Scars remind us where we've been. They don't have to dictate where we're going

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Orgasmic Birth

Ok, I don't even know where to start with this book.  Let me say this.  If I could make a blanket out of it and bundle my soul up in it, I would.  And Chapter 5, "Expect the Unexpected," would be the fleece liner that kept me extra warm at night.  Does that make sense? I don't know much about blankets....or fleece to be honest.  But let's not get sidetracked....

So, the first time I saw this book on a bookshelf at Border's, I grabbed it right up to flip through the pages.  I mean, who wouldn't want to orgasm when they birth, right?!? I can only see the positive in that.  Well, the first page I flipped to had something about clitoral stimulation during labor. Whoa, buddy.  I know some of you probably think I'm a little out there, but let me assure you, vibrators and/or dildos have never been an item on any birth supply list I've ever made.  So, in an atypically prudish moment, I reshelved it.  Fast forward a couple weeks and Border's is going out of business.  What the heck, I thought? It's 20% off (and I know I have some bargain hunters reading who will shake their head at my little 20% off, but I am a sucker for a sale, what can I say?), so I'll buy it and read it for giggles and maybe pass it on to someone who is into that sort of thing.

Y'all.  There are no words to express my love for this book.  I think I had a mental orgasm about 30 times between pages 3 and 140.  The first chapter (they are really called "steps," not chapters) was about knowing birth.  The authors gave such a wonderful description of normal birth, including the role that interventions (medical and psychological) play in inhibiting a woman's labor.  I especially loved when they talked about fear in the mother releasing adrenaline and how that contracts muscles of the uterus, including the ones which really need to be relaxed in order for you to dilate. I remember when I was freaking out and I started shaking uncontrollably, K kept telling me over and over "That's OK, it's just adrenaline." Get to the hospital and surprise, surprise my cervix had sucked that baby back up a station or two and closed a couple centimeters.  And you know that weird place they call laborland? Where time and space cease to exist and you have no control over saying things to your birth team about how you never wanted to birth at home and they made you do it? And maybe not to be rude, you want an epidural? Yeah, there is a totally awesome explanation for that too. You don't really mean it, you're just in theta frequency.  I had been trying to think of a way to describe here for those who haven't been there that incredible place between reality and the place you go when your body is working to birth a baby.  It is a totally far out (yeah, I did) experience that defies description.  I imagine it is something like what it feels like to be really high on drugs, except without all the side effects....except for that baby thing you have to push out at the end.

The second chapter (step) is all about knowing your options. Hello!!!! That is my mission in life and on facebook, which has unofficially been turned into my own personal vagina/uterus fan page.  The authors start it out with a quote from a book called "A Good Birth, A Safe Birth." "If you don't know your options, you don't have any."  Did you catch that? Let me type it again, maybe with italics this time? "If you don't know your options, you don't have any."  Marinate on that one a little bit and I'll move on.

Next up is nutrition which is so, so important in growing a healthy baby. Regardless of the method of delivery you choose or end up having, we all truly do want healthy babies, right (duh)?  I never got any nutritional counseling with A.  Protein, what's that? A milkshake has a lot of protein, right? And nothing wrong with quenching my thirst (and sweet tooth) with a Coca Cola, right? Can't do diet coke...aspartame is no good for baby! One of the first things my midwives did was nutritional counseling with me.  An apprentice midwife (my postpartum doula with A) came over to my house and went grocery shopping with me and then showed me how to cook a couple healthy meals.  That's right, we got into the car together and she took me to the store and showed me what to buy and why to buy it.  Then, wait for it....she came into my house and showed me how to use the ingredients we had to make 3 healthy dishes.  All without being paid.  That's right--she just cared that much about me and my little embee (embryo for those not in the know) that she wanted to show me how to use food to grow the healthiest baby possible--and to keep myself as healthy as possible throughout my pregnancy.

On to the good stuff. Sex.  I know what you've all been thinking---when is she going to get to all the juicy stuff? Isn't this book called Orgasmic Birth!?! Well, sorry y'all.  I think I traumatized my mother in law enough yesterday, so you are going to have to discover this one on your own.

And now, my personal favorite. Step 5: Expect the Unexpected.  This is the theme to my journey to this pregnancy and birth! Are you kidding? Does this mean I am somehow psychically connected to the authors or maybe I'm just not as original as I thought.  Whatever, doesn't matter.  This chapter made me bust out a highlighter for the first time in 3 years--since bar study prep--and take notes.  Voluntarily.  Look, there are tons of things I can do to swing the odds of a great birth in my favor.  I can and will eat well, exercise, know all my options and make informed choices, but guess what? Birth is just a part of life and no one ever said life was predictable.  I'm not going to list all the complications that could preclude me having the birth I want because then I might start dwelling on them, but suffice it to say there are a number (a small number, but still) of them that may make a home birth, even a VBA2C in a hospital, ill advised or impossible.  And I'm not going to sit here and pretend I wouldn't be upset over it for a day, a week, a month, who knows how long.  But if that happens, I'm going to pull out Chapter 5 of this book and read it over and over until I remember there is a reason for the way everything happens in life--and again, birth is just a part of life.  There is a really great exercise in this chapter from Pam England of Birthing From Within fame called "tracking your tigers." It is about identifying core fears we have that may get in the way of our labor if they occur.  I am going to start this one up right now and track my tigers from pre-conception on to delivery. I am going to try to identify each and every fear I have and flesh it out.  Here is how the book says I should track my tigers:

  1. Write down all the things I hope won't happen at my birth (and since I will be starting early, I will include things I do not want to happen during my pregnancy as well)
  2. Look my tigers in the eye, and let myself flow into my fear
  3. Ask myself, "What do I need to do to tame or escape from each tiger, i.e. what will make my birth place safe?"
  4. Do it, even if I am afraid, and get help if I need it.
That is going to be so awesome.  And since it involves confronting things that make me uncomfortable, I suspect it may suck sometimes too.  But, overall, I think the end result will be awesome.

Finally, the last chapter which is extending your orgasmic birth into life. It kind of just reinforces and validates the kind of parenting style Jason and I are into and I suspect most anyone who would care about what I have to say would be too.

There are a bunch of birth stories at the end, but I want to save those for later on...maybe when we are starting to TTC and throughout my pregnancy.  Not that I will only read them once or anything (I will probably read every birth story I have access to several times), but I want to wait until I am a little closer to needing to get into that frame of mind.

So, what was the overarching message of this book for me? Surprisingly, it is not about diddling yourself until you have a mind blowing orgasm while your baby crowns.  Really, it is about giving up and giving in--surrendering to the process of birth. Not over thinking it or trying to make sure everything is perfect because, of course, you never could.  I never could.  This book feels like a love letter written just for me and I know I am going to reread it many, many times in the next couple of years.


  1. Adding that book to my "read before next baby" wishlist! (:

  2. Most definitely! It is a "must" for me now! :)