Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas... and Ina May - My freakin' Hero

I had a dream a couple nights ago that one of my blog readers confronted me, telling me I update way too often, and that my entries are way too long! So I've been feeling a little self-conscious about posting as much as I have... therefore, I took a break for a few days.

When it comes to blogging, what can I say? When I'm home all day there's not much else to do! I get excited to share things! :)

Lately I've also been taking a break from thinking too much about the baby getting here. I found I was stressing myself out a little by constantly thinking about what it will be like when we bring the baby home and what will be stressful and the potential problems that might come up.

Instead, I've been getting into the Christmas spirit - listening non-stop to one of the classic Christmas channels on iTunes, very festive. Luke and I made gingerbread men the other night, and I've been eating a LOT of clementines and candy canes! I wanted to get a tree this past weekend but Luke thinks it'll dry out before Christmas gets here, so I think we'll go get our tree this coming weekend. We switched our fall wreath on our front door to our cranberry red Christmas wreath, and we strung garland around the banister going up the stairs. I love how just a few decorations can change how the house feels. Our next order of business is to buy some poinsettias for the coffee table and dining room table. Exciting!

I haven't been shutting the idea of childbirth out completely though. I've been reading the incredible book "Spiritual Midwifery" by Ina May Gaskin whenever I sit down to relax (which is ... pretty much constantly).

My friend Claire recommended it to me when we got together a few weeks ago and I was expressing my fears about labour/birth to her (she has a background in midwifery). She did warn me that it is written by a midwife who worked (and still works) on a hippie commune called "The Farm" in Tennessee, so the birth stories in the book are a little far out, but as I got into reading the various stories I felt myself begin to calm down and feel actual peace about labour.

All the women who give birth in the stories have natural, drug-free home births, and the way they cope with the intensity of labour is to focus on how our bodies are designed for this process, and to view it as a positive experience, not a painful one. For example, they never say 'contractions'... they call them 'rushes'. They focus on seeing them as highly intense rushes of energy working to get your baby out. They teach you how to not think of labour as painful but as intense and extremely high-energy. They also recommend a lot of creative coping techniques to help you "stay on top of each rush" when it feels painful.

A lot of the women in the book talk about "getting high" during labour, meaning, having an incredible emotional rush of "consciousness" in such an intense situation... and they talk a lot about being "telepathic" with the midwives or their partners or whoever else is in the room, so if you're not used to that kind of talk it can be a little weird at first! For the most part I found it calming, and it was a huge relief to finally hear people talking about labour and delivery in a positive light.

Ina May Gaskin has been revolutionary in changing the North American perspective of child birth from being considered a medical emergency to something our bodies are designed to do with very few interventions required.

Check out the incredible statistics from The Farm's 2028 births: (From 1970-2000)

Pretty amazing considering a good portion of those births were breech babies, VBACs and babies with other complications usually requiring C-section almost everywhere else.

Not many other hospitals or birthing centres in North America will deliver statistics like this, and I'm perfectly content to go with the flow for my own labour and delivery at the hospital, but it is calming to know what our bodies are capable of. I'm told that when I'm in labour and reaching transition (the most intense part before you start pushing) I may feel like I won't be able to continue or even that I'm dying (!!!) ... so I'm hoping to remember some of the encouraging things I've read in Spiritual Midwifery to help carry me through!

If you're curious, here are some links to info about Ina May Gaskin and The Farm:

Wikipedia article about Ina May

The Farm Midwives

Ina May's official website


Sonya 12:47 PM  

I can't wait to get a Christmas tree as well. One sure does have to exercise a lot of patience when going with a live tree!

As for the labor, try not to worry about it. It's inevitable. And one way or the other you'll come out just fine on the other side with a beautiful baby to show for it.

Claire Dam 12:58 PM  

Hey! I love how on-board you are! I'm always a little nervous recommending that book for the reasons you mentioned--her extremely hippy vernacular. And I love how you feel the EXACT way I felt when I first read it.

Next time we hang out we'll bring our Ina books and talk shop ;)

And you have to tell me what Luke thinks about making out with you during labour.

Melanie 12:59 PM  

what about candy cane ice cream????

Melanie 1:00 PM  

making out during labour?????

Annie 1:08 PM  

Oh yeahhhh, I forgot about the making out during labour part! Hmmmm... not too sure about that one, but we'll see when the time comes! Haha!

Yes Mel, I thought of candy cane ice cream last night and I couldn't believe I had forgotten about it. That means... a trip to the store tonight to buy some! Thanks for the reminder :)

Kristi 5:11 PM  

Keeeeep blogging! I like it, I feel not so far away from you!

Also, as long as you cut a slice off the bottom of the tree right before you put it up, then water it daily, it'll be more than okay until Christmas (My family always gets theirs a month before Christmas and it usually ends up staying until around New Years and it's been no problem).

Also, my word verification is "pretsl". It's a sign to name your son Pretsl.

Carla 1:43 AM  

Woo - yay for going for a natural labor! I totally know what you mean in that there are WAY too many negative stories out there about giving birth. boo. :( In sharing another "positive" and personal story... :) I went natural too and it was such a perfect decision for us! It was so comforting to just trust that my body was made to deliver, and that I just needed to listen to it - that pain was with a purpose, and every contraction I went through was work I had accomplished, and ground I'd never have to cover again. I laughed afterwards because I kept waiting for the horrible "transition" part that I kept hearing about - and never even had that happen to me - before I knew it, we were all of a sudden ready to greet little Lucy!

Annie 9:20 AM  

Carla that is awesome! I'm so glad to hear you had such a great experience. I really believe if our expectations of labour are to have a painful experience we will perceive it as painful. To hear you had such a good experience is very encouraging to me!

Karen Stambaugh 1:27 PM  

Hey Annie-I heart Ina May, so glad to see someone else thinks she rocks. Did you read the story about the norwegian couple who traveled around the U.S. like vagabonds and went to "The Farm" to give birth? The woman was 38, first kid, easy peasy. Insane. Let me know if her techniques help you feel like a rock star during labor. : )

Annie 10:07 AM  

Hi Karen, thanks for commenting! Yes, I think I remember that story... there are so many good ones! I really love how free all the people seem to be, they don't seem to let their situations faze them even in a big-deal situation like giving birth. Inspiring for sure!

Mary Anne 4:57 PM  

i'm so glad you got that book from claire. It sounds amazing! You seem so at peace with the thought of labour. I am at peace just reading your blog! hahaha. the stats are amazing!