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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 3, March 1978
Page 17
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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 3, March 1978 - Page 17. March 1978. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. October 19, 2019. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1189/show/1180.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(March 1978). Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 3, March 1978 - Page 17. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1189/show/1180

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 3, March 1978 - Page 17, March 1978, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed October 19, 2019, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/1189/show/1180.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 3, No. 3, March 1978
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date March 1978
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Item Description
Title Page 17
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File Name femin_201109_538p.jpg
Transcript Nathaniel Lief Kern-Asker came strong and wet and healthy into the world at 4:25 p.m., January 29, 1978. As Nancy Kern looked back on the birth and her months of preparation for it, there were some surprises and some unexpected moments. "I had some misconceptions about early labor. I thought that early labor was easy labor and I expected the pains to intensify as the birth progressed. Actually the early contractions were more painful than the ones near the end of labor." Although the intensity of the early labor pains did cause her some uneasiness, Nancy insisted that there is too much emphasis placed on the pain of childbirth. "Pain is always the first thing people ask about. I think the fear of pain is worse than the pain. And I don't think anesthesia really eases the pain that much; it intensifies the fear. For me the pain was a learning experience—it was a time when I had to be strong and it's something to be proud of." Recalling the weeks leading up to the birth, Nancy mentioned some other surprises. "The one thing that really surprised me is that pregnancy lasts so long. I felt very big for a long time and I felt like it should have been over about six weeks before it actually was. The pregnancy takes so long, but then the birth, once hard labor starts, is over so fast." Nancy described the last weeks of her pregnancy as a period of "maternal amnesia." Nancy was prone to late night wanderings to science fiction movies and ice cream parlors. In her words, she was "fixated" on the birth and the baby. She laughed as she talked about her mental state at the time. I've never been easily bored, but I spent that last week just trying to entertain myself. Earlier in the week I went to movies three nights in a row by myself, (^Motherhood by Marianne Warfield Kostakis NANCY KERN and JIM ASKER with baby son NATHANIEL things-and that's important to good labor. I felt warm all over—the light was coming through the east window and I could hear Kalan playing in the next room. I felt really good and I made a lot of progress those few hours. It was then I realized I could talk during the contractions." Nancy and Jim got up at 8 a.m., put "...J could feel his head every time I pushed. I delivered the head myself—You're so much more in touch with the birth this way...." received a free ice cream cone at Udder Delight one night and then stopped off to buy some dirty comics that I read that night while I was having contractions." "A month before the birth, I felt very withdrawn and premenstrual and that lasted several weeks. I learned that progesterone, the same hormone that causes your premenstrual feelings, peaks in late pregnancy and then drops off sharply as labor begins. After that period passed, I felt bliss...I felt that the birth was imminent." Nancy began experiencing what she called "start/stop" labor several days before the birth. In this "pre-labor" stage, Nancy felt contractions, similar to menstrual cramps, in the lower part of her uterus. "At that point, I could ignore them if I wanted to. When they came, I would do some slow deep breathing and try to visualize the baby. I could actually feel my cervix opening." By Saturday evening, Nancy's cervix was 3 cm dilated and her contractions were frequent enough for Nancy's midwife, Judy Kier, to be called. Judy came with her four-month-old son, Kalan, to watch over the long labor. During the night, Judy periodically checked the fetal heart beat and Nancy's dilation and slept when she could. Jim Asker slept while his partner labored throughout the night. He woke be- for dawn and joined her in watching the sun rise. "Jim and I watched the sun come up that morning. I felt really in tune with the birth sheet on the bed and then called their friend Brenda Pope so she could be there for the birth. From her work during the night, Nancy was 5 cm dilated, but when Judy checked her again at 11.00 there had been little progress. "Judy told us to take a walk, so