This is one of those serious times. I tell you this in advance because you don’t always expect serious from me but you’re about to get it, so I feel like you deserve a warning. Maybe because I’m pregnant and a little *ahem* moody or maybe just because. Anyway my friend Erin and I had a brief but very meaningful discussion about birth yesterday evening which prompted the writing of this blog post almost entirely in my head in about 5 minutes. Sometimes things flow like that and when they do, they should be written.


First… Facts: I am a RN (though not currently practicing). I worked labor and delivery as  doula, then an intern and finally a RN for almost 5 years before I left for Hospice (that’s a whole OTHER blog post). I am also a homebirther but I have not always been.

I get asked two things fairly often 1. Why, if I love birth so much did I leave L&D? and 2. Why would I have a homebirth, because I’m a nurse and I should know better?

The two simple answers are these 1. I got tired of doing things TO people instead of for them and 2. (this one is in two parts) A. I like my house and B. I didn’t think I could get the birth I wanted in a hospital.




Now I am going to put on my flame retardant suit. Be right back.

While I’m gone look at newborn Ella…

Isn’t she CUTE? Yeah. I know. I made her. ALL TEN AND A HALF POUNDS OF HER.


I am about to say something that has been said by bloggers before me, and will be said again after me and something for which many of you may not, shall we say, like me. I am qualified to make this statement for one reason alone, because I have given birth, both naturally and not naturally, both in a hospital and in my home, both with the help of a doctor and without. Because I am a mother and woman, who has given birth. Four times.

We are doing it wrong.

Yes, I said it. You heard me right.

We are all a mess in this country and we are making things WORSE.

I worked L&D for roughly 5 years in a hospital that did about 4,000 deliveries a year and in that time I saw some beautiful births. Some were medicated, some induced, some even C-section (GASP). A HANDFUL of truly lovely births. But the rest, well the rest were what I like to call, McDonalds mentality deliveries. You can use your imagination there and picture getting your extra large 44 ounce diet coke in the drive thru while you’re in labor, but I’ll explain to you what I mean.  It looked something like this… Mom comes in 39 (or 38 or 41) weeks pregnant. She is TIRED. She is HUGE. She wants this baby OUT. She JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE (been there ladies? Yeah. We’ve all been there.) Her well meaning, lawsuit conscious physician has agreed to induce her because well the baby is probably getting too big anyway or her placenta probably isn’t functioning that well. So he does. She gets the cytotec or the cervidil or the pitocin and about 5 minutes later she’s had all she can take. She stuck in bed, strapped to a monitor and she is DONE. She hits the call button. I want an EPIDURAL NOW. I call the anesthesiologist. Two minutes later her husband walks out, “She can’t take it. Did you call? CAN YOU CALL NOW PLEASE I THINK SHE IS GOING TO KILL ME. Please fortheloveofgod (tone of begging).” The anesthesiologist administers the epidural and  she kisses him square on the mouth and goes to sleep. She says, “wake me up when it’s time to push.” And I watch the monitor. I watch for fetal heart rate decelerations and the tell tale deep V that says baby’s head is getting compressed and it’s probably time to push. I check her. Sure enough, 10 cm. She can’t feel her legs and she doesn’t want to. So we push, numb. Sometimes for hours and hours until we finally see some hair. Sometimes for not too long before she gets a section. Sometimes the baby pops right out into my hands before the doc arrives (more often than you’d think actually). So the baby is out. It doesn’t matter how it got that way or at what price as long as it’s “healthy” and mom and baby are doing “fine”. Her miserable pregnancy is over. The awful horrible terrible labor experience is over. Her baby is in her arms and she almost slept through it. But thank god. It’s OVER.


People don’t like when I liken the American birth experience to eating at McDonalds. But the fact is folks, we are, in large part, a fast food nation. And this mentality is trickling into our births. As fast as you can say two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun our births are becoming a managed experience, not just an experienced experience. People can control everything around them from the temperature of their house to what brand of jeans they buy. And why should birth be different? We want it fast, painless, timely. We want under our control. We want it how WE WANT IT. Have it your way. And all that.

