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Changed to the Core
by Kathleen Harrah Sturm

This is my birth story, and that of my first child. It is my recollection of events, of the things that seemed important to me, from my body and my mind. I am telling it to take one more step toward healing myself, to ready my body and mind for the gentle birth of my next children, to help rid myself of anger and bitterness.

I was born by cesarean section.  My sister was cut from my mother after a couple hours of "labor". She was my mother's first child. My mother has no idea why the surgery was performed, and can only remember something vague about walking the halls of the hospital with very mild far apart contractions.

I wonder why she can't remember more. I think she doesn't
want to.  She thinks she shouldn't want to. For her other two children she was, of course, cut, because in those days "once a C-section, always a C-section".  I was the last, taken two weeks early, 5lbs, 13oz.

At my son's beginning, my husband and I made love without any birth control around the fertile time of my cycle, just because. We had talked about children, but didn't know how soon. I felt ready, he wasn't sure. Being educated adults, we certainly knew how babies were made, and that night, with no thought of babies, we made one. I had no idea our bodies would work so efficiently, and although I knew somewhere in me that I was indeed pregnant, I was still a little taken aback at the positive home pregnancy
test. I had just started a new job, and was already over-stressed. Still, I was happy. I decided to make the best of it, and did what a good patient does. I went to my HMO center, peed in a cup and waited anxiously by the phone for them to tell me what I already knew, but what I shouldn't know until they told me. "Yes, Ma'am, you are pregnant! Congratulations!"

I had worked for a publishing company that specialized in some parenting and child care books, and had published several on active birth, breast feeding, taking part in one's own care, etc., so I felt happily enlightened. I went to my first prenatal check up thinking I would know what questions to ask, that I would be an informed patient. I was relieved to see that the head of the "normal OB" department was a woman, a Certified Nurse Midwife. That sounded proper and competent. Hoping to ask lots of questions, I actually could not get a word in edgewise.

The usual first question: age, marital status, blood pressure taken, weighed, measured, the pelvic exam. She listened to my heart, then with a shocked look, she said "Did you know you have a heart murmur?!" "Well, No", I said.  "I have had regular medical care my whole life and no one has ever found any heart irregularities." She looked at me in disbelief. I was wondering what the hell she was talking about, and was afraid that  it might hurt the baby.

Later on, another practitioner told me that it is very common for women to develop a mild heart murmur in pregnancy, and it wasn't anything to worry about. Then we had the following conversation:

CNM: Was this a planned pregnancy?
Me: (ready to laugh and joke about our spontaneity ) Well, ha, not exactly, but. . .
CNM: What birth control were you using?
Me: uh, condoms.
CNM: Did the condom break?
Me: uh, no. . . We were not using one.
CNM: Well, why not?! Surely you knew what could happen!

I had no response. I was shocked, I think. I just looked at her. I was wondering what about me had given her the impression that I was so young and ignorant, or unworthy of respect. I had come straight from work, was dressed and groomed respectably, she knew I was married. I had no idea. She told me that she had something that could make the pregnancy more "real" for "people like you." I thought, People Like Me? Exactly what category was
that? Middle Class Working Married People in Their Mid-Twenties Who Dare to Be Happy When They are Pregnant? I had a feeling instead I had been put in the Irresponsible Idiots category, which was distinctly shameful.

Suddenly, I was 6 years old, caught drawing on the walls.

She wheeled in a machine on a little cart into the room and told me
to lie down. I was uneasy and didn't like the situation at all any more, but I was also not going to stand up for myself. I had to be a good patient. I was not a troublemaker. The machine was a brand new portable ultrasound, which she had been "wanting to try out". So I was instructed to look at the little screen, to see the baby, to make it "real" for me.

She didn't know anything about me, hadn't asked me anything about myself or my feelings, yet she seemed certain that I was in denial and this experience wasn't sinking in for me. Looking at the nondescript image on a small grayish green screen, I thought that my changing body and swelling, tender uterus, my nausea and cravings, were certainly more real than anything she had shown me

I then got a lecture about nutrition, even though she didn't seem even vaguely interested in my personal diet or interest in the topic, and was sent on my way with an order to make my next appointment at the front desk on my way out. The whole thing took about 20 minutes, and this was my "long, personal, initial interview."

I was on the verge of tears all the way back to work. I was suddenly not so excited about this pregnancy, and felt ashamed of myself, both for letting her use ultrasound on me and my baby for no good reason (even though I didn't know at the time that there were any risks associated with it), and for being so "irresponsible" as to get pregnant without "trying." I tried to remember why I had been so cheerful on my way in.

