Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a great Christmas, and I wish all of you a Happy New Year! I pray that 2010 has good things in store.

2009 was a pretty awesome year for us! New baby, new house, vacation, adventures, fun times!

I hope to blog a little more regularly in the new year. =)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Newborn Comparison

You know I always have to do these!

Newborn Judith

Newborn Gideon

Newborn Ruthie

What do you think?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blog Fail

So... I've been really terrible at maintaining this blog since our vacation last August. Sorry! I promise to do better come the new year, and I have some new ideas/strategies for that. This fall was just too busy!!!

Also, this is my 200th post, yay!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ruthie's Birth Story

*WARNING* This is a BIRTH story, so some content may be uncomfortable for some people. I suggest you get over it and read on. =) But you can't say I didn't warn you.

I guess it all starts at conception. Although my pregnancy was not 'planned', I have a confession to make... I had been told that I probably would have a hard time conceiving due to my thyroid problems and because I was still breastfeeding Gideon (he was 11 months old). We were definitely not trying to conceive, but one day I noticed some fertile-looking cervical mucus (I learned all about Fertility Awareness when we were trying to conceive #2), so I decided to seduce my husband and see what happened! I assumed I wouldn't conceive due to what I had been told by my Dr. But no, little Ruthie was on her way! I was actually quite shocked to find out a couple weeks later that I was pregnant, a little scared, but mostly excited. My first, and most important lesson from Ruthie's existence in my life has been trust. I've been taught over and over to trust my body, and not let my rational self get in the way. My body knew I was ready to conceive, and I'm glad I listened to it despite the doubts in my mind.

I knew I really wanted a home birth this time, but I tried to keep an open mind, as there were so many uncertainties (like where we would be living). I knew I would have to be in a place where I felt totally comfortable in order to have a successful home birth. I also was nervous, as I've ALWAYS wanted a home birth, but had to transfer to the hospital for both of my previous births. I wasn't sure if I had what it takes.

I felt very protective of this baby. I was paranoid of losing her. I knew several people who did lose their babies while I was pregnant, and I was so completely heartbroken and torn apart for them! But I had to trust God and my body, knowing that this pregnancy would come to fruition if it were meant to be. I felt more connected to the baby than I did during my previous pregnancies. Even though I had very little time to think about the baby and my pregnancy due to being busy with the kids, it's as though I felt her more, and I felt as though I knew her already.

Judith was with me when I peed on the stick, and she seemed to have a special connection with the baby all through my pregnancy. She came to all of my midwife appointments and insisted on fully participating by holding the doppler and measuring tape, and squeezing the blood pressure thing. She was also always full of questions, sometimes so much so that I could barely get a word in to the midwife! She also rubbed body butter into my belly before bed at night, and was always talking to and hugging the baby. She was fascinated with kids books about birth, and became quite maternal with her own dollies, always 'giving birth' and 'breastfeeding' them. Later on when I got out the baby clothes and diapers, she stole some and dressed her 'babies'. I knew she was going to deeply love this baby!

Gideon was different. He was still such a baby himself! He nursed up until I was 7 months pregnant, and then weaned by his own choice. I was really sad, I knew my milk had dried up due to the pregnancy, and I almost felt like I was ripping him off. He always loved to nurse so much, and I really wanted him to nurse until at least 2. But I guess it wasn't meant to be. Even though I was sad, I was also a bit relieved, as nursing sessions had become increasingly painful over the months. He continued to be my baby though, we always cuddled despite my expanding belly (and decreasing lap space), and he spent most nights in bed with us due to seemingly continuous teething. I really couldn't fathom him not being THE baby anymore!

I stayed very active throughout this pregnancy, out of necessity with 2 kids. I went to the gym 1-3x a week up until I was 37 weeks (mostly because that was the only 'me' time I got!). From when I conceived in March until the end of June I was out with the kids 6 days a week doing various activities like swimming, gymnastics, music class, story time, play groups, etc. And my one day home a week was for laundry and house cleaning. I was hoping July would be more low-key, but we remained quite busy. We flew to Ontario for 3 weeks in August, where we drove over 3000 kms to visit friends and family all over, and we even went camping! September was consumed with house-hunting, October with packing and moving, and November I was busy getting our new house cleaned and organized in time for Judith's birthday on the 25th. We moved from a basement apartment to a 3-storey house, so all of the stairs whipped my butt into shape (literally, my butt looked great!).

