Let me start by writing that I am actually glad that this birth wasn’t on camera. Some things are better left to memory. This was such a pretty birth. I could have been one of those glorious inspiring women that show us that it is possible to have a peaceful home birth….except I am quite certain that once they pulled out the camera my cervix would have clenched and my camera-shy baby would retreat inwards.
I woke up feeling contractions that were heavier than the Braxton-Hicks felt over the days prior. My husband called his sister at 7 a.m.; she was going to be in our home to take care of our almost two-year-old throughout the labor. I went downstairs to do one last prenatal yoga workout. It helped me wake up slowly, pace myself, breathe, relax, and stretch out. I had a healthy breakfast and then we checked in with our midwife. The on-call midwife was on her way to another birth, but asked that we keep her in the loop as things progressed. I had a 4 pm check up at the clinic that was bumped up to 2 pm given my contractions.
Music was key. I had made two mixes. A jiving “Labor Dance” and a mellow “Labor” mix. I put on “Labor Dance” as one of my goals for this labor was to move. I wanted to sway, rock, and walk this baby out. Contractions were much smoother than in my first birth. I didn’t need my husband there for each contraction and had decorated our home with beautiful simple objects to focus on – smooth rocks with affirming messages like “breathe”, an art print of two hands praying in a wave made by a friend, and my husband’s paintings.
Again, my husband and I held our space together. It was such a tender and intimate time, and I still consider it what I aspire to live up to in my relations with him. Pure unconditional love and gratitude. Our daughter picked up on it and helped me through a contraction all on her own. She held my gaze with her sweet little stare. (Someone did snap a picture of that and I’m happy for that!)
By noon, it was apparent that I would not be crossing town to make a 2 pm appointment. My husband called our on-call midwife Lynn and she answered the phone, “I’VE GOT A BABY ON THE PERINEUM!” Midwives are amazing. Cell phone composure even when they are about to deliver new life! So we contacted the other midwife in the practice Beth. Since she wasn’t on call and the student midwife was at the other birth, Beth asked the acupuncturist from her office Jasmine to join her. When the two walked pulled into the driveway, I knew this was my ideal birth team.
Beth saw me rocking in a rocking chair on the front porch and asked me to go for a walk to get things moving. She and Jasmine were preparing to be at our home for a while, so they made themselves comfortable. Meanwhile, husband, sister-in-law, daughter and I left to walk the neighborhood. During birth #1, I had walked down the block. This time I was resolute on walking the circuit which took us past a pond, up a pretty steep hill and then back downhill towards home. It was slow-moving but grounding. The fresh air, the movement, and the chance to have a short time to do something with my family all gave me some perspective on the day.
When we made it back to the house, Jasmine and Beth were preparing to go for their own walk. On a lark, Beth suggested a quick check, just in case. Nine and a half centimeters dilated! They dropped their sweaters and went about calmly setting up for delivery. Jasmine filled our kiddie pool purchased as a cheap labor tub stand-in – ask a midwife for recommendations on dimensions if you’re considering this. There was joy in each contraction. My husband said at one point my belly danced from one side to the next (from my uterine contractions) and I sat there with my eyes closed, calm. I could tell that Jasmine and Beth were moved by our peaceful labor.
Beth asked that I try to pee in the tub before pushing. I couldn’t do it, so I climbed out and went to the toilet. I managed to unclinch my muscles enough to do a small pee and then walked into our neighboring room. I got on my hands and knees and swayed.
The urge to push was there and after my self cheerleading, I pushed him out within twenty minutes. It was perfect. My son had landed in my husband’s hands, guided by Beth. I felt an instant perfect love for everyone around me – Beth, Jasmine, my husband, and our new baby. We were so elated that it didn’t occur to us that we had either a boy or a girl. We asked Jasmine to go get our daughter and the look on her face was priceless when she saw her new brother.
I learned that it is best to write your birth story as soon as possible after delivery because the details are forgotten soon after. What is left is a photocopy of a photocopy of the real story. Things aren’t as sharp or focused as they were in the moment. But what I remember is idyllic.
Post Script: I was moved by this birth in particular because I had been so fearful throughout several months of the pregnancy. I had already delivered a baby and now I knew how intense and unpredictable labor could be. It took the advice and love of friends and strangers to help me get past the fear. I went onto online mothering forums. The midwife who had been present at our first birth, Dr. Tracy, told me that my body was prepared to have this baby even if I didn’t feel emotionally ready. My girlfriends gathered for a beautiful MotherBlessing to give me strength. After that, I decided it was entirely possible to prepare to learn from my first birth and make the changes I could control.