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Learning about childbirth 1970

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I had my first baby at the tender age of 15.  Yes, my mother gave me the option of having a first trimester abortion.  After many sleepless and tearful nights, I decided to stay with my baby.  Fortunately my mother respected and supported my decision .   I was very lucky to live in a small  German town, imbedded in a large and loving family system.  I was still in High School and school administrators thought it better to remove me from school, as to protect the other girls and boys from the bad influence I would surely have on them. Imagine me causing all the other girls getting pregnant as well.  Nevertheless,   I enjoyed my teenage pregnancy very much. Still climbing up into the cherry tree at 37 weeks and getting stuck up there and having to wait for rescue. Needing to use the bathroom. LOL. Eating all kinds of strange flavors when nobody was watching. Several times munching on raw liver on my way home from the butcher shop.( It was delicious, if not a little unusual)

I asked all the grown up women in my environment about childbirth and they all had different accounts of home births and hospital experiences. Neighbors walking somewhere to summon the midwife.  My grandmother spoke of the difficult hours I had ahead, with the look of tender pitty on her beloved face. She said, she would take my difficulties  upon herself, if she could.  I asked my mother what labor feels like and she said:
“it feels like a wild animal ripping you up”.   I heard as many different accounts as there are personalities of the women that told the stories and concluded that I would be responsible for my own story.  In 1970 the most revolutionary book about childbirth I could find was a book by Dick Read,  “Schmerzfreie Geburt” .  ( “painless birth”)   LOL.    I began observing my breath and teaching myself how to breath into different body parts. I also figured that I am a pretty strong girl and in my heart of hearts I relied on a cocky kind of bravery.  Nobody told me that the key here would  be  to float and give  up the struggle and that joy can be found right there.  Retrospect, I felt a little betrayed that nobody told me the truth. Now I know that nobody was in my life that knew how to birth with joy. After all, I am not sure if I would have listened. I may have been way to cocky.

I prepared for my child.  Clothing, diapers, stroller and baby bathtub.  On July 31st 1970  I woke up with cramps and was afraid I might be getting ill.   I decided it would be best to just observe this for a short while before alarming my mother.  I did not want to disturb her sleep. After about 1 hour I knew my baby wanted to be born. I got all giddy and excited.  It was a beautiful fresh summer morning and  I felt the urge to go outside and put my feet into the dewy, green grass and to fill my lungs with fresh morning air.  I told my baby that this would be our day.  It’s you and me baby!  Finally I was ready to wake up my mother to let her know that I had counted contractions to be in intervals of 6-7 Min.  She opened one eye only and said it would be a long time from here and to let her rest a little longer.  I was standing in front of her bed, in my cute little red coat,  suitcase in hand, urging her to get up.  It took her a minute or two to get what I said and without further delay,we were on our merry way.  I got a little more nervous when we were on the road. Streetlights and traffic rules. People on their way to work  and my contractions slowed down a little.

My mother walked me to Labor and Delivery, gave me hug, wished me luck and told me to call when it was “over”.    I rang the bell at LDR and a midwife came and asked me in.  I was still quite cocky. Thinking that I could easily handle childbirth if this is  what it was going to be like.  I was feeling very giddy when the midwife drew me a bath.  I was confident about my abilities to take on childbirth because I had educated myself about a breathing technique.  I thought of my girlfriends. It made me laugh to think of their faces, if they could only see me now.  No Iphone, No “selfie”.    Will you even believe this ever happened?

After the bath I was encouraged to walk a little, a cot was provided in case I wanted to lie down. Shortly there after my “breathing plan “fell apart and I began to weep, wishing for my mother.  There was a very kind Greek lady, who was cleaning the halls.  She was a “crone”. Love and compassion written all over her face in the form of many fine wrinkles.  I couldn’t understand a word she said but to this day I am grateful for her kindness.   The midwife came back, a doctor showed up. They told me to stop shouting and handed me the “laughing gas” mask to inhale with each contraction. I cried some more for my mother and I heard somebody make a comment on how sad it is when children are having children.  Luckily I birthed the most beautiful little girl I could have ever imagined shortly there after. Somebody inquired if I was going to keep her.  I held on to her tightly.    Grown ups are crazy, I thought.  Let’s never ever be like that baby girl.   And so, a new chapter of healing with all  off it’s ups and downs, much like the valleys and peaks of childbirth, began.

This was the birth of the first of my five children and it was the birth of a teenage mother.  I learned that all of life was most likely about the essence of childbirth. That I must always give my best, as if my life depended on it.  No matter what happened.  Afterwards I wished somebody would have told me about the difference between pain and suffering.  That pain is unavoidable but workable.   That suffering is indeed optional.   Being reminded that each contraction has a beginning, a middle and an end and that there is a space for rest in between the waves that finally bring me to the shore, where my baby will be born.   I learned that the most glorious day of my life was also the hardest day of my life.   10 years later I entered midwifery school, with all of my heart and intellect and physical strength; I gave it my best. 17 years after I gave birth the first time and after one pregnancy loss, I had the 2nd child of 5.  Although I was a hospital midwife at the time, I decided to have my little boy in the comfort of my home. With the help of my midwife Lydia, who guided me and loved me well.   Where ever she is now, may she experience showers of Love.   947020_10152831425345437_570571056_n

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