Saturday, February 1, 2014

a response to home/birth

This conversational piece, made me want to slide into the conversation, to respond. 

The closing, Arielle's own quiet postscript, was so beautiful and heartbreaking.  As I lay next to my son, watched his little huffs of breath, thought of the beauty that Arielle gave Day--that natural birth, that time--it moves me.

So if I could, here is what I might have inserted:

Somewhere in the text, I would have pointed out how strange it is that having a homebirth can be an act of privilege too--how strange it was for women in NYC to think, "Couldn't you afford a doctor?" when R spoke of her homebirth.  In that strange twist, homebirth wasn't an insurable option for me, and we couldn't afford to pay for it ourselves.  (O fertility treatments...)  What I wish:  that women could feel positive about their birth stories and that they could have more choice in the choice-matters.  Like where.  My own husband didn't feel comfortable with a homebirth, and I made peace with that.  He is part of this.  He was, besides the babies that resulted, the absolute best part of my birth stories.

I am mostly scared of being sectioned.  (11)
This is where I knew the text would hum and become electric for me.  I never even thought--  And here I am, twice sectioned.  That word!  Section.  Divided in half, there on the table.

You could have.  You were amazing.  Watching you changed my life.  (19)
My heart felt nice here.  I admire these two women so much.  My heart felt nice, warm.  I wonder what it might have been like if we put a tub in our home, if O. was a doula already.  What might have been different.

At the Q&A for the benefit screening, a postpartum nurse said she so admired the post-op moms limping down the halls, dragging their IVs, coming to try to nurse their babies.  "It's heroic really, and much harder than you might think."
I couldn't even walk after mine.  Not for--what, twenty-four hours?  Ryan carried me and I lugged behind like a doll.  The second time, I convinced the nurses that they should take the catheter out; I was so desperate to convince them to send me home.  Walking from the bed to the bathroom gave me howling pain.  But nursing Finn?  He was right there in bed with me, as was Maya.  No problem there.

Abby wants more than three.  She has one fallopian tube left and a uterus covered in scar tissue, but she is trying.  (29)
 Wait.  Wait.  I hadn't even thought of this.  I already have so much going against me, and now, two scars.  I'd loved the one on the outside so much; the one on the inside, such an unfriendly place to latch.  I've been hoping for a third.

My water broke at the beginning of labor.  Our midwives in Main this time said, 'We would want to know why your water bag broke.  We would fix that with nutrition.  This time that won't happen first."  (33)
Let me go back.  Let me eat my way into a different labor.  I'll eat nothing but kale, straight from the dirt.  This conversation makes me feel desperate, looking back.

You said, 'It seems cruel now to make women birth on land.  And I said, 'That's what I said to you.'

For my birthday this year you got me homebirthing, lactivist comic books by a feminist artist who calls herself Hathor, after the Egyption goddess of fertility, women, children, midwives, and childbirth.
I wrote about about Diana.  I wear oak leaves in my hair.

Following Queen Victoria's life-long mourning of her own children, the Victorians made an art of memorializing and keeping close their dead, in the form of jewelry, crafts, and photographs.  Secure the shadow.  (53)
Sue made tchotchkes from the flowers at Jim's funeral.  I have a bookmark; the boys got keychains.  I mistake them sometimes for the ashes.  I think of the tattoos that have been done with pet's ashes.  Gatsby sits on a bookshelf.

Ilana said, 'Never use the expression 'rule of thumb.'  It comes from an old English law that allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick as long as it was no thicker than his thumb.  (87)
I think of switches.  Of the way willows dissolve into fight.

In a herd, the female elephants form a circle around the elephant who is laboring and hold the space while she births.  They don't intervene in any way; they are the doulas.  (98)
Hold the space.  Like breath.

It's my theory that a lot of postpartum depression, which they say is at near-epidemic proportions in this country, can be accounted for by traumatic or even mediocre hospital births, where women feel disempowered or separated from their experience and their baby.  (100-101)
Failure to progress.  F A I L .

Then the Morningstar midwives said, 'Drinking that stuff is like drinking fourteen Blizzards from Dairy Queen in a row.  There are better ways to tell if you have gestational diabetes.'  (105)
Give me another way.  Or give me the ice cream.

I think of Hoa's story:  sending her husband and son out for errands, baking bread, humming into her contractions, and then when they got home she slipped the baby out, her second boy(111)
More.  Tell us all of the stories.

Another problem for me is that while I agree with so much of what he said, Dr. Grantly Dick-Read was no feminist.  He said, 'Woman fails when she ceases to desire the children for which she was primarily made.  Her true emancipation lies in freedom to fulfill her biological purpose, to satisfy her physiological demand.'  (135)
I couldn't look past this.  How can anyone look past this?  Yes, pro-homebirth, but not every woman.  This needs to be OK too.

Do you know how they keep the internal fetal monitor inside the mother?  They screw it into the baby's skull.  (161)
Maya came out with a gouge.  I didn't know what it was for so long, thought it might have been from her arrival into the air, some instrument.

At the screening of The Business of Being Born we attended in Chicago, everyone in the homebirth-advocate-heavy audience cried and exclaimed with joy at the homebirth scenes, no matter how graphic, and booed and winced and covered their eyes at the hospital scenes.  I thought, This is the right reaction.  And I wondered, Would it be the opposite reaction if this was shown to a mainstream American audience?  (173)
I can't answer this.  I haven't seen it yet.  Am I afraid?  I would whoop and cheer at any woman happy with her birth narrative.  Could mine have ever been content?  Is my biology unfit for delivery?  I would whoop at any woman who had all the knowledge and felt empowered. 

After my homebirth with Judah I didn't need to write a poem.  I didn't need to fix anything.  (175)
I cried at this.  I cried.  Yes.  I am writing my way out of this.  

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