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Unique Unto Itself

Welcome to the first edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama!

In the month of January, we start afresh, a new year, new ideas. Hence, our participants have looked into the topic of “Birth and New Beginnings”. Take a look at the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants.

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My first "unique baby," one week after her birth. Photo by Amanda Cox.

I’ve been preparing for my second birth, which should take place sometime in late July or early August, by using the Hypnobabies home study course. I did the same during my first pregnancy, but this time it means so much more. This time I have a toddler following me around, repeating the “Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations” she hears me listening to daily. One of those affirmations provides a reminder that, “this is a new birth and a new baby, unique unto itself.” While I consider my first birth to have been a beautiful experience, all but perfect for the time and place we were in, I am looking forward in so many ways to the opportunity to have a new and different experience with our second child.

There are a handful of specific things I’d like to do differently this time, starting with the birthing place. I plan to be out of the hospital this time, either in a birthing center or our home. I would like to wait longer to have the cord cut, set the tone even more with candles and flowers, have someone take photos, allow my water to break on its own or my baby to be born en caul, and so on. More than anything, though, I have a general sense of how I want this birth to feel. In a word, I am looking forward to a greater feeling of awareness.

My first pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience set me on a journey toward greater awareness of my body. I had never considered the idea that I may be more equipped to make the final decisions about my own care than a doctor. I had never thought to question the medical system or the accepted way of doing things. The more I learned about birth and pregnancy, the more I realized that what’s “standard” is not what is best for every woman. There is value in medical opinions. There is value in understanding the stances of various medical organizations and the rationale for them, yet at the same time there is equal, perhaps even greater, value in awareness of one’s own body and individual needs. There is also value in opposing opinions and alternative ways of doing things. I am so grateful to have discovered this early on in my first pregnancy, and to have had the opportunity to make my own decisions with regard to my birth experience.

The sad thing about growing up in a culture that believes that doctor knows best is that such a belief diminishes, or even eliminates the need to be in tune with one’s own body. There is no need to pay close attention to signs and symptoms  when sophisticated diagnostic tools at the doctor’s office make the final call anyway, right? Growing up with this belief, I was so out of touch with my own body that a mere hunch, not any of the physical signs that seem so obvious to me now, was what caused to me to look into the possibility that I was pregnant shortly after my first daughter was conceived. Once a home pregnancy test confirmed my hunch, I was plagued by stress until I could finally see a doctor and confirm the health of my baby-to-be.

As my pregnancy progressed, I learned more and more. I began to listen to and trust my body, and the natural birth of my healthy baby turned out to be a truly empowering and enlightening experience. Following my daughter’s birth, choosing a method of birth control led me to learn about another process entirely: my menstrual cycle. Paying attention to the different phases I pass through, knowing their purpose and the hormones associated with them, and understanding how this relates to my ability to conceive seems so simple, and it seems absolutely crazy now that I had never given it any thought before. Knowing how my body ought to work will serve me well into the future, as it will make it easy for me to detect any problems or abnormalities as they appear, well past the time in my life when I’m conceiving, carrying, and birthing babies.

I am so grateful to have this place of trust and awareness as my starting point this time around, and I hope that my awareness of the goings on inside my body will only increase with my growing belly. Reading birth stories helped me to prepare for my first birth by giving me a sense of what I could expect, and what birthing women are capable of, but this time I’m reading them from a different place. This time, I’m understanding how my first birth could have been different, and looking forward to full awareness as I bring my next child into the world. I love reading about the sensations women had as they progressed through labor, some even aware of their cervix opening and stretching, or their baby physically moving down and engaging. I feel such excitement when I read stories of women who felt their baby’s head as it crowned, watched it in a mirror, or perhaps even held their newborn and guided them from the birth canal to their chest, unassisted. I get chills when I think of the full involvement in, and awareness of the birthing process these women felt. It’s an experience women can only have so many times in their lives, and I want to embrace it fully.

I loved the process of birthing my daughter, but I was preoccupied by so many things, afraid of the unknown, and focused on managing the strong sensations of labor. I was simply waiting for the urge to push, and it’s all a blur from there. This time, my body is a trusted friend and I look forward with great anticipation to being fully present in it as I birth this new baby, and by extension a new family.

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Visit Authentic Parenting and MudpieMama to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 27 with all the carnival links.)

17 Responses to Unique Unto Itself

  • I think birth is an ‘eye opener’ for many women. I agree pregnancy and birth can be a time when we learn so much about our bodies. It is too bad that our culture doesn’t appreciate that more. Instead of embracing this opportunity many try to avoid it and become numb through it all. They really don’t know what they’re missing!
    I wish you a peaceful upcoming birth!!

