Five Births – A Journey to Unassisted Birth

explaining unassisted birthMy own birth experiences have given rise to a deep passion for helping and healing other women, to awaken them to their own innate potential for joy, power, and trust in themSelves.  They have led me to unassisted birth.

Above all, giving birth is about finding, trusting, and owning your power as a woman.

Unassisted birth is certainly NOT for everyone, and it’s not a journey to be taken lightly, either.

Each of my five children’s births have taught me very profound things about birth, life, respect, choices, and empowerment (or a lack thereof) – and in the end, my experiences led me to trust in unassisted birth.

Here’s how all that unfolded:

My first birth took place when I was only 18, scared of just about everything, and feeling immense fear.

I didn’t know the first thing about babies, birth, or even my own body.

However, I did know I didn’t want anything done to me that wasn’t absolutely necessary.

That single-minded objection led me to find a stand-alone birth center with midwives. I had a quick, gentle birth, and I felt so relieved to have avoided the hospital.

After that, I felt grateful and lucky–but not exactly powerful or strong.

I had only built a new construct of fear around my ideas of birth:  hospital=bad and birth center=good.

I knew it didn’t have to happen with drugs and doctors, but I still had a lot of “mental baggage” about how my body worked, and what was or was not possible.

My second birth was, reluctantly, a hospital birth – but not a bad experience.

I had another drug-free, straightforward birth, but there were parts of the experience that left me with some regrets.

Even though I felt fortunate to have another healthy baby, and by all outward appearances I had had a good birth, there was something off about it.

There is a taboo in our culture, against women speaking out about their feelings in situations like these.

I “should” feel lucky, or grateful; I “shouldn’t” complain; I “shouldn’t” feel this or that way…

I pushed my feelings aside and focused on the culturally appropriate gratitude I was supposed to be feeling instead…but a seed of discontent had been planted.  

I knew that the hospital was not where I felt comfortable giving birth…but once it’s done, it’s done.

And after all, I didn’t think I’d have another baby 😉

Almost five years later, I was pregnant again–and I KNEW I wanted a home birth.

However, there were no midwives available to me at the time.

Desperate but driven, I started researching unassisted birth.

This concept gave me more hope than a typical hospital birth did, and so I prepared for unassisted birth, both emotionally and practically speaking.

Most unfortunately and in spite of my screaming intuition, at the last moment–I ended up going to the hospital anyway.

I was full of fear, stress, and what I later easily recognized as transition-labor.  Needless to say, I did not get my intended unassisted birth, and I did suffer physical assault.

That experience was one of the worst, yet most defining, of my life thus far.

I suffered both emotional and physical abuse at the hands of medical “professionals” who were supposed to be “helping” me.

Yet I had had a “natural birth”!  Shouldn’t I feel glad?

The hospital staff treated me as if I should have felt grateful to them for “saving me” from my unassisted birth plans.  How fucking galling that was…

I left that hospital a broken, wounded, profoundly-damaged human being.

I wanted to put that birth experience behind me.

I didn’t talk about unassisted birth anymore.

I tried to distance myself from what had happened, even though it would all come rushing back to me in excruciating detail when I’d let myself stop and consider it.

When I found myself expecting number four, I was both excited and terrified.

I thought maybe this was a chance to finally have “the perfect birth” – and maybe, to heal the wounds of my previous trauma.  But I was afraid to try for an unassisted birth.

This time, I knew I would do whatever it took to have a homebirth, and I did–!

I had a great birth, an easy recovery time, and a perfect healthy baby–again!

But I still carried scars from the past. The trauma of my last birth shadowed over me, in the depths of my mind.

Even though I couldn’t change what had happened before, and even though I’d just had a perfectly lovely fourth birth that I hoped would “displace” that memory.

Finally, I discovered that I was expecting one more time–a fifth baby!

I searched my heart and mind, and felt that this last birth experience could be an opportunity to regain trust in mySelf–my body, mind and spirit…IF I was able to face my fears and heal my trauma.

I knew I had to do a lot of inner work in order to prepare for this last birth experience, if it was to be everything wonderful and healing, like I deeply believed birth to be.

My Love was skeptical about going for an unassisted birth again.  He did not want a repeat of the trauma that our daughter was born through – and I didn’t either, of course…

He wanted me to see the midwife at first, so I did…but even she was nervous when I told her I was really feeling called to unassisted birth this time.

So I thought I’d just have to convince my husband to let me do an unassisted birth….and then, I got angry.  This was my body, and I *needed* to reclaim it, to trust in myself, to feel less like a cargo ship and more like a human being.

Nobody can “LET ME” do anything – I can *LET* MYSELF!

I spoke to him about it, and told him that I desired his support so badly – but that ultimately, my decision was already made.  I would not use a midwife this time.  I needed to birth my way, to follow my own intuition, in order to heal fully.

I was kind of a bitch about it, really.

And you know what he said??

He actually got excited that I was being so fierce, and said that THIS was the level of commitment I needed in order to have an unassisted birth.  He never doubted me again after that, and we quit seeing the midwife.

Sometime later, I realized that I had to write down the story of my 3rd birth in order to re-live it, release it–and grow from it.

Pain, uncertainty and fear crept up on me again and again as this pregnancy went on–and I addressed it bit by uncomfortable bit.

Again and again, I faced my fears and deconstructed them instead of fueling them, and I owned my pain–really stepped in and experienced it fully.

I forgave myself, I forgave the so-called professionals who hurt me.  I forgave my body for the physical pain that still plagued me, 4+ years after the fact.

It was some of the most traumatizing work I’ve ever had to do, writing down that story in full.

I had jotted down some notes about my 3rd birth directly afterward, just to record for my own mind the horror and craziness of it all – and I stuffed those notes away in a box.

I didn’t ever want to look at them again, but they proved to be the seed from which my healing story grew and transformed…

Sometimes the most terrifying dark places are precisely where we need to shine the light of curiosity, of full feeling, in order to ground ourselves in the truth of What Happened, in order to have a solid place from which to move on.

My fifth, unassisted birth proved to be exactly the healing salve that my consciousness so deeply needed.

I am so full of gratitude for ALL of my birth experiences, in all of their diversity.

Especially my 3rd birth.

I have gratitude for my trauma, because it made me who I am today.

The horrible abuse I suffered opened my eyes to why some women are passionate about birth choices and autonomy and midwifery.

Unpleasant aspects of anything can be viewed helpful, because they provide contrast and define the positive aspects.

I have learned so, so much about mothering, birthing, choices, trust and fear in the years since I was a teenage, first-time mother, and I am continually in awe of the transformative, inspiring power that giving birth has awakened within me.

It all led me to be able to support women with ANY kind of birth, while personally loving unassisted birth for myself.

Let’s stay in touch, k?