This is a photo of me from June 2006. I was about 37 weeks pregnant with my daughter, Ari Ella, though she wouldn't arrive for around another month. The background is Lake Hefner (North OKC). We were rain-deprived so water levels were quite low - often, the water easily up to the top of those bordering rocks - but the sailboats still had plenty for gliding along, which made it quite lovely.
I just watched The Business of Being Born (imdb info here). If you haven't watched it, please do. Women, definitely. But, men should too - I'm always surprised at how often I hear women give into fear and interventions because their husbands aren't 'comfortable' with the other choices. (Seriously, ridiculous.) It's a well-composed documentary about the shifts that birth has taken, especially within the US, away from it being viewed as a natural process of transformation and passage and into something that is better skipped for the 'end result'. Not only does that have a mental, emotional, and spiritual impact on women, but a physical toll on women and the babies too. (Yep, hospital births with doctors are actually less safe than other options.) The movie was a good blend of first-hand experiences, actual facts and research, interviews from both sides. And, I'm always relieved to see a few MDs out there who understand that birth is more than just a job for them to accomplish, even if they are still a minority within the USA.
Both of my children were natural births. My son, Kai, was born in March 2003 at a hospital with a Certified Nurse Midwife. (Our local independent birthing center closed after 20 years in business mid-way through my pregnancy.) With him, I knew no one personally who had ever went through birth without drugs, epidural, cutting, surgery, stitches, yelling profanities, etc. I researched, read, and intuitively knew that I could. But in a way, I still felt I had to "prove" myself - that I had the will-power, the strength, and the wisdom to do it. I did, and it was incredibly empowering. However, the hospital setting was far from my ideal.
So, Ari was born at home, 9 pounds 4 ounces, with a Certified Professional Midwife. My midwife described my birth as being as close to unassisted as possible - which was exactly how I wanted it. I labored on a birthing ball, listened to world music, received reiki from my husband, had the midwife come in every little bit to check on Ari's heartbeat and me, pushed Ari out in a mere 10 minutes on a birthing stool, and... was already home sweet home. Certainly 15 hours of labor wasn't a breezy walk in the park, but it was also powerful and incredible and I can't imagine it any other way. I don't plan to have any more children, but if I was going to, I wouldn't even hesitate for a 1/2-second to do a homebirth again.
My first week with Ari: