This is a birth story. But it’s more than that. Read Part 1 to find out how the birth of my son led me to birth work!
In October of 2018, we moved to a new apartment. I was 38 weeks pregnant, and planning a home birth. My doula, also a good friend, lived a few houses down from my new place and offered her house as a birth space, since our new apartment was small and I didn’t feel comfortable in it yet.
I was having a lot more pre-labor signs with this baby (we had chosen not to find out the sex), and was pretty sure it wasn’t going to stay in as long as my son did. Sure enough, I woke up to some strong contractions at midnight heading into November 10th, just five days past the forty week mark. I slept off and on until 4am, then got up and paced around the house for a couple hours.
Finally at 6am, I woke my husband up and told him not to go to work that day. After having a close friend cancel her plans for the day to come be with me, and getting my Mother-In-Law there to take my three-year-old to her house, I was frustrated to find that my contractions began to slow down and space out.
By 10am I thought it might have been a false alarm, but I also knew that the excitement of the morning may have thrown off my body’s rhythm. I shut myself in my room to get back into a good mental space, and was able to nap between contractions for about an hour. My friend suggested a walk, so we went the mile or so to downtown to walk the skyway (it was only about twenty degrees outside).
The walk got things going again. I felt a little ridiculous that I hadn’t thought of it, since I would usually suggest it to clients in that situation, but it’s different when you are doing it for yourself! After about a half hour walk, I couldn’t walk during contractions anymore and decided to head home to try to eat something. I got a couple bites into lunch and realized that I couldn’t eat anymore, and should head over to my doula’s house and get the birth tub set up.
At her house, I had a couple people set up the tub while I labored on the toilet for a while. My midwife’s birth assistant came. I remember her telling me to swear all I wanted to after let out a few expletives after a particularly strong contraction.
For the next several hours, I labored in and out of the tub. There were some ups and downs, and I was much more vocal than I had expected that I would be. Everyone took turns making sure I was eating bites of food and taking sips of water between contractions. I had six people there, so there was never a shortage of hands to hold and arms to squeeze.
Around 9pm, my midwife suggested that we call my chiropractor and ask him to come adjust me, which he did while I was in the tub. I felt something in my sacrum pop, and things sped up from there.
After being gently, but firmly, told that I needed to get out of the tub to let gravity help things along, I moved to a birth stool. Within minutes, baby was crowning, and at 9:46pm, I pushed my baby into the waiting hands of my husband. After being in shock for a moment, someone helped me pick her up. I was able to see for myself that I had a daughter.
I stayed on the birth stool for a few more minutes, until I birthed the placenta. Then I was helped onto the bed where we rested for a while. I almost passed out when I stood up, and had to crawl to the shower. Then I almost passed out again crawling back from the shower. A few days later I had to go in for stitches (long story, perhaps better told in its own post), and almost passed out again. It turns out that is just my response to intense physical sensations!
If you read my son’s birth story, you can probably see on the surface how very different my two birth experiences were. But what you can’t see is the depth of power that was revealed to me through my daughter’s birth. Not just my own power, but the power of women everywhere.
It’s a power that is often denied its full potency through fear and lack of education. Not just the power to grow and birth a baby, but the power to learn and study and make our own decisions about our own bodies. It is the power to demand respect from those caring for us during such a sacred time.
My first time giving birth, I thought that the midwife at the hospital would deliver my baby. I thought I could just be a passive participant and somehow things would turn out alright. Now, I know that I brought my baby into this world. No one needed to “deliver” me. I never needed saving. I just needed people to believe in my power and encourage me in the moments I started to get lost.
No matter how you choose to give birth, you are powerful. Medicated or unmedicated, hospital or home. You are powerful, and you have the right to be surrounded by people who believe in you and support your decisions.