I was due with my second child the day this blog was launched (10 weeks ago to be exact). Honestly, I anticipated this second birth with a good bit of fear and trepidation. My first birth was fast, intense, and somewhat traumatic as I hemorrhaged, had a difficult time delivering my abnormal placenta, and tore, all of which resulted in a long, painful recovery. I hoped for a different birth this time around but was quietly terrified that I would repeat the same labor and birth. I should have known that this birth would be different because even in my belly this little girl was a different person. She moved just as often as my first, but hers was more fluid, almost like she was calmly swimming and rolling around.
I woke up the morning before our daughter’s birth with contractions. I had been having them the two weeks before, but this felt different. I told my husband that I thought that something was happening, but honestly I didn’t really know whether to believe myself. We had a lovely brunch with some friends, play time in our pool, dinner outside, and just as we were getting ready start our bedtime routine with our oldest, I felt a strong contraction and told my husband it felt too intense to read, pray, and sing with her. He told me to get in the bath and proceeded to put our daughter to bed in record time. He met me in the bathroom where he timed the contractions and started getting the room ready. We began to think this might be it.
“Started getting the room ready”… Yes, we were getting ready for our homebirth. I realize they aren’t for everyone, but for us, it fit. After talking with friends who had homebirths, watching The Business of Being Born, and doing quite a bit of research, we decided to have a homebirth with our first daughter. And, while the actual birth was somewhat of a traumatic experience, we could not imagine how much more difficult it would have been in a hospital. I tell expecting moms, “Be educated and be empowered to make the most informed decisions you can about your birthing experience.”
Back to the bath. I labored over an hour in the bath when the contractions just stopped. I texted my sister and mom back to tell them it was a false alarm. We climbed into bed and watched an episode of Modern Family. The moment it was over, the contractions started again, and back in the bath I went. I texted my mom and my sister and my husband called our midwife, Mary. He was convinced this was “it”. I wasn’t. I was having contractions but they were not too intense and I was able to rest, which was completely opposite of my first. Again, I was forgetting that this girl was a different person, doing her birth her way.
My mom and sister arrived, finished getting things ready, and began to lay cold wash clothes on me. I stayed in the bath and used my husband as my grounding point during each contraction. The contractions began to get continually more difficult. I dug deep and knew the more relaxed I could be during the contractions the more easily my body could open and the quicker we’d meet our little one. I was still having some difficulty grasping the idea that I was in the middle of labor. I expected rolling contractions without any breaks in between like my first labor experience, but these were coming like waves, each contraction coming over me and then receding. The intense pain would roll over me, I would focus on letting my body open while I listened to my husband’s words of “this will be over,” and then I would start feeling relief.
My husband had emailed friends previously and asked them for words