we called an underground midwife to help with stalled labor at 9cm.
She was very gracious to stop by, having never consulted with us before. With a little turning/wiggling and a very long pushing stage, DD was born asynclitic and transverse occiput, forehead presentation, nuchal arms, the works lol. But it was peacefully, at home. If not for the skill and birth-trust of that midwife, we would have transferred for an automatic c-section.
With my second birth I decided to be proactive and visited a chiropractor skilled in the Webster technique twice a week in my last trimester. I figured even if it didn’t “work” by helping with dilation and contractions, at the very least it eliminated the 3rd trimester aches and pains. Seriously, I was jogging and babywearing my toddler without pain. Labor was smooth and intense. It lasted 7 hours and resulted in a posterior occiput waterbirth. DH was the only person present besides the baby and me.
The third birth felt precipitous even though it was about 5 hours long. Labor was intense and painful and he rocketed out of me with a severe trigger of the Ferguson reflex. My husband and 2 other children were present, thankfully, as they would have missed his entrance!
How did each of these experiences effect you? Your partner/spouse? Your family?
The first birth was very emotional for my mom, surprisingly. She was born via c-section and birthing me was very traumatic. So being there for her grand-daughter’s peaceful homebirth healed her in some ways I might never fully understand. The look on her face when my daughter was born was beautiful. :)
My first birth resulted in intrapersonal development for me. I am a rape survivor and although I like to say I have “healed and forgiven” from the incidents, when I gave birth, it did more. It uplifted me and bolstered my confidence and self-esteem. In other words, I wasn’t merely healed, but filled with confidence and a newfound appreciation for the power and strength of my body.
This increased tenfold with my second birth, when I really dove into my body instead of running away from the contractions or "managing" the pain. Instead, I opened myself up and experienced the sensations and worked with my body. And thankfully I had that strength for that doozy of a third birth!
Birth puts my husband over the moon with joy. He felt very empowered and special. He is a “gifts of service” personality (from the 5 Love Languages) and so it gave him a lot of satisfaction to be my birth partner and to welcome his children into the world. He was also circumcised at birth and found a lot of healing in knowing he would keep his children intact.
My toddlers have a normal view of birth from the experiences. They spent some time watching birth videos on youtube and The Business of Being Born. Their understanding of who is in the womb and how to get out is simple and sweet. I found it fascinating to watch them observe our family births. They were not scared or uncomfortable, but openly accepting. It seems what people project onto their children is the bigger problem.