    • melissa says:

      It’s really a vicious cycle in many ways, isn’t it? Women are conditioned to fear birth, and wanting to numb themselves is a natural response to the fear. It’s wonderful to have the chance to see what your body can do, no numbing necessary! :)

      Thank you for the well wishes!

  • “This time, my body is a trusted friend and I look forward with great anticipation to being fully present in it as I birth this new baby, and by extension a new family.”
    Yes! This!! I felt so much more faith and awareness in myself – I had given myself permission to just be.
    Wishing you the most beautiful, peaceful birth.

    • melissa says:

      Thank you, Dionna! If your birth with Ailia is any indication of what faith in oneself and awareness can do, I think I’ll have that beautiful, peaceful birth :)

  • This post almost makes me want to have another baby. Almost. ;) I love your outlook and your awareness. I can see that you have a lot of strength and determination. No matter what, you WILL have an empowered birth. I suspect you will fight for that to the finish. I cannot wait to read your next birth story!

  • Melissa vose says:

    Awesome. Totally awesome. =) I love that birth is not only a journey for that particular birth, but it is connected to the one before and after it, also. Your first experience enhances the second one, and infuses it with confidence and peace.
    Like Jennifer, I can’t wait to read your next birth story.

  • Amy says:

    I love that your attitude and thoughts are having so a positive impact on Annabelle. I certainly want to strive to be more mindful to help set an example for Q-ball!

    • melissa says:

      Thanks, Amy! I just love how much she enjoys the Hypnobabies affirmations. It struck me as she was repeating some of them one day, what a perfect head start she’ll have on preparations for her own children’s births – should she choose to have any :) And as far I can tell, you’re setting a wonderful example for Q-ball!

  • That is so beautiful! I got shivers during the same part Dionna quoted. I’m so happy for your reflections and the strength you’re gathering going forward. I look forward to hearing about your peaceful, beautiful, connected second birth!

  • Rach says:

    Your positive confident attitude is so important I think. I read one of Ina May Gaskin’s books during my pregnancy and found it so inspiring, earthy and realistic. Have you read her? Even though for us, medical interventions were necessary in the end, my attitude (which was similar to yours) made me feel always in control, empowered and ecstatic. If only everyone felt like you, excited, and not fearful.

    • melissa says:

      So glad you had a positive and empowering experience. I agree that attitude plays a huge role! I’m finishing up Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth now, and absolutely loving it. I read some wonderful books while preparing for Annabelle’s birth, but this one may top them all. Hopefully I can get around to Spiritual Midwifery as well. What was your favorite?

      • Rach says:

        I only read one and got it from the library…em, I think it was the Guide to Childbirth. Can I live on the farm, Ina May, pretty please? I want a sheela na gig for B! Would this be an off choice for a second birthday present?
        I became evangelical about it and urged everyone else in my antenatal classes to read it. Of course they didn’t. I want

  • I definitely feel like my next labor will be more calm, simply because I have seen what my body can do. I had an epidural but it had worn off enough that I could clearly feel when to push and I could definitely feel Sebastian push out and then slip back in (damn nuchal hand!) over and over. Hopefully with my next labor I can manage the pain of contractions as well as the pushing. I often say I felt like a boxing champ as I pushed him out, my husband offering me sips of water in between.

    I also want to set the mood with candles, flowers, etc. for my next birth, although I loved not being at home! The hospital birth center would have been great for me if I had had a doula or more first-hand knowledge. I was allowed a lot of freedom but no real suggestions or advice.

    • melissa says:

      I love the image of you as a boxing champ! It’s so cool to have that opportunity to see what you’re capable of, and I can totally believe that it will carry through to your next birth. I loved Sebastian’s birth story, so I can only imagine how awesome your next one will be.

  • zen mummy says:

    This is a lovely post, and one I can identify with. My first birth wasn’t really what I had hoped (although the end result more thna made up for that!) and I was determined to be more in control second time round. I knew that I could do it, that my body could do it, and I knew what to expect and was very excited about it. And while it didn’t go exactly how I planned I was very very happy with the birth that I had with my second daughter and felt that a lot of the ghosts of my first birth were finally laid to rest. Also, I used hypnobirthing techniques, and the two midwives who attended couldn’t believe how calm and peaceful I was throughout.
    I wish you an amazing birth ~ looking forward to hearing about it :-)

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