Week 9: Lucky

I am lucky. I am so, so, so lucky. I have love, and gifts, and a job that supports my family. I have a surplus of all these things, enough so that I can give some away. I give money to Planned Parenthood and other groups that I care about.

I’ve recently discovered that I love giving bigger gifts than money – gifts of time, of love, of compassion.

I just met with a couple that is expecting a baby in a few weeks. They are actually friends of a friend, and I got connected to them when they called my friend and asked if I could give them a wee bit of birth advice. Would I ever. So I spoke to them on the phone, and texted with them, and sent emails, and felt that my gifts of time and information were heartily appreciated. They responded with warmth and gratitude, and I responded with warmth and compassion. They told me their OB was scaring them, and I gave them information, and a prescription to relax.

I realized that if they, together, could dispel the fear through their own means, and gain confidence in themselves, in their ability to make the best choices for themselves, and if she could feel that her heavily pregnant body was beautiful, luscious and powerful, that might be their best bet for empowerment. So we continued exchanging love and kind words, and I gave them information that I thought would increase their love and confidence, and eventually I offered to be their doula as a gift.

They almost cried when we met today. They asked how they could deal with the 39 week appointment and the inevitable talk of induction, big baby, pressure to schedule a C-section, etc, and I told them to use kind, compassionate words that also were strong and confident. Ask the doctor why she is recommending a given procedure, and truly seek information. I said if they then knew what their decision would be, they could say something like, “Thank you so much for explaining that to us. We have decided…” If they were unsure, they could say something like, “Thank you so much for explaining that to us. We will go home and talk about it and let you know what we decide.”

I asked them to go into a different mindset, just to try it on and see how it felt. She mentioned the doctor had examined her cervix and found it to be “ripening” and would likely examine it again at the upcoming appointment. I asked them to try on the mindset that everything, simply everything – from a cervical exam to an induction to an ultrasound to a follow up appointment – was their choice. I said I was not telling them to reject these things, but just to try on the mindset that each thing, no matter how small, could be evaluated and either accepted or rejected according to their wishes.

I also said that they should prepare their doctor now for the possibility that they might not accept every recommendation, by emphasizing their wishes. They want a natural birth. They want to avoid interventions. They want to labor at home for as long as possible. I said I deeply respect their wishes and said I thought I understood what they wanted.

I’m finding it hard to express here what I was feeling. With every interaction, I felt like my heart opened to them a little more, and to the world a little more. With every minute that goes by, I feel more warmth, more love, more giving, and it is feeding on itself. By the end of our conversation, I felt so buoyed by their gratitude and their need for support and the love they were giving back to me, I was almost floating.

That’s why I’m lucky. I’m lucky that I have the freedom, the abundance, the fortune to have that seed of love to give, because it grows and grows the more it’s given. It gives back, and is given back, and gives back, forever and ever.

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About investigatingbirth

My investigations of birth began in 2009 when I was trained as a doula. I helped women consider the evidence on common interventions, and helped them prepare for the physical and emotional challenge of giving birth. After some time it became clear to me that there was another type of challenge that I was unable to adequately prepare them for, the challenge of the maternity system. But it was only after my own traumatic birth in 2013 that I realized how little I had understood. I began to ask questions that few around me - doulas, nurses, midwives, doctors - were comfortable hearing. Questions like: Under what circumstances, and for what reasons, do doctors not practice informed consent? How do hospitals deal with other patient populations vulnerable to abuse? How does loss of professional autonomy, for obstetricians, and professional authority, for midwives, impact the quality of care they are capable of providing - regardless of their training? This blog will collect noteworthy information that attempts to answer these and other questions. Most of what you see here will be aggregated from other sources and analyzed. You will also see original interviews, and the occasional opinion piece or personal story, as I try to piece together a clear picture of the system in which American women give birth.
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