“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” – Laura Stavoe Harm
The birth of my son began with an earnest request and ended in warm water. And it was perfect. Tuesday, July 10th (4 days past my due date) I was contentedly waiting for my little boy when I received news my doula may be going out of the country. I simply told Jude he needed to come that night. And at 10:30pm that night our birth journey began. It started out as some cramping. A little while later I knew I was having contractions. Around midnight I took a relaxing bath while my husband, Josh baked delicious caramel brownies for the birth team. After the bath, I got back in bed and listened to my Hypnobabies CD, peacefully relaxing through the contractions.
Around 3am, Josh made some phone calls but we still thought there was plenty of time before we needed to head to the birth center.
Within 10 minutes or so of the phone calls, things changed. I had hit the transition stage. The peace I had had was broken as I starting shaking and was having trouble relaxing. Around this time my sweet daughter was brought to me and I cuddled up to her as she slept.
I thought the water would help the shaking stop, so I got in the tub again. When the doula arrived, she said, “This looks like a woman in transformation,” and suggested we head to the birth center. “Think staying-in thoughts,” her calm voice said.
We left for the birth center around 4:45am. I relaxed through each contraction, completely quiet the whole car ride over. When we got to the birth center 30 or so minutes later, the midwife asked to check me, and I consented.
I entered the birth tub, ready and waiting for me with it’s relaxing warm water, but I was shaking so much it was difficult to relax through the contractions. I began to feel like I just didn’t want to do this anymore.The midwife, seeing me struggle, asked if I wanted to know how far along I was. “It’s good news!,” she promised. I struggled internally with whether I wanted to know. She told me I was a 7-8 and if my water broke, I would be pushing out this baby soon.
I remember saying that it hurt and asking if he would be here soon. Everyone around me was encouraging me, saying I was doing great and telling me I could do this and that I was doing it. Later as I reflected back on this, I was thinking what a blessing it was that I was surrounded by supportive people that all believed in birth and believed in me.
The midwife asked if she could check me again, and I said yes. She told me that I could have this baby whenever I wanted now and that if my body told me to push, I could push.It’s weird because with my daughter’s birth the urge to push was overwhelming. With this birth, it was a different sensation. I don’t really know how to describe it. It was almost like the contractions stopped and became something different. I got into a hands and knees position to push.
I also had been feeling my perineum throughout the time in the tub and using this as a guide to what my body was doing. I had asked my doula during one of our prenatal sessions when I should use counter pressure and how I would know. She wisely told me I may need to or I may not. Either way, I would just know. And she was right. (She had also told me I would just know when it was time to leave for the birth center and had been right on that account also. Doulas are wise.)
I was being encouraged the whole time to just do what my body told me to do. I felt very much in control of how and when I pushed. Sometimes it would feel like a long time between pushes, sometimes shorter. Sometimes I pushed harder, sometimes not as hard. It was extremely helpful and amazing to feel. I knew it was a good/normal thing for his head to go back in after a push and that meant it was stretching me gently. I wasn’t afraid I couldn’t do it but sort of in awe of the process. It was intense, much more so than with my daughter’s birth, but I felt more empowered and in control this time around.
After 14 minutes of pushing, he was out! The midwife told me to bring him out of the water. I was amazed that a baby was in my arms, like he materialized out of the air, like he wasn’t real until that moment. He was born at 7am, on July 11 about 2 hours after I had arrived. My birthing time was about 7-8 hours total.I held him skin-to-skin the whole time and he nursed sometime in that first hour. The doula made me some hot raspberry leaf tea as I relaxed with my new son.
My mom brought my little girl in to meet our baby, Jude, officially. She was in the room when I pushed him out but left right afterwards. She was fascinated by the umbilical cord which we had talked about and read about. She said she needed to get some scissors to cut it so we explained it was already cut and would fall off eventually. I love that she was there for the birth and will always have this experience of what normal birth looks like.
After a nap, a late lunch and final instructions from the midwife, we headed home! It was around 4pm. It was blissful to be back in my own bed the same day I had my baby. Jude came when I asked him to, my sweet baby boy.