• http://leighsteele.wordpress.com MereMortal

    I’m the crazyass who emailed you, in sincerity, and with a wide open heart, a few times saying things like “Please, can I be your doula? Oh won’t you have your baby at home?”.

    When I first read the news that you birthed Marlo with all of your sacred power and spiritual might, I about fell to my knees in utter bliss for YOU.

    And now this story, which I’ve been waiting for. I can’t summon words. I await anxiously. And I’m over the moon that it’s given us natural/home birthers even a teeny Dooce nod. I mean, that’s cool. That’s actually been a dream of mine…get Dooce to endorse supported, loving, powerful natural birth and “BAM! There goes Medicalized birth forever!” Um, yeah, you are pretty powerful.

    Enough of my rambling. I can’t wait for details.
    You rock, birth warrior!

    Leigh, your not-doula but doula in spirit
    PS (I secretly also dreamed you’d somehow, last minute, choose a homebirth.)

  • http://www.onetime-oneplace.blogspot.com/ kristin c.

    Reading this post makes my heart ACHE. I wanted a natural childbirth so bad…we did lamaze classes, praticed at home, did a million thigns to prepare. Then…my BP went thru the roof and I had to get all sorts of medicine and be strapped down in bed, unable to move around during labor (which was induced). So. My whole plan was out the door and I was in excruciating pain and I caved to the epidural.

    SOOO looking forward to the next installment…but also secretly dreading it….b/c of the whole heartache thing.

  • Christine

    I am 7 months pregnant and have been committed to a natural birth from the beginning. I’ve done a lot of reading in my life about the way women have been treated by the medical community and specifically what that has done to the process of birthing in hospitals (if folks want another good read, I just finished Birth: The Surprising History of How We are Born; the chapter that talks about when women were anesthesized through the entire labor back in the 1950s may make even the staunchest anti-pain mama-to-be think twice about total avoidance!). Because I’m over 35, I’m also well aware of the perceived “high-risk” my pregnancy is said to pose by the medical establishment. So I have an OB/GYN, because a couple things in my family history recommend it, but she’s someone who had a midwife deliver her baby while she did her OB/GYN residency, which makes me comfortable that I’ve got someone on board who can relate to my desire to have a normal, natural birth. I’ve stacked the deck in my favor, right? And still, this week, I’ve started to wonder about whether I’m going to be able to deal with the pain, whether my relatively high pain threshold and yoga breathing practice developed over the last year will get me through… Maybe just a little bitty epidural’s not the end of the world, eh?

    One of the things I love about your blog is that you really tell it like it is. And you accept that not everyone’s the same and no one’s perfect — and we’re all perfectly, marvelously human — thank god. Part one of your birth account reminds me of exactly why it’s been so important to me to go for a natural birth. This may well be the only baby I give birth to, and I want the whole deal — I don’t want to miss a minute of it. I’m already so in love with the little creature growing inside me, how much more crazy-amazing will it be to go through this process together and get to see her face-to-face! I know Lake’s documentary and book, and have for a long time been deeply committed to the principle of women taking back control of their birth experiences, but I needed to be re-inspired to stay true to what I want most for me and my baby for our birth experience. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • http://shrub775.blogspot.com sarah

    i have never had a child, and perhaps i never will, but i, too, watched ricki’s documentary and it totally changed my thinking about homebirth, midwives, and the whole ‘business’ of the hospitals. having worked in hospitals in the past (good ones, even), it’s clear to me that SO much of what is done in those institutions has much to do about the almighty dollar and so little to do with what’s good for the actual patient (imagine that!). if nothing else, it definitely makes you think!

    love your stories; can’t wait to read the next part:)

  • JeninTexas

    I am so relieved to read this! I had both children naturally. One 16 years ago, one 6 years ago. I was so tired of people telling me I was “crazy” for wanting a natural childbirth. I couldn’t understand how women all over the world have natural births and I was the one that was crazy because I wanted something similar.

    I never felt the desire or need to have any pain medication. I am glad I didn’t. It felt so primal to me to have a child naturally, and most people I surrounded myself with at those times never understood that.

    Thank you for voicing this! I was ostracized for my thinking in a birthing class and maybe someday people will understand it’s okay to choose what is best for you, not what others think is best.

  • Anonymous

    Blech on the comments that say “I’m not judging, but I’m saying if you do what I did your whole world will be better.” Nasty creatures.

