Friday, May 23, 2008

Why I chose UC, part 3:

Paradigm shift.

I had my heart set on UC, though I didn't know it yet. I had overcome the paradigm that I had been presented with and accepted as the norm. This happened in stages.

Stage 1: Realizing that UC was an option in America.
I don't remember what I was looking for, but one day, I came across Laura Shanley's website. Admittedly, I thought it was a little extreme and "out there," but as I read the stories, I kept thinking, "I want that! I want to try that!" I learned that UC was legal and that people really chose it- it wasn't just a have-a-baby-too-fast thing. Suddenly I felt like I was a part of something and I wasn't alone. It gave me more courage to do the research involved.

Stage 2: The research- finding out that birth is simple.
I don't know why, but it took me a couple of months to realize that I had one of the greatest university libraries at my disposal. I checked out Laura's book, Grantly Dick-Read's book, and a couple of midwifery books that discussed complications in childbirth and how to handle them. I found amazing websites and asked the people I knew who had natural births about their births. I gave McKay things to read so he would feel prepared, also. I immersed myself in the birthing world. I was a little hesitant about this- I was afraid that birth would be too complicated- I'd have to memorize facts about dilation and station and birth would turn into this huge science experiment with measurements and timing. It didn't. In fact, the more I studied, the simpler birth became. I remember at my baby shower, someone asked, "Do you know how to give birth? Does McKay know what to do?" I remember laughing because those ideas seemed so preposterous at that point. Of course I did- you just let the baby come. And McKay...well, if he can catch, he knows exactly what to do.

Stage 3: Confronting the idea that childbirth is inherently painful.
Maybe this stage should be called "overcoming the Catholic/Protestant vein of America". I'll admit that this was one of the largest stumbling blocks for me. Even though as a Latter-day Saint, original sin is not part of my belief system- "We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression" (Articles of Faith), I hadn't made the jump from, "I'm not punished for Adam's trangession" to "I'm also not punished for Eve's transgression". Part of this is because America is culturally very Protestant/Catholic in its views. The idea that childbirth is painful is not only suggested from the Garden of Eden story, but from television, movies, and the way we discuss birth amongst ourselves (aka birth horror stories). I had to decide that I was not going to believe in original sin and I'm going to ignore the scare tactics of other people. I had to surround myself with uplifting stories, thoughts, and people.

Stage 4: Finding Support
Part of my paradigm shift was to realize that I wasn't alone in wanting a UC and that it wasn't a strange hippie idea. This happened in stages. Last fall, I found out that a British company wanted to film a segment on UC. I contacted them and they were interested in talking to me- so much in fact, that they flew me to Colorado to take part in the filming. There I met other women who had previous UCs or were planning future ones (I even met Laura Shanley!) This was important for me because I was able to meet people who were supportive and not put off by my plans. A couple of weeks after this, I went to my first LLL meeting. I stayed afterwards hoping I could talk to people about birth. I told one of the leaders about my plan to UC and I was surprised to find out that she knew about UC and knew a lady in the area who had UCed her first two children, and she ended up UCing again in November! I got to meet her at December's UCAN meeting where we watched the UC of Psalm and Zoya. My unassisted childbirth went from "someone in Laos" to "people in America" to "women in my own town" who were also LDS. It made a huge difference to have that local support.

I chose UC because I wanted a peaceful birth, found that it was indeed possible and safe from my research, and because I had great support (I probably would have UCed without the support, but it would have been more difficult). I had grown up knowing and trusting my body- unassisted childbirth seemed like a natural extension of what I already knew about it. I knew I wasn't being careless- and if something had really and truly gone wrong, we would have sought help. We need to stop thinking of birth as an emergency- the panic and fear resulting from that causes more complications than necessary. Beautiful birth experiences aren't unreachable aspirations- they are attainable, tangible realities.


  1. The first time I heard about you UCing, I thought you were crazy. But as I have come to read more about it, I have come to respect it as a viable option. My thoughts of you being crazy likely came from my own fears that come naturally with the culture we are born into, but as I have come to learn more about it, I feel comfortable, and so happy that you could have such an awesome birth experience.

  2. Thanks SO much for writing about your experiences. I wish that I wasn't so scared to tell people about my birth experience (which was an AWESOME home birth) because I hate the criticism and people who want to tear down my experience. So thanks of sharing yours-- it gives me more courage.
    I LOVED what you had to say about not being punished for Eve's transgression. I think that is something that is SO prevalent in our society, especially in LDS culture. I had a Hebrew teacher at BYU who pointed out that the scriptures NEVER say that Eve is punished, but that having children is her BLESSING for making a good decision in the garden. Poor Eve, she has been throughly misunderstood and misrepresented. If I could have a nice long chat with anyone in the history of the world I'd love to meet Eve, and get her story on what REALLY happened in the garden.
    Also, I really loved what you had to say about trusting your body. I think that is one of the biggest challenges when planning a home birth or UC, you REALLY have to have faith in your body. And our world teaches women to mistrust, hate and hurt their bodies. It is an amazing thing when a woman is able to trust and work with her body to do God's work. There is nothing more beautiful and powerful.

  3. I too had a light bulb go off when you said that women today are not punished for Eve's trangression. I hadn't thought of it like that before. Thank you for that insight!

  4. Eve didn't have a difficult delivery either. They did a UC - of course, what else would they have done? - just the same as Jesus was born by UC. The original language of the verse saying she'll bear children in sorrow comes from the same word as Adam working for his own food in sorrow. It means work.


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