that gravity could help pull the baby down, so Jim and I walked about two miles through the neighborhood. My depth perception was strange and it was hard doing contractions standing up. When I'd have a contraction, Jim and I would stop and face each other, look each other in the eyes and do our breathing together." "We returned to the house and I labored in bed. Then I got up and did some exercises—'pelvic rocks' which are similar to the yoga asana called the 'cow-cat.' I would have a contraction, then do some pelvic rocks, then have another contraction. Sometimes I would rest in between contractions and put my head in Jim's lap. Other times Jim would press as hard as he could on the small of my back to provide countertension to the contraction. It took Brenda's pushing on top of Jim's hands to relieve the pressure. The intensity and strength of the contractions is amazing. "I was alternately hungry and nauseated during labor. I did eat about four cups of yogurt and drank lots of teas and fruit juices throughout. I kept having contractions and doing the pelvic rocks and finally I actually felt the baby move into the birth canal." Judy did a pelvic exam and could feel the baby's head. As she did so, she no- ticed Nancy's cervix was loose instead of tight around the head. Nancy was undergoing what is called a "complex presentation" or a presentation that is not the most natural. They discovered later Nate had his hand on his face and that was causing the abnormality of the cervix. "I think Judy was worried, but I never was really scared. Midwives usually follow the mother's instincts, and mine were that I wanted to stay right where I was. "At one point I was squatting and it felt really good. Everyone in the room was totally focused on the contractions and it reached a point where Jim was unable to move away from me. He knew he had to be right there.." When Nancy was 10 cm dilated, Judy told her it was safe to "push her brains out"; the risk of pushing too soon and tearing the cervix was over. "I was back in bed and the urge to push was so strong. I pushed with the contractions-1 guess it lasted about an hour and a half. Then Judy put oil on my hands, so I could feel for the head. Gradually I could feel his head every time I pushed. And I delivered the head myself -you're so much more in touch with the birth this way, delivering the baby into your own hands instead of into someone else's." "Then Nate was born. He cried immediately and so did I. Those first few moments were so emotional...just incredible! They laid him on my chest for a few minutes and I didn't want him away from me for even a minute. But Judy checked his heart and weighed him and then they put a diaper on him." "Brenda went to get Chinese food, but I was too exhausted to eat anything. I was so tired I couldn't even blow my nose, but Jim was a good nurturer those first few days when I was too exhausted to change diapers. I think it has made him closer to Nate. Being there at the birth and caring for Nate from the very beginning has made Jim feel more at home with the baby-unlike a lot of fathers who are afraid even to touch their baby at first." "Those first few days were incredible. They were worth all the trouble this little fellow will cause in the years to come. Jim and I are both just amazed and in awe of the whole thing." "There is a real need for privacy in the first weeks and I think new mothers should be aware of this. Visitors, unless they're really close friends, are very disturbing to the rhythms being established by the family. This time is so important— you're getting to know each other. Nursing in public is a new experience and if you're not feeling completely relaxed, it can be really difficult. "I am really concerned with eating— with cooking good, nutritious foods. I have a tremendous appetite. And it's nice now that the baby is here to be able to eat a lot without everyone saying, 'Oh, you're eating for two now.' I got so tired of that. I'm learning to be away from Nate ten or twenty minutes at a time. At first I didn't want to be separated from him at all, but now I'm adjusting to that too." As Nancy recalls the birth and this first month of her son's life, she speaks with both reverence and enthusiasm. Sometimes, a note of practicality intrudes but never diminishes the experience. "At first I kept thinking, 'What is postpartum depression?' because I felt so high and so happy. But later on when Jim went back to work, I started thinking, 'Hey wait a minute. I've got all this work to do and he's gone off to work and I'm stuck here.' And when he came home I told him I was a little envious of his going away to a job. It's really hard to realize you're going to have this 24-hours-a-day demand, especially when the baby is brand new and eating every couple of hours. "At the same time, this is a real special time for both of us aad I don't want to try to do much else. I think it would be a n istake and that we'll all be a lot happier if I just take care of myself and the baby." Page 16 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH March 1978 NATHANIEL LIEF KERN-ASKER