Here’s the problem, and where things get a little sticky, it’s not MEANT to be controlled. In fact, I daresay, most of the time it functions best when left alone. Yep. I said it.


Now, before you start drafting your hate response, let me again  say I have seen beautiful epidural births (and induced births and even c-sections). Births where mom was present and involved and asking questions and being informed. Not merely a passive participant in something happening TO her but rather an active participant in something she is doing. She does not lie silently waiting for it to be over. She does not ask to be left alone or tell the nurse to “just get the baby out.” Instead she stays in tune with her body and baby. She feels what she can. And she processes it. That all being said, if you’re asking my opinion, which I realize you are NOT,  I’ll also say I don’t recommend an epidural. At all. And it’s not because my births weren’t  painful, because of course they were. It’s because I’ve had one. And I’ve done it the other way and I promise you, you’re  better off without it. Scouts honor. Better off. Moving on.


The McDonalds mentality is spilling folks. And it’s scary. It’s spilling into every.single.facet of our lives. Fast food. Fast birth. Easy out. Path of least resistance. Quickest result. And this is a DANGEROUS prospect for our nation and our world. When we start approaching life this way, from birth to death and every thing in between,  we are shortchanging ourselves. The body, whether you believe it to be an instrument of grand design or a product of millions of years of evolution, is SMART. It does things for a reason. Why did it take my 10 and a half pound baby hours and hours to be born, when it was my fourth birth and should have been the fastest? Well because MY BODY was finding a way to get that huge baby down and out. Whether we want to believe it or not our bodies have a plan. And if we don’t screw with it, usually the plan is pretty smart. When we start ordering it to be quicker, easier, painless, we are asking it to REVOLT. We are, for all intents and purposes, telling it to show us just who is boss after all.

It wins. Because it is boss. You cannot fast food drive thru your way out of  birth. It’s a bad idea. And I don’t think we’ve even realized the depths of just how bad it is. I don’t know how long it will take us to fully grasp all the ways we may be screwing things up by not letting nature takes it’s course. A baby KNOWS when it should be born. The BABY. Not your OB. Not you. Not your mother in law or your great auntie or some lady at the grocery store. YOUR BABY. And pain? Well hey here’s something, maybe pain exists for a REASON TOO. WHaaaaaat? Yeah I said it. I could get all physiological on you and start talking about dopamine and endorphins but suffice it to say, PAIN HAS A PURPOSE. No lie.

The other thing about the McDonalds mentality is where does it stop? We want our births easy? We want raising kids to be easy? We want our jobs to be easy? Housework to be easy? What should be hard? Should ANYTHING be hard?

Here’s something…  things aren’t always MEANT to be easy. They just aren’t. The best things in life are worth fighting for and usually take some WORK. Sometimes a LOT of work. Birth is no exception. It’s hard for a reason.

It’s hard because the hard work of growing and nurturing the unborn and the work of bringing that being earthside is meant to be preparation. Because motherhood is, ohmigawd I can’t believe it, HARD. Like really really hard. And being a good mother? You can’t get that in a drive thru. You just can’t. And you shouldn’t try.

birth , homebirth , labor , serious stuff , Uncategorized

Our little baby bean Ella was born at home.

In the kitchen.

{Please feel free to check this out if you’re new to the blog or just have a spare hour (no, really, it’s LONG).}

(that’s me. active labor, around 5-6 cm dilated)

It seems like homebirth is becoming trendy.

We aren’t trendy.

Sorry to disappoint.

I think most people are afraid to ask why we had a baby in the kitchen.

The truth is I did it because I wanted to eat pancakes in labor. OK that’s not exactly why, but it’s part of it.

