10 April 2010

Confessions of a Birth Junkie

I'll be the first to admit that I am a birth junkie.  I read birth books regardless if I'm pregnant or not.  I stalk blogs and message boards, reading birth stories and gazing at pictures.  I routinely host Birth Movie nights, featuring films such as: The Business of Being Born, Birth Day, Birth As We Know It, and, always a crowd pleaser, Orgasmic Birth (if you have any other suggestions, send them my way - I've watched these ones to the point of memorization!)  My most recent Amazon order included the following books: The Doula Book: How a Trained Labor Companion Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth, Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide, and The Birth Partner. I quite honestly dream of having a normal, natural childbirth.

Yet, I've had two VERY medicalized births.  The first, a cesarean birth, and the second, a forceps delivery. Both births, I admit, were relatively pain free, as I was frozen quite thoroughly. For years, before the prospect of having children was actually upon me, before I knew anything about anything, I used to joke that I wanted to be frozen from the neck down from the first contraction on.  Well, I got that, and I hated it!  I'll be honest, the worst part was, I couldn't hold my babies after they were born.  My arms were tied down.  For the birth of both my sons THAT is the memory that prevails: me, laughing through my tears, just looking at my boys because I couldn't reach out and touch them.  The very moment that is supposed to transcend all, and that's what I remember: me, strapped to a table.  I am woman; hear me whimper.

 Staring at Eli for the first time.

I want to have more babies: many more, if God sees fit.  But somehow I just can't accept the idea that all that matters is that I have healthy babies.  Obviously that isn't all that matters, or I wouldn't think of it daily almost three years after the birth of my first son.  With my cesarean birth I know that it was necessary.  Four and a half days after my water broke, surgical birth really was the only answer.  The forceps delivery, however, I am filled with guilt and disappointment every time I think about it.  Guilt that I didn't prepare enough, didn't know enough, didn't insist enough. 

In retrospect, I think the midwife I used for Silas's birth had a perception of me that I was very independent and strong, and therefore wouldn't need much guidance in labour.  But, I had never gone through labour before.  I had never reached transition.  I had never felt like I was either going to be torn apart, or blown to pieces.  So, when I said I wanted to go to the hospital and get some pain killer, she said okay.  And off we went.  I'll tell you something: I. DO. NOT. LIKE. HOSPITALS.  It was not the place for me.  Intervention after intervention lead me to the operating room once again, prepped and ready for a cesarean, with a OBGYN who merely condescended to trying the forceps because I absolutely insisted.

 The first picture I have of us after the birth - no camera in the Operating Room this time. 

Despite all odds against me, I had my VBAC.  I should have been celebrating.  I should have been rejoicing.  But, I was in more pain than I had been with Eli's birth and I still couldn't hold my baby.  They wouldn't let me bathe him.  They changed all his diapers.  And I felt even more disappointed than I had with the cesarean.

So, where do I go from here?  How do I prepare more than I have prepared?  Where do I find the empowerment I know exists in birth, but has thus far eluded me?  All the movies, all the books, all the meditation, the preparation and the prayers have brought me two wonderful, healthy babies that I love more than life itself, but have left me with a distrust in my body and my person.

Onward I go.  I will not be dissuaded.  I will read more.  I will prepare more.  I am taking a class from Birthing From Within called Birth Stories.  I am going to do Brain Gym.  I am going to do everything I can, because I know it matters, because I know that having the birth I want to have will somehow heal the pain from the births I've actually had.   Because, after all, this is the thing that God has given women, and I want to experience it as it is meant to be experienced!


  1. Yay for wiebe baby number 3!!!

  2. Wait wait wait. I am most certainly not pregnant. Thanks for that, Cheryl. Why are you awake at 1 in the morning reading my blog?

  3. I love you. This made me cry. You are a warrior for birth.

  4. Good post Jenny. Don't know if you've read it but "Birth - the history of how we are born" is really great. Just a great thorough, non-biased history of the birth process.

  5. Hi Mary. I have read it. Jared read it too! It's a good one.

  6. I was your birth stalker...did you know that? Maybe you had many so this isn't a surprise but I was asking cheryl every 78 seconds if you had had your baby yet...and how it went. When you were in labor I wanted updates every 12 seconds. Being pregnant and planning a homebirth at the same time after an OB, intervention filled birth the first time. I still managed as naturally as possible but was left with a bad taste in my mouth and a beautiful baby in my arms. It was a strange paradox to be in. I felt like the outcome was what matters and I should just get over the overwhelming regret but the truth is the process is so profound that you are allowed to grieve for the delivery that didn't happen in the way you had dreamed. Huh...when did this turn into my blog...okay back on track...all I knew was that I wanted your confidence, courage, (hotel birth...drive across interantional borders.!!!) and drive. I have to say I felt kind of devestated for you when I saw the first released facebook picture of beautiful Silas' face and just the hint of hospital bracelet in the corner. My heart sank...If Jenny Wiebe didn't get her dream birth, is their really hope for any of us??? I thought...but I perservered and visualized, meditated, prayed, acupuntured, homeopathiced, chiropractored and massaged my way to the natural and midwife assisted delivery of my dreams. It was everything you are dreaming of. You were inspirational in silent encouragement to make me think it was okay to want it so badly. You were one step closer this time and I pray you get your turn next!!! Great post. Sorry I rambled, and hijacked your comments. I still have 1000 more things to say...

  7. i don't know how or why, but you make me not so afraid to give birth (one day). and that's saying something. i love you.

  8. i feel guilty. i dont have any of those feelings. but i guess all my births have gone pretty smooth. im happy that your so passionate about this! your a great mom!

  9. Hi Jenny, Welcome back to Calgary. I love your posts/blog & you are a birth warrier! If only everybody felt as strongly as you about having a natural birth. I have 2 other movies to share that I have not seen but have been highly recommended to me: What babies want (with Noah Wylie) and Nature, Nurture and the Power of Love (Dr Bruce Lipton). I'm a bit of a birth junkie myself but you beat me hands down. A lot of your reading is on the DONA birth doula curriculum, in case you've ever thought of taking that. Happy getting settled in Calgary!

  10. Jo:
    I want to take the doula course, but with my nursing "schedule" (or lack thereof) with Silas, there is no way I could take a 3 day course right now. Maybe in November.
    I've put those two movies in my Amazon cart for my next order. You can come for my birth movie night!

  11. Hi Jenny,

    I just read this post and it moved me to tears. It's so funny what we remember. I was very lucky to have two natural births (there weren't even doctors in the room when I had my sons - just nurses), but I was in the hospital and I HATED it. If I'm ever blessed with more children, I want to do it in a birth centre.

    What I've found, especially as a raised my children during the first 2 years, nursed them, held them, cried with them, is that eventually I let go of that notion that "it should be this way." That said, I could feel the emotions swell in me when you said "somehow I just can't accept the idea that all that matters is that I have healthy babies." Because I can totally relate.

    Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly. :)


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