All could think of . . .
When I was pregnant with my second baby and nearing my “due date” was that I wanted to give birth better than the first time, two years before. My first birth was *good* – it was a hospital birth that didn’t take nearly as long as everybody there told me it would. I had an episiotomy (my baby girl was 6lbs 11oz and I’m not tiny by any stretch of imagination – the procedure was done just like that – it is still considered “standard” in some hospitals I suppose).
I declined all offers of drugs (boy are they pushy! “take this, it will take the edge off contractions”, “take that, it is totally safe”, and you don’t even have to agree – you just need to not disagree forcefully enough). I was lucky to have my husband as my advocate as I wasn’t in a position to argue at that moment.
And then everybody told me I was a star . . .
And no one did it like that anymore (meaning no drugs and all) – I did feel like a star and all was great until I was heavily pregnant with my second baby.
I started remembering all the details and my pregnant brain became convinced that *good* wasn’t good enough.
Moreover, I realized that I had an easy and rather quick birth *despite* being in the hospital and not at all *because* I was there.
Constant nagging to take the drugs was a major annoyance that only took my energy away from actually giving birth, I did not like being coached to push at all, I didn’t like how I was sitting in the triage for almost an hour in a puddle of water and the doctor came and knowing this was my *first time* asked: “So you think your water broke?” like I was a total idiot.
Right as I was remembering all those things . . .
And reevaluating my “starlight” experience, I had an epiphany:
Why couldn’t I just birth this baby on my own?!
The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that I could and would give birth by myself.
Preferably at night and in my bathtub (I even tried it on for size, quite literally, a couple of times: squatting in many different positions – my bathtub is rather smallish – it was a tight fit but totally possible).
I sorta wanted my husband to be present, just didn’t know how to ask him for it. Not the “present” part, but the “at home, in my bathtub”.
Yeah, that part.
So I started educating myself in order to educate him. Among many other books, I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and it was like a revelation. It proved I was not crazy. I was actually very normal and I wanted a very ordinary thing: birth my own baby.
*No pushing* was the biggest one for me.
I was immensely impressed when I read that some women didn’t push while giving birth and their babies were born nonetheless. I didn’t like pushing on command the first time around and it did feel counter intuitive.
My dear husband didn’t want anything to do with an unassisted childbirth. He thought the idea was absolutely crazy. I showed him the book, the movie, the youtube.
His answer was: NO.
He wasn’t going to be left by himself should something happen to me during the course of all the shenanigans. He wasn’t going to be left by himself to rescue the baby and me should an emergency arise. He just wasn’t going to do that. Even for me. Especially for me. He cared for me and the baby too much…
OK, so when I look at it right now I can almost see his point. That day though, I decided to give birth by myself period. If he didn’t want in, he was out.
I truly believe that babies choose the way they are born, though. Or at least they have a say.
Every night now I was expecting to go into labor and give birth. But the “due date” came and went and two weeks later I was still pregnant and getting anxious.
Adding to my anxiety was my doctor who was convincing me to go to the hospital so I could have my membrane stripped. I kid you not.
Her reasoning was:
- I was already dilated 4-5cm on my last check up three weeks prior – I refused checks after that since they only caused more anxiety and didn’t offer any usable knowledge – I really didn’t care if I was 4-5 or 6-7
- I tested positive for strep B – I was negative with my first so didn’t have much experience with that
- It was my second baby and the first didn’t take long at all so she was worried that this one would be super- fast; yes, in my doctor’s eyes that would be a bad thing as they wouldn’t have time to treat me with at least two hours of antibiotics
- It was already past my due date
- If I went to the hospital, they could strip my membrane, put me on antibiotics and if nothing happened – speed things up their way – you know – Pitocin and stuff; at this point all I wondered was – why wouldn’t she just tell me to go and *get* a c- section? This scenario is going to end with one anyway so why even bother?
My reasoning was:
Ok – it wasn’t much of a *reasoning* really – I just thought: You go and have your membrane stripped!
Nice thing was that my husband, as much as he was against an UC, he was also against such hooey.
So between my desire to have a *perfect* birth . . . .
Nagging from my doctor, my husband going to sleep only after I already woke up (so you know, I wouldn’t attempt UC while he was resting), being ten months pregnant, it was all getting pretty unbearable and I was feeling miserable. I also wondered if my husband would be hurt and have a grudge against me for the rest of his life because I didn’t include him in the birth of his child…
That evening I begged the baby to show me the way. To tell me how she wanted to be born.
My new goal was to realize my baby’s ideal birth, not mine.
It was a very quiet and almost serene evening.
Should the baby decide to be born at home, she will. Should she give me enough heads up to make it to the hospital (we have quite a drive) then I will go. My husband also swore he would do everything to guarantee that I had the birth I imagined.
Next morning I woke up to a very pleasant rush of tingling energy running through my body. I could feel the baby was ready. She wasn’t born at night. She was going to be born sometime during the day.