That visit came into perspective for me eventually, and I changed insurance so that I could get different care. I signed up at a nearby birth center, and chose to see CNM's for my primary care. I did not want to be in the hospital, but both my own fears and the fears of those around me pushed me away from looking into home birth. (I know now that there is nothing that can be done in a birth center that cannot be done at home.)

Almost every visit I was given some test for something that I was at "very low risk" for, but that I should have the test "just in case". They would say it was my choice, but it was obvious that they really thought I should take the test, so I would do it. I was a good patient. I was afraid, both of being seen as irresponsible or a troublemaker,  and of the serious diseases and situations I was supposedly being tested for. I would wait with anxiety for
the test results.

They said that the birth center was just like home, and that it was family centered. That sounded wonderful. I ignored any misgivings I had, because I thought I would never be able to do any better.

My pregnancy was very healthy and uneventful. I enjoyed my growing belly, and toward the end, was anxious for labor to start. My parents came a week before my due date. I don't have a close relationship with them, but as the "good daughter" in the family, I thought it was right for them to be there, even though I am usually pretty tense in their presence.

The due date came and went. As I went one week over, I was sent to the hospital, and they inserted prostaglandins into my vagina to try to get labor started.  That gave me contractions for a couple hours, but then all stopped. I was in the hospital. I had been "risked out". I was panicked. I felt that my head was through the guillotine and I was waiting for the blade to fall.

They scheduled my induction at the hospital for the following week. I panicked even more. I didn't want to show my discomfort in front of my parents. I spent most of the last week of my pregnancy up in my room, feeling lonely and terrified.

I tried everything I knew about to get labor started. Nipple
stimulation, herbs, castor oil. . .but I really couldn't feel very amorous for the sex that had been recommended. I felt that my body was betraying me. I had on again, off again contractions, but I was afraid and uncertain, and I most certainly did not feel safe. I went in for an ultrasound, and the woman said it looked like I had low amniotic fluid levels. I had another one later in the hospital, and that woman said they looked fine.

Something else to fear. I did not sleep well the entire week, or at all the night before my scheduled induction. I called the midwife on duty at 4 am, begging to not be induced. She said she would ask the OB on call from the practice. "Lucky for you," she said, " Dr. Y is on duty. If it had been Dr. X, she would have had you in the hospital immediately." So my induction was rescheduled for 2 days later. I had been given a 2 day "grace period" in which to will myself into labor. My parents and husband could not figure
out why I was so reticent to "have it over with".

I was in the hospital trying the second prostaglandin insertion the
next day, and I had an IV and fetal monitor. When I was sent home, the nurse said, "We might as well leave this tap in your hand, you're going to be back in here in a couple of days anyway." I insisted that they take it out. I didn't want to look at it, and it hurt.

I had to sign a paper taking responsibility for all the horrible complications I was putting myself and my "post-mature" baby at risk for. Something else to fear.

We arrived at the hospital at about 7:30 am to "have the baby." I was hooked up to an IV and started pitocin. I tried to relax, but a deep part of me was tight and terrified.  This was not where I was supposed to be. This was not right.

The contractions started.  My waters broke soon thereafter, at about 8 am. The nurse on duty was very kind, and I liked her. She was a middle aged woman with three grown children. I didn't know
it was the end of her shift. She assured me that Pit labor was "just like normal labor" and that I would be fine. I chose to believe her, even though I had read and heard otherwise. Now I had no choice. She stayed with me until noon, at which point her shift was over. I panicked inside when she left, but I was a good patient, so I didn't make a fuss.

The replacement nurse was about my age, not a mother, not sympathetic, and not particularly interested. My midwife was in and out. The contractions were very uncomfortable now, and I was vomiting. All I remember eating was popsicles; sugar water, artificially colored and flavored. We had planned to have all
sorts of healthy foods and snacks available at the birth center, but I had been so agitated and panicked about starting my labor that I had thrown that plan out the window along with the dream of a non-hospital birth.

I had been there for hours and was not progressing. The midwife
went to the OB on duty to get permission to increase the pitocin. They did, and the contractions increased in frequency and strength. I was only 2 cms dilated after 10 hours. The midwife suggested some tranquilizer to help me rest between contractions. I said fine. The word REST was the only one that I heard. I hadn't slept well in days. The tranquilizer made me dopey.