  • http://reggolding.blogspot.com Regan

    I’m shocked! Not because I even know you and think you are lying about the pain, but that’s just it, the pain! When I had my son two years ago, labor was very hard for me. It was somewhat short I guess (4 hours) but it was hands down the worst, indescribable pain that I ever experienced and I thought I was going to die. So, that said, I am planning on having another baby, I’m not pregnant yet, but my husband and I are in negotiations, and I will surely pick up a copy of this book if you say it’s THIS good. Because I wanted to do it naturally, but mostly, I wanted some way to work through my pain, because my only form of relief came through the epidural and even then I was very uncomfortable. BUT if you say so…….. (;

  • http://www.riogringa.com RioGringa

    I love your new banner!!

    As someone who cannot fathom the pain of birth and already wants drugs even though I don’t plan on getting pregnant for a long time, I can’t believe you did it naturally. Can’t wait to read more!

  • Sarah

    My sister just called me to tell me I HAD to get online and read Dooce’s blog RIGHT THIS MOMENT.
    And I’m glad that I did. :)
    I’m a wanna-be doula, natural childbirth and breastfeeding junkie, with no children of my own. YET. ;) And I think it’s fantastic that you not only made the choice to have a natural birth with Marlo, but you are making it a point to spread the word! WTG! I think that many women don’t realize they have options, and I’m thankful for people like you who had such an amazing experience and are willing to tell the entire female population about it. :) Can’t wait to read the rest!!

    PS.. It’s okay to be a little crunchy. You oughta look into gDiapers! :)

  • Tara

    I read a bunch of natural birth stories on mothering.com to get an idea of what I would be in for. Surprisingly, although I am all about natural birth, the stories that made me feel better about everything were the ones where the natural birth didn’t result in bliss. Knowing that things may not go according to dreams and plan and knowing it will be okay and there may be disappointments, put me at ease. No one is less of a mother for having more medical intervention, but reaching for the ideal of a natural birth should be a societal norm!

    Like other posters, I am grateful for you publicly putting your story out there and giving this option such a voice. Thank you!!

  • Lisa

    Like everyone else I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story. I have two children, both were scheduled c-sections for medical reasons. Unlike some of the other commentors, I can honestly say I don’t feel like I missed out on the childbirth experience at all and FOR ME, it was a very simple and painfree childbirth that kept me and my kids safer than the natural route would have. There are reasons that our babies are delivered in many different ways, some by choice and some not by choice, but in the end we have wonderful little bundles to love. I actually think this is one of those silly debates that ultimately is a personal choice, and I find it incredibly frustrating when Mom’s judge each other over their preferred childbirth method. Anyway, not judging you at all, thrilled you experienced something else AND that it went well for you!

  • Deirdre Jean

    Thank you, Heather.

    I am pregnant with my first and likely only child. He is due in November and I am planning a drug-free home birth. Thanks for the book recommendation and movie (which is really cheap by the way). I have ordered both.

    It’s really surprising to me how many people ask me if I’ve decided which hospital I’m going to have the baby at. I live in Seattle, and there are loads of options. I just tell people “I haven’t decided yet”, though I decided long before I got pregnant to have a non-hospital birth. I’m so strongly convinced but I feel like there is a stigma against natural birth.

    Looking forward to reading Part 2 of your story.

  • Callista

    Thank you so much for writing about this experience!

    I too saw the Epstein and Lake’s documentary, “The Business of Being Born,” and like you, it completely and totally changed my life. Mind you, I am currently a 21-year-old college student who is not planning on having children for quite some time, but I think homebirthing and midwifery is something every woman she know about. I spent an entire term researching the topic, writing a paper, and presenting my discoveries in my classes. It is such amazing, empowering information to have.

    Thank you for taking the time to read their book. Thank you for being open-minded enough to consider a home birth. And perhaps most of all, thank you for sharing your experiences with the world! I’m sure that, like Lake and Epstein, your posts will change someone’s life.

  • Shandell

    I actually just watched The Business of Being Born last night and while I am planning an unmedicated birth I also feel like the documentary made way too many generalizations about OB/GYN’s and hospitals…they focused on New York a lot and being on the West coast may be why my experience is so different but our hospital is very supportive and encouraging of natural birth and no interventions…

  • ma2one

    I wish someone would pay you millions of dollars for this post. You deserve it! Or just a life time of free Doritos for you, something good like that to happen to you for this fine post about natural birth.

    This post will do for natural birth, what your blog has done for PPD. You rock more than you know.