I told nothing to my husband. It was a Saturday and we went about our day.
When we were at the store, I could feel my first contraction. It was very mild. Next store and another, the contractions kept showing up. I didn’t bother timing them or anything. Whatever happens, happens.
Then it was time to stop by the doggy park with our four legged child. As he was frolicking with his lot, my contractions became much stronger and I had to walk away a couple of times so my husband wouldn’t notice anything.
We got back home late afternoon. I got busy with the laundry and when my husband asked me if I wanted him to start the dinner, I told him to hold off with the cooking. He instantly figured what was going on and only asked for the percentage rate of the possibility we would be going to the hospital that night. I told him it was 50/50. He knew I meant a 100.
Shower, pack some things for my daughter as she was going to stay at the grandma’s, pray, fold the laundry.
We left the house around 7 PM. My contractions were already very intense and only 2 minutes, or so, apart. I still wasn’t sure about the hospital birth but sorta didn’t want to birth in our new car either, you know what I mean?
After a short stop at my in-laws, we continued on to the hospital.
And now I have to give my husband all due credit.
He did an excellent job being my advocate and a spokesperson. I really didn’t want to speak to anybody – my contractions were very strong at that point and I was a little bit upset that I ended up in the hospital, so there.
My husband explained . . .
How I wanted a home birth and only agreed to come to the hospital for him and he was to guarantee all went the way I wanted to – no coaching, no checking, no poking, no antibiotics, no whisking the baby away, no cord clamping and so on. No drama.
He told that to just about everybody that happened to be in our way – the technicians, the triage personnel, a confused passer-by.
To my biggest surprise and utter delight they all seemed to take notice. To be fair, my husband is a big guy. You would rather take notice when he tells you how things will go down.
I was admitted to labor and delivery at 10PM. All the formalities took sooo much time – I know my birth did stall for a hot second when I had to fill out two hundred forms of sorts. Then I had to fill out some more paperwork when the doctor discovered I was strep B positive and refused antibiotic treatment.
So there we were. There were one doctor – a tiny lady with nice disposition, one nurse and one other person. And my husband, who that night, was my hero.
Complete silence was disturbed by the gush of water, pouring down my legs, just after 10PM.
I got naked as whatever clothes I had on were bothering me.
I squatted. I moaned. I massaged my legs and tights vigorously to lessen the sensations. The pressure inside of me was very intense and getting even more intense by the minute. I found myself repeating: Oh God, oh God, oh God.
And all I could think about was…cellulitis!
That is precisely what I mean when I say hospital birth is just not the same as homebirth.
Ok, so those complete strangers didn’t give a hoot what I or my behind looked like. They hardly even noticed my naked butt facing them. No one really cared.
Well, except for me. I did care and was upset that with my ridiculous thinking I was effectively robbing myself of the energy that could be well spent elsewhere. Like, I dunno, birthing my own baby.
This insanity only lasted a short time though. Very soon the sensation became so strong I didn’t care about cellulitis anymore. And that was a good thing.
There came a very familiar feeling. Ahh, the transition. Yes, this time I knew I was not dying.
The doctor must have noticed as she kept asking if I felt the urge to push.
All this time she was sitting on a chair away from the bed I was on, God bless her soul.
There was only my husband supporting me all the time. And I mean physically supporting me. He was sweating. He also assured everybody that I knew what I was doing and would let them know when I needed help.
As for me, I didn’t intend on sharing what was going on. I have to admit, even at that point, I was still a little upset and disappointed.
No one coached me. No one said a word I didn’t want to hear. And yet, I was a little bit disenchanted.
A quick glance at the clock on the wall. It was 11:30 PM and I wondered if the baby would be born on the 17th or on the 18th.
I sorta liked the even number better.
And just as I was going to further ponder the advantages of September 18th over 17th . . . .
The strongest urge to bear down whirled through my body leaving me no option but to surrender. I leaned over my husband’s fiery hot arm, propped myself up a little bit and…
The time stood still.
For some time then, I would keep my hand between my legs and up feeling the baby’s head. It was soft and wet and warm.
And I loved that baby so much already. I could imagine her hair was dark and glistening.
With one *push* or was it more of a surrender to the body’s motion, the baby was born.
Weeping for joy I took my precious, warm baby into my arms and would not let go.
Our bodies melted into one again.
I didn’t check but somehow knew we had a boy. Even though I was expecting another girl throughout the pregnancy, I was overjoyed to find out it was a boy.
Sweet, precious angel. I kissed his head repeatedly.
I was holding my boy tight telling him how much I loved him, and how happy I was to be his mom. Then I heard the nurse telling me to coax him a little so he cries otherwise they would want to take him from me- I rubbed his back and he gave a little cry. He calmed down immediately and latched on.
The nurse came with a warm towel to cover my shivering body. My baby boy nursed for over an hour. He was born at 11:47 PM – not even two hours after I was admitted to L&D. It was all very peaceful and sweaty and intense – and hard and easy. Just about perfect.