We did it for a lot of reasons. Here’s a few. (Bulleted list time folks.):

  • Because having a baby is a *natural* event. We believe the female body knows inherently what to do without being directed or interfered with.
  • Because we wanted *our* birth to be *our* birth. An intimate affair with the people we love, who love us (and Ella) to be present and included. This includes the 3 Big Kids. They were all there. That couldn’t happen in a hospital.
  • Because I believe that birth is empowering. I know some people may think this is feminist garbage but I really do. And while not everyone wants to be empowered by birth, I did. And I was.
  • Because I wanted to birth in water.
  • And I didn’t want ANY medication. Nope. None.
  • Because the statistics are scary. We didn’t really want the hospital mucking with our baby’s birth unless we needed them (which we felt pretty sure we wouldn’t).
  • Because we knew if we needed them, we could go there. Like immediately. (This is one reason we had concurrent care with a hospital CNM who knew we weren’t actually planning to GO to the hospital but who would be available for us should any need arise.)
  • Because we didn’t want to have to fight the hospital to be able to go home early after the delivery and I knew I didn’t want to be in the hospital (also because we knew we would decline erythromycin and Vit K, unless we felt they were needed {note: We did give Vit K orally, because of her hard time gettin out}).
  • Because we like the midwifery model of care.
  • And because we LOVE our midwife. And we knew she was equipped to handle most emergent situations (and boy was she ever).
  • Because, believe it or not, I’m a RN and I don’t really think OB’s know what’s best for mom and baby. Shock. And Awe. (Dear OB’s. I *love* you. I really do. We need you. Sometimes. Just not always. Sorry. No offense.)
  • Because women deserve to make an educated CHOICE about where and how they birth. Having a baby in the kitchen isn’t for everyone. But it was for us.
  • Because I wanted to be in a pool, in my kitchen, singing The Commodores Brickhouse with my husband.

(You should know, I’m 10 cm dilated in this photo. For those who don’t know what that means… the baby is about to come out. Like, immediately.)

Want to see a video? (I don’t know why its not showing the actual video but it’s there I swear. )


Second frequently asked question:

Wasn’t I scared? No. I wasn’t scared. I was excited.

I like pancakes.

And birth.

Homebirth: It’s not for everyone but it was for us.

If you want to hear what the Man thinks about the birth… read his accounting here.

homebirth , labor , water birth

Thank heavens for failed birth control.
No, really.
Thanks, heaven (or you know, whoever).
My son, the littlest one, turned 11 yesterday.
I found out I was pregnant with him after about 9 weeks of feeling ‘not quite right’ and attributing it to the heat, the move, the exhaustion of having a 3 and 1 year old. Anything but the little person growing inside.
I had no period. I was nursing his brother. I was on the pill. I wasn’t trying to have another baby.
I had no idea I was pregnant.
It was hot. We had no air conditioning. We had a swamp cooler. It doesn’t count. If you’ve ever had one, you know what I mean. I was doing dishes one night and found myself hunched over the kitchen sink in a gut wrenching hurl.
I don’t vomit. Like ever.
This is the exact moment I knew that the birth control pill had betrayed me. The next day my suspicions were confirmed. The week after that the poor poor radiologist had to be privy to my near breakdown when I saw that the presumed baby had fingers and toes.
I know what that means. You aren’t a little pregnant ma’am. You are, in fact, a lot pregnant.
I wasn’t ready but he was coming. And sure enough on January 29, 2000 at 8:40 pm this little guy joined us earthside.

I hope this photo conveys the awesome-ness that is this kid.

He loves bugs. Of all kinds. And animals. And mud. And blueberries. And his baby sister.
He plays sax. And drums. And the strings of my heart
He cries when he gets in trouble. And not the “please don’t punish me” kind of cry but the truly sorry kind. Because he is.
He was there when his baby sister was born. And by there I mean THERE. In the room. And by in the room I mean standing right beside me the entire time. The. Entire. Time.
He blew me bubbles.
He sat on the ball (OK he had a PSP but he was sitting there for like 6 hours).
And as Ella was literally coming out of me, he stood behind me and held my shoulders telling me I could do it. Gently encouraging me and saying “you’re DOING IT mom.”
(I cut the bottom off. Because this is a PG site. Also, I’m literally giving birth in this photo. There is a human being coming out of my body. Please forgive my hair.)
OK he used the thermometer like a gun too. I mean, come on, he was 10.
That is my boy.
Damn am I glad that birth control pill failed.

homebirth , kids , labor

Or…. not so much.