I also was conscious of nutrition, and by 36 weeks had quite the line-up of supplements including Floradix (iron) 2x a day, Salus' Cal/Mag/Zinc/Vit D, fish oils & vitamin D, probiotics, evening primrose oil and red raspberry leaf tea. Weeks 35 and 36 also found me shoving garlic up my vagina every night, but it was not in vain, as I took my Strep B swab at my 37 week appointment and it came back negative! I had been positive in my last 2 pregnancies, so I was thoroughly stoked to be able to avoid antibiotics during labour this time, I would be fully free!

I only had time to read 2 books during this pregnancy, one was Heart & Hands by Elizabeth Davis, and the other was Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah J. Buckley. I highly recommend them both! I also got Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. The overall message I got from both books was to listen to my body and trust myself. I was nervous about this, because I am generally a 'thinking' person, and I wasn't exactly sure how to 'listen' to my body. But once labour started, it all flowed really naturally. My body went ahead and produced the proper hormones to allow me to step out of my brain and into my body. It was natural and effortless. Just like my body has no problem letting me know when I have to pee, it let me know what I had to do each moment during labour. Since I was at home, no one was bugging me, and I was free to listen, everything progressed quickly and smoothly.

Judith's birthday was the last 'big' thing I had to do before the birth. Her birthday (Nov. 25) was exactly 2 weeks before my due date (Dec. 9). I was very busy and stressed right up until her party on the 26th, but after that I was able to completely relax. My house was clean and organized, I had nothing big looming over my head, and I was feeling surprisingly good. I had tons of energy and felt very happy, I honestly could not believe I was so far along in my pregnancy, I felt too wonderful! I wasn't waddling or anything, and I could still keep up with every day life just fine.

My mom arrived from Ontario Dec. 1. That was a very busy day. We picked up my mom at the airport in the morning, I had a prenatal massage in the afternoon, and I went to my friend's Blessingway in the evening. It was a great day! My massage therapist, Chelsey, worked on some areas on my butt and it felt great! I could actually walk better afterward! Chelsey was also going to be my doula for the birth. I was hoping to go into labour that Friday, since I had a midwife appointment Wednesday, Gideon had a Dr's appointment and the van had an appointment on Thursday. Saturday Chelsey was going to be out of town, so I told her we'd shoot for Friday, since we had no plans. ;) I was really scared that I would go overdue again, like with Gideon, and I wouldn't have adequate time to heal after the birth before my mom would have to leave (on the 17th). But I knew that week was going to be busy, so I tried not to worry too much. That night at the Blessingway the baby was moving around like CRAZY, and I was very uncomfortable. I figured I was almost 39 weeks, so it was normal. Then I went to the bathroom at my friend's house and noticed that I had lost my mucus plug. I was a little excited, but knew the birth could still be days away, as I lost my mucus plug about a week before Gideon was born (also after a massage from Chelsey though! She gets things moving!). So I went home thinking nothing of it. I guess I ignored that signal from my body, whoops!

That night I was up every hour with diarrhea. My stomach was cramping really bad, and it was just so annoying to have to get up so much and hang out in the bathroom. Gideon was also up crying in the night, so he ended up in our bed (very normal). He definitely knew something was up!

