You May Change Your Mind
I was first introduced to birth on television. At the tender age of three my mother busted me watching “A Child Is Born” on public television, while scarfing down a loaf of white bread. She had obviously forgot to turn off the television after Sesame Street. However, she surmised the educational value of the program and opted not to interfere. The memory would fade into the recesses of my mind until I watched the same program again as a teenager. Although I was completely in awe of what I was witnessing, I did not have the capacity to comprehend birth as anything other than simple reproduction. Despite having had a full-term pregnancy dream at age twelve (yikes!), I didn't really possess the experience necessary to embrace birth esoterically.
I got turned on to waterbirth by way of (drum roll)... public television. Although waterbirths are quite common in Europe, the method was largely unheard of in the secular United States as late as the 90's. I had an epiphany as I gazed in transcendent wonder. IF, I stress, IF I were to contribute to the already overpopulated planet (punk sensibilities, oi), I would definitely be doin' it water stylee. Yes, I had found my calling and it was water! I didn't know how, or when or whatever, but I knew I would...one day...be a Ma.
Fast forward to August 2003. My husband Mark and I had our first visit with our midwife, Martina, and her assistant, Amy. I had long since retired my combat boots and rebuke for breeders, replacing both with a sworn allegiance to the Birkenstock god. Furthermore, I went the extra mile and like a fuckin' hippie I got pregnant. Mark and I had discussed waterbirth as our choice and communicated this to Martina. I also had some hormonal psychedelic delusion that I wanted a birthing circle the size of a small village. Goddess midwife Martina listened patiently and nodded her head as she consented to our birth plan. However, she added with caution, "You may change your mind." I nodded my head and, high on hormones, determined quietly, "No, I won't."
So the months rambled on and I was getting larger and lovelier. I was filling my head with luscious tales from the birthing bible, Spiritual Midwifery. I was feeling groovy, working my gig at the Food Co-op and generally thinking, "Ha! This ain't so bad!" Well, that was until my seventh month of pregnancy. Suddenly the small village in our standing room only home just didn't seem so smart. So I had the delicate task of gently uninviting half of Memphis, narrowing my choices down to three close friends, Martina, Amy and apprentice Melissa.
As our three March due dates were nearing, and passing, the phone calls started flooding in. "Is the baby here yet?" "Have you had the baby yet?" "Just calling to see how you're doing, and IS THE BABY HERE YET???" (Is there an echo???) I shut down and stopped answering the phone. By the third week of March we had twenty-five messages waiting and I was having anxiety attacks with a side of depression. I would leave the house only for life threatening emergencies, like groceries. "When are you due?" "What are you having (a nervous breakdown)?"
By the close of March I was freaking out on my husband, crying all the time and staring lifelessly at the television for too many hours a day. I couldn't believe my Piscean water baby would be Piscean no more. I had felt so certain that all would go according to (my) plan. Mark and I had made my match--an Aries fire child! At that point I knew instinctively that I would not sit soothingly in the tranquil birthing waters and flow orgasmically into my rushes. I just wasn't feeling those soothing, tranquil orgasms anymore. By April I was way weary of being overly pregnant and we decided it was time to nudge things along. Here goes: Long walks, no baby; hot sex, no baby; nipple stimulation, no baby; false labor, no baby. No baby, no baby, no baby...until castor oil on April 2nd, and by 8am on April 4th I had birthed my daughter onto dry land.
I had changed my mind.