|1 week before the birth...|
With this pregnancy, I was much more educated on birth and having witnessed several births through my doula clients, I felt much more prepared. Towards the end of the pregnancy, I started to envision my birth. Every evening when we got home from work around 7:00ish, I would look outside our windows and see the sun setting over the lake. The lake was calm with ducks swimming. The evening sky was all pinks and purples and the house was calm and peaceful. I would say everyday that this would be the perfect time of day to birth our baby. I re-read Ina May's Guide To Childbirth and loved the story where the woman just walked around and went about her day in labor and before she knew it, it was time to push. I prayed everyday for an easy, quick labor.
A few days before I went into labor, the evening contractions (which I got every evening for a couple hours), lasted longer and were getting stronger. On the evening of June 19th, the contractions lasted all night. They were not painful, but stronger and I was aware of them all night long. The next day, June 20th, we went to work at the office (and were training our new office assistant!), while the contractions continued. They were still bearable, although through some of them I needed to stop talking. I did not think this was real - I was easily going throughout the day - and the fact that I needed to stop talking didn't faze me!
Around 2:30pm, we took Nolan to the park to play. We did not stay too long as the contractions were definitely getting stronger and squirming around on the bench was embarrassing. But I still didn't think this was "real labor"...
I drove home with Nolan while Avery went back to work for the afternoon shift. (I figured we still had plenty of time). At home, I changed into something more comfortable and my mom came by to take me to the store to pick up a few things. During a contraction, I literally had to lean over the shopping cart and hold in my urge to moan, while other shoppers gave us some strange looks.
It was now about 4:00pm. Finally at home I could relax more and the contractions came on closer together. I called my midwife and doula. My midwife said to call her back in a hour and to try to keep track of how close they were. I called hubby to let him know how I was doing and to come home as soon as he could. I cleaned up the house and started to get ready. I knew this baby was coming tonight, but I had no idea how soon. I put on music and lit some candles. I ate some fruit. I continued to walk around the house and during contractions I had to squat or kneel down and moan through it. They were close, about 3 minutes. Before the hour was up, I called Jyl and told her she should come now. I called Avery and begged him to come home NOW - I wanted to get in the birth tub!!
We decide to let Nolan do whatever felt comfortable for him. I did not want to force him to be in our bedroom, nor did I ban him from our birthing space. My mom was there to assist him. I think he felt included, but with a little distance.
At this point I had completely lost track of time and what was going on. All I remember was that I was in the warm tub. It felt amazing and really eased the contraction pains, which were coming on strong now. I remember eating some fruit, and I could still hear the music playing. I was totally in my zone - I did not feel scared, just ready. Jyl arrived (around 6:30pm I think), set up her stuff and wanted to check me. I was afraid of her telling me I was not even half way there. I did not know how much longer I could do this - but I was already 10 cm! What?! Already? I had completely dilated and not even realized how far along I was. She said I could push when I felt the urge.
|My amazing birth team...|
I know now why women birthing in hospitals ask for drugs. If I had to lay in bed, with a fetal monitor on every 30 minutes, I would be asking for pain relief too! The ability to move around, squat, kneel, whatever - that WAS my pain relief.
My doula, Jen, arrived and I felt so much better knowing she was there. Avery was in the tub with me, hugging me, rubbing my back. The contractions subsided for a bit - the time where they stop to give you a break before the hard work of pushing begins. They came back on full force and the urge was there. Awareness was gone - it was all just primal feelings, hormones, sensations. Brain turned off; body just took over. I was on my hands and knees, that felt the best, and pushed when I felt I needed to. Not a real "push", more like bearing down - the uterus did all the pushing, whether I wanted it to or not! I was making some loud, un-human-like sounds, but I didn't care, or was even really aware of it. I used my voice to push the baby down and cope with the sensations. Although it seemed like forever, I really only pushed for about 20 minutes. I pushed when I wanted and how I wanted; no one touched me or directed my pushing - just beautiful encouraging words and loving contact from my midwife, doula and husband. I could feel the baby's head moving down through the birth canal. I reached down and could feel the head emerging, the bag still intact. It broke and the head came out. Then with the next contraction, I felt one shoulder, turn, two shoulders, turn, and a little body slipped out of me. Relief! It all happened so fast. I reached down and pulled up our baby to my chest. Relaxing back against the tub, I held it close, and then looked - It was a boy! Blake! He looked just like Nolan. I called for Nolan to be brought into my bedroom. His face was priceless - he looked like he wanted to cry out of happiness. Along with us, he instantly fell in love with his baby brother. Some people might think a 4-year-old should not be around a birth, but we prepared Nolan, and we felt it was an intimate part of growing our family. Nolan knew that Mommy would be making lots noises and maybe yelling and crying and that is ok, because that is what happens when babies are born.
I continued to hold Blake and relax in the tub, nursing him. He barely cried. He was born in the
My prayers had been answered. My birth was quick, only about 4 hours of active labor. Blake was born at my "perfect" time of day at 7:52pm. The lights were off in the bedroom, and the curtains were open, letting in the beautiful sunset. My previous prayer for Nolan was also answered. Four years ago, when Nolan was born, I promised him that with our next baby, he would be able to experience the miracle of birth.
My children's births have each taught me valuable lessons - to surrender, to trust, to persevere, to find my inner strength, to have faith. I am stronger because of each experience. I have always trusted the birth process, but to have experienced it myself, especially after a Cesarean, after the "medical model" calls it unsafe, I trust in it - and me! - even more! Birth is normal and natural. If left undisturbed, it follows it own perfect sequence of events. Birth does not need to be "managed". All it needs is to be protected, in a safe and sacred space.