Here’s the disclaimer: I am going to talk about sex (you have been warned). Sex and love and passion and that kind of stuff. Not the pornographic kind (so it’s safe for general reading) but more like the “stuff dreams are made” of kind. Read on my friends.

So recently this Stanford University study was published. Their mascot is a tree which has nothing to do with this blog post but I’m sure makes for an interesting half time at football games. I digress. They are a school of research, and a good one I hear, so the aforementioned study was both interesting and timely, considering my recent painful experience (I’m referring to childbirth. It hurts.).

You may go read the study, I’ll wait (which I would recommend because a. it’s interesting and b. this won’t make too much sense if you don’t) or alternatively I will summarize it for you here: Love relieves pain. Or rather, it diminishes our perception of it. Do I have your attention? Now, lest I be misunderstood, not just any kind of love but the “passionate, all-consuming” kind. Still have your attention? Sounds pretty good right? In a nutshell the study participants were subjected to a “mild” pain and asked to 1. Look at photos of their “loved” one 2. Look at photos of an “equally attractive” acquaintance (whatever that means) and 3. think of sports that “involve balls” (because distraction too can be a pain reliever) and rate pain whilst doing said activities.

So obviously they are in fact not talking about pain equivalent to childbirth pain. That would be both difficult and cruel to emulate. Plus it has been suggested that the pain of labor is not like any pain you’ll ever experience. Conversely, it has also been said that you can actually attain orgasm during labor and birth and I believe it. I do (I’ve watched that movie, by the way and it was pretty outstanding). But I’d have to say I fall in the former category of women who happens to think labor hurts. Kinda bad. It definitely does Not (capital N) feel like an orgasm to me. I mean I’ve never had a kidney stone and I’ve never been shot. I’ve only broken my toe once (which hurt pretty bad), severed my toe once (which again, hurt pretty bad, plus was very bloody) and stress fractured my leg running (which obviously didn’t hurt enough because I kept running long enough to actually break it all the way). Anyway, labor hurt way worse than any of that. I don’t want to shoot down the orgasm claims though because well… parts of labor felt pretty good.

So… if we can accept this basic principle it will assist greatly in the proof of the hypothesis:

Getting a baby out is a lot like getting a baby in, if you know what I mean.

Wink. Wink. (and thank you Ina May Gaskin for that). Now, something you may or may not know about me is I was a L&D RN. Before that I was a doula. In addition to those professional experiences I’ve given birth to four babies. Their births differed greatly however which is why I am now an expert on the subject (Note: I’m not really an expert on anything, except pie. Which I like. A lot.). Babies 1-3 were basically the same kind of births with similar pain experiences. I’ll give you a quick rundown (I’m not going to go too deeply into what happened, or what I wish I’d done differently because that would make this particular post a novel. I’ll save it. Read on.):

Baby #1: I was “overdue” (whatever) @ 41 weeks and induced using the prostaglandin/pitocin/ AROM (that’s artificial rupture of membranes, for the non-birth junkie types) method. I had contractions basically every 2-2.5 minutes ALL NIGHT LONG and dilated to 2 whole centimeters. This is when I realized that pitocin hurts. Bad. I caved in a got an epidural at 12 hours of labor on the OB’s suggestion because I was “going to be in labor all day”. Well that and who am I kidding, it hurt like hell. She was born 3 hours later (for a total of 16 hours). The epidural made me so numb I felt like I had no legs, which I hated, so I had them turn it down. She was born after 15 minutes of pushing and I had enough sensation to know what to do but not too much pain during that phase. P.S. Pitocin hurts like a mother f*er (pardon the expletive)

Baby #2: Suspected to be macrosomic (that’s bigger than 9 lbs, which he was exactly). I was induced using AROM/pitocin. Epidural at 4 cm (which was 2 pm). Pit hurts. Even with an epidural it hurts (HELLO it’s supposed to take the pain AWAY). He was born at 4 pm (12 hours of labor). 3 or so pushes. Again very little pain during delivery but the pit was murder. Again.

