Pregnancy has brought out my latent Northern California hippie tendencies. I have spent my adult life attempting to free myself from a childhood that was awash in pot smoke, unshaven women and drumming circles, but it turns out that you can never quite take Berkeley out of the girl, despite bi-monthly waxing appointments. For the past 15 years or so I’ve prided myself on how well I’ve managed to leave my counter-culture upbringing in the past. But then I got pregnant. I could no longer slather myself with chemical-laden lotions, creams and makeup without being worried that I would find myself the parent of a child with some sort of Kiehl’s-induced birth defect. Going to the salon to have my “naturally blonde” hair dyed felt like a visit to Chernobyl! In the span of the three minutes it took my discount brand pregnancy test to tell me, “yes, indeed, you did forget to use your diaphragm two weeks ago and now you are knocked up”, I morphed into Hippie Momma extraordinaire.
The first several weeks after finding out I was with child I spent all the time that I wasn’t throwing up from all day sickness throwing out anything even remotely toxic that had taken up residence in my home. All of my usual, non-hippie grooming habits went right out the window, which ultimately led to quite a few hours spent shopping at Whole Foods attempting to embrace my new make-up free, prematurely grey-haired identity. During one of these shopping trips, while lunching on some sort of vegan, gluten-free, flavor-free sandwich from the deli case, I wandered into the book section and discovered that while I was certainly on the right path with my non-toxic pregnancy, I was completely unprepared to give my child a trauma-free birth experience. Here I was, blissfully unaware of all the dangers that could befall my offspring simply by being born in a hospital! Did I not realize that getting an epidural often leads to emergency c-section? How about the drugs that are used for induction of labor that can cause uterine rupture and death of the Mother? There I was, barely out of my first trimester and sobbing over a fake meat sandwich in the aisles of Whole Foods. I had failed my child already by not preparing myself to have a natural birth. I was, as I feared, a terrible Mother.
Thus began my journey into the world of natural childbirth. I read books, I watchedThe Business of Being Born, I met with Doulas (birth coaches), I watched More Business of Being Born, and eventually I signed myself up for a HypnoBirthing class. Once a week I drag my husband to this class where they use terms like “pressure waves” (for contractions), “birthing time” (for labor), and “caregiver” (instead of Doctor). This HypnoBirthing stuff is no joke. We’re talking about making a major commitment to natural childbirth; daily exercises, hypnosis practice multiple times a week, and three-hour classes in which we learn all about how horrible it is to not have a natural birth. But of course, I want to do what’s best for my baby (at least until he comes out, and then it’ll just be downhill from there), and I’m a complete and utter control freak, so I’m determined to succeed at pushing this kid out without anything except my natural “hypnoanaesthesia”. So now I spend at least an hour each night hypnotizing myself and practicing exercises designed to open up my birthing muscles (I know, totally gross). In addition to the classes and the hypnosis practice, I also have to listen to a “Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations” CD every day. If you can, dear reader, picture me driving around Los Angeles fighting my inherent road rage while listening to a calming female voice tell me that “I love my pregnant body. My pregnant body is beautiful and perfect.” or “Babies come on their birth days, not when Doctors decide.” It’s truly a sight to behold when I’m sobbing at my joyful pregnancy affirmations while at the same time giving the asshole in the Prius who just cut me off the finger.
I think in the end I’m surprised at my dedication to being such a Hippie Mamma. Considering all the unnatural substances I’ve put into my body over the course of my lifetime, I figured I’d be as casual about pregnancy as I was about the men I slept with. In the end, though, I figure I’m pretty lucky to have the chance to give birth to my own kid, and I might as well give him the best chance from the outset. Oh, I’m sure I’ll manage to screw the kid up pretty quickly after he comes out, but at least I know that I did my best to make sure he had a non-toxic stay in my womb and a trauma-free trip down the birth canal. Once he’s out, I plan to go back to wearing toxic lipstick and drinking with abandon, but until then I’m learning to love the smell of Patchouli.