Thursday, May 29, 2008

Allow me, Just this Once

You know when you read something and it says exactly what you think, nailing how you feel on a certain topic? I read an interview in Mothering magazine this morning with musician Ani DiFranco. This is so not art related, completely of the topic, and a little lengthy. You may get thrown off, so this is your chance to stop reading and go do something productive instead. Here is what Ani DiFranco says about her childbirth experience:

I decided I wanted a homebirth, but I was shocked at how hard it was to find a homebirth midwife in Buffalo. The whole experience of childbirth and pregnancy was an introduction to feminist thought and study that I'd previously been unaware of, in terms of the way that childbirth was co-opted, and is so controlled by the medical/patriarchal establishment.
It makes me really sad that women have been ejected from the seat of their power in this society in terms of what happpens around childbirth. In other parts of the world, there are places where women can't drive a car, but they're still in charge of childbirth. I look at my society and think, how emancipated are we, really? We can play basketball, but can we benefit from eons of women's wisdom that accords a birthing woman the support and time to give birth healthily? Those elements are absent in our society for so many women.
I've always been very aware of the animal I am. If I walked into a flourescent-lit hospital with people pressuring me to get it done, take drugs, get on my back, and put my legs up in the air, it wouldn't have worked. As Ina May [Gaskin] says, the cervix is a sphincter: It doesn't open if it's not relaxed.
I knew I needed to be at home, comfortable - not feeling any pressure. I agree with that whole school of thought that if I were drugged through that moment of revelation, It would have taken something away from my life journey. I'm really happy in the end that I felt every last bit of the pain, and was as present as I could be. Whenever you go through something terrifying and come out the other side, you grow and have more self-respect in terms of your own strengths. I wanted that more than I wanted whatever sort of numbing that the hospital would have offered. The way I finally got my labor going after two days was to march up and down my stairs. I couldn't have done that in the hospital - they wouldn't have let me climb up and down stairwells for hours, naked and screaming. [laughs] But that was a necessary part of my process.
Birthing naturally, as most women do around the globe, is a superhuman act. You leave behind the comforts of being human and plunge back into being an animal. My firend's partner said, "Birth is like going for a swim in the ocean. Will there be a riptide? A big storm? Or will it just be a beautiful, sunny little dip?" Its indeterminate length the mystery of its process, is so much a part of the nature of birth. The regimentation of a hospital that wants to make it happen and use their gizmos to maximum efect is counter to birth in general.

Amen sister. I would not trade my three births, two at home, for any experience this life has to offer. From these, I grew and have had a peek at my infinite potential and strength as a woman that I pull from every day as a mother. I loved it so much, I think I'll do it again... not yet, but soon.


Katie said...

Amen. Amen.
Being a very high-risk pregnancy both times, I had to be at the hospital (or at least I believed that). But, by golly, I made noise and did more of what I wanted to do than most women get to. I have friends, though, who swear by their midwives.

The whole "modern birth experience" really does make you wonder how emancipated we really are. In everyday life, we have all the shiny "trinkets" that make it look like a nice comfy spot to be in; the car, the job, the goods...but are we really being trapped into something more constraining than we had before? It is an interesting question.

Thanks for sharing the article!!

Julie said...

I have to say, for me, that epidurals are the PLUS side of living in the time and place that I live in. Then again, none of my birth experiences were "a beautiful, sunny little dip" so.... In the hospital(s)I did, however, surround myself with strong, supportive people who had no trouble at all being bossy, pushy, or demanding on my behalf.

megan said...

I really admire you for having two homes births. That really is an incredible thing. I, however am pretty convinced that I would have died had I tried to do it at home. I pretty much would have run away and married the anesthesiologist if he were not already married. Oh and if I was not already married as well

jennie said...

After about 30 minutes of painful contractions... my baby boy of 3 weeks nearly entered this world on my stairs, then again in my car, then again in the hallway at the hospital. Thank heavens I made it to a stretcher where I delivered in my street clothes, without pain meds, without my doctor. When the nurse told me I was "complete" 60 seconds after walking into the hospital, I about died! 10 minutes later, my baby was born, and I felt like a million bucks!

I highly doubt I'll ever choose to deliver at home (on purpose), but I hope to deliver again without pain meds... It was pretty amazing.

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