Writer for exhibition design
Name: Robin Anderson
Occupation: Writer for exhibition design
Describe your birthing experience:
It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. Magical, primal. My body simply took over.
I did all my early birthing at home, alone through the morning and then joined by my partner and doula in the afternoon. Things progressed at a rhythm set by my body. The sensations became very intense, but I definitely would not describe them as pain. They were some other, new, unnamed sensation. There was a pretty hilarious car ride to the hospital, where I had a very supportive doctor who knew about my values, my Hypno Babies training, acknowledged my suggestible state and used positive language. Things continued to move quickly, I felt, although time magically dilated.
Because of meconium in my water, baby’s heart rate was monitored with an external monitor. The monitor’s elastic band on my contracting belly was the only sensation in the entire process that I would describe as painful. I transitioned and started pushing around 8.30 or 9pm. After a couple of hours of iron woman action, I was utterly spent. The mood in the room started to change, there were more nurses, more doctors, they and my husband were looking at the monitors with worried faces. Out of impatience or worry, I began initiating pushes rather than waiting for them to come naturally. Baby’s heart rate was dropping every time I pushed. I had complete confidence in baby, so I talked to it, telling it to get its heart beat nice and strong – and baby responded! Its heart rate went right back up. But my energy was gone and after 3 hours of pushing they used a suction to pull baby out. A couple of tries, and baby came right out — baby was on my chest! Tears of joy.
After passing the placenta I was hemorrhaging badly so I agreed to oxytocin, to which I had said no in the birth plan, but which helped a lot.
Nothing could detract from the elation I felt as I held her. We did it! My baby’s birth was an incredibly positive experience.
What were you most fearful about prior to giving birth?
I really didn’t have fear. I felt excited. The Hypno Babies training did an amazing job of breaking down any subliminal fears that had built up over a lifetime of hearing how painful it would be.
At one point during the birth, I admitted to my doula that “if it gets much more intense than this, I don’t know if I can handle it”. She wisely replied “it won’t be more intense, it will just be… different.” She was right. We don’t know what we are capable of until we are presented with it.
What was your favourite technique during your birth experience?
Bellowing like a death metal singer, from deep in the gut. Eight hours of that and I pretty much lost my voice!
What does the phrase “cascade of intervention” mean to you as it relates to child birthing?
From what I’ve heard, the cascade usually starts with induction, leads to an epidural due to unnaturally strong contractions, and ends in an emergency C-section. Thankfully, I didn’t experience this — the interventions we experienced slowly ramped up, like a staircase: first a little, then a little bit more, then just a teensy bit more, to get us to where we needed to be.
If you could change one feeling during your birth experience what would that feeling be?
I found that I was very easily influenced, it was difficult to find the focus to advocate for myself. I wish I had trusted my body more towards the end, let it continue its rhythm rather than trying to initiate contractions myself. I wish I had trusted my gut more, and gotten into the “happy baby” yoga position to push. Maybe it’s called that for more than one reason.
But the feeling I would really want to change wasn’t during the birthing, but after. I felt that I’d failed because I didn’t “do it myself” — I needed the suction to get my baby out. Talking it over with my doula and my partner, I came to be very thankful for the medical interventions. Years later, my partner explained to me how touch and go it really was, how close we were to an emergency C-section, and that he was seriously concerned for our baby’s life. I realized that the suction did allow me to “do it myself” by preventing a C-section. Ultimately I feel grateful to have been educated about my choices, to have a patient doctor who understood my values and believed in me, and to have access to the medical support we needed — not too little, not too much.
How would you re-frame that feeling? How would you allow it to be?:
“Now Me” would tell “Pre-Birthing Me” good job! You chose a great birthing team!
“Now Me” would tell “Birthing Me” to let my body tell me what to do. It knows what to do.
“Now Me” would tell “Post-Birthing Me” that it if you are educated about your choices and connected to the experience, it is okay to accept help.
What surprised you about your birthing experience?
It wasn’t quite like I thought it would be. I didn’t care what shirt I was wearing, or that I wasn’t having a water birth. I didn’t want a snack. I also really didn’t want my back rubbed. When my husband tried, I think my response was “don’t f***ing touch me!”. Surprise!
What do you most love about giving birth?
The power of it. We are at our most vulnerable and our most powerful.
Share one thing you discovered about yourself during your birthing experience:
I am all-powerful. My instincts and my body are worthy of my trust. I discovered how to prepare, and then be willing to let go of the plans. I discovered the real-life value of surrounding myself with the right support.
Describe the feeling just after birthing your baby:
Beyond all else, floating above the world with baby in my arms. Sublime. Very connected to my baby and my partner.
How has birthing a baby changed your perception of this life?
I now know that women really are capable of anything. So are babies.
If you could share a single love message with a woman getting ready to birth her baby, what would that message be?:
Don’t believe a thing you’ve heard, birth is amazing. Trust your instinct.
Talk baby through the whole thing. It’s their first time, and they need to hear mama’s voice telling them it’ll be okay. It can be squishy in there.