By Tiffany Juergens Clark, DC
We all have stories to tell, stories that provide wisdom about the journey of life. What more can we give one another than our truth about our human adventure as honestly and as openly as we know how? My story is about birth and how it is an experience that will change your life forever. Birth has made me realize that I am a pretty amazing person with inherent worth and value. There is a woman that I meet each time in birth and she is very strong, capable, and extremely focused. And, she is me!
My story began in 2008, when I married my best friend and the love of my life. My husband is amazing! He is my love, my life, my soul. Days after we got hitched, we conceived our first baby! Wow! What a blessing!! We started making plans for a natural, un-medicated homebirth. We did not even consider a hospital birth. This was an easy decision for us, because we believe in vitalism and know that pregnancy and giving birth are the most normal, natural things on earth.
Millions of women go through it without complications, fear or intervention. My goal was to give birth in the most natural way possible, the way it was always intended to be.
Vitalism, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the doctrine that the processes of life are not explainable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is in some part self-determining. Vitalism is a philosophy about life which understands that some intelligent energy source or some non-material force or inborn intelligence keeps us alive and coordinates all functions of life.
Innate intelligence is the term used by chiropractors to describe this inner wisdom, the knowledge our bodies are born with, knowledge that no school can teach! Instructions from your innate intelligence are sent to every organ and cell in your body. Human beings grow from two cells, one egg and one sperm. No one ever needs to tell these cells what to do or how to grow into a human, these cells just “innately know”. For nine months, these cells multiply, divide, form and grow until they make a perfect creation, a baby. A baby developing in a womb does not need help, it just needs no interference.
My husband and I are both chiropractors and strongly recognize and respect the innate intelligence of the body. Chiropractic was founded on the principles of vitalism– that the body is a self-healing organism. Chiropractic science acknowledges that a healthy nervous system is a conduit for this intelligence and is therefore essential for normal body function, healing and repair. The objective of the chiropractic adjustment is to reduce stress to the nervous system so that the body can regain optimal performance and therefore improve its potential for healing and wellness.
Pregnancy was an amazing experience. I watched my body swell with life, and experienced and worshiped every stage and development with joy and trust. I knew that I was capable and specifically designed to grow and nurture this life within me. I journeyed through my pregnancy gracefully enjoying every kick and flutter, until I was at my 32 week check-up. I was devastated to find out that there was no heartbeat. How could this be happening to me? I did everything right! I had all the intellectual knowledge and an inherent belief in the ability of a woman’s body to give birth naturally, gently and easily. Why was I experiencing the exact opposite of what I had planned and wanted? I was rushed to the hospital and with the help of pitocin and later an epidural, 30 hours later I gave birth to our son, Carson.
There is nothing more painful than delivering your dead child and planning his funeral all in one moment. When I delivered Carson, only my husband was present. I felt like I was at the bottom of the totem pole. No one came to help me, even though my husband went and told the nurse that the baby was coming. They told him to tell me to keep my legs together. I could not believe it! The urge to push is like throwing-up, you cannot stop it! I was very scared as I laid there and pushed out my baby. My husband and I were afraid to peek at what lay beneath the covers between my legs. Eventually a nurse came in and she cleaned and examined Carson. We were bamboozled to hear that Carson was perfect. How and why did this happen then? He was so cute and perfect! Did I do something? What could have possibly happened? Did I focus too hard on NOT having a hospital birth, that I created a hospital birth? Stress? I stressed a lot about my family not accepting the fact that I was going to have a home birth. I am a strong believer in that our thoughts create our reality. This definitely was not the future that I imagined!! The nurse said that the death was recent and that maybe it was a cord accident. I could not believe that this was happening to me. I felt so many different emotions: love, sadness, guilt, fear, and hatred. I was extremely jealous as I heard other babies crying in the hallway. This was so twisted! I wanted my baby alive and crying!
We spent the next six hours holding Carson. If Carson was permitted to whisper only two sentences into my ear at this moment, I believe that his words would mirror those of Christopher Robin: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” I wanted to hold Carson in my arms forever. I stared at his sweet angelic face and tried to make a lasting image in my brain. I counted his ten perfect toes and fingers. I wanted to remember him forever. My sleeping baby had blonde hair, fair skin, round cheeks, a pointy nose, plump lips, and my big feet! This was the most challenging moment of my life, and I prayed to God for strength and guidance. Even though Carson’s life was momentary, he transformed every part of who I am.
