Recalling my July Births - Livin' the Good Life
Jul. 8th, 2009
12:00 pm - Recalling my July Births
Whenever my kids' birthdays roll around, I always reflect on what their births were like. On the day of their birth, I imagine myself in labor with them and relive the experience, noting what I was feeling and doing at the time I'm remembering it. I make sure to acknowlege the actual time they were born and visualize the birth.
Ely was born in my mother's apartment with the help of a male chiropractor who called himself a "midwife". (I really liked him, but I never quite got why he called himself that.) The day before, Steve and I had gone swimming at a friend's house, and I remember feeling especially worn out from the day. In the middle of the night, my contractions started. My dad and my brother were each there to film the birth (with the latest technology... super-8 cameras!) I was a Lamaze natural childbirth teacher at the time, and I had no films to show my students. Back in 1973, birth films were not readily available nor affordable. So I decided to use my birth as a "demo" for my students. I still have the film, though I don't show it anymore because it demonstrates techniques that we don't use in Bradley, and there are such great Bradley method videos available now. The labor was fast, about 6 hours total. My brother fainted briefly when the baby came out, so we only had one film of the actual birth. (Sorry, Don, I should have prepared you better!) I loved having my whole family around for that birth. Having given birth once before, I remember feeling very confident of my birthing abilities. I felt like an experienced parent, knowing just what to do with a newborn, so that whole experience was a positive one for me. I wanted to go back home to Joshua Tree ASAP and felt plenty strong enough to do so. We left the next day. I went right back to milking goats, tending the garden and canning... 17 quarts of peaches when Ely was just 5 days old. Not a good plan!! I came down with a raging breast infection. Too much, too soon. I learned a good lesson from that birth.... just because you feel like a million bucks after a homebirth doesn't mean you need to go right back to your routine. Rest for a week or two and just focus on the baby. That's my advice from experience.
When Ben was born, we were living in our present house in Joshua Tree. My cousin, Pam, is a midwife, and she was my primary caregiver. She and her husband and three children brought their motorhome to our house a week before my due date so they'd be right there when I went into labor. I started labor about three in the morning, and it came on in earnest. Three hours later, I was pushing. The kids were all up by then, and there was a lot of hustle and bustle around me as the family prepared and ate breakfast. Pam skillfully dealt with both me and our combined children while I labored. I felt like a pro, just quietly and intently going through the intense work of bringing a baby forth. Everyone was present to witness Ben emerge. (Steve, Nathen, Ely, Damian, Gabe, my dad, Pam, her husband Greg, their kids Jonathan, Tenaya,and Asia Rae... that makes 11 people.) When Ben came out, he took a while to start breathing, but Pam had the equipment to help revive him and soon he was breathing and pinking up nicely. I was always so grateful to her for being there and knowing what to do. She was very calm and reassuring when I nervously asked... "Is he all right?" "Yes, yes, he's fine." She put me and the baby to bed, and all the kids gathered round me to see and touch the baby. Pam treated me like a queen for an entire week, feeding me and bringing me whatever I needed, as well as taking care of all the kids. Steve was great too, as always. (He has always been helpful and supportive during my labors and in caring for the kids afterwards.) The night after I gave birth, we had an earthquake, and I remember feeling very protective of Ben, holding him very close the rest of the night. He seemed so fragile to me. And very soft to the touch.
In retrospect, I should have labored in our back bedroom, away from the crowd of people. The labor was so short and intense that I could have benefited by some quiet time with just Steve and the midwife. I guess we didn't realize how fast things were progressing and really didn't have time to move to the bedroom. Hindsight is 20/20. At least everyone got to witness a beautiful birth and a mama who is not afraid.
I'll tell about Gabe's birth on the 11th.