I've decided to share with you 4 of the most poignant and spiritual hours of my life. I share this because the world, and especially the US is forgetting what real natural birth is and can be. Women are dismayed and discouraged by the thought of what it has become and my story is proof that it is still possible and so amazing. Every woman's birth story is her own- a deep part of her being. Each of my births has had a roller coaster of emotions attached to it and I am grateful for each and what it has taught me. I was determined to make this one beautiful. I read Ina May and Jennifer Block. I found a brilliant Certified Professional Midwife through an amazing friend. I did my research. I made my body the healthiest and best it could be. Here is what happened on Monday March 1st, 2010.
I went to a midwife appointment Monday morning at 9:00- 5 days overdue, in pain and discouraged from a good month of on and off false and prodromal labor. I felt like I'd been waiting forever and my body was just falling apart (all my other 3 were born 1-2 weeks early). After a good long cry to my husband and Heather (my MW) she asked what I wanted to do and I asked if she'd strip my membranes. She agreed that it was probably best to try to get things going and took her time to make sure it would take. On the way home we stopped at a local market to get some castor oil and I began to have irregular contractions. I cooked some scrambled eggs in a small amount of oil (Heather had a feeling it wouldn't take much) and within and hour (around noon) the contractions started coming on more intense and got regular. I sat in the tub for a minute and didn't even bother getting dressed. I put on the sleep bra I planned on giving birth in and wrapped up in a big cushy towel and told Aaron to call his sister to come get the kids. I called my mama and my sister since they each had a 40 minute drive and we started filling the birth pool.
The contractions were getting really intense and within 3 minutes of each other, so I called Heather and told her things were really happening. She asked if she could finish up with an appointment and I told her she could. My last labor had been a drug-free 24 hour long stressful labor in the hospital, so I was sure I had a while. My mama arrived and began assisting Aaron in some loving support and getting things ready. They took turns making preparations and rubbing my back and shoulders while I stood and leaned on the bed. Once everything on our end was ready, I sat on my birth ball with Aaron behind me in his cushy chair doing light touch massage and whispering sweet nothings in my ear. I was able to relax and laugh and enjoy between contractions and let go and let my body open during them. I never knew labor could really be like that. There was pressure and hard work but never what I would call pain. I felt so loved and supported. The birth pool finished filling and I felt the need to use the bathroom before I got in. I peed and had a couple of contractions on the toilet and then moved in to the pool. It was HEAVEN!! I honestly thought for a few minutes that I had relaxed all my contractions away. I leaned forward on the edge of the pool and laid my head on my arms and just floated away through the waves. My sister, Heather and her assistant (her sister) arrived just after I got in. After kisses and greetings and no more than half an hour of relaxing through contractions, the work became harder and took more concentration to take myself away and let my body go. Heather intermittently monitored the baby with the doppler under water and always found her happy and healthy. I found myself taking a suggestion of another natural birthing mama and counted as fast as I could when contractions started to pull me back in. My sister kept reminding me quietly to blow horse lips to help myself open and relax and Heather breathed deeply with me and whispered "Open" through my breaths. I found my thoughts turning to my baby girl and how she was almost here and then I was smiling through my contractions because that was the happiest thought ever! I actually smiled through transition! I very shortly started to feel a little "pushy" and Heather told me to listen to my body. I started nudging a little at a time as I felt the need and softly chanting "Come down baby.". I was shaking with the intensity, smiling at my husband (who had his eyes locked on mine when they were open) and crying quietly all at the same time. It was so intense and hard and amazing. God was in that moment. I pushed with my body's urging on my hands and knees and felt my water break. A minute later what was left of the castor oil effects entered the one side of the pool and Heather wanted me to get out, but it was too late. "She's coming!" I whispered. I put my hand down to support my own perineum and felt her head. I paused to let myself stretch and with one more nudge her head was out. "Head," I said aloud to let them know. One more nudge and I pulled my own baby forward between my legs, out of the water and into my arms. All I could do was look in her face and say, "Yes, yes, yes, yes!" There she was all covered in vernix and perfect as could be! I did it! We did it! 3:37 pm. Around 4 hours of labor- less than 4 minutes of pushing. I could hardly believe it! Heather had everyone help me out of the tub for cleanliness sake and sit on some chux pads while we got Siri breathing. She was so relaxed she kept taking one breath and then falling asleep! It took about 4 minutes, a little suctioning from Heather and some oxygen to get her consistently breathing on her own. Everyone was calm through it except my husband who later said he was pretty freaked out. The rest of us knew she was moving and still attached to me through her cord and placenta so she was still getting oxygen through there. The placenta came out about 5 or 10 minutes later. After that everything is just a cozy, relaxed blur of snuggling and bonding, cleaning up and finishing. My dad arrived about 30 minutes later and sometime after an hour or more Heather convinced me to go shower off with Aaron's help. Heather checked me for tearing (there was none) and bleeding (really minimal). After I was clean, comfy and cozied with my sweet little, Heather did all of the checking, monitoring and weighing (8lbs 7 oz, 21.25 inches long) and Aaron finally cut the cord (the placenta had been put in a chux and gallon ziploc til then and kept near her).
Heather and Janell finished cleaning up while the rest of us took pictures and had family time. It was hours before everything quieted down and everyone left, but I was so happy and energized that I welcomed the company.
It was the birth I always wanted and never truly thought I could have. I am so grateful!!
I had this quote on my wall through my labor and I feel it more strongly than ever:
"There is a secret in our culture. It’s not that birth is painful, it’s that women are strong.” -Laura Stavoe Harm