I’m very live-and-let-live when it comes to labor stories and experiences, which is why when I heard there was a scandal brewing with the way Stacy Keibler was talking about her birth I thought for sure I would be writing a post about how positive birth experiences build us all up – blah, blah, blah. Then I listened to the interview, conducted by Ricki Lake. Yeah, the internet is right. Keibler is super annoying.
Keibler is an actress, model and ex-professional wrestler, but a lot of people know her as George Clooney’s super tall ex. She has clearly drunk the Business of Being Born Kool-Aid and is now advocating for “natural” births via her blog.
I’m not slamming natural births, I think people who choose to go that route should definitely do so. I just personally have a negative association with the Business of Being Born because I’m pretty sure it totally ruined my birth experience.
I was sitting in my one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn one night when the documentary came on. It was during the time I was trying to conceive, so I was very interested in the subject matter. I was transfixed. Story after story of horrible hospital births unfolded next to stories of women birthing in pools in their living rooms. A doctor was even interviewed who told the story of monkeys in the wild being cut out of their mothers via c-section, and how their mothers naturally rejected them. I was determined not to be one of those monkeys. I would bond with my child, dammit. I began my quest for a natural birth.
I won’t recount my whole birth story, I’ll just give you the gist: I happily saw a midwife for my entire pregnancy. I had a healthy, wonderful pregnancy that was textbook and normal in every way until my last prenatal appointment where my child went into distress and I was rushed to a hospital. I had an emergency c-section a few hours later. And I cried for three months because I was convinced I was the monkey.
I’m not the monkey, things just happen. Advocating for natural birth is great, but it’s even better when it’s done with the understanding that sometimes things go wrong and a mother hasn’t failed because of that. Now lets get to the interview.
Ricki: How do you think your birth experience affected your immediate postpartum bonding, breastfeeding, and your journey into motherhood?
Stacy: Because I had a 19 hour labor — which is also a bonding experience with you and your baby no matter how your birth is — but for us I felt like we went to war together and I kept saying “Ava’s a warrior, I’m a warrior.” It was one of my mantras that I would say. And when she came out I feel like I had this bond, like we had just fought together. We really went through something – and my husband, too. That day I will never forget but we were never as bonded and as close, but it had to do with having this really long labor and going through all that… And I really think that it prepares me for motherhood because you’re going to go through a lot of things that you don’t expect and I think that I had my weakest and my strongest moments and I’ll have those again being a mother.
That’s great and beautifully said. And every mother who gives birth is a warrior — no matter how she does it. You don’t need to have a 19 hour labor with no meds to truly “experience” labor. Now for the answer that’s making the internet’s collective heads spin:
Ricki: What advice would you give other expectant mothers if they were also seeking out a natural or home birth?
Stacy: This is the way that birthing was intended to be. If you think about the medieval times and all that, like this is how it was supposed to be and um, again, it doesn’t really work out for everyone, but I think that if you can try to be as healthy as you can be and do the things that you can be [sic] in those nine months to prepare — I think that if you do want to have a natural home birth it will help. It’s such a beautiful miraculous experience and I think that there’s a little bit of that that may be lost when you’re in the hospital, with – whether it’s you have to be on drugs, or whether you’re inducing – you’re just taking away from what it’s meant to be. And it’s really incredible to do it the way it’s meant to be.
Medieval times? I’m pretty sure the infant mortality rate wasn’t stellar back then.
Look Stacy, it’s awesome that you enjoyed your birth. But you don’t have to minimize other birth experiences by saying your particular one was the “way it was meant to be.” You can love your own birth experience without saying it’s superior to others. That kinda makes you a sanctimonious asshole.
Whether you’ve had drugs, skipped the drugs, were induced, had an epidural, had a c-section, had a 19-hour labor or your baby shot out of your vag in a taxi on the way to the airport — you are amazing. Childbirth is incredible and however anyone makes it through is worthy. If you come out of the experience healthy and happy, it’s the way it was “meant to be.”