The OB on duty gave permission to go over the recommended limit for pitocin again, because I still was not progressing. Around 10 PM, the midwife suggested an epidural, so I could get some sleep. SLEEP was the only word I heard. I had been in  labor for 14 hours with nothing to show for it, running on a couple of popsicles and some ice chips, and whatever was in my IV.

I had the epidural, my blood pressure dropped and they moved me around until they found a position the "baby liked." I dozed in a stupor. I suddenly had a sharp pain on one side, and then a persistent ache. I could not change position: I was too numb.  I was utterly dependent. I called the nurse. Now it was somebody different. I hoped she was kind. I was helpless, and I had to rely on her. I tried to be nice, and as unobtrusive as possible. A good patient. 

"It's hurting on my left side. Is that OK?" She looked at the monitors and said she'd call the anesthesiologist. The midwife had gone off to take a nap. The anesthesiologist came in, said that
sometimes the epidural only takes on one side, and injected more medication into my spinal tap. A short while later, the midwife returned. She checked me, woke my husband and said "If you want some people to be at the birth, you'd better get them in here!"

Evidently, the epidural relaxed my body enough for me to dilate from 2cm to nearly 10cm very quickly. She asked me if I felt like pushing, and I said no. She looked surprised. I couldn't
feel ANYTHING from my waist down. Her face whitened. She took the nurse aside. "When did you give her more meds?" There was a short discussion that I couldn't hear as they glanced from me to each other and back. They said it was time to  push.

With every contraction, everyone in the room yelled PUSH! and coached me on. I did my best. I was a good patient. The midwife
pulled on my perineum as hard as she could without injuring me, to try to give me some idea where I was pushing to. So she told me. I couldn't feel a thing.

A couple hours later, the anesthesia began to wear off. I felt as if
someone were burying an ax in my back. I heard someone screaming. I didn't even realize it was me until later. I begged and pleaded to be turned over, to be held up on my hands and knees. I screamed again and again. I felt like a beetle, stuck on my back, frantically waving my appendages in a futile effort to right myself, to run from danger. I had a fever, and was given Tylenol anal suppositories.

Several hours later, at about 6 am, the midwife said that she thought we'd have to do a C section. The OB was called in. He looked at me, looked up my vagina, and agreed. My legs were
swollen to over 2 times their normal circumference. My cervix was swollen. My whole body was swollen. I was utterly exhausted.

After the epidural I could only have ice chips, and I didn't have any because I was too busy screaming and trying to push. I was desperately thirsty, but now was not allowed to have any water because I was being "prepped".  A few minuteslater I was taken into surgery.

My husband was dressed in surgical scrubs, and sat next to me, holding my hand. Tears were running down his face, under his mask. He was afraid I was dying, that he would lose me. The pain
and terror were in his eyes. I felt utterly absent. I remember telling him that it would be OK, or at least thinking it.

The anesthesiologist was a kind and genial man, and he talked to me during the surgery, told me what was happening. I am grateful to him for that. I could feel tugging and pulling, my lower half being rummaged around in. The surgeon had to reach up my vagina and pop my baby out of my pelvis in order to take him out through the incision, I had got him so thoroughly lodged in. All that pushing, undone.

A few minutes later, my baby was taken out. I was passing
out, but they brought him to my head. I saw a pink blur, heard "beautiful boy" , touched a tiny hand, and was unconscious.

I woke up to the sound of moaning in post op. I felt like I was outside my body, floating in a world of fuzzy light and sound. It was me moaning, but I still had no sense of my physical self. I was taken back to my room.

There is a picture of me there. I am white as the sterile sheets, swollen, bloated and pallid, my eyes look black, and there is an oxygen tube in my nose, a catheter into my bladder. I look very, very sick indeed. My god, I thought, is this having a baby? Do I have a baby? I didn't even care.


I was on a morphine drip, and spent most of the first couple of days in drugged dreams. My baby was given glucose water out of a bottle, a shot of vitamin K, antibiotic eye drops, and a hepatitis B vaccine before I was even conscious. I am so sorry, little baby. I finally held him, and was determined to breastfeed.

He was beautiful, although he had a huge bruise and swelling on the rear and left of his head from me trying to desperately push him out in the strange position he presented in, and he latched on immediately, suckling almost non-stop. A pediatrician came in
and said I should take him off, because it wouldn't do either of us any good to let him just sit there at the breast making my nipples sore before my milk came in. I said OK, but then disregarded the advice after he left.

