Birth is truly the grand finale to the great journey of pregnancy.
For so many years I was teary-eyed, envisioning birthing my baby and then holding him or her in my arms.
After my cesarean with the birth of my daughter (which was a home birth transfer after 3 days of labor and failure-to-progress), three years later I had my vaginal birth that I had always dreamed for. I now feel fulfilled and empowered.
On the day of my son’s birth (the 4th of July), I woke up early at about 5:30am. At 7 am, I nudged my husband and told him, “I think today is the day to meet our baby!”
I called our midwives at 8:30am. I told them I wanted to keep them in the loop, but I didn’t want to get too excited just yet thinking it could be long like my first labor. My midwife reminded me that second labors can go a lot quicker and to be honest with myself as things progressed. After some discussion and listening to my contractions, she felt that she should come over and advised that I should not leave home.
Before I knew it, the midwives were over, fear arrived along with bliss – I greeted them with tears of excitement as we exchanged hugs. Throughout the morning I frequently checked in with my midwives to ask if my progress was normal. I desperately wanted to “succeed” in having a healthy vaginal birth. My midwives reassured me that things were normal with the progression and that they felt confident that we would meet my baby by the end of the day.
As labor intensified while in the birth tub, I visualized scaling a mountain and coming down the other side during my contractions. I was able to get into a deep relaxation between contractions, nearly falling asleep. At some point I went into the shower for the water pressure to try to relieve some back pain, but I didn’t last in there long. I wanted to be able to use a person for support, and the position seemed awkward in the shower. I moved back to the floor. I soon felt the contractions become more and more intense with less time between them. (I now realize that this was “transition”). My water was still intact, and I was 7 cm dilated. I was feeling the urge to push, and so we decided to break my water to assist with progression. I then progressed to 9 cm within the hour.
After a lot of work through these contractions, I finally reached the pushing stage. I hoped this would be a relief, but it was much harder than I imagined. For me it was slow and exhausting. At last after three hours of pushing, my baby’s head emerged. (There were many neighborhood firecrackers going off during this time, which I remember I appreciated having the attention diverted from the action that was going on in our house!). With more contractions, our midwife was able to maneuver the baby and help to pull him out as I continued to push. WOW! I held him up to my chest and announced he was a boy. Our baby boy was born at 8:47pm on the 4th of July.
It seemed so surreal to have my baby in my arms and that the labor was finally over. My husband and I held our baby boy together; we laughed and cried tears of joy. We both had a feeling of disbelief that our desired birth had really happened.
With my daughter I had never dilated past 7 cm, and so much of my second birth (heavy contractions, transition, pushing) was new to me. I am forever grateful to have had such supportive and confident midwives. They never doubted my abilities for an HBAC (Home Birth After Cesarean) nor did they ever make me feel like I was a “high risk” or “special case.”
My HBAC was a goal seen as insurmountable by many, but in my heart I knew I could (and would) do it. It has been profoundly healing for me to have had this birthing experience. I am able understand what is endured for vaginal and cesarean births and the different challenges of postpartum healing. I realize what immense power it takes to go through it all and it is my great hope that my own story inspires other mothers on similar paths.
Image Credit: Meredith Richmond