The next morning, Wednesday Dec. 2, Dave got up and went to work as usual. I was up when he left, but then decided to spend a couple hours cuddling Gideon in bed. It was around then that I noticed my 'diarrhea cramps' were coming and going every 20 minutes. I caught that signal! I knew this was it. Around 9am I had some bloody show. I didn't tell anyone though, I still couldn't believe it was actually happening! Was I ready? I tried not to think too much and just went about my day. I had a shower and prayed that everything would go well and that God would be with me and give me strength. Around noon I finally called Dave and told him. Then I told my mom, sent a message to a few friends asking them to pray, and paged the midwife. She suggested I go in to my appointment anyway and get checked out there. I didn't want to go alone in case my labour picked up, or if I had to make an emergency pit stop (I was still having diarrhea), so my mom and the kids came too. Patty checked me at the clinic, and I was 5 cms already! Woo hoo! She couldn't really believe it because I was so calm still. I couldn't believe it because my contractions were still 10-20 minutes apart, and not even as bad as menstrual cramps. They felt different though. With Judith my contractions went from my knees to my rib cage and were INTENSE, from the Pitocin. With Gideon my contractions were only in my back. But this time, they were mostly in my lower abdomen (like diarrhea cramps, coincidentally), and only a tiny bit in my back and thighs. My cervix was still thick though, and she offered to give me a 'stretch and sweep' to help get things going, but I declined. There were still some things I wanted to prepare at home, and I honestly didn't want ANY interventions whatsoever. I knew my body would do it just fine, and I wanted to let it.

So we came home and I got busy. I was 'supposed' to take a rest and then page the midwife (Cassie was on call that night) when my contractions were 7 minutes apart, but I knew I'd rather be prepared. I called Dave and he came home from work, he was so excited! I also sent a text message to Chelsey (doula/massage therapist), telling her that I was in labour, and she said she would come by after work, which sounded perfect to me. I called and left a message at my cousins' house, in case my mom and the kids needed a place to go once the labour picked up. Then I set to work preparing my postpartum herb bath on the stove. I also made up some postpartum maxi pads, I sprayed them with water and calendula and put them in the freezer. Those were the best things ever after Gideon was born, so I definitely wanted them again! I put the ice cubes we had in a bag and made up some more using Gatorade. I also made a point of eating and drinking a lot of water. I wasn't paying attention to my contractions at all, I was too busy! They didn't hurt anyway. Dave kept himself busy inflating our birth tub in the living room with the tiniest hand pump known to man.

Gideon refused to nap all afternoon, and was in quite the tantrum-mode all day. He SO knew something was up! He really didn't want to give up his title as 'the baby' I think. FINALLY my mom got him to sleep, around 4 or 4:30. Then she and Judith went out to get gas in the van (it was almost empty, whoops! Not good in case we needed to go to the hospital!), and some groceries. We totally didn't think I would go into labour so soon after she arrived!

Once they left my body kicked into gear. My contractions started coming 6-7 minutes apart, and were more intense, although still completely bearable. I guess my body knew that I only had a short window of time with both kids out of the way. I called Cassie (the midwife) at 4:45 and told her to come. I don't think she was quite convinced, but she lives close by so she said she'd come and check me anyway. I stayed busy getting all of the home birth supplies out and on the dining room table where they would be easily accessible. Once that was done, I decided to brush up on my pain-coping skills, so I grabbed my copy of Birthing From Within by Pam England (EVERY EXPECTING MAMA NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK) and flipped to the chapter on natural pain coping techniques. I found the page, but didn't get to read one word before there was a knock on the door, it was Cassie! I guess I was just going to have to trust my body for my pain coping techniques! I didn't get a chance to pick up the book again.

We went upstairs and Cassie checked me. I was 8 cms. But I was still doing fine and my contractions still weren't stopping me in my tracks or anything. I had to say when I was having one, because you couldn't tell, I could keep talking or doing whatever just fine. Cassie decided to stay, because she knew if my waters broke at some point the baby would be born quickly. She offered to break my waters for me, but of course I declined. I told Dave to start filling the tub. Cassie was hesitant, because the water cools down quickly in there and it would take more than our hot water tank could keep hot to fill it. But I told him to do it anyway, and we put some pots of water on the stove in case. I knew I wanted to have it ready. Cassie called the other midwife (Arlette) to tell her to come, and told me to climb up and down the stairs. I went upstairs once, and changed into my bathing suit top and put one of Dave's hoodies over top. I didn't mean to, I was honestly going to simply climb the stairs, but it just kind of happened! I went back downstairs and got Dave to take a final belly picture of me. Cassie was busy filling out paperwork at the dining room table.