I was so gratified to see that little baby suckling. At least one part of my body worked. We had a birth plan all written up, how he was to receive NO bottles, but we still had to retrieve him from the nursery one night after his very long absence, and had to remind them constantly that he was BREAST fed, despite their admonitions that I needed rest and a little formula wouldn't hurt him.

The night he was gone for 5 hours, they were trying to feed him formula. They were not in the least apologetic when my husband came to rescue him. They said "Well he screamed the whole time and didn't want to take it, if that makes you feel any better!" I am so sorry, little baby.

We weren't allowed to carry him in the hospital. I was only allowed to hold him in bed, but I couldn't tuck him in next to me to sleep.
It was supposed that I would drop him, smother him, or he would fall off the bed, even though it was a hospital bed with high sides.

One afternoon, he was sleeping peacefully in the crook of my arm, and I closed my eyes to nap. A nurse came in, and I opened my eyes just a crack. She started toward him, but then stopped and looked at us uncertainly, started toward him again, stopped, and then turned around and left. God bless her.

I had horrendous gas pains, yet was ravenously hungry, and inexplicably, all I got was jello and popsicles, and eventually a cold, gummy bowl of Cream of Wheat or some such nondescript cereal.  I ordered specially a turkey sandwich, which cost me $7.50, and when it came it was old, dry, tasteless turkey between two pieces of spongy, nutrient free white bread. Nothing else. It was  inedible. I wonder how people are supposed to heal in a hospital, with such terrible food.

My incision site was weeping and leaking fluid, because my body had been so incredibly swollen.  An OB would come in a couple times a day to squeeze fluid out of it. Different pediatricians would come by to examine my baby. He was nursing wonderfully and had completely gained back his birth weight of 8lbs, 9oz and then some
before we left the hospital. Everyone was surprised.

On the afternoon of day 5, we finally got ready to go home. That morning, I pressed the call button to get my percoset (painkiller) for the morning. Instead of saying Can I please get my percoset this morning", I said, without any thought, "Can I please get my percoset today?"  The nurse on duty took offense, thinking I was being sarcastic and finding fault with her for not having brought it yet.

Another nurse came in and took me to task, oh so nicely and
quietly, for being difficult. I was completely taken aback. I had no idea what she was talking about, and assured her that I hadn't meant anything by whatever was deemed to be offensive. I was a Good Patient, for heavens sake!

We opened the door to our room and I stood with our stuff and our
baby as my husband finished checking out. "Good, they're finally leaving. Get them out of here, we need the space!"  a nurse with her back to me said. I guess it had been a busy week. I wrote the nurses a thank you note.

"Gosh" I thought, they could have been a lot worse, and some were actually nice. I should be grateful. My mother was reproachful when I complained privately about one nurse who talked to me in baby-talk, treated me like a totally incompetent idiot, and wouldn't even let me hold my baby in bed when I WASN'T sleeping. Be grateful, be grateful she said. They took care
of you. They gave you a beautiful baby.

They took care of me, all right. I was unable to lift or carry my beautiful baby for weeks. I could barely walk up the stairs to my bathroom. A hot water bottle was my constant companion. I could not drive. My incision had to be drained with a gauze wick, and then became infected. Several times a day I had to inject hydrogen peroxide between my skin and abdominal wall and then squeeze it out to clear the infection. I was sore and miserable, and couldn't wear anything but my bathrobe comfortably for almost 2 months
because of the tenderness of the scar. I did not feel healthy or like
myself again until my son's 2nd birthday, and still there is a strange hump of scar tissue under the skin above the incision line.

I tried to forget the whole thing, to take the ever-present unsolicited advice about how it didn't matter at all about the birth, all that mattered was my healthy baby.

"At least they let you try labor," a well meaning friend said. My
father has been heard to say that they should have just done a cesarean immediately; it should have been obvious to them that I would be unable to give birth. "Oh well, you have a fine baby. At least you didn't have to stretch out your vagina!" from another friend. "Well, they obviously had a good reason to do the C-section, so you should just be grateful that you and your baby are OK." And so on, and so on, and so on.

At my 6 week post-partum appointment, despite a decent diet
provided by my mother and lots of rest, I was still having significant vaginal bleeding, and felt very exhausted. I was assured that it was just normal post-partum recovery.

