The Blessings of a Home Birth

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In the wake of all this talk about birth and womenʼs rights to choose if, how, when, where and with whom to give birth, I recently discovered that I have been blessed beyond belief – more than any woman I know.

Donʼt worry, I am not going to go on and on about all the things I am blessed with. I simply have to say that I have four children and absolutely no birth trauma.

No c-section stories.
No episiotomies.
No monitors strapped 
to me in labor so I couldn’t move.
No food restrictions during labor.
No patronizing 
comments or looks by medical staff.
No encouragement to give up on the natural thing 
and just go ahead and have the epidural.
No unwanted prophylactic treatments of my 
newborn without my consent.
No separation of my baby from me ever at any time.
No 
loud or sudden noises causing a rush of adrenalin into my bloodstream during labor impeding the effectiveness of the other birth hormones and increasing my chance of needing medical interventions.
No beeping machines.
No feelings of not being safe or 
lack of trust in those who I depended on for the survival of myself and my baby.
No 
dehumanizing invasion of privacy.
No eyes rolling at me.
No pressure to commit fear-
based decision making instead of information-based decision making.
No excessive 
ultrasound requirements.
No lack of attentive support.
No being left naked in a paper 
shirt in a cold room with my feet in stirrups waiting for some stranger to come touch my most vulnerable body parts.
No CYA (cover your ass) policy and protocol based 
confrontations with caretakers during before or after labor causing detrimental or debilitating stress to me and my family.
No lack of supportive and consistent council
during postpartum breastfeeding difficulty.
No being subject to medical negligence
during prenatal care, labor, postpartum or well visits with no legal recourse because I was forced to sign release forms in order to receive care.
No lack of baby care 
resources as a first-time mom.
No uninvited and not prescreened strangers in my sacred 
birth space.
No feelings of powerlessness (except in surrendering completely and 
blissfully to God during labor but I think thatʼs actually powerfulness; at least it was for me)
No postpartum depression due to lack of support and follow up care including 
herbal medicine support for balancing hormones by my highly trained, and experienced home-birth midwives.

Like I said, I have been blessed beyond belief.

photography by David Zimand

I Wish I Had a Tattoo

I wish I had a tattoo. I wish I had a big crazy and magical tattoo on my face or on my entire arm or someplace completely impossible to hide.

I wish it was a tattoo that told everyone who meets me that I just may not be who they perceive me to be. I am so much more.  I donʼt have this tattoo though, and I will likely never get one, mostly because my religion discourages it, um, strongly.

I wish I had done it back when I didn’t care. Well maybe I always cared or I would have actually done it.

Anyway, I wish I had one, but I donʼt.  

I look somewhat normal. I donʼt look normal normal mainly because I donʼt know what that is or if it exists, but I do know that I look kind of regular. I donʼt have any piercings, or tattoos. I donʼt have a mohawk or blue hair. I dress somewhat subdued, maybe a little hippyish, but thatʼs about it. No one is ever surprised by me walking into the room. Itʼs a bit annoying, truth be told. Why do I have to look so blend-in-ish? I donʼt do it on purpose. I just like what is comfortable, easy to manage without major time investment and mostly simple. 

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The problem is that I feel a bit misrepresented by the way I look.  Itʼs the way I imagine it feels to grow old and wonder who that old lady is with the walker. The old grandmother that everyone thinks canʼt handle to hear about the truth in their lives. Truth be told, she has some stories for us that would blow our socks off, quite often.

What I mean is that when I talk with new people about things that I have done and experienced and of paths I have followed in life, they are often surprised. They say things to me like, “Wow, I never would have guessed.” It feels kind of invalidating. I feel like a warrior, a survivor, and adventurist and then I realize that if someone were to look at me they would see a middle aged, little Jewish home-birth crunchy mom driving carpool with her minivan.  

If they look a little closer they can see the look in my eye that shows a little bit more understanding than you would expect from someone who looks like me. They can see some surprising level of gratitude. There is more strength in my presence than one gathers along a simple and easy road. A good confessionary conversation will most likely reveal more compassion than one may expect from someone who has such a blessed and easy life as mine. It is a compassion that comes from having had the experience of being caught between a rock and a hard place and wondering to self, how the hell did I end up here like this?

So you see, I wish I had a tattoo. 

I do have a small business making herbal salves and lip balms. I didn’t design my salves for use on tattoos but I recently discovered that my salve is a fabulous after-care tattoo treatment. I have reports that treatment with my All Purpose Salve yields the “fastest healing tattoo ever!”

So upon learning this I began to make a few calls to tattoo artists and supply stores and so on. It felt strange. I felt like I was somehow reaching to another side. I wanted to break the illusion and cross over. I wanted to cross into that statement that says I am more complex and unafraid than I seem! And then I realized, I am already there. You just have to look a little closer.

Update: I now make a Tattoo Salve!