Thursday, November 29, 2012

Product spotlight: hosie naturals’ Love Your Labor Oil, or: I Didn’t Know I Was in Labor

Sometimes I marvel at how the hosie naturals product line has grown so much since the day I met its owner, Kari Feucht, in early October 2010. That was the day she gifted me with a small bottle of something mysterious that she told me not to open, not to touch, smell, or handle in any way until my pregnancy had reached what they call “full-term”—37 weeks*.

I forgot about it after that, honestly. I was busy with a 20-month old, a pregnancy in its third trimester, and a new business as a cloth diaper consultant with a very young eLeMeNO-Pee (who remembers the old yellow Web site?). I stuck it in the box with the rest of my demos for home parties—eLeMeNO-Pee was the very first retailer of hosie naturals products—and didn’t think about it again.

At 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant, still nearly two weeks away from the gestative point I reached before birthing my first child and with the possibility of impending labor totally blocked from my mental periphery (after all, “It’s normal to go late,” is the natural childbirther’s necessary mantra, right?), I was sitting cross-legged on my living room floor, presenting my cloth diaper and natural parenting wares to a group of Very Pregnant Bradley Method couples and their instructor. I read aloud the description on this bottle of what was still to me some sort of Mystery Labor Potion and made sure the students were at least 37 weeks pregnant before passing it around the room. Some weren’t. I was, so I figured I might as well rub some on my hands and sniff. (And sniff… and sniff… The only thing that could smell better to me at 39 weeks pregnant is a batch of homemade brownies that I didn’t have to bake.)

I was contracting regularly before the couples had completed their purchases. Having never experienced a Braxton-Hicks contraction during either of my pregnancies, I wasn’t sure what was going on. Just a few hours earlier, my care provider had informed me that my cervix was closed, firm, and posterior, and my unborn daughter was hanging out somewhere between my throat and my ribcage, or that’s what it felt like. She was not engaged; labor was not expected, and this must not be labor. Time for a bath with this heavenly scented oil and as good a night’s sleep as I could manage.
Photo credit:

Y’all, sleep was not happening. Back to the tub with this labor oil I went, warning my husband that he should sleep while he could, because, “It’ll probably be tomorrow night or the next day.” Fifteen minutes later, at about 11:30 pm, my vocalizations awoke my husband, so I asked him to burn my labor playlist to a CD to bring with us to the hospital. (He later confessed that he played World of Warcraft instead.)

We called the people who needed to know—our mothers, our doula, the professional photographer who would be traveling from more than an hour away. We told them that early labor had begun and seemed to be moving steadily, that “go-time” for everyone would probably be “some time tomorrow evening.” My mother, en route to New York City, tried to make arrangements to head back. Everyone was confident she’d be back in our hometown in time for our daughter’s birth. I busied myself by beginning to pack a hospital bag, stopping to breathe and even loudly vocalize through some contractions. I kept a tissue soaked with that fantastic-smelling elixir nearby. Sniff, sniff. Ahhhh. Lavender.

I attempted to flat-iron my hair and put makeup on, determined to have beautiful labor photos since I knew I’d have a long labor and didn’t want to look like the (forgive me, it’s overused, but nothing else applies) hot mess I looked after my 33-hour marathon of a first labor. Suddenly, my hair only half-smoothened, back labor gripped me.

It was a little after 1 am. I requested a Love Your Labor-augmented foot massage, but this unfamiliar sensation of back labor was too much to endure it, and we moved to back massage and counter-pressure. I was draped across my birthing ball on our bed; my husband dumped half the bottle of labor oil on my back, not realizing that with undiluted oils, “a little goes a long way.” The contractions strengthened almost immediately in response to his quickly rubbing it all into my skin to keep it from dripping onto our unprotected sheets. This is not my recommended method for using the product; please use it as directed, a little at a time.

My husband is an excellent labor support person, but he simply doesn’t have any training in massage. He wasn’t hitting just the right spots, and I was getting frustrated having to try to direct him and keep myself relaxed mentally. We had to call in some back-up. I asked my doula to drive to our house. She lived about 45 minutes away. I told her I guessed that I was about 1.5 cm dilated; recalling my first labor, this was what 1.5 cm had felt like. (We had headed to the hospital that time, only to be told in triage that we could either be admitted and hooked up to Pitocin or go home—we chose home. We were not putting ourselves through the emotional roller-coaster of travel-stalled labor again.)

She took her time; we all knew I had long labors and nothing was urgent. I lay on my side when I needed to, got up and packed when I could, and did my best to pass the time and breathe like the model Bradley student that I wasn’t. She arrived at 3:45 am, gas station coffee in hand. I relaxed immediately, and the three of us chatted and laughed between my contractions, keeping careful not to awaken our sleeping toddler. Shortly after she arrived, my husband handed our doula the bottle of what we were by then calling “the Potion.” There was about 1/3 oz. left in the bottle. She set me up draped over my birthing ball while she massaged my aching back with a little drop of the oil.