I asked the midwife that I saw that day exactly why I had a cesarean. "It says something in your chart here about a
fever. . .probably because your waters had been broken for so long. So, when are you going to have more children?" She said. I asked why I had such terrible edema. "Oh, probably some reaction to the pitocin- it look's like they used a lot." At another later appointment, probably 6-9 months post-partum, I asked a different midwife the reason for the C-section. "It looks like you just weren't progressing. Are you planning to have more children?" I said yes, but that I didn't feel like I'd recovered from the first birth. She laughed and said "Oh, so you're going to wait until your cesarean scar completely disappears, huh? Adjustment to motherhood isn't
easy. Well, go out and have more babies! See you later."  What a moron, I thought.

After my C-section I never saw the midwife who was attending me in the hospital again She is now apparently retired. I was bitter and angry. I felt deceived and betrayed.  I had been the unwary victim of a marketing ploy, playing to women who want a natural birth but don't really know much about how to insure that they get one. I wondered what residual effects the drugs had on my baby, and on me.  I wondered if being away from me for so long in the first days had frightened him, had made him wonder if he was wanted. I wondered if I would ever trust anyone in authority again.

I visited a dear friend of mine, who had a wonderful water birth at a birth center on the west coast, and saw pictures of her after the birth. She looked tired, but healthy and glowing! She was home with her baby just a few hours after the birth. It was right and good. I cried. I was so happy that it wasn't all a lie, that she had done it, and it was beautiful.

I was so sad to see what I had missed, and I felt the bitterness well up in me like hot oil.

I am coming to terms with my anger and bitterness. They eat at me and paralyze my body, while those I am angry and bitter at go blissfully about their work. I believe that the people I entrusted with my care believed that they were doing their best, that they were doing their job. I also believe that in the circumstances under which it was performed, that my cesarean was necessary. I also certainly believe that those circumstances were, for the most part, caused by my caretakers and were completely preventable. I was caught up in a system that has it all WRONG.

When I realize how much fear I carried with me throughout the pregnancy, how many things I did because of fear, and how little REAL information I got, it makes me heartsick. I had a cascade of interventions leading, finally, to the cesarean. When my baby was taken out,  he showed absolutely no signs of the post-maturity that I was threatened with along with insinuations that I was an irresponsible ignoramus for simply wanting to let him come when hewas ready. I was so tense and/or terrified for the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy, it's no wonder that my body would not allow the baby to come. My body knew that babies should not be born where it is not safe. No mammal will give birth in a dangerous place.

Despite the pain and disappointment of the birth, I DO have a wonderful son. I am eternally grateful that he is here, and of course I am thankful and joyful every day that he is such a wonderful healthy boy, the apple of my eye. Raising him has been a joy. He is my heart and soul. I would kill or die for him without a second thought. His presence in my life has changed me so completely, that I cannot even imagine how I lived as the woman I was before.

Because of the circumstances of his birth, the world seems much less safe,  and so-called authorities on many topics seem
woefully uninformed and often, misinformed. On the other hand, I see endless possibilities, and I feel much more free. I now realize that I am responsible for my own and my children's health and well being, a realization both comforting and terrifying. I realize that being a "good patient" can be a very bad thing.

I am free to seek expert opinions, but no one else has our interests at heart like I do. I am now a doubter, never taking any statement at face value. And now, I trust myself more. I may never learn to trust myself completely, as I have been taught from my earliest moments, like most of us, that the authorities know best. At least
I know now that I am worthy of trust.

I have learned that just because a doctor or organization of doctors says something or holds a belief does not mean that it has a root in hard science. I have also learned that when something has been discounted as "never scientifically proven", it may simply mean that no one has yet bothered to do, or been able to get funding for, the research.

I have learned that science doesn't have all the answers. I have learned that most statistics can be cleverly twisted to anyone's end. I have learned that people are lied to by people who have
been lied to themselves, ad infinitum, until they really believe the lie to be true. I have given up the naive belief that a woman practitioner or midwife, because she is a woman, will be a sympathetic and knowledgeable advocate.

I am smarter. I have awakened. That is what having a cesarean
surgery did for me.

Just the fact of becoming a mother brought a whole different series
of revelations. With the first moment I held my son in my arms, I suddenly felt the weight of the world. I felt the killings in my heart. That dead soldier was someone's child. That drive by shooting victim was someone's child. Those kids killed at yet another school shooting were some mother's children. Those brown, bloat-bellied children dying of starvation are some mother's babies. I felt it all in my heart.