  • http://gas-food-lodging.blogspot.com/ Ginger

    I am so jealous. Once you have one c-section you’ll be lucky if they let you go into labor on your own . . . I am green wtih envy and delighted for you all at the same time, because you got the birth experience I dreamed of. Well done, Dooce!

  • cynthianola

    I had a home birth two years ago. I still feel persecuted for my decision by those friends that consider themselves the most open-minded progressive feminists. But it is the best decision I ever made in my life, and I’m very at peace with it. Thanks for your post.

  • Renata

    I’m almost five months pregnant with my first child and planning a home birth. But I have to say that I’m starting to worry if I’ll be able to handle the pain. I haven’t seen that doc yet, but I’ve seen “Orgasmic Birth”, and … well, it was quite something. Can you imagine having a baby and a orgasm at the same time?
    I was so glad to read something positive about natural birth here.
    Congratulations on your healthy baby girl.

  • Charley

    Yay Heather! Now PLEASE POST PART 2!!!!

  • http://www.projectsubmarine.net Bree

    Cool! What a great start!

    I was dead set on a natural childbirth from the moment I THOUGHT about getting pregnant. My husband wasn’t keen on a home birth either, but he was very supportive of the no-drugs part.

    As it would happen, not only did I get through childbirth with no drugs, I did it delivering a frank breech baby (yes, you read that right, my OB was AWESOME and allowed me to deliver an (unexpected) breech baby vaginally) with an episiotomy *and* a healthy 4th degree tear. *sigh*

    And, with all of that said, I would STILL do it the same all over again!! It was absolutely magnificent, empowering and completely doable and controllable! In fact, the hardest part for me, honestly? was delivering that damn placenta afterward! Can’t wait to hear your story! :)

  • Ricki Lake

    Hi Heather.

    Congrats on your new baby girl. Love the name Marlo!
    I’m so glad you got a chance to read my book and watch the doc. I appreciate your feedback. Thank God you are talking about these issues when Oprah won’t! The closest we could get to Oprah was The Doctors!

    Anyway, if you have a chance check out my new social networking site for all things pregnancy and post-partum, mybestbirth.com. We just launched a celebrity webisode series, starting with Cindy Crawford. Hey, when you have your next little one, count on me to be your virtual doula! Free of charge.

    Oh, one more thing. . .I’m heading for vacation with my boys to Vancouver and the San Juan Islands in early August, but I’m available for ATVing with you in Utah anytime after that. :)

    Ricki Lake

  • http://keeponsmyelin.blogspot.com/ Keep On S’myelin!

    I bow down to all of you who go drug free. Kudos to you! I’m not sure I could do it.

    Can’t wait for part deux!

  • Anonymous

    Yahooo!!!! I am so excited for you that you found your way to the incredible magic of natural childbirth, and so hopeful that you’ll inspire other women to birth confidently. It really is an incredible experience isn’t it? I felt like a cross between a goddess and a superhero pushing out my baby girl, and I loved it.

  • http://www.dumbyoungins.com ashley at dumbyoungins.com

    Wow! I can’t wait for the rest!!

  • http://www.laurabell7.wordpress.com Bella

    I’m not pregnant…but I’ll be netflixing the movie for sure. Can’t wait to hear about the rest of the story!

    Oh and please tell us about when you take your comp back to the apple store and tell the geniuses there that your macbook is fried due to lactation. That’ll be a classic no doubt.

  • http://deescribbler.typepad.com/my_weblog Dee

    I read your site every day and it makes me laugh. However, today’s post made me glad I adopted my children! LOL

  • http://quillandvarnish.blogspot.com madamesoleil

    I don’t have any children yet, but I’m anxious to learn more about natural childbirth as I consider the overwhelming concept of bringing offspring into the world! Thank you for honestly sharing your experiences. I think I’ll have to check out Ricki’s book if they have it at the library. I’m sure it will freak my husband right out to see “Your Best Birth” staring back at him on the kitchen counter.

  • Jaclyn

    I am HAPPY for you….but a little sad too. I think that the natural childbirth option is great, but some moms really dont get to make that choice. Some of the issue I took with that movie (loved it, by the way) was that it makes the non-natural births sounds “less-than.” I know that isnt the intent–or maybe it is, but it does feel that way to me as a c-section’d mom. When I hear from champions of natural birth, I wonder if I am supposed to feel bad about my own experience? For what its worth, I took natural birthing classes, a natural birth just wasn’t in the cards for me.