I started to feel nauseous and shaky around then, and had to go to the bathroom yet again with the diarrhea. So I took a barf bucket and headed to the bathroom. I peed quite a bit, and definitely got 'everything' out of my system. I didn't puke though, despite feeling like I would with each contraction! My contractions were probably 5 minutes apart at this point. I sat on the toilet for about half an hour. I enjoyed sitting on the toilet during each of my births, it's funny. Chelsey arrived while I was in there. Finally, at one point, my body very clearly and urgently told me to GET IN THE EFFING TUB. Transition was over. So I got up and left the bathroom, notifying everyone of my intentions. The tub wasn't full yet, but I didn't care. I was going in!

I was hit with a contraction just as I was leaving the kitchen, so I grabbed the counter and leaned over it and breathed through it. Whoa, I felt that one! I also crossed my legs (while standing) as if I really had to pee. I thought it was funny, but that's what my body wanted to do! Then I took a few steps and was hit with another one, so I leaned over the dining room table and repeated my same stance. After that I quickly signed some paperwork, since I was there, and headed to the tub. I stuck one foot in to test the temperature (it was still filling up), and POP, my waters broke! Maybe that's why I had to cross my legs for the other 2 contractions! Only a bit came out though, so the bag must have broken in the middle or something. I had another intense contraction right when my waters broke, then quickly took off my sweater and underwear and hopped into the tub. It was WONDERFUL! The temperature was perfect, and it just felt SO amazing to be in there. My body was right! I leaned forward over the side of the tub, with my knees on the floor of the tub, and my back to everyone. Oooooh, that felt so good! As soon as my belly touched the water, I started to push.

I made a handful of involuntary pushes. My throat was loose and open, and I made noises as necessary. I didn't really pay attention to that though, I just let it happen, I was too busy working inside of myself. The baby's head wasn't really engaged, and the head was coming at my pelvis at an angle, but a few pushes initiated by my body fixed that. I felt the head completely engage into my pelvis, and from then on I was totally in control. I moved my butt over to the side of the tub so Cassie could reach me if need be. I pushed slowly but powerfully and the baby's head came completely into my pelvis, I literally felt a big CLUNK. It felt like the baby was going to come out of my butt! But I knew that was normal, and kind of practical since I was using the same muscles to give birth as I would if I was constipated and trying to poop (pretty picture, eh?). I took a few breaths, and then slowly pushed her down on to my perineum. I was so aware of everything that I could almost feel all of the baby's facial features along my back.

Cassie asked if I felt pressure or stretching, and I said pressure. But as soon as I said that, I could feel myself starting to stretch, so I had to change my answer right away. I couldn't believe everything was moving along so quickly!

I put my left hand down over my vagina, and I could feel the head poking out. I supported myself on the side of the pool with my right arm. It felt amazing. It may sound weird, but I can totally see how some women can actually have orgasms while giving birth. In that moment, it didn't seem weird at all, just totally natural. But I wasn't interested in going in that direction at the moment, I was more eager to simply get the baby out. I'm pretty sure I smiled through this stage though. I remember seeing a little piece of vernix float past my face and almost giggling at it. But at the same time I was completely focused. I remember staring deeply into the water. There was some writing on the bottom of the pool, but I couldn't read it because I wasn't in a cognitive state of mind.

Even though I was completely present in my body for the entire birth, at this point I also felt like I went somewhere in the spirit. I'm not sure where it was, either within me or elsewhere, but I felt like I was hanging out with God. It was completely dark, I couldn't see anything, but I knew God was there, and I felt very safe and relaxed. I just kept asking Him over and over "Is this really it? Am I actually doing this?" He didn't say anything, but in His presence I felt strength and approval. It was a really cool experience.

