Guacamole Girl!

Here’s one picture at least of PiElla’s first birthday. PiElla was largely uninterested in her cake. She picked off all the berries and ignored the cake and frosting. The guacamole was another story entirely. Her grandmother Diane would be proud (not to mention her mama and daddy and ….).

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Empowered Birth

Birth is arguably one of the areas that most triggers strong stirrings of an activist heart in me. I have very deeply held values that I feel very strongly about. I believe that women are designed to give birth. That we have all the resources for safe and gentle birth within us. I think of birth as a metaphysical and spiritual experience. A unique power of women. The gateway to life. And a hormonal, physical, and emotional experience like no other. The way some people dream of the experience of sky diving, I dream of the experience of giving birth.

And as is often the case with things so strongly and emotionally believed, I also have doubts and fears. I fear being subjected to medical procedures against my will. I fear not being able to protect my baby against doctors and hospital procedures. I fear being vulnerable and being preyed upon in that time of vulnerability, not protected. And at a deep primordial level of my being I also recognize that the gateway to life can also be the gateway to death.

This coming week is Empowered Birth Awareness Week. It feels fitting and personal for me to this to fall on the week of my birth and PiElla’s birth.

I have always been fiercely proud of my birth at home. A realize now that it was the context of that birth, not the content, that was the narrative I held in my consciousness. My birth story has been “I was born in the house that my parents built. After I was born everyone toasted with home made champagne and planted my placenta under a plum tree.” There are a handful of old pictures of my being born and my mom looks peaceful, powerful, and supported. That’s it though. My mother died when I was 16. I can’t ask her what the experience was like from her perspective. What I do have is the values and beliefs about birth that I know she was central to forming. I have done a lot of learning since then and have had those values and beliefs strongly reinforced.

As you can imagine, I have been very challenged by PiElla’s birth. The context of PiElla’s birth could hardly be more different from my own. But as I continue to process that experience, I am learning to look past the context to the content and celebrate the empowered birth that it was.

When PiElla was born, labor started naturally. My water broke (with a pop!) and over the next few hours contractions started and gradually grew in intensity. The contractions felt like a powerful opening within my body and I was comfortable with them. I moved freely and found the positions, support, and heat on my lower back that helped me stay relaxed and comfortable. We did not know the reason, but we heard PiElla’s communication that she was going to need medical assistance to be born. We found a team of medical professionals who could support us in the birth that we knew would be best for our baby and for me. We protected our baby and me by refusing a doctor who was wrong for us. PiElla was born gently at 3:14pm and she was given the opportunity to get a transfusion of the blood from her placenta for several minutes. Her daddy was with her to welcome her to the world and then she was given to me. She stayed in my arms and at my breast almost continuously. When she wasn’t in my arms, she was in someone’s arms and she was always in our sight. She told her daddy the first night after she was born that her name was PiElla.

It still makes me mad that I had to have surgery to birth my daughter. Just like it still makes me mad that my mom died when I was 16. Shit happens. It sucks. It’s okay to be mad. But I’m proud of PiElla’s empowered birth and I’m proud that at the time I was able to stay true to the content that counts and not be dogmatic about the context, and that I’m gradually integrating this perspective so I can be a more peaceful and powerful birthing mama.

One birthday tradition I plan to create for my daughter, is to tell her the story of her birth each birthday. I look forward to telling her about her empowered birth each year.

Saucy girl

PiElla loves balsamic vinegar. I missed the first several minutes of her repeatedly sticking her finger in the vinegar on her tray, then in here mouth, then on the tray, then in her mouth… This is just the tail end of it.

She also loves Melinda’s hot sauce, pepper, and spicy guacamole. Can you say daddy’s girl?

First birthday cake

Tuesday we celebrated the third birthday of PiElla’s friend Peter. Peter’s birthday kicked off the September birthday season, and while I had planned to wait until PiElla was actually one, it seemed like the right thing to let her celebrate with all of us and have some cake. The only problem is that Peter’s mom, Erin, is the best cake maker around, so I’m afraid PiElla might be a spoiled for cake already!