My Water Baby
The birth of my second baby was so moving it was like a rebirth of my soul and a newfound belief in myself and what I was capable of. Although my first birth was beautiful, I didn't feel prepared despite taking a birthing class. During labor I went to a very dark place deep inside myself, feeling so scared and isolated in my pain not even my husband or mother could penetrate it. Not knowing if I was capable of giving birth on my own, I felt like the pain would keep escalating until I was going to die because I didn't think it would end. I knew without a doubt I never wanted to feel that again. I wanted to experience a positive birth but I didn't think they existed. Then I saw “The Business Of Being Born.” My daughter was one week old and we watched the film that would eventually change our lives in so many ways and completely effect how our second baby would be born 2 ½ years later.
I longed for a birth like I saw in the film but I didn't know where to begin, so I started writing “My Ultimate Dream Birth.” In this wish list I threw everything out the window that would get in the way of my dream, like insurance and money issues, my husband's and my fears, family concerns, societal pressure and I wrote what my heart wanted. I discovered that I wanted a water birth with a midwife and a doula, I wanted to prepare for an unmedicated birth by taking The Bradley Method, and I wanted to feel strong, empowered, confident and capable. I had this beautiful story that seemed like a fairy tale because I didn't know how to make it a reality.
I became extremely ill with persistent bronchitis that would plague me throughout my entire first trimester making it hard to do the research needed to find an alternative birth plan on top of taking care of a busy toddler. We moved when our daughter was almost a year old so I needed to find a new OBGYN. After expressing my wishes for a natural birth during a second trimester appointment, my new doc said I'd “be crazy for not taking perfectly good drugs (epidural) that have zero effect on the baby” and that, “No one was handing out gold stars for having a non-medicated birth.” That was my last appointment with the new doc. I was 26 weeks pregnant. The scene from the documentary kept playing over in my mind where Ricki was saying, “It wasn't an illness, it wasn't something that needed to be numbed, it needed to be experienced...” I needed that experience.
Immediately, I started to look for birthing centers and I found South Coast Midwifery. I cried looking at the pictures of these strong women confidently birthing their babies and knew I found what I was looking for. We loved SCM. By the second appointment they knew my name where before I was a number and after 26 weeks my doctor didn't even recognize me in the hallway before our final appointment. I was excited at the chance at having my dream birth at home.
The morning before my due date I lost my mucous plug. I ran errands despite the fact that things felt different. Around 5pm I started having very steady contractions so it was time to head home! My parents took our daughter to their house, my husband started filling up the birthing tub and I paced the house feeling busy and restless. My contractions were becoming so fast and furious and extremely painful they took me by surprise and I had those fleeting moments of, “Uh-oh! What did I get myself into?” I felt frantic as my husband realized he needed to start filling the tub with warmer water and was running back and forth from the tub to where ever I happened to be crouching when I'd yell for him during a contraction. My doula quickly arrived and once in the tub I felt calm, relaxed. Flickering candlelight filled the room with songs from my labor playlist. (We still did not know if we were having a boy or a girl!) My eyes had been closed for quite some time, I was in my own world humming to the music and groaning with each contraction. It felt like it was helping to take away the pain by pushing it out of my body in low, gravely groans as opposed to holding it in, holding my breath. It was not the hysterical, out-of-control screams seen on TV that condition women into thinking this is what's expected during labor. These were deep, primal and somewhat animalistic.
The room was still yet active. There were no constant beeps from various machines, no light piercing my loosely closed eyes, no cords tethering me to IV's and heart monitors keeping me from the movements I needed to make. No hospital protocol keeping me from eating and drinking what I needed to remained energized. There was no pressure to perform during anyone's time frame in order for my wishes to be granted. It was me kneeling in a tub of warm water, my head buried in the chest of my strong husband who never left my side. My doula was slowly pouring water on my back and massaging the pain away with her fists and my midwife and assistant who arrived around midnight were setting up what medical equipment they might or might not need.
Just then things started to change...
“Are you ready to catch your baby?”
My midwife asked after only pushing for a short amount of time. Those were the most powerful words I had ever heard. After one last push at 12:49am out spiraled this huge, pink baby hurling it's chubby body into my arms where I brought it up out of the water to my chest and my lips, “my baby, my baby!” I beamed over and over flashing me back to the birth of my daughter. My husband and I held our sweet baby for quite sometime crying and smiling, admiring our perfect angel. As my husband turned around to get the video camera I realized I still did not know the sex! Pulling the baby away from my chest I looked down and in amazement I exclaimed, “It's a boy! It's a boy!” I'll never forget the look on my husband's face as he quickly turned around to meet my eyes asking in disbelief, “It's a boy?” He peered over my shoulder and exclaimed, “It's a boy!” A whopping 10 pound, 21 inch bouncing baby boy who helped me achieve my ultimate dream birth. My water baby has inspired me to dare to be great and he has melted my heart ever since.
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