by Gail Tully, Midwife and Spinning Babies Creatrix
In 1976, the 200th anniversary of American Independence, I made the independent choice to continue my pregnancy at 16-years-old. Choosing my child was a personal commitment to love and to grow.
To prepare for birth, my older sister, already a mother, gave me Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives’ book, Spiritual Midwifery. In those pages, I met a community of birthing women who chose integrity and honesty within their approach to birthing. Absorbing that strength, I was ready for my birth at age 17.
How close my sister and I were to driving down to The Farm for my birth! (My baby’s father and I parted ways for over 30 years and then, a month after my son reunited with him, I returned in peace to his death bed to swab his dry lips and recite the prayers for the dying.)
Then my sister found nurse-midwives at our local county hospital and she was happy to skip the long drive from Minnesota to Tennessee. As a teenager, I went with her call. While a hospital birth is arranged quite differently than birth on a school bus, my birth was still the most spiritually empowering experience of my life. Early labor was bliss; quiet swaying, sunbeams through a window, bending way over the edge of a deep bathtub to wash my long hair (no shower), and finally, writing the notes for the Sunday night meeting at my residence. How little did I know then that women’s meetings would be the stepping stones of my future life. When I couldn’t write while doing the hee-hee-who-who of Lamaze breathing my sister and I left for the hospital.
The text of Stephen Gaskin urging birth to be a character building exercise came to mind as I used breath and my sister’s voice to cope. Active labor was only 90 minutes but many of the challenges and meeting those challenges with visualization and breath control stay with me today. Years later, my nurse-midwife said when she told me I could push that I looked up at her and said, “Is that all there is?” I had been waiting to want to scream to know I was in transition, but each contraction was met with my own analysis, “this contraction isn’t quite the level of losing it, so keep breathing for now, maybe I’ll scream with the next one…”
My motivation for natural birth was my child’s wellbeing. The surging hormonal joy of a natural birth is the extreme sport of it. I loved navigating the sensations of labor!
Pushing took another 90 minutes, His hand was up by his face and so his elbow broadened his diameter enough to, let’s say, leave an impression. Remaining on my back after the exam that confirmed 2nd stage, I pushed when my midwife said push. I no longer had an urge to push but rather to sleep. For 1977, being in a regular double bed with low lights and calm voices was revolutionary. The less enlightened parts faded to the brilliant arrival of the soul of my child. The presence of the angel inspired a sudden change in his middle name to Gabriel. The mundane and the divine mixed as it does and ecstasy filled my being.
Was my birth Orgasmic? Absolutely, in the sense of building to a thrilling expression and resolving into peace and deep contentment.
I went on to have another empowering birth for my second son who dropped into my own hands 12 years later. Being a midwife and bringing forth SpinningBabies.com are direct results of empowering birth. We birth ourselves as women by walking the walk of physiological birth.
The brain-heart connection of natural birth opened me up to be a natural and dedicated mother. My desire to care well for my children was met with the social support of self-chosen communities. The simple goal of having my child know he was loved was achievable because I set smaller goals for each step of my journey and blended my path with like-minded people. In the safety of such community, I could let go and experience the orgasmic consequences of a life well chosen.
About Gaily Tully… After 20 years with a small homebirth practice and organizing active community doula program development in hospitals and non-profits in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Gail is now devoted to developing Spinning Babies and her other areas such as Belly Mapping and Resolving Shoulder Dystocia. Gail became a CPM in 2000 and still enjoys being called in to stalled labors and breech births. Joining B-School and the Birth Your Dreams Community has been critical to the growth of her business. Read her whole story here.