Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Inner Knowing

Inner knowing. So many people discount that today. Yet you always hear after a plane crash or other disaster that people just *knew* something was going to happen, so they cancelled their ticket, or changed their plans. So many of us hear this little voice inside and discount its wisdom. Pretty soon, the little voice stops trying to get through to us, and we're left on our own to sink or swim.

So it is with birth. Deep within we know what to do. Our bodies know how to conceive a baby, grow a baby, and push out a baby. The baby knows what it needs to do to help itself be born. Yet again, so many of us don't listen. We hear horror stories, sign up for cesareans and epidurals... anything so we don't have to listen to our own body's wisdom.

We are told by the medical establishment that birth is dangerous. At any moment the baby could die. We could die. Come into the hospital and we'll make all the decisions for you. We'll poke you with needles, fill you with pitocin to create tetanic contractions that will send your baby into distress, which will be picked up by our electronic fetal monitors that send sound waves into your uterus to aggravate your baby. What, it hurts? We'll give you this nice epidural so you don't need to feel a thing. Nah... we PROMISE it won't hurt your baby. Now that your baby is in distress, we'll hasten his birth. If it will take too long for a vaginal birth, we'll just roll you into the OR and cut him out. If you get an infection, that's okay... we'll load you up with lots of antibiotics to try and clear it up.

Hmmmm. Sounds inviting, doesn't it? I've had four hospital births, and while all of them were not that extreme, the general theme was the same. If I had a valid reason for birthing there, that would be a different story, but I was a healthy pregnant woman with a healthy baby each time I went there. The first time, I got that lovely cesarean package. My precious baby was lifted out of me behind a drape and I didn't see her until my incision was almost completely repaired. Oh, and I got the bonus of having the epidural wear off AFTER they strapped me down to the OR table, but BEFORE the cesarean took place while they searched for the anesthesiologist. I don't remember anyone being in the room with me... if they were, they certainly didn't respond to my overwhelming urge to push while my legs were tied together and my arms were strapped down. My inner knowing was trying to kick in... and I was trying to listen... but was unable to.

My last hospital birth happened with my second daughter. No meds. Almost no doctor... she rushed in at the last moment when my doula screamed down the hall to the nurse that the baby was crowning. It *almost* happened on its own. Well, actually, it did happen on its own... the doctor wanted me to turn around and sit for the birth, but I wasn't about to change positions... she had to deal with me upright facing away from her on the bed. That inner knowing took care of it all. I had begun to listen. I was in the position that was needed. My little daughter, however, had a bit of a rough start, and needed a little extra care at the beginning. I was somewhere else while they worked on her... my mind was trying to process the intensity of this birth that went from 5 cm to the birth of the baby in only a few contractions. I remember vaguely sitting on the bed staring off into space, idly playing with the umbilical cord that was still attached to the placenta within me while my baby was across the room being suctioned and stimulated. I didn't have the presence of mind to call her name or anything... something that probably would have helped her come into herself. My husband rushed in... he had been out checking on the other children, since I was only at 5 cm. His presence slowly brought me back to myself, and I began asking about the baby and talking to her.

The inner knowing was there... but was interrupted. By removing the baby away for treatment instead of treating her there with me, we both suffered. It took her several minutes to come into herself, and it took me almost as long to come back to myself. Only the presence of my husband pulled me back, then we both were able to communicate with our daughter and let her know it was okay to come into herself. We were there for her. It was okay.

Inner knowing. We all have it. We just need to learn to listen.


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