Sunday, October 2, 2011

Guest Blogger, Karin, Home Birth

When I was eleven years old, my older sister, Karin, gave birth to my first niece in the basement of our home. Here she recounts her memories of the birth.

I was seventeen when I got married. I was worried that I was going to be an old maid. That was in 1984. I went to the Followers of Christ Church in Oregon City. I had never gone to a doctor so when I found out in October that I was pregnant home birth was my only option.

I heard stories my whole life about doctors and how they kill people. I heard stories about people who did not have faith in God and went to a doctor only to die. Going to the doctor for prenatal care and a hospital birth was not something I even processed or was mentioned to me. How could it be an option if I didn't know anything about it? This was also before anyone had died in child birth in our church's history.

I dropped out of school my senior year of high school because my husband told me I was not allowed to go to school pregnant. We went to the elder of the church and I was told I had to obey my husband.

I was sick a lot and since I was no longer in school I spent a lot of time at my parents’ house. My mom told me stories of home birth. She also told me that when her first baby was born she had to have him at a hospital (because Dad was in the service and they were living in Japan) and it was horrible. She told me a lot of horror stories about giving birth in a hospital. She said that when she gave birth to her other babies she was at home surrounded with people she loved.

My mom took me to visit the midwife about once a month after I was five months pregnant. It was not anything official. We went to her house and she talked to me about how I was eating and if I was exercising. This was the same midwife that had delivered me when I was born. I didn't question her knowledge or experience. The midwife told me about labor and that I needed to stay calm when I was having pains. If I screamed or didn't follow the instructions of the midwife while I was giving birth people would think I had a devil.  She told me I would push when the pains came and that after I delivered my baby I would be expected to lie flat on my back for ten days. Women in the church would stay with the baby around the clock for my laying in time. Other women would deliver meals and help my mom. I would deliver my baby at my parents’ house and stay with them for two weeks after the baby was born.

The day before I gave birth I had a surge of energy in the morning. My mom called the midwives and my family and told them she thought this was the beginning. Around 5 p.m. my water broke and the midwife put me in the shower. I remember her washing my belly and talking calmly to me telling me that I had started labor. This was an emotional and exciting time. While I was in the shower the other family and midwives were making sure everything was set up in the family room.

Once I was in the family room and put on the delivery bed, the midwife examined me. There were whispers and talking at the foot of the bed. My dad was near my head and was talking to me. I pushed all that evening, thru the night and until my baby was born at 10:30 in the morning.

During the night I remember losing consciousness. When I came to, my dad was praying for me and everyone was crying. Dad kept talking to me encouraging me not to give up. The midwife was massaging me and lubricating me with oil. There were women whispering on the sides of me. My husband said this was too much for him so he left the room.

I remember my dad's voice – he didn’t stop encouraging me. He promised me if I would do what the midwife told me and push and not give up that he would take me hiking. This encouraged me. I thought I was ripping in half and my mom said she could see my baby's head. Once they could see the head my dad and some of the women set me up and some of the other women were pushing on my stomach. The midwife had her hands inside of me guiding my baby out. There were people crying, others telling me to push, but the words of encouragement from my dad and the midwife kept me focused.

Once my little girl was born everyone was crying. She was blue and the midwife took her upstairs. My mom went with her and so did most of the women. There were other midwives that stayed with me. I had no idea what was going on. They told me my baby was fine that they were there to help me with the rest. I was tired and wanted my baby. What were they saying with the rest? Someone was massaging my stomach and talking to me. I wanted my mom. I wanted my baby. My dad left when they took the baby upstairs. Someone was talking to me telling me I had to push out the after-birth. I thought I was hearing things because I just gave birth to a 9-pound baby girl why did I need to push more. I had never heard of after birth. If I had, I did not register it in my mind. The midwives told me I could not see my baby until the after birth came out. I felt like another baby was coming out. There was no head but it felt like it was ripping me in two again.

I was taken to my parents’ bedroom after I was cleaned up. I was put to bed and someone brought my baby to me. Now I was to begin my laying in that would last ten days.


  1. Get this girl a blog too! This is fascinating!!

  2. Kaleigh, she is a million times more interesting than me! And she has a starring role in my memoir :)

  3. When I first read that a mid wife would be attending the birth, I thought, "great". I'm all for home births attended by mid wives.

    Then it got scarier: being told to push all that time. No wonder she passed out, no wonder she felt like she was ripping in two. She wasn't ready (not to get too graphic here).

    That isn't how it's done with a properly trained mid wife.

    Is this typical of home births of the Followers??

    And I don't even now if that's relevant, but I just felt so sorry for Karin as I read that.

  4. The mid-wives are lay mid-wives. They are trained by the older ones. The mid wife I had was in her seventies and was not attending as a mid-wife for births unless there was a special reason. I remember asking her because I knew her and because she delivered me. My mom said that it was the practice to push from the beginning of the pains. It has been 25 years so maybe they have a different practice now.

  5. I feel so sorry for her. I couldn't imagine being forced to drop out of high school because my husband said I had to. My husband never orders me around and knows I think for myself. Also that home birth sounds terrifying, my husband is military and I am already scared enough about having a baby at a military hospital, trust me there are horror stories. However in a way her story gives me the strength to not be afraid of it. If she could have the strength to go through that then I can handle a military hospital. Thank you very much for telling your story. I also wanted to asked is your whole family still involved with the Followers and if so can she get in trouble for blogging about it? I am just curious. Also
    I noticed she mentioned her Dad being in the service, I didn't know Followers were allowed to be in the service.

  6. Our dad was in the Navy. He and our mom both joined the church in the 1960s when Walter White was still alive and new people were allowed to join. Dad left the Navy to move to Oregon City and be part of the church. A number of Follower men were drafted during Vietnam and served as "conscientious objectors" in roles such as cooks. Our parents, my sister and I, and all of our brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews eventually left the church.

  7. How do you get to her blog?

  8. she doesn't have one yet, but when she starts it, I will announce it and put a link up :)

  9. ok when will we get to read your memoirs? i want a copy. i feel like i might be the only guy that follows your blog. But i have grown up around followers and i love to read about the things we never get to hear about. Ok so now for my questions, do you still know any of the members or were you shunned for leaving? What made the rest of your family leave the church? How do you feel about the couple that has recently been in the news? I remember that they were found guilty, but i dont remember what the charges were. i went to school with them and i have to be honest,and as i dont agree i feel for them. Finally how do you think this will affect the church and the members.

  10. Fatamos, thank you for following and reading this blog. My memoir will be finished in one year - I'm in a two year program and am still in the writing phases, six months from now, I'll be editing/revising/rewriting, and then the final deadline will be November, 2012.


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