Baby #3: Was feared to be bigger than #2 (but was in fact only 8 lbs) so I was yet AGAIN induced (I was educated, very, but fearful and not in the mood to argue with the medical establishment. Again. Another post. Another day.) This time cervical ripening/pit/AROM (in that order). Transition was AWFUL. I had no space between contractions. I was pacing and basically out of my mind. The intrathecal came right before he delivered so the getting him out phase was almost painless. I pushed like once, and poof, out he came (9 hours of labor). I felt pretty powerful after that birth because it was really painful. Somehow pain equaled power. I don’t get it. I’m just sayin. P.S. Pitocin hurts like a son of a gun. In case I haven’t mentioned.

This brings me to #4. Let me preface this by saying I went into this homebirth ready to handle whatever was thrown at me. I knew there were be no epidural or pain relief but I wasn’t afraid. I just knew it would be fine. Moving on.

Baby #4: Ahhhh. Baby #4. There would be no artificial measures. You can read the birth if you haven’t already (as it’s linked above). No pitocin. No AROM. Just some Kung Pao chicken and my water breaking. Then labor and birth (well slightly more complicated than that but you get the idea). It hurt. Let me tell you how bad it hurt… at one point during my labor I actually said out LOUD, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, I could do this 10 times.” And I totally meant it. She was a little tougher to get out, taking 6 whole minutes, 5 of which she was stuck (14 hour labor total). HELLO pain, pleasure principle. P.S. Pitocin can kiss my behind.

So what’s the difference you ask? Let me tell you. First let’s go back to my being an expert. I have to have knowledge of both pain AND love to be credible (and I have to have experienced both I’d say, to even be believable). In light of the study and how it relates to this blog, let me say, I am in love. Like LOVE. The real deal kind. My husband and I are a perfect match. And I am not even exaggerating (I’m just trying to make a point here, not rub it in). I should disclose that we are newly wedded. Well if you look at the pictures over there <---- you can see we are VERY newly wedded. But again, no joke. We are so deeply in love that I swear I can't tell sometimes where one of us ends and the other begins (you may throw up... now). Anyway, we decided to make a baby and we did. Also we continued to remain intimate throughout our pregnancy, even up to hours before her birth (hey, I warned you). We just love each other. We both love sex equally and think it's fun. Plus he's a really great kisser (I'm pretty sure that makes a difference). Ok I'm done now. Moving on. With that in mind it should follow that we'd love each other during labor too. And we did. We showered. We danced. We hugged. We kissed. In short, we acted just like we would on any normal day. We had a birth team (the midwife, two good female friends, and the 3 other kids) and we discussed before Ella's birth if their presence would have a negative impact on our ability to act normally intimate and we felt it would not, and it did not (if you know them, ask Staci and Jenny, they'll tell you. If you don't know them you just have to take my word for it). So how painful was this labor? Wait for it... Not a fraction as painful as my previous 3. Not. A. Fraction. And I had EPIDURALS with them. Epidurals. The absolute in absolute pain relief. I'm not making this up. For the sake of science and the well being of birthing women everywhere I don't think my husband would object to my saying that our intimacy was the single biggest factor in my perception of pain. His being a sweet and gentle and generally loving man was THE thing that made this labor so different. Oh sure, there was no pitocin which undeniably makes labor more painful (read: miserable). Oh sure, there was the birthing pool, which undeniably makes you feel less pain (read:water-dural). Oh sure, I was at home, which undeniably makes you more comfortable. I ate pancakes. I listened to Bob Marley. These are all huge factors as well. I’ll admit. But the one factor, the thing I could get only from him, was love. The real deal kind of passionate love. And if it is possible (read: it is possible), Ella’s birth actually made us even CLOSER than we were before. Thank you honey.

And thank you Stanford for studying for a year what I could have told you in 14 short hours. Love makes all the difference.

And this is what it looks like…
and this…
and this…

and this.

epidural , homebirth , induction , labor , pain , pain relief in labor , pitocin