Finding Strength at a Homebirth:
For me, this birth began Wednesday morning at my last scheduled appointment with my midwife before my due date. It was a normal visit, everything was fine, and she mentioned towards the end that she could check me vaginally if I wanted. After thinking it over, I decided I did want to know so I could plan a bit better. She checked and looked very surprised that I was 50-75% effaced and “a stretchy 4 centimeters”. She basically said she'd wait to hear from me soon! I had a few sporadic contractions that afternoon but nothing stronger than a Braxton-Hicks until I nursed my toddler son to sleep around 3. That brought on some pretty strong contractions until I took a hot shower to relieve them. Then not much happened until after dinner when I nursed him to sleep around 10 that night. Once again, the nursing brought on strong contractions but this time they didn't stop. As soon as they started, they were about a minute long and 3-5 minutes apart and required all my concentration. I called the midwife and after she heard me go through one contraction on the phone, she left right away to come over and called her apprentice to come, too.
I labored at first by walking around, pacing, really, and leaning on the dresser or my husband during a contraction. Then I labored kneeling on the seat of our big sofa chair. That felt really good, but every contraction was hard and there wasn't much time between them. After the midwife had been there an hour or so, she checked me again...7 cm! I thought for sure this labor would be a lot shorter than my first labor was at 32 hours.
The next few hours I mostly labored in the bathroom. I was constantly on the toilet as my body cleared everything out, but during contractions I liked to pull really hard on the towel hanging from the towel rack and sway back and forth. I kind of felt like pushing at that time, but then it hurt to push. The midwife suggested laying down and trying to relax a bit. We went to the bedroom for a while, but I couldn't relax laying down, so it was back to the bathroom. The midwife checked me and the baby still hadn't dropped. I could tell this bothered her a bit, but I didn't have time to worry about it in between contractions. Eventually, the labor came to a kind of low point.
Throughout the first few hours, everyone had been very supportive and encouraging—rubbing my feet and shoulders, applying pressure to my lower back, telling me what a good job I was doing. But now it was (besides me) totally quiet. Everyone was sitting in the bathroom not saying anything or touching me at all. It was a horrible feeling! I felt like I was doing something wrong. The midwife asked me, “What's going on here? Why hasn't this baby dropped yet?” I felt accused, but didn't know what to do differently. Here is where things get a bit foggy. I was still wanting to push but not really enjoying it. The midwife suggested that we go back to the bedroom and just do some real pushes instead of the half-hearted ones I had been doing.
Back to the bedroom and in a semi-upright position on the bed, I began to really push. In just a short time, my water burst all over the midwife. We're talking a high pressure fountain of amniotic fluid. This was no gentle trickle! At that moment, I could feel the unrelenting pressure of my baby's head. He was on his way down and there was nothing I could do about it but help him out by bearing down. I pushed and pushed. Time ceased. Only he and I existed, engaged in the intimate dance of birth. And then he was born. I don't remember the crowning or the head coming out. Only that final sensation of his body coming from mine, into the world. A boy.
That moment following the birth of your baby is difficult to describe. Relief is followed quickly by joy. Then your mind can finally take in the enormity of the task you've just completed. Amazement and a sense of accomplishment hover around you as you fall in love with your child. Then the tasks of life begin again—breastfeeding, calling your family, eating. But even as you move away from the birth itself, those strong and intense emotions which overcame you continue to color your life for years. The joy, the love, the amazement—they all become a part of you just as the baby becomes a part of your family and your life. This birth taught me the power of my body and the strength I had inside myself. I birthed powerfully and I can live more fully now with the knowledge that I am capable of powerful and amazing actions.
Simon David was born on March 3rd, 2005. He was Bethany's second baby and largest to date at 9 lb. 15 oz. Bethany currently helps other families have amazing births through her doula service. She can be reached at www.simplebirth.com.