Saturday, November 7, 2009

Birth & Babies

I just can't stop thinking about it.

Last night, I stayed up way too late to watch the Internet's first live birth. Twenty-three-year-old Lynsee and her husband agreed to live stream their birth the Gannett-run social networking site, (As of right now, the video is still up.)

I learned about the birth on Twitter. I watched the action with an amazing group of women -- doulas, midwives, mothers and self-proclaimed birth junkies. The conversation continues today.

When I tuned in, Lynsee was laboring on the bed, on her knees, leaning up and over a birthball. She was doing beautifully. A bit later, she was in the tub, lights down, relaxing music on. I saw a woman in that sacred, private space that is labor. It was amazing.

Then she said she was tired, over and over again. She said she knew it was going to get worse and expressed doubt about her ability to cope with any more. Ultimately, she asked for -- and received -- an epidural.

This is where the conversation gets interesting. Some, today, are wondering how Lynsee will feel if/when she looks back on the Internet and sees criticism of her choices. But on Twitter, I didn't see criticism of her choices. I saw and heard a community of concerned women -- women who are themselves mothers, midwives and doulas -- screaming, HELP HER!

If you've had a baby before (and I'll assume you have, since you're reading a blog about raising boys), you know that labor gets rough. You know that it's a consuming, all-encompassing process. And you know that it's perfectly normal to wonder if you're up to the task. (Read my labor stories here.)

If you've studied birth at all, you may also know that "I'm tired" and "I can't do this anymore" are classic emotional signs of transition. And sure enough, Lynsee was 7 cm dilated just after her epidural.

What I heard on the Internet last night was not criticism of Lynsee's choices, but a community of women who wanted to reach through the screen and tell her, "You're doing great! You're DOING this, Lynsee. The baby is almost here."

No one in the room, though, told her those things during her moment of self-doubt. No one checked her prior to the epidural, or reassured her that she was almost done, that she was coping beautifully. Instead, they placed the epidural, chatted while the tired mom should have been resting and took her baby away just when the baby was beginning to root for milk.

I didn't hear criticism of Lynsee. I heard sadness, sadness that so few women today believe they can labor. That so few women have the support they really need as the bring new life into the world. Sadness, that despite our years of collective maternal wisdom, our voices are being silenced.

Women know how to have babies -- and we need to be free to share our thoughts with the world.

Thank you, Lynsee, for starting an important dialogue.

What do you think? Did you watch the live birth? Do you think the comments crossed the line into personal criticism?


  1. I didn't watch it, but you are so right. When the doubt kicks in, chances are you are in transistion. My middle child was a planned home birth, until I got tired. I started asking for something, anything. So I was taken to the hospital. I made it as far as the parking lot before the urge to push hit me. I wish now someone would have stepped in and told me no, I didn't need anything, I was doing great.

    Hind sight is always 20/20. From what I read of the comments I didn't hear criticism, I heard love and concern.

  2. i clikcedonn the facebook link but didnt watch to long! wish i would have watched more!

  3. I didn't get to watch it because I have a newborn of my own that I had to take care of, having given birth naturally at a birth center a little over 2 weeks ago. My husband and I actually just finished watching some video of our son's birth and there was definitely a specific time where I said the same thing "I can't do this", "I'm so tired" - and I remembered our Bradley instructor telling us that this would happen in transition, and my midwife and husband reminded me of it when I said those things. Sure enough, I was pushing around 45 minutes later. It breaks my heart also that there was no one with this lady to remind her, as I was reminded! It is the most beautiful experience if you can just hang in there past that moment...

    But you are right, so few women are even aware what transition is! Sometimes I blame the inadequate "childbirth" classes given at hospitals. So many friends of mine have gone through a 2 hour class at a hospital where they are told "here is the room and here is where we give you the epidural and there is where you would have a c-section", and they don't realize that they know nothing about their own bodies and the process of birth!!

  4. I don't think that there was any criticism either as everyone tweeted via #livebirth as we watched the feed. It was so encouraging to see so many moms that would have urged her on and if she could have heard all of that cheering she may have had 2nd thoughts on the epi.

    It was so neat to see though because all 3 of mine were c-section. 1st one 28 hrs no pain med, 2nd one an attempted VBAC & no pain meds & 3rd ended up being a scheduled section but I've never had the chance to experience the beauty of a natural birth and must say I'm a tad bit envious of you moms that can do it *grin*.

    Great post!

  5. I watched and thought she did amazing. The actions of those who were "helping her" made me so angry! Choosing the right birth professional to help you during labor is so important. This video proves that.

    I bet Lynsee could have made it without the epi if she was reassured and helped more but that doesn't matter.

    Each woman is her own decider when it comes to what is best for her, it doesn't matter what we think of her labor. It matters what she thinks of it all. Was she happy with the birth professional's help?

    During my birth I tore... 4th degree tear. Some women think that's a major birth fail. I think my home birth was just as it was meant to be though.

    I have no problem tearing to bring my baby in to the world. I was 100% pleased with my birth professional's help during my labor.

    If Lynsee was set on a natural birth she might not feel totally satisfied with the help and support she was given. Either way she did amazing and she brought her lovely baby girl in to the world beautifully.

  6. I didn't watch it, but I agree with you. When I was labouring with my son I remember reaching that point where I felt I couldn't continue. I begged for relief and thats when my beautiful midwives told me it was time to push!

  7. I watched a little bit here and there. I kept saying, she is making this labor look WAY to easy! I was never relaxed like that, laying on the bed chatting and resting. My labor (natural) was hard and intense the entire time. I never laid down like she did.

    I honestly don't know why she choose to have her birth on live internet, especially being young. It's a little crazy to me and something I would never do but to each their own.

    When her baby came out I cried and wanted one!! :) But I kept saying, hold the baby!! I thought it was so sad how they took her away right after she was born to be weighed etc. The mom wasn't even holding her just minutes after her birth. :(

  8. You hit the nail on the head. We were all so emotionally involved and were cheering her on. When she asked for that epidural we watched her emotional support team just disappear.

    I'll repeat what I said last night on the livestream: Their was no critique of this fantastic mama--rather a discussion of the modern American birth system. In many ways this is what Lynsee offered us. She did something no woman has done before and we all sat in awe as we explored how we felt about it all. I'm happy everything worked out as well as it did.

    Thanks for your thoughtful response and I enjoyed watching the birth with you :-)

  9. I watched and thought the same thing. HELP HER! She was doing so great! I really believe that if she had a doula there she would have been fine. I don't fault her for getting the epi. I do wish that her support team had been better trained and more supportive. I also wish they would have checked her sooner. Before the epi they seemed very quiet and reserved. After the epi they were all chatty and seemed almost relieved it was over and they had their girl back. I didn't get to see the birth so I don't know about what happened with the breastfeeding. Overall I think turned out better than expected for a hospital birth. I would love to see more homebirths either live or taped to show what normal birth looks like.

    Congrats to the new family. I think she did great and her little girl is just perfect.

    Deep South Doula

  10. Oh no! I was excited when I started reading this post, and then I got to the sad part of the story. Having just gone through birthing my fourth child 2 weeks ago, with midwives who knew when I was in transition and just told me over and over I could do it (and with my own knowledge that when I feel that doubt, it means it's almost over), and with so much support to help me make it to the wonderful, beautiful end - it just makes me so sad to think of women birthing without this knowledge and support!

  11. Thanks for all your comments! I know I'll be thinking about this experience for a long time to come.

    I wonder how many women will 1) choose their labor support people more carefully after viewing this birth and 2) how many women will become doulas after watching?