My oldest son, Nat, turned 5 years old on July 24, 2011. In honor of his birth day, I am sharing his homebirth story that I wrote soon after he was born. It is fascinating to me to read this as a, now, mother of four children. I still seem so naive and raw. In a good way.
I long to go in and edit this from the perspective of the mother I am now, but that would not be the voice that speaks here. Perhaps next year, I will write my memories as that mother I will be.
I will share that one thing I left out was my experience of letting go of myself and surrendering into light that I reference in my title. When I wrote this at 8 weeks post partum, I was afraid to share such intensity. I plan to write include this as well.
For now, I hope you will enjoy this trip into laborland.
“Was that the hardest thing you have ever done?” my doula, asked me after the birth.
“No,” I said.
“What was?” she asked.
“No. I don’t know what the hardest thing I’ve ever done is, and I don’t know why my answer is that the birth wasn’t the hardest.”
Laborland does funny things to the brain. In some ways, I felt I existed in a frame without time reference. There was no future or past-only the immediacy of experience. Here I am, almost eight weeks after Nat’s birth, and feeling the pull of time on my head and heart. I am finally sitting down to write my birth remembrance. The memories, once so vividly, viscerally present are slipping from me in a heartbreaking way. I wish I could have them back as strongly as they were seven weeks ago. But, I have now, what I have now. I have breath, life, and the most profound love I never imagined having. The daily experiences with being with this beautiful, emerging soul have so completely immersed me that I have skipped off the thread of my old existence into a new path of fate woven into a pattern I can no longer see and, frankly, don’t wish to. The unknown is more thrilling. But, I am digressing to the future, when I mean to write about the past.
The birth seems like a moment, a blip on the screen forever frozen in all its tiny immensity. The morning of Sunday, July 23rd, was a beautiful, sunny, sweltering day. I wasn’t feeling well, but I was looking forward to my Blessing Way that morning. It was thirteen days until my due date and I was finally feeling like the important projects were far enough along that I could enjoy spending belly time with my baby without distraction. And the Blessing Way was like a gateway to open me to my last phase of pregnancy and then motherhood. The ceremony was very powerful and I felt at peace, strong, and calm afterward. I was primed to handle the rest.
I had been joking that my water would break in the home improvement store because I had spent so much time there during my pregnancy planning pur home remodeling. My husband and I decided to go to the home improvement store to get some of the last home supplies that afternoon. We headed out in the hottest day of the summer, but about halfway there, I decided I wasn’t feeling well and the heat was getting to me. I thought, why am I pushing when I can do all this tomorrow? I have plenty of time before my due date, and chances are, since it is my first baby, I will be late anyway. I will need errands and projects over the next couple of weeks to distract me from the waiting.
We returned home and I lay down in the baby’s room to take a nap. About the time we would have been in the store, around 5pm, I woke up feeling queasy and needing to pee. I stood up and walked about halfway to the bathroom when I felt wetness. I thought, “Oh great, another third trimester experience. I’m peeing my pants now.” When I got to the bathroom, I noticed the fluid was completely clear and without odor. I called my husband in and told him my water had broken, but that it wasn’t urgent because it wasn’t gushing out. My water would pour out for a few seconds, every few minutes or so. I suppose this would be related to contractions, but it didn’t occur to me that I was actually in labor yet. I thought that since this was my first baby and I was only feeling queasy, it would be days or weeks away still.
My husband insisted I call our midwives, but I declined because I didn’t want to bother them so early in the game. I finally agreed to call our doula and she convinced me to call our midwives. I told them that I was nowhere near real labor by asking them to note how coherent I was on the phone. Whether I was or not, I question now because I wonder whether I was in denial of going into labor early and was grasping at anything that might keep things the way I thought they should be. I obviously wasn’t fooling anyone but myself because our first midwife came by to see me. She insisted that my husband arrange to have the birthing tub delivered that night. I wasn’t communicating my belief that I was days away. So I was gradually deciding that I wasn’t going to be able to handle “real” labor if these “pre-labor” pains hurt. I spent the night further convincing myself that I wouldn’t be able to do it.
The next morning our doula arrived. She brought a soft voice, loving comfort, and control of my downward spiral. She changed the direction of my labor back to progressing by suggesting positive affirmations during my contractions. I began to believe I could do this. I am still not sure why I firmly clung to the belief that I was days away and didn’t express it to my labor supporters. I just wasn’t ready to let go, yet, I suppose.
Our two midwives arrived. My midwife examined me and said I could move out to the birthing tub in the family room. When we moved out there, I remember being surprised that it was light out. It was somewhere in the early afternoon, but I still thought it was nighttime. I felt a real sense of accomplishment making it to the birthing pool. I remember leaning on the pool’s edge, hearing our doula’s blessed voice singing “I am opening” and blowing cool air on my face with her fan. It is one of my most cherished memories. I finally decided to be brave and face this. I was doing this for love of my baby.
I decided to try squatting because that seemed the scariest position for me to push in. I felt labor kick up and I knew my body could do this. I had to get out of its way and stop thinking. I still wasn’t aware of how much time had gone by and how hard I had been working with no rest or food. I also hadn’t peed since the previous day and my midwife explained that the baby was having trouble getting around my full bladder. I couldn’t pee. So, she inserted a catheter. Once I peed, it was removed, we were able to progress.
I remember my husband’s support every time I pushed. I remember my baby working hard, too. I let go of myself. I remember the midwives discussing my baby’s hair being really blonde. Someone put my glasses on me and I saw my son’s head. And he was born. I heard his big voice yell for me as we reached out to each other. I felt his warmth on my chest and was whole. I was oblivious to anything but my son. He was here.
I was told that the placenta was right there and that I could birth it momentarily. I jokingly said I didn’t want to push anything else out of me. I birthed the placenta three minutes after my son was born. I remember not being able to take my eyes from my son. After some bonding time, I was grateful he could be measured and weighed on the bed right next to me, so that I didn’t have to be away from him for a second.
Laborland does funny things to perception. I had birthed my son after three hours of hard pushing. It seemed like fifteen minutes to me, but I estimated forty-five minutes since everyone told me pushing is always longer than it seems. I was in “real” labor for twenty-six hours, but it seemed like three or four hours to me.
So, why was my answer to my doula’s question that this was not the hardest thing I had ever done? I think it was because during my visit to Laborland, where there is no past or future, I saw what raising my son would be like. It is the hardest thing and the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I feel that every step I took in my life has led me to this moment in time and to each future moment in time.
Do you have a birth story that you would like to share? If you have a blog, please feel free to link to your post in the comments below. If you do not have a blog but would like to share it, please let me know and I will be happy to publish it for you. It does not need to be a homebirth or natural birth. I offer this space to any voices that would like to share their truth. It can be published with your name or anonymously.
- Buddha Baby Birth (touchstonez.com)
- Birth Reflection: It Only Takes A Second (touchstonez.com)
- Empowered Birth: From the Personal to the Universal (touchstonez.com)
- An Empowered First Birth (touchstonez.com)
- When Birth Brings Disappointment (touchstonez.com)
- Natural Homebirth Birth – Did that just happen?!!! (nurturingcareermama.wordpress.com)
- Twin birth at home (2xtwins.wordpress.com)
- Dispelling Homebirth Myths (thefeministbreeder.com)