Monday, September 10, 2007

Sitting in Circle: Coming to terms with caesareans

Today was homebirth support group day. In one of my inevitable hand putting up sessions, I agreed to coordinate the Brisbane group at the beginning of the year, to take some of the work off our association's convenor. It's an honour to help organise such a gathering of women. We all sit on blankets and rugs in a park, in a circle, with a little ones being passed around, or finding their own way around the circle. The bigger kids are off on the play equipment - a little homebirthed posse. This is living, breathing community in action.

Those that come for the first time are often pleasently surprised ... after all, sitting in circle, sharing wisdom is what women do best.

At our meetings we share a birth story (today was had an amazing homebirth after previous caesearean story), then have discussions around a set topic, or a guest speaker. There was lots of discussion today about healing from a traumatic birth and why some births, even though the details may be almost exact, are considered by one woman to be 'bad' and another 'woman' good. It all has to do with how she feels about it. This was an enlightening moment for me, as a hardcore natural birth advocate, and homebirth mother of one, I've found it hard to support my sister through her births. Her first was an emergency caesarean as a result of fragmented care through the hospital system and my nephew was in intensive care for 12 days. My neice was born this year by an elective caesarean, two weeks early on the birthday of her paternal great grandma.

For me a caesarean would have been devastating, it was my ultimate worst fear when planning my homebirth. It took a long time for me to be able to get to a place and understanding that would allow me to be able to bridge the experience from 'perfect homebirth' to 'imperfect everythings fucked up royally caesarean' but I did it - with the very wise words of a friend Cara, who I was doing yoga with at the time.

Birth matters - even if we think that it doesn't. How we are born, impacts on our lives forever ... it's not just a 'one day event'. I was born by Caesarean after a botched induction, at 28 weeks gestation. This was 33 years ago and I'm still angry about it. I wasn't able to choose when I was ready to come into the world. I've spent most of my life struggling with being able to make decisions, trying to find my purpose and path in life ... I maintain it is all due to the fact my birth right, to choose and initiate my entry into the world was stolen - by a stupid man who wanted his Christmas holiday to be an uninterrupted affair. What does this tell the unborn baby - when we choose their date of entry into this world - that they are incompetant and unable to make decisions for themselves?

Yes - I feel like woman interrupted ... but Dylan's birth helped set me on a path to heal. And now the discusions today have given me much more food for thought, to continute this healing process. My neice is now a second generation Caesearean born baby and I can only hope that things will be different in this country when it is her time to birth.

Birth is not dangerous, it is as safe as life gets. What is dangerous is the way in which birth is over managed, measured and forced to comply. It is dangerous because women are no longer nurtured and supported by midwives they know and trust. It is dangerous because we have lost sight of the fact the birth is a social and spiritual rite of passage for women.

Tomorrow is National Caesarean Awareness Day in Australia. Please take a moment to pay hommage to all the women* and their families whose lives have been touched by a caesarean birth and the journeys that they are all on.

*In Australia the offical caesarean rate is twice that recommended by the WHO - 1 in 3 women in Queensland will have major abdominal surgery to end their pregnancy.


danae sinclair said...

Jodi, I had a homebirth for my third baby and it was just beautiful. Remind me to tell you about it some time...

I love 'birth is not dangerous' - I really believe this and the only time I ever came any where close to danger giving birth was when I handed it over to the medical staff (that was baby number one).

During my labours I experience euphoria and total trust in myself and my body. I laugh my babies into the world.

My fifth was born after a twenty five minute labour - my support person knew the baby was coming soon when I started laughing and I got to the birth center just in time to get naked, fall on my knees and let the baby out.

I've never had a C Section and plan to never have one, but do offer my support to all women giving birth and in the birthing year,in all the ways it can happen.

thanks for writing that Jodi - it made me remember something important!

2gether said...

Oh Jodes,
this was such a beautiful story, i had a tear in my eye. i never knew that birthing could be such a lovely experience. my two caesars were not so pleasant (remember what happened to Renae?), thank you for sharing
truly lovely


Jodi Cleghorn said...

My pleasure Kylie. When I hear the medical profession bang on about how safe Caesareans are,I always think of Renae. Did you ever instigate legal action?

Thanks for stopping by for the read. Looks like this blog is my new home, having decided a few days ago that I'm going to seriously pursue a career in writing. Please feel free to share with any of your friends. It's a bit of a private thrill to know others are reading and being moved by my word.

:o) Jodi