When I left the hospital, I had a big hole in my heart and I was confused. My vitalistic philosophy was being challenged. How could all of this really of happened for a reason? I thought that my innate intelligence knew what it was doing!? It is really hard to trust that your body knows what it is doing when things have not gone according to the ideal plan. I was going to have to learn how to trust my body and innate wisdom all over again. Trust and love are the foundation of vitalism and healing. I remembered what one of my teachers had told me, “The natural processes like pregnancy and birth are dependent upon a woman’s ability to trust in her inner knowing. This wisdom leads women to support and trust the process rather than work against it.”
I found immense healing through chiropractic. Chiropractic adjustments clear interference in your nervous system by aligning your spinal column and creating balance in your body. When your nervous system is clearer, you are more capable of sensing and being aware of your body. The more connected you are to yourself; the more capable you are of making healthy choices for your life. I love chiropractic and being a chiropractor! With time I could feel my heart and soul healing.
“True health is the harmony of life within us, consisting of peace of mind, happiness and well-being. It is not merely a question of physical fitness, but is rather a result of the soul finding free expression through the mind and body of the individual.” — Dr. Randolph Stone, DC DO
True healing began one month later when I joyfully found out that I was pregnant again. I felt like I was given another chance! I was determined to attain my goal of a homebirth and set the stage for the best birth possible!
I hired the best doula and midwife and received regular chiropractic adjustments by my husband. Chiropractic has so many benefits! Chiropractic care is an essential element to your health care choices during pregnancy. This is a sacred time, and it is important to have freedom in your body, specifically your spine and pelvis, to allow for a more enjoyable and comfortable experience for both you and your baby. Many women experience pain and discomfort during pregnancy. Normal structural adaptations that occur while your baby is growing rapidly can bring about tension and dysfunction. Pre-existing imbalances to your spine and pelvis can become overstressed during pregnancy as well, leading to further discomfort and interference in your nervous system functioning at its fullest potential.2 Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy reduces interference to the mother’s nervous system, enhancing baby development and uterine function. It balances pelvic muscles and ligaments and allows the baby to get into the best possible position for birth. Chiropractic care therefore, facilitates an easier and safer birth for both the mother and baby.3 Studies show that women under chiropractic care experienced a labor time reduced by 25% and multiparous women, the reduction was 33%.1
40 weeks passed quickly, as I was focused on creating a sacred and safe place at home for our baby to enter the world. I reinforced my vitalistic philosophy by reading all the classics on natural birth: Birth Reborn: What Childbirth Should Be by Michel Odent, Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read, Birth Without Violence by Frederic Leboyer, Spiritual Midwifery and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, Conscious Conception and Prenatal Yoga & Natural Birth by Jeannine Parvati Baker, Birthing from Within by Pam England, Stand and Deliver!: And Other Brilliant Ways to Give Birth by Emma Mahony and Unassisted Childbirth by Laura Shanley. I trusted my body once again and knew that I could let nature takes its course!
I was thrilled when my water finally broke. I excitedly called my doula and she told me to go to bed and keep in touch as I progressed. Things began very slowly. Actually nothing really happened at all. About 30 hours later regular contractions started to come. My doula and midwife came to the house to check me and told my husband that it could be a while yet. I was only 2 centimeters dilated! The midwife went home and our doula stayed. My midwife told me that when I was having a contraction imagine that I was opening up like a flower. So instead of resisting them, I welcomed each contraction. I kept on telling myself your body is made to do this. Just let your body take charge. Go with the flow. Relax. Trust in the body’s inherent wisdom. Open, open, open, and it worked! In two hours I went from 2 centimeters to 10 centimeters and gave birth to Dawson unassisted. Our doula was in the room coaching my husband through his every move. I only had to push two times and my awesome husband caught our beautiful son. Our birth team arrived in time to deliver the placenta. Dawson’s birth rebirthed me! It took a total of 38 hours from when my water broke to when I finally gave birth. I am so grateful that I chose homebirth and trusted my body’s intelligence completely. I feel so empowered and blessed! I needed an unassisted birth to regain complete trust in my body and God. This is the future, just as I imagined it!
I now have two vivacious children running around at home, Dawson and Amelia. Amelia is 20 months younger than Dawson. She also had a beautiful home birth. She looks a lot like her big brother, Carson. I love my beautiful family and am excited to welcome our next child in 2013.
Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher, famously said: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” I am a strong, strong, amazingly strong woman.
- Fallon JM. Textbook on Chiropractic & Pregnancy, 1st Arlington, International Chiropractors Association; 1994:74.
- Fysh P. Pregnancy and Birth History. Chiropractic Care for the Pediatric Patient. Arlington, International Chiropractors Association; 2002: 53, 54.
- Ohm J, Alcantara J. The Webster Technique: Definition, Application and Implications. J. Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health – May 10, 2012; 49, 50, 51.