Category Archives: Birth Stories

Birth Story: A Home Birth at the Hospital

Susannah and her husband spent months planning & preparing for a homebirth. they hired a homebirth midwife, hired me as their doula, took natural childbirth classes, ordered a birth kit, and got their house ready for the birth and the baby. then, in her third trimester, the almighty dollar sign reared its ugly head, and they realized that their homebirth would be financially impossible.

if they went to the hospital to give birth, Susannah’s health insurance would pay all of the $10,000+ bill, whereas a homebirth would be less expensive ($3,000) but they’d have to pay the entire bill themselves.  Susannah grieved the loss of her fantasy homebirth, but had to quickly move on and embrace a new fantasy of the perfect hospital birth with homebirth-style care.

when her baby’s birth-day finally came, Susannah’s fantasy came true.  she labored beautifully at home late into the night, until transition, often the most difficult part of labor. most women rush themselves frantically to the hospital long before this advanced stage of labor, but instead Susannah and her mother and i sat quietly in the darkness of her home, massaging and reassuring and hydrating and timing, for hours as her body prepared her to meet her baby.

it was beautiful to watch her disappear inside her mind with each surge of pressure & pain, and then re-awaken to our voices as the contraction passed.  Susannah’s mother held her tightly, loving being needed, and Susannah loving being cared for.  we created a quiet, calm, and safe space for the mother inside Susannah to begin to emerge, and we waited. Continue reading

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Birth Story: Zero to Transition in 90 Minutes Flat

When I take on a doula client that lives two hours away, I spend a lot of time hoping their labor will be slow enough for me to get there in time to support them.  But this particular client happened to be a mountain bike guide in exceptional shape, whose mother’s labor were all under six hours.  Uh oh.

Mama called me at 3pm last Sunday to say that her water just broke.  She was cheerful & giggly on the phone, and said she’d call me back in a couple hours, or when things started progressing more.  After we hung up, as I thought about it more, I realized how insane that plan was–and I got in my car and started driving.

Halfway through the two hour drive, one of her labor companions called to tell me things were really rocking.  I could hear Mama in the background making low wails, and I was so glad I was already half way there.

When I walked in the house, 90 minutes after her water broke, she was vomiting.  You know you’re a birthworker when the sight of a woman vomiting makes you happy!  Transition had arrived, with all its common signs–instantaneous ‘sleep’ between contractions, and statements like “I can’t do this, I can’t do this” and “Is it supposed to hurt this much?” and “I feel like I’m going to tear in half.”

Despite the inherent sense of panic and inevitability that transition can bring, walking into that space in that moment was so perfect.  Mama’s contractions were two minutes apart and a minute long, and she was coping well in a candlelit bathroom full of her loved ones and her labor energy.

The plan had been to labor at home as long as possible, and then transport to the hospital two blocks away.  The timing of when to transport was a tricky thing–she was clearly progressing quickly, but she was also coping well and not feeling pushy pressure.

A couple of hours were spent between the shower and the toilet, all in a calm, silent home lit only by three tiny candles.  Her vocalizations began to shift to higher and higher sounds.  As I breathed with her and vocalized a low sound on the out breath, her low sounds began to get a little gruntier with each contraction. Continue reading

Call for Birth Stories from LGBTQ parents

In the world of pregnancy and birth, there’s not much space devoted to the voices of queer or trans birthing folks.  When’s the last time you read a transman’s birth story, or noticed a lesbian couple’s birth photos floating around the ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ world of Facebook?

Kristen Ethier of Chicago’s Kaledioscope Doula wants to change that!  Here’s her call for submissions of birth stories from lesbian, queer, gender non-conforming, or FTM transgender parents:

What’s this all about?

There are vast collections of birth stories written by heterosexual folks.  It is time for your stories to be heard & recorded as a part of our queer history.  I am asking you to share your story with me because I am passionate about your story of the day you welcomed your child to the world being heard, in your own words. Send me your story whether you were the parent who gave birth or the co-parent who supported your partner when your baby was born.

I am not certain about the direction this collection will take & I will respond to your e-mailed story to ask permission before posting/publishing it.

Who’s asking?

Hi. I’m Kristen. I’m a queer feminist birth doula and childbirth educator in Chicago. I am passionate about the power of queer voices in pregnancy & birth culture. You can learn more about me at www.kaleidoscopedoula.com

All submissions can be e-mailed to kaleidoscopedoula@gmail.com

Birthing in the Mediterranean Sea

In this Israeli video, a Russian woman travels to the Mediterranean Sea to give birth, and does so with courage, dignity and grace.  She swims calmly and powerfully throughout labor, pushes spontaneously under water, and delivers her baby herself amidst the evening’s gentle waves.

Watching her emerge from the Sea, with the sunset behind her and her minutes-old baby in her arms, I am awestruck.  And jealous as hell.  I can’t imagine the confidence and trust in birth this took. Continue reading

Book Review: Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin

The book Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin serves as an inspirational read for those called to birth work, a basic handbook for the beginning midwife, and an intimate glimpse into the birthing culture of the 1970’s.  The inclusion of innumerable first-hand birth stories, written by the childbearing women themselves, lends the text an authenticity that is genuine and unquestionable.  It is fantastically written, emphasizing language outside of the clinical jargon normally used to describe childbirth, and bringing an elusive topic back into the realm of the accessible.  The author was courageous in publishing a text that was such a dramatic departure from the established norm in the childbirth professions of the time.

The book is basically divided into two sections, the first of which contains seemingly endless pages of first-hand accounts of childbirth.  These pages of honesty and colorful experience are Continue reading