I’ve been avoiding sitting down to write out my birth story because I know my inability to convey in words how it happened. I feel strong, empowered, and amazed at how the title of “mother” has changed in meaning after this experience. I hope my birth story can inspire or encourage another woman.
As soon as my husband and I decided to try and get pregnant a second time, I knew I wanted to have a natural childbirth. The birth of my first son was not a pleasant experience. I was scared and out of control, overly medicated with pitocin and an epidural that wasn’t effective, and felt very uncomfortable in the hospital. So we decided to try for a water birth at the local birth center.
My pregnancy was pretty easy, after 3 long months of continuous nausea. I started doing the Hypnobabies home study course at around 30 weeks. It helped me feel positive and confident about my body and my abilities to birth without excruciating pain and fear. As my due date approached, I was feeling surprisingly normal, and very comfortable considering how big I was.
I woke up 6 days past my due date, feeling myself aside from water retention and elevated blood pressure that my midwife has alerted me to the day before. We had made plans for me to stay off my feet and rest to get the blood pressure down, while my son would go to my parent’s house for the day. As I was feeding him breakfast at 9:45, I had my first pressure wave (contraction). It was unlike any Braxton Hicks I’d been having, and I immediately knew this was it.
The waves felt like they were coming about every 10 minutes, but I didn’t time them yet and went about the morning getting him ready to go. As my husband loaded him up in the car, I told him I thought this was it and to get me some breakfast on his way home. I started timing some pressure waves and they were about 7 minutes apart. I called my midwife to let her know and judging by how calm I sounded, she thought it was just early labor.
I ate my breakfast and listened to my Birthing Day track and by the time it was finished, the pressure waves were about 4-5 minutes apart. We loaded up the car and got ready to go. This was around 12:30. At this point, the waves were completely manageable. I breathed through them, completely relaxed.
When we arrived at the center, they checked me (the only internal check I had during labor) and was around 6 cms dilated already! I hung out sitting crossed legged on the bed chatting with the midwife student and husband. I listened to some of my Hypnobabies tracks but didn’t necessarily feel the need to enter deep relaxation for the whole track. I just closed my eyes and deeply relaxed through the waves and was able to come out of it and be myself in between them.
They started to get pretty intense at around 3 and I had a hard time relaxing and breathing during the waves because Sam was so big and the top of my uterus felt like it was crushing my ribs. The waves started coming really quickly and felt very intense. My midwife started filling up the tub because she said if we didn’t start now, I might miss my chance at a waterbirth! I didn’t believe her and I asked if she was sure she didn’t need to check me first to see how dilated I was. But she said I would know what to do and to just listen to my body. At around 3:30 or so I went to empty my bladder and as soon as I was done I could hardly stand up. So I made my way to the tub and got in. It felt so good and I squatted and swayed back and forth. I was so deeply relaxed between my pressure waves that I almost felt asleep.
It wasn’t long before I felt tons of pressure, I completely relaxed and my body took over. My midwife never told me when to push; she just encouraged me when I did. Pushing felt amazing; my body knew just what to do. The student midwife told me to reach down and see what I could feel. I felt his head and my bag of water. I kept pushing slowly when I needed to, and soon the head was crowning. This was the only point in my labor where I felt overwhelmed with the intensity. I turned onto my back and let my body float to the top of the tub. His head came out and I waited for the next pressure wave to push. The bag of waters was still intact. Waiting was so hard, the pressure was intense and stayed right there. They told me that at the next push he would be born, and I made them promise me! I felt so overwhelmed with the pressure. I pushed out his chest, and he was born.
10 lbs 9 ounces, almost 22 inches long, head 14.5 inches around and chest circumference 15 inches. Big boy! His arm came out right up next to his head with his hand next against his face. And not a single tear or hemorrhoid, minimal swelling. Incredible! I held him for awhile and then we got out of the tub. He latched on about 15 minutes later and has nursed perfectly since.
I lost a lot of blood and ended up transferring to the hospital for 3 nights for a blood transfusion, but it was all worth it. It was the best experience of my life. I can honestly say that my labor and delivery was painless, expect for when he was crowning. Just the most intense pressure that I have ever experienced, or wish to experience again for a while. But painful is not a word I would use to describe it. There was no fear involved, no anxiety or moments of doubt. A completely different experience than the medicated hospital birth of my first son, which was full of pain, fear, anxiety, and doubt. I trusted my body and it’s ability to birth naturally and I did it, my size 0 hips pushed out a huge baby without a stitch or swelling! A situation that I know would have had me pressured into a cesarean section had I delivered in a hospital anywhere else.
This is what it means to be a mother in the raw sense of the word. It’s what mothers have been doing all along. Trusting their bodies and bringing their children into the world in the most peaceful way. Baby Sam is a perfect baby, started life out in a perfect way. I’m so glad to have the memory of his perfect birth for the rest of my life.