We decided that as soon as I felt ready, we were going to try to flip the baby (who must have been “sunny-side up,” given my back labor) using some lunging exercises. We needed me to be relaxed and carrying the baby in a favorable position before we walked into Early Labor. Our plan was to head to the hospital around 8 am, when our son would be waking up. We called my mother-in-law to let her know to be at our house by 8; she didn’t answer.

It was 5 am. We guessed that I was about 3 cm dilated and that most of the hard work I was doing was effacement. I was carrying on conversations with the two of them and calling out a packing list for my husband, who couldn’t find my favorite nursing tank top in my pajama drawer.

I ate a snack, some kind of cereal bar. I was feeling pretty oily and remember saying I wanted to do the baby-rotating lunges in the shower so I could get cleaned up, forget my flat-ironed hair. I went to the master bathroom to void my bladder first. My doula waited just outside, in the master bedroom, knowing I might call for her because the toilet-seated position can intensify contractions. My husband went to the kitchen to refill his water glass and try calling his mother again.


My water broke, amniotic fluid splattering against the sides of the toilet boil.
(Birth is beautiful, but birth is gross.)

My doula rushed to my side and helped to hold me up by my elbow.

Creaky footsteps headed toward the master bedroom door. “Was that the… Did she… ? Hey, Ma, I gotta go.”

As my husband’s concerned face appeared in the bathroom door frame, I felt my baby descend into my pelvis and straight down to my cervix like a boulder down a chute. Then the familiar burn.

My baby was going to be born in our bathroom, and we never knew I had reached active labor.

June Azalea Clare was born at 5:15 am, a nuchal cord wrapped twice around her neck that my doula unwrapped as soon as I pushed past her shoulders. 

She breathed, cried, and then nursed immediately. I birthed the placenta into the toilet. When her cord stopped pulsing, we tied it off with my husband’s pajama pants string. He held her skin-to-skin; my doula draped them with a blanket.

By 5:45, I was showering, washing away what remained of the Love Your Labor oil, adrenaline pumping, but still relaxed—reveling in all that had transpired. By the time the paramedics arrived at my front door with the stretcher they intended me to ride to the hospital on (ha), I was in the laundry room sprinkling Charlie’s Soap over a load of towels. Found my nursing tank.

Nobody believes me that I didn’t plan a homebirth, but I didn’t. My husband, nor I, nor the experienced professional support person by my side caught any hint that I was in active labor. Keeping me relaxed, which had been such hard work in itself during my first marathon of a labor, had not been the challenge we expected it to become “later.” We kept waiting for the hard work to start, for “later” to emerge. We knew that the contractions were getting a little longer and intensifying, but we were all using my first labor as a litmus test. There was no comparison.

This reads a bit like an infomercial, I know. Here’s this beautiful (I believe) birth story, and interspersed throughout is product placement. It’s an ‘ad’ for what we affectionately termed ‘the Potion.’ And if I hadn’t heard of and been privileged to witness a large handful of birth narratives that played out similarly, I might hesitate to use my own story as “a Love Your Labor oil tale.” But my experience with Love Your Labor Potion—er, oil—is the very experience that got me interested in hosie naturals. It’s what convinced me, a pretty average consumer, of the efficacy of therapeutic-grade essential oils and herb essences. It’s the experience that illustrated to me, in the most complete sense of that verb, the difference between Kari’s business—her art—and something like Bath & Body Works.

There can be so much more to skincare than fragrance. Skincare can become whole body care. June’s birth represented many milestones for me and for our family unrelated to my intellect, my concept of wellness, or my consumer interests, but I can’t forsake acknowledging the role that the hosie naturals Love Your Labor oil played in creating a labor and birth experience that came out of nowhere, that was peaceful but fast-paced, intense but never grueling, powerful but never overpowering, and that is, quite frankly, the most hilarious story in our family vault.

I blame the clary sage.

*Ingredients are all Certified Organic and include: *Sunflower Oil, Camellia Seed Oil, Vitamin E (non-GMO), Essential Oils of: *Lavender, Clary Sage, *Ylang Ylang, Frankincense, Sandalwood, *Palma Rosa, Vanilla Absolut, *Geranium, *Bergamot, Rose Absolute Jasmine, Neroli, Chamomile. Specially formulated for expecting mothers to aid in a more pleasant birthing experience. The superior blend of essential oils is reputed to be beneficial in labor, aiding in relaxation, focus and toning of the uterus for more productive, yet less painful pressure sensations (contractions).

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