Birthing From Within

Two years ago today I gave birth to my youngest daughter. A bit of a late arrival, but definitely meant to be in this amazing family of mine! She’s a perfect fit.

Friends who went through her early pregnancy with me would laugh at the heading of “Pregnancy in Awareness”, as they joke that I got through the first trimester with ease because I was in complete denial. I was sure I was perimenopausal. The truth. I wasn’t checking in. I was in a bit of denial. My two older children were, well, older. I had just started to really get into my music career and life was as life is with older children: a bit more free. Apparently, though, I was not done having children and if the truth were to be told, I knew in my heart that I wanted to do it one more time, despite what my mouth said. I’d had too many fantasies about having another homebirth and nursing another baby to deny it.  I was, however, freaking out about about the loss of freedom and trying vehemently to push out concerns of health issues. My son came close to death when he was 2 weeks old and that left an imprint, plus I was 44 years old. *Gasp* There’s a lot of opinions jammed down women’s throats about that one, but I digress.

Throughout this pregnancy, I was determined to listen, really listen to what my body and my baby were telling me – and to follow with trust. This was not always easy, mind you. One of the main messages I received repeatedly was to rest. I don’t like lying around and I’m not very good at it, but I listened and I rested a LOT with this pregnancy. The other message I was receiving loud and clear was to stay out of the way and let my body do its thing. This required me ensuring that my caregiver stayed out of the way, too. Now, I had an amazing midwife who I trusted wholeheartedly and she – despite not always agreeing with me – allowed me to follow my instinct without pressure. She did give me opinions and options, but it was up to me to determine what was best for me and my baby. This took courage. There is so much media and medical opinion around birth, and especially homebirth, that it can be a bit intimidating to take your own path based solely on intuition and internal guidance. That, however, is the only way I want to live my life!

As the birth got closer, the opportunity to cave to intervention grew. Doctors, and even midwives I’ve found, have a tendency to want to see what’s going on – and to help. I can respect that. There must be a lot of pressure – professionally and legally – to ensure that you ‘know what’s going on’ with your patients and I think it takes a pioneer to truly listen and trust your patients to know what’s best for them and to honor their desire to trust themselves, while still knowing when it truly is time to step in. I’m lucky to have had such a pioneer on my side. I pushed the envelope a bit, too, because I went over the expected due date, which makes people very, very nervous; and, I am tall and my fundal height is never on target, which throws off their charts. I declined an ultrasound. I declined a exam to determine if and how much I’d progressed (whether I was dilated or not) to avoid my membranes being inadvertently stripped. I felt very strong that this baby needed to be left alone. She was taking her time, though. Not only were we “overdue”, but I was in prodromal labor for 3 weeks. I was sure I was going into labor every day, then it was fizzle out. I was walking around 3 miles each day, but increased it towards the end trying to encourage labor. I would walk through each contraction, but soon gave that up when my internal guidance told to to stop trying to hurry things up. So, I rested. I took it easy and I allowed my body to do this its own way – truly without intervention. And I wondered. I wondered how many unnecessary surgeries are due solely to impatience. Patience, however, turned out to be greatly rewarded in this birth. Patience is not usually one of my virtues, but I must be learning!

On Halloween Eve, my family wanted to go to a Halloween Party, but I knew I wasn’t going to attend. I went into labor around 10:00pm, which was nothing new. I had been doing that for 3 weeks! I labored through the night and things seemed to be heating up instead of fizzling out. I took a shower around 5:00 a.m. and did a quick self exam and was shocked to realize I could feel her head! I thought, “Am I going to drop her on the shower floor?!” I got out and texted my friend who I wanted at my birth and told her to come on down. She lived about 45 minutes away. I woke up my husband and told him to fill the birth tub. My friend arrived around 6:30am and I was still walking around and joking through contractions. My son woke up around 7:00, walked in with his little sleepy boy face, stopped and looked confused for a second as to why we were all awake, then noticed the birth tub and said, “Cool!” My husband kept asking me if I should call the midwife, but I said, “No, not yet.” Finally around 9:00, I agreed to call her. I think he was getting concerned because I’d had one too many discussions about the possibility of doing an unassisted birth. I felt I could do it, but really wanted my midwife to be there, especially for taking care of my baby right after birth (checking vitals, etc.). Jonathan called her and she asked to talk to me. When she heard my voice, she said, “Yeah, I’m going to have a cup of tea and call you in a bit. Does that sound OK?" I agreed. I felt fine and didn’t feel like it was a rush. By the time she called me about 20 minutes later, things had shifted. When she asked me how I felt, I said, “I don’t know.” She said, “I’m on my way.” She arrived around 10:00 am (this is where the times get a bit fuzzy, can’t imagine why) and I was definitely close. At that time I allowed her to check how far I’d progressed and I was at 6cm (I think). I got in the birth tub and the contractions got really strong. I remember thinking, “I don’t want to do this again. I don’t know if I can do this again.” So I silently asked, how many more contractions? The answer was loud and clear: 3. I said (to my higher self), “3?, really 3?” “Yes, 3.” I thought, “OK, I can do that.” Breathed through the 1st. Breathed through the 2nd. Breathed and pushed through the 3rd and out came her head. 3! Another example of asking and trusting. I reached up and felt her head and it felt so strange. Like a bubble. Then I realized that she was in the caul. One more push and out came her body. I reached down and flicked my finger on the bubble and she slid out of the sack into the water. I pulled her up and was once again amazed at how beautiful she was. Another perfect baby. How was I to be so lucky? Somewhere in my youthful childhood, I must have done something good.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

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