  • Christi

    Oh my gosh…I can’t wait to read the rest! I’m a labor/delivery nurse, so I live/breathe labor and birth stories. Don’t make us wait too long. :)

  • Chriss

    Everyone keeps mentioning the “high” after giving birth and I think it would be fair to say even mom’s who have a little nip nip of meds feel this too. At least I did with baby one and three. For the first I was given something (I don’t know what anymore) to take the edge off because being seventeen I was completely freaking out and unprepared in ever way possible. It still hurt like hell but afterwards I felt like superwoman and was unable to sleep hardly at all that evening. Boy once I got home with that kid, though, I wished and prayed for sleep.

    It was the same for me with my third daughter. They induced me because she was already over 9 lbs three days before I was due (and she really was-they didn’t guess wrong). What the wonderful doctor failed to tell me was how much more intense the labor would be with inducement. What a sweet man. The pain came on fast and strong and once again they gave me something to take the edge off. It didn’t work, let me tell you. But again afterwards I felt like I could do ANYTHING.

    The only time I didn’t have this was with my second daughter which was because I did receive the epidural. And I don’t regret having that either. I was on bedrest for half of the pregnancy and just was not mentally or physically strong enough to deliver a nearly 10lb baby without help.

    It’s a personal choice and I applaud you for having that kind of strength.

    Wow I was pretty wordy. I am sort of sorry. Sort of. :p

  • http://thatgirlblogs.com thatgirlblogs

    I had a natural birth and it sucked rocks. But, once it’s over you have other things to worry about. Which is wonderful.

  • http://www.clearbluecup.net Michelle

    Another big congratulations and thank-you from a homebirth nutso. :) I’m so glad to see natural birth reaching such a wide audience.

  • http://chezzero.blogspot.com Heide

    Looking forward to hearing the rest of your story! Also, I love your new masthead. Sorry to be a huge corn-ball dork, but it made me tilt my head, say “aaawwww,” and get teary. Seriously.

  • http://professionalcritic.blogspot.com/ Professional Critic

    Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story! Though I don’t have children and generally believe any way babies make it into the world safely is okay by me, The Business of Being Born was an incredible eye opener about the over-medicalization of labor. Thanks for sharing your thought process.

  • http://www.motherproof.com/ MotherProof

    What a terrific story! I can’t wait to hear the rest of it!

  • http://www.bellastitch.com Abi

    Congratulations again!

    I’ve had 2 drug-free deliveries. The first one was not planned. I wanted drugs, but there was no time for drugs. With my 2nd, I KNEW I wanted to go all natural again. It was the most amazing moment of my life. I wasn’t as freaked out as I was with the first. I knew when to push. I knew the pain WAS bearable. I cannot wait to read the rest of your story!

  • Nancy W

    Congratulations Heather!! You had what I call a BREAKTHROUGH! I am so happy to read this I had to say THANKYOU! So many of my friends have had “natural childbirth” and even tho it is not the same experience for everyone, it is the first part of having a choice in how we do “birth” our children. I am so happy for you!

  • http://www.ieatmypigeon.wordpress.com Liv

    Wow. A few of my friends have gone the home birth route, too; some with unhappier stories than yours, and others who emerged victorious like you. Either way, looking forward to the next chapter!

  • http://www.gambier.cc Regan

    I am still high off the excellent homebirth of my baby girl who turns four the end of this month. I will spend the week leading up to her birthday and several weeks following in a state of bliss. Just like (or just opposite) around the mid-November anniversary of my stepdad’s death, the feelings linger and colour everything around me for a while. The birth stuff is awesome, though.

    If I do nothing else in my life, I feel like for one day I was superhuman. I did it! I gave her a brilliant, sensational, peaceful, warm, gentle and loving welcome to the world. It hurts me a lot that I wasn’t able to give my first daughter this same introduction to life, but she’s fine. I look at the part of my living room where that wonderful tub was and remember it all so perfectly. No drug-enduced haze. It was clear and magnificent. Afterwards I cleaned up and made everyone lasagna. I felt like I could climb mountains.

    I wish everyone the opportunity for a birth like that. Congratulations on yours!

  • http://edennoel2.blogspot.com Eden

    My favorite post I’ve ever read of yours. Of course, I’m pro-natural childbirth and pro-doula and I just love hearing about your own change of heart when it came to this subject. Plus, I’ve always thought you were a pretty spiritual person simply because you react so strongly to spirituality and religion.