So I could feel the baby's squishy little soft head with my hand. I decided to push a bit to see what happened. Surprisingly, her head emerged a little, with no pain. It just felt like stretching, there was no burning like I experienced with Gideon's birth. The warm water made everything go smoothly and painlessly. The head didn't slip back in when I stopped pushing either. So I continued to push, little by little, giving myself a minute or so between pushes to stretch out. It only took a handful of pushes, and the little head was completely out and resting in my hand, it was incredibly surreal.

I felt like my eyes were in my fingers, as I felt the face I could almost see it. I couldn't get myself to sit back, my body wouldn't budge, so I got Cassie to grab the baby's body as I pushed it out. I wanted the body out completely in one push, so I pushed hard, and may have swore under my breath, but it worked. I could hear Dave get a little emotional as I birthed our baby, he was sitting at my side, it was wonderful.

I couldn't believe that actually happened! I sat back and took the baby into my arms. I felt that she was a girl, and looked her over well. She totally looked like a Ruthie to me, but I kept that to myself for the moment. Unlike with my other births, I didn't feel like I 'met' her when I first saw her, I felt like I knew her already, that we were old friends. I also noticed that she had tiny little hands, but super-long skinny fingers, it looked almost weird, like she had spider hands or something! Definitely the makings of a future musician. She also moved her arms a lot more than the other kids ever did. Her movements seemed almost intentional too, she was grabbing at my chest with purpose. Her eyes were open, she was very aware yet completely peaceful. And she kept sticking her tongue out at me, which was so adorable.

I looked up at Cassie and Chelsey, and said "Did I seriously just do that? That was fricken easy!!!" Even Cassie said she has never seen anyone give birth that easily. She said that if this had been a private practice, she would totally give me a 40% discount for being that easy, haha. It was amazing! I was all blissed out for a while, just hanging out in the tub with my little girl.

The second midwife (Arlette) arrived a little while after the birth. Dave cut the umbilical cord, and then he took her and wrapped her up. My mom and Judith got home at this point. My mom couldn't believe I had the baby already! When she left for the grocery store a couple hours earlier, I was still grating ginger for my herb bath and you couldn't tell I was in labour at all!

The placenta was taking a while, so they decided to give me a shot of pitocin to try and get it out. That was the worst part of the entire birth! I hate needles! That didn't work though, so I tried squatting and pushing while Cassie gently tugged on the cord, but still nothing. In retrospect I should have just nursed Ruthie, that is how I delivered the placenta with Gideon I think. She seemed quite eager to nurse at birth anyway, I should have gotten the hint. But I didn't think of that at the time. Mommy fail! Anyways, I got out of the tub (kind of awkward with this big long cord hanging out of me with the clamps still on it!), and we went upstairs and I got on to our bed. I started to think that maybe the placenta wasn't coming because the birth had been so surreal. So I gave myself a minute to relax and I told myself that YES, the pregnancy and birth were over, and that it was time to move on with life. Then, sure enough, out came the placenta with no problem. We looked it over (placentas are SO cool!), and the midwives said it was complete.

Arlette looked over the baby and did all of the newborn exams on the bed beside me. Everything was good, and she was content for the most part. Judith insisted on helping too! She was so stoked to be a big sister. Gideon woke up around this time, and was very upset about all of the commotion. Cassie weighed and measured the baby, she was 7 lbs, 8 oz, and 53 cms long. We took some photos, got the baby nursing (she was a natural and latched right away, very different than Judith and Gideon who both needed to be taught how to nurse!), and the midwives tucked me into bed. Everyone left Dave and I in our room with the baby.

