Some people ask me why I am so interested in pursuing midwifery. It is very simple. It is because I got to experience being a birth goddess! What is a birth goddess? A birth goddess is someone who is empowered and enlightened by their birth experience. She is someone who is able to climb the mountain of contractions and enjoy the exhilaration of reaching the top. A birth goddess embraces and takes control of her birth and gets to experience the ultimate moment of being a woman; becoming somebody’s mother. My natural birth experience was doubly rewarding because I had been told that I could not be a birth goddess. Because I had delivered my first two boys by caesarean section, I was told that I could not deliver a baby vaginally. This is a hard thing for any woman to hear. To me, it made no sense that there was something wrong with my body, when I had been nothing but healthy my whole life. It made no sense because my ancestors were all pioneer women who birthed their babies unassisted and had multiple children. For me, I was unwilling to accept that there was a limit to the amount of children I could have. I could not accept that I was supposed to bond with my newborn babies while feeling weak and in pain from having an incision across my abdomen and feeling that my insides were about to fall out. I wanted to birth my babies not have my babies delivered.
I cried when I discovered that I was pregnant with my third. The birth of a baby is not supposed to fill a mother with terror. When I was able to accept my pregnancy I began to read. I read books by Henci Goer and by the wonderful midwife, Ina May Gaskin. I read story after story of birth goddesses reaching their true potential through embracing their births. I realized that this was my birth and only I could create the experience that I wanted. The birth goddess began to stir within me. I surrounded myself with people who were supportive of my choice to pursue natural childbirth.
Before my labor began I would close my eyes and imagine the feeling of my abdomen contracting. I would focus my energy on feeling the contraction and picturing the uterus squeezing my baby down into my pelvis and feel my body opening up to release my baby. I would practice relaxing and focusing on the things that gave me comfort. I practiced squatting, rocking and letting the tension flow from my body. I enlisted my husband in my practice sessions by coaching him on ways to soothe me with touch and massage. I discovered that he could make me feel amazing by massaging my head. This sent shivers through my entire body and made me feel like I was floating. These practice sessions were much like an athlete uses to prepare their body for a competition.
By the time labor finally started I was so anxious to practice the techniques that I had tried and envisioned for myself. Everything went so smoothly in labor because I had anticipated these contractions for so long that I was anxious to feel them for real and wanted them to become stronger. The massage my husband had practiced with me was incredibly helpful with allowing me to relax. I labored for well over 24 hours and was grateful for the long labor as I feel that I would have felt gyped after all of my preparations to not have the time to fully experience the birth process and use all of the techniques that I had practiced. I was so blessed to be able to labor in my own home with the use of a birth tub and a traditional childbirth attendant to watch over me.
In the end the reason for the slow labor was because my baby was being born bottom first and was unable to put the weight on my cervix to allow it to open up. With a bit of gentle pushing I was able to fully dilate and as my baby’s body slid into my hands I experienced the full exhilaration of becoming a birth goddess as I, who was supposed to be incapable of natural childbirth, birthed my baby breech with two caesarean scars. He was absolutely beautiful and I got to be a part of it. I was not drugged. I was not cut. I was fully awake and aware of my body’s tremendous power. The endorphins that flowed to my brain as I held and bonded with my child were overwhelming. I could not have imagined the triumph that I would feel with childbirth.
The memories of my son’s birth day have driven me to want this experience repeated. I thought I could be satisfied by watching shows of mother’s giving birth to their babies. However, I tried to watch a birth show on tv and became so angry that the mother was not in control of her birth and looked so scared and in pain. Interventions were given to this mother to “help” her with labor. My mind screamed out, “NO, this is not how birth is supposed to be.” In the end the result was a beautiful, screaming baby but the mother was not empowered. She experienced so much fear and pain that her body fought against the contractions. This was nothing like my birth. I cried for this mother and her birth experience.
I could not stop hearing of mother’s birth experiences. So many of them were unlike mine and mother’s commented again and again on the pain of labor. I thought, “Yes, I do remember the pain and getting to a point where I felt I couldn’t go any farther, but once I pushed my baby out and felt the rush of adrenaline the pain was instantly erased and seemed so insignificant”. I began to wonder how could I help women to feel empowered by birth? I wanted others to experience what I had. I realized that the answer is very simple. To be empowered by birth women need to be in charge of their births. Mothers need to prepare their minds and bodies for birth by educating themselves about their bodies and knowing why their doctors make the decisions that they do. I am on the path to midwifery so that I can help mothers to know their choices and help them to be in charge of their births.
I hope to become a doula as well, while I continue my midwifery training, because I feel that doulas are a wonderful resource to mothers in understanding how to labor with their bodies and in preparing mothers to be strong through their labor and birth. The advice I have for expectant mothers is that you need to prepare for your birth long before labor begins. “Birth is an opportunity to transcend. To rise above what we are accustomed to, reach deeper inside ourselves than we are familiar with, and to see not only what we are truly made of, but the strength we can access in and through Birth” (Marcie Macari).