In my cushy, well-fed, relatively safe, middle class world, I suddenly felt that just maybe, I was connected to rest of it. That we are all connected, that it all matters. It matters that most people here don't know anything about their food supply or their medical care, that they often don't want to know. It matters that
people are lied to. It matters even more that they don't want to hear the truth. It matters that mothers here are told that they'd better wean by one, or they never will, and that formula is just as good as breast milk, anyway.  It matters that mothers in Third World countries are sold formula, which deprives their babies of very important antibodies, that their milk dries up, that they don't have clean water to make the formula, that their babies die because of corporate greed.

It matters that the majority of women here have been brainwashed into thinking that they cannot birth their babies without heroic medical intervention. It matters that people don't know that most of those "deaths in childbirth" that happened "before modern
medical technology" happened because of infection, (often caused by doctors), poor nutrition, and lack of information. It matters that the vast majority of medical practitioners, not to mention the general public, think that mass vaccination is a thoroughly tested medical miracle with absolutely no adverse effects, problems, or controversy.

It matters that people in this so-called free country can talk about legally mandating this medical procedure with all the attendant risks in the absence of any public health crisis and even be taken seriously. It matters that corporate lobbying has more to say about what a politician will support than his constituents do. It matters that we are killing the Earth with irresponsible practices on every level and that we have alternatives, but  that few want to switch to the alternatives because it will "cost too much." How much does a new planet cost? What are our children's lives worth?

Suddenly the violence seemed real, for now I had someone innocent and dependent on me, that I was bound in blood to protect and love. The shameful starvation in a world of plenty made me weep, the petty tribalism and political maneuvering that cost millions of innocent lives made me shake with rage. The fact that I was part of the  problem, living and consuming the way I do, made me ashamed.

I had the "baby blues." A mild case of postpartum depression.

Well, then, so be it. I don't want prozac, I don't want to "adjust". I know that I cannot go back to my state of blissful ignorance and trust, but I also know that now, for the first time in my life,  I am fully an adult. I don't have the illusion that someone in authority will take care of me, so now, I can get down to the real business of caring for myself and my children. This is what the birth of my son did for me. It was a crash course in reality, an epiphany, a great awakening. He set me on a road of seeking and questioning, in every realm of my life, one step closer to being fully human.

I am not some finished font of enlightenment now, of course. I am often a mess, confused and sometimes fearful.  I have just barely started my journey. I have a great fear deeply instilled in me of being "inappropriate",  or a "troublemaker", or "too aggressive." I do not speak up easily, my heart pounds if I make a phone call to someone I perceive as "in authority", especially if I have something important to say. I fear criticism, I hide my beliefs and ideas from many. I am less than a beacon of information. I have a residual mistrust of life processes in me, a fear of pain, the deep cultural indoctrination that tells us the spiral of life can be made into a neat line, controlled, genetically engineered, surgically straightened, any temporary discomfort obliterated with pills
and lotions.

Somehow, we have been led to believe that all pain and
emotional discomfort can and should be eliminated, that no balance is needed in life, that we cannot grow through these experiences. We have as a culture a dangerous illusion of safety based in fear, a false haven in arrogance and ignorance, a perpetual unpreparedness for actual adversity.

I still live a relatively cushy, safe, well-fed, middle class world. I have great joy in my life, and a great deal of love. I have a
loving husband and a beautiful, happy, son. I still drive a car, one that is a gas guzzler, in fact. I use electricity and heat made by burning non-renewable, polluting fossil fuels.  I haven't moved to the back woods and cut off all contact with society to grow my own organic food.

Sometimes I really want to, but I also want my children to learn that they don't have to leave society to change it. I think that we can, indeed must, change things from within.  I am trying to grow my courage. I have a lot of work to do. Because of my hopes and dreams for my child, I know for the first time what it really means to want the world to be a better place.

.....For him, for his children, his children's children, for children everywhere, in perpetuity. So, in the end, my birth experience and the presence of my son in my life has made me who I am; it was a vehicle of personal transformation.  For that reason, I no longer regret it. It was my trial of fire by which I was born anew.

My son is now 3, still likes to nurse a couple of times a day, and slept with us always until he was 2 1/2. He still is in the family bed whenever he wants to be. I am 6 months pregnant with my second, and have planned a homebirth VBAC. We are so excited!

My name is Kathleen Harrah Sturm, and my e-mail is [email protected]   I welcome e-mails!"

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