Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kelsey's Story

Kelsey F sent me her story several weeks ago and has agreed to let me share it here. It is a great example of how preparation can melt away fear. Kelsey had her baby at home in Provo, Utah (she says it is a good thing she didn't scream because she lives in a duplex). I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did.

"Like most people in our society, I grew up with a “healthy” dose of fear surrounding birth and motherhood. It wasn’t just the television shows where a woman in an ugly hospital gown yells “you did this to me!” that perpetuated this fear. It seemed from my perspective that jokes and complaints about the difficult nature of kids, and the pain of birth, was a sort of sport among adult conversations whenever the topic came up. The beauty and joy of motherhood seemed a topic reserved for young women’s lessons that came up every couple of months or so. Even so, I found it interesting that for all the talk of the divinity of womanhood that sex, birth, and breastfeeding still were treated like embarrassingly taboo subjects.

"So it happens that when my husband and I had a pregnancy scare, I spent my time trying to decide if my need for an epidural would outweigh my fear of needles. Nobody talked about any alternative choices. That probably would have been the extent of my research if the pregnancy hadn’t turned out to just be a case of newlywed “where-is-my-period!?” paranoia. The shock of realizing I could have had a child without knowing anything about it sent me on an information hunt that eventually revealed the option of natural birth.

"The things I researched made sense to me in every way. Logically, emotionally, and spiritually I felt that there was a better way to birth than what society assumes is necessary.

"I wondered why, if we were made in the image of God, would so many women need delivery by surgery? Why would so many of us need inductions and drugs and tools just to do what we were divinely appointed to accomplish? Would God give all of us broken bodies? Of course there would always be some emergencies and some complications, but why were so many women “needing” them now when not so many years ago they didn’t even exist. Didn’t Eve, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Mary all give birth without Pitocin?

"Why do we no longer trust in God, but in the arm of flesh? We see every pregnancy and every birth as dangerous and life threatening. Our decisions are guided by fear and worry. I just don’t believe that God would make one in three women faulty to the point of being unable to birth. Yet one in three births is a cesarean.

"I felt quite drawn to natural birth, and became obsessed with it three years before I would even experience it. I feel like this was an important time for me to cleanse my feelings and emotions toward birth. I believe that being spiritually, emotionally, and mentally prepared has made all the difference than if I had given birth before this process of self-discovery.

"Our son was ready and excited to come into this world. We talked about “not trying and not preventing to see what happens.” We talked about how we’d let Heavenly Father decide when the right time was to send us a baby. We expected it to take several months at least. The very next month I got a positive pregnancy test.

"I had a wonderful pregnancy. I feel like working through my doubts and fears also helped me avoid being more physically ill than I could have been. I would attribute my lack of sickness and pain partially to being blessed with good genes, but more importantly to feeling positive about my upcoming birth and about motherhood. I always felt worse physically when I was more worried or stressed. I truly believe that the spirit and body are connected and influence each other greatly. In any case, I couldn’t credit any particular diet or exercise program as I didn’t exercise and probably ate worse than was wise.

"It was also important to me to select the right midwife. I interviewed a few midwives that just didn’t feel like a good fit emotionally or spiritually. When I found Sherri, I knew she was interested in me as a person and had the Spirit with her. We were more in-tune with each other than any one else I had interviewed. I was comfortable giving birth with her.

"When I was in my 36th week, I decided it was time to document my pregnancy. I felt big and beautiful. I planned on making a belly cast and doing a pregnancy photo shoot. It was Thursday the 17th of September that I went to get a new hair cut for the pictures I planned to take on Saturday. They were never taken.

"The very next morning at 1:00 AM my water broke. I called my midwife and we rechecked my dates. I was at 36 and a half weeks—barely far enough along for Sherri to feel comfortable attending a home birth. If I had gone into labor the day before we would have been in the back-up hospital instead. My son came at the earliest time possible while still allowing me to labor at home.

"My husband and I were both nervous about going into labor before term. However, as we talked it over, a feeling of calmness came over me. I told him that Sherri was willing to let me labor at home as long as the stats stayed good. I also said that even if we had to transfer I was grateful for the technology available, and I knew that everything would be okay, even if it wasn’t my preferred way to birth. I also felt like I would have a good experience regardless of where I ended up. I knew I had done my part, and trusted the Lord to do his.

"The contractions came on hard and fast. They varied between 2 minutes and 5 minutes apart and generally lasted around a minute. We asked Sherri and Melissa, my doula, to come as quickly as things seemed to be getting quite intense. Sherri later told me that as she got in her car and said a prayer that she knew she was going to be a part of something special.

"I spent most of my time in the bathtub holding my husband’s and doula’s hands and trying to cover my belly in the shallow water. I couldn’t fill it very high without using all the hot water. I had hoped for a water birth, and was waiting for Sherri to bring a birth pool. I wanted to make sure we had enough warm water to fill it.

"She came at 4:35 AM and I climbed out of the tub for a check. I was nearly complete! Because we didn’t have time for the pool, we set up a birthing stool in the living room instead. I sat down and, after only four and a half hours of labor, at 5:37 in the morning my sweet, eager little boy was born. He was 6 pounds, 13 ounces, and absolutely perfect. I am thankful to have been able to birth naturally in the comfort of our own home.

"We were blessed not to have any complications with him, even at three and a half weeks early. I know the Heavenly Father was with me, and I know that I was so very blessed. I also know that birth can be normal, simple, and even easy if it is the Lord’s will. I learned that with birth as with every other challenge, it’s important to prepare ourselves, do our part, fear not, and leave the rest up to God."

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