    I can’t wait to read part two!

  • Dana

    You are woman; you must ROAR!

    I remember the feeling of euphoria after my daughter’s natural birth. I likened it to the physical feat of scaling a mountain. I can summon the memory some five years later (I birthed twins and a singleton after… with varying degrees of medicalization… and none compared to the first).

    I’m so happy for you and love your description of Marlo’s birth as “spiritual.” I felt the same way. And it’s quite a different image than what modern media would have us believe: think any film or television depiction of birth. Not natural. Not empowering. Totally off-putting.

    Good on you, Dooce.

    Here’s what I’m troubled by reading your comments: most proponents of natural childbirth aren’t trying to denigrate the experience of mothers who birth children via C-section or those who opt for an epidural (I used an epidural for the birth of my twins). We’re not trying to make you feel ‘guilty’ for your choice (your word, not mine).

    We’re trying to say the natural birth experience is 1) NATURAL and therefore doable. 2) You can do it. You really can. Your body is designed for the very purpose. Don’t be frightened. 3) Most mothers are grateful and thrilled for their healthy babies BUT – here’s the difference – you can also enjoy, love and adore the PROCESS, the act of birthing the baby. I know this sounds scandalous and totally unbelievable in our society but it’s true. It’s not all flowers scented candles; I won’t lie. But the hard work feeds the empowerment and feeling of accomplishment… not to mention the intense bonding.

    I never felt so in touch with my body as a woman – and as an animal, frankly – as when giving birth. It was primal, indeed.

    It’s a feeling I wish we could all experience.


  • maggie

    I commend you for doing it without drugs, I had 2 babies and 2 epidurals. I would like to say that before I got my epidural, the labor was not progressing and the baby’s heart rate was decelerating with every double contraction (coupling (FUN!)). We found out later that the cord was wrapped around her every which way. As soon as I got the epidural, I relaxed and fully dilated (from 7-10). I pushed my baby out (I could feel) and was walking around within 45 minutes of receiving the epidural. No foley catheter even. It was an awesome experience. The first birth though, I won’t even go there! Bad doctor, bad experience.

  • http://www.candysticklane.blogspot.com Candy Stick Lane

    I work in a genetics center and we are VERY pro natural childbirth I have a doula in the office next to me -my kids are 16, 9 and 8 but I want to have another and she has given me some great books to read – you’re right the statistics are insane- im so excited to hear the rest of the story :D

  • Dana

    i meant — the detractors’ word – not you, heather.

  • http://www.lovems1.etsy.com Nancy

    Can’t wait to read the rest!

  • http://rhubarbsky.com Carrie at Rhubarb Sky

    Yay! I’m so excited to hear how everything went. I’m also really pleased to see someone that has as much public influence as you taking resources like The Business of Being Born and Birthing from Within so seriously.
    I had a beautiful natural birth. It was hard damn work, but certainly nothing to be fearful of, and I’m so glad for the experience.

  • Beirut


    Thank you. Truly. For being open enough to even think about changing your world/ birth view at all. I was lucky enough to have a healthy and incredible drug free birth myself. It was the most powerful thing I have ever experienced in my life. Congratulations and Marlo is gorgeous!

  • stella

    Ummm…needing the part 2 immediately!! I am so happy that you are writing about this. I am planning to get preggers soon and may only get one crack at it and want the experience to be one of a kind. I saw Ricki’s movie and thought it was incredible and inspiring; we are lucky in Canada to have the choice between midwife or doctor births and our medical system pays for that.
    Thanks for being such an inspiration, Heather. Hope that you make it to Vancouver again sometime soon.

  • Leila

    Congrats! It’s wonderful to hear that you had such a great birth, and also wonderful that you were able to change your plan so late in the game. I’ve had two drug free deliveries, one at the hospital and one at home, and I wouldn’t change anything about either. It was hard, but so worth it. I live in Ontario, where midwifery care is covered by our provincial health care plan. I feel so fortunate to have had this option, but it sounds like your OBGYN was just as supportive. Lucky girl :)

  • http://heisnowhere.blogspot.com Rottenrott

    Bah. I was planning a hospital natural childbirth the first time and then they had to intervene and it was such a shame.

    I’m not a hippie, I swear.

    I am really hoping that the next time around I will be able to do the natural thing. And that is why I can’t wait to hear the rest of your story. Get to typing…