Dave asked about names, and I told him I thought she was a Ruth. He was so excited, as that was his favourite girl name. We decided to name her Ruth Elsie Rose (and I knew that I would refer to her as "Ruthie", at least for now). Ruth is the name of Dave's aunt who was like a second mother to him, and it means "Friendship". Elsie was the girl name I liked all along during the pregnancy, it means "My God is a vow". It is also derived from the name Elizabeth, and two of my dearest friends have the middle name Elizabeth. Rose was my Great-Granny's name. She is one of my heroes. She birthed all 9 of her children, including twins, at home on her own. I always wondered how she could do it, and now I know, and am honoured to be among the women who have bravely and strongly birthed the way we were designed to, trusting God and our bodies. Her husband worked in the logging camps, so he was gone every year from October to April or so, and she was left alone to take care of herself and the kids on their very rural farm, where she was literally cut off from the rest of the world. Then in the summers they worked very hard on the farm in order to have enough food for the year. No wonder she was such a strong woman! She was also a big advocate of breastfeeding and co-sleeping. I remember when I first visited her after we moved back from Australia, when Judith was a baby, and the first thing she said to me was "Are you nursing?" No 'hello, how are you', 'how was your trip', etc. She was always very opinionated and straight-to-the-point. She was happy to know that I was breastfeeding Judith, and then proceeded to rant about how too many mothers feed their babies "that garbage" from bottles. She also gave me heck when we visited her when Judith was 15 months old because Judith slept in a crib. She firmly believed that all babies were best sleeping in bed with their mothers, and that Judith was still way too young to be sleeping alone. Great-Granny was also very strong in her faith, always reading her Bible and preaching to everyone that came to visit. She was a firey lady, and her mind and wit were very sharp, even at 96 years of age when she passed away. She was very healthy all of her life, she had only ever been in the hospital once, just a few years before she passed away, and lived independently up until her last couple years, when she moved in with my grandparents. She was into natural supplements, and attributed her good health to her intake of garlic, cayenne pepper and zinc. I just think she was such an awesome woman, and am proud to be one of her many descendants. I really wanted to name one of my daughters after her.

Ruthie had a HUGE appetite right from the start. She nursed for an hour or so on her first try. I got NO sleep that night! She nursed constantly (payback for not letting her nurse immediately after birth, I think, it's one thing I definitely regret about the birth). My nipples got quite torn up as I kept dozing off and she'd lose her proper latch. The afterpains were so intense too when she nursed! Honestly, they were way worse than the contractions during labour! Apparently the afterpains get worse with each birth. I wonder what they're like for Michelle Duggar? By morning, I was totally exhausted and in a lot of pain! Thankfully, my bottom didn't really hurt at all. So that was one less thing than usual to worry about. And I was thankful that I didn't have to teach Ruthie how to nurse. She seemed to be totally thriving. I was trying to count my blessings despite how I felt.

By day 3 my bleeding was down to that of a light period (which it has been at ever since), and my vagina and perineum were totally back to normal (yep, I looked). It's awesome what women's bodies are capable of! Day 3 was VERY hard for me though. The endorphins from the birth were wearing off, and I could feel myself totally crashing hormonally. I had only gotten 6 hours of sleep total since the birth, no more than 1 hour at a time, thanks to Ruthie's incessant nursing. At one point I gave Ruthie to Dave with strict instructions NOT to bug me no matter what (of course Ruthie slept the whole time for Dave, argh!), and I took a long, hot shower and bawled my eyes out. I didn't think I could do this anymore. I've always had so much trouble with my newborns, it's definitely way harder than giving birth, in my opinion! Motherhood honestly doesn't come naturally to me, it's something I have to consciously work very hard at, and I was just getting too overwhelmed. I felt better after my shower, then of course Ruthie woke up as soon as I stepped out of the bathroom, and back to the nurse-a-thon we went. My milk started to come in that day though, and thankfully that night I got 6 hours of sleep! 3 hours in one block which was enough to make me a completely new person, and then 3 more one-hour sleeps. The next day I felt like I bounced back and had a renewed energy for motherhood, and my nipples were finally healing up as Ruthie's latch got more consistently better, so I was able to cope much better. It's amazing what a little sleep can do for a mama! I felt like I had my patience back.

