John’s Birth Story
By Laura Shanley
When my husband David and I first decided in 1977 to have our baby at home without medical assistance, we had no idea how unnatural hospital birth had become. We knew, however, we didn’t feel comfortable putting ourselves in someone else’s hands, and we thoroughly believed in my ability to give birth safely and easily without outside intervention.
We had both read Grantly Dick-Read’s book, Childbirth without Fear (David had actually lent it to me the night that we met!) and we knew that the problems in birth were generally caused by interference from the mother’s mind or the assistant’s hand. Giving birth at home by ourselves, we decided, would eliminate any outside interference, and dealing with my own fears and apprehensions would prevent me from standing in my own way when it came time to give birth to our child.
Equally important, were the books by Jane Roberts (The Nature of Personal Reality was the most helpful) which dealt with the concept that we create our own reality according to our desires, beliefs and intentions. What we think becomes real. Each of us is infinitely more powerful than we realize. The problems come when we give our power away out of fear and doubt.
By the time I conceived our first child, John, we had already experienced the power of belief and knew there was no reason to doubt ourselves in childbirth. If we could imagine a safe, painless home birth, we could create one. That is, of course, if we were willing to do the inner work.
Everyday during my pregnancy I visualized giving birth easily. I said belief suggestions that I wasn’t afraid to give birth, nor was I ashamed of my body or my sexuality. I told myself that I loved and forgave myself completely and knew I was deserving of a good birth.
In addition to using affirmations (belief suggestions) and visualization, I also worked with my dreams. In the beginning of my pregnancy I dreamt of being in a hospital surrounded by my father (a physician) and other doctors. I was afraid and in pain. As my pregnancy progressed, however, my dreams changed and soon I was dreaming of a painless, easy home birth. By the time I went into labor, I felt as if I had literally done it before. The dreams had allowed me to practice this most important, life-changing event.
On the afternoon of August 20th, I began feeling what I thought might be labor. By about midnight I knew this was the real thing. David called three friends of ours (all men) who wanted to be at the birth along with a film maker who was making a film about us.
I spent the next hour on the toilet as I found that was where I felt the most comfortable. All the men hung out in the bathroom with me and we laughed thinking about how strange it must have looked – a woman in labor sitting on a toilet surrounded by five men. David had me say some belief suggestions that I wasn’t afraid and that I trusted I had inner help.
About 1:30 my water bag broke as I was sitting on the toilet and seconds later I reached down and felt John’s face pressing against my perineum. I wasn’t pushing – he was coming out on his own. At that point I decided I’d better get over to the bed. I remember feeling like a wild animal. I knew that my body knew what it was doing and I didn’t want anyone to interfere.
When I got to the bed, I was on my hands and knees about to turn over when I heard a voice inside my head say very firmly, “Don’t turn over.” I hadn’t read anything during my pregnancy about the undesirability of giving birth lying down so I had just planned on having him flat on my back. There was no mistaking the intent of that voice, however, so I stayed in the all fours position. Seconds later I gave one semi-voluntary, semi-involuntary push and John literally came flying out of me. David caught him in mid-air. I could feel the joy in his voice when he said, “It’s a boy!”
I turned over and David placed him on my stomach. It all seemed unreal. One second he was in me and the next he was out. After letting John get used to his new environment, David tied a string around his cord and our friend Rick cut it with his pocket knife. Then all the men took him into the other room and gave him his first bath (I now believe it is best to forego the bath and leave the baby in the mother’s arms) . An hour or so later I stood up and delivered the placenta into the toilet. David retrieved it and carried it into the woods.
A few hours later, our friends all went home, and David and I fell into a deep peaceful sleep with our new little one inbetween us.