Everything has been great since then. My mom is here taking care of the older kids, making meals and doing the housework. She is here until the 17th, which is lots of time for me to heal up and get back to normal. Dave was off for a week after the birth due to the weather (he wasn't planning on taking time off after the birth, we can't really afford for him to, but the weather forced him to stay home anyway), so he has had lots of time to bond with Ruthie too, and get some things done around the house. It has been snowing almost constantly since Ruthie was born, a wonderful excuse to stay cozy inside! I have been taking this opportunity to relax and just bond with Ruthie. It has been a wonderful time! We spend most of our time just hanging out in bed. She still nurses a lot, and never lost any weight like newborns usually do, but at 6 days old she was up to 8 lbs 4 oz. Her favourite place to sleep is on my chest. Occasionally I can get her into the hammock for a nap during the day, it looks so cozy in there! She spends her nights in bed with us though, and it's so nice to be able to cuddle with her all night! She has been sleeping for 2-3 hours at a time at night since my milk came in, waking only to nurse (for up to an hour sometimes! She eats SO much, I don't know where she packs it all, besides in her diaper. That girl can poop like you wouldn't believe too!), and then goes back to sleep. I have an overwhelmingly huge milk supply as usual, so I have to pump a bit first just so she can latch, and I often wake up to a soaked shirt, but I'm thankful I have too much milk instead of too little.

(Gideon's reaction to the baby, haha!)

Overall, I am so happy with my birth experience! I wish every mother could experience birth like that, although I am a huge supporter of having the freedom to choose what kind of birth you want. I think if women only knew the strength and power that exists within them, and how completely incredible natural birth can be, they would all be able to do it. But our culture, unfortunately, teaches us and treats us like we are incapable. It's exciting that more and more women are breaking out of the mainstream and having amazing, empowering birth experiences, but there is still a long way to go before this experience is an option for all women. I know that there are cases where true complications do arise, and in those cases hospitals, interventions and technology are good and necessary, but for the vast majority of births, the complications are caused by the lack of respect for women and the natural course of birth. I think even in cases where interventions and cesarean births are necessary, women could still have an awesome birth experience, if only they were empowered to do so, instead of being overpowered by the system, as is often the case.

Labour wasn't really painful at home. I think a lot of the pain most women experience is due to the hospital rules, protocols, and procedures. I know that hospitals and doctors have these things in place for a reason, and they need to be there in order for the institutions to operate smoothly. America's eagerness to sue for anything at the drop of a hat doesn't help things either. But the way the medical system operates is definitely not beneficial for mothers and babies, which, in my opinion, should be more important. Being confined in a foreign environment, attached to several things, forced to lie down on your back, and surrounded by strangers is NOT conducive to birth! It goes completely against our natural instincts, and causes our bodies to close up, so obviously interventions will be necessary to get the birth to happen. If I had been forced to lie back during contractions, instead of leaning forward and standing up as my body told me to, the pain would have been overwhelming! I don't think I would have been able to tolerate it. If I had been given an IV that would have increased my stress level, which would have hindered me from being able to listen to my body and relax enough to open up. Being in an unfamiliar place with strangers around me would have severely stalled labour, as I wouldn't feel safe in that environment, and we are designed to only give birth when we feel safe, it's a logical survival mechanism.

Labour is best accomplished and safest when we are free to listen to ourselves, and confident enough to follow our bodies' instructions. Our culture tells us that we can't trust ourselves, so we must trust technology or professionals, but in doing so we as women are being robbed of the amazing experience that childbirth can be. We, as women, also need to step up and take ownership of our bodies and our births, educating ourselves and being responsible for ourselves. Studies have shown that planned homebirths are just as safe, if not safer, than hospital births. And mothers who give birth naturally fare better in the postpartum days, and are more confident in their parenting. A traumatic birth experience can affect a mother for months or even years, often leading to depression and lack of confidence in themselves as mothers. I know this to be true!

The main theme surrounding Ruthie's birth, as you know by now, is trust. I had to trust myself, and trust God, not letting my thinking brain get in the way. I was able to let go of my fear and yield to my body, trust, listen, and obey, and I was rewarded with a wonderful birth experience, and a quick recovery. Trust also led to a deep and lasting peace. I am totally sold on home birth, water birth, and the innate wisdom of my body. I want to become a doula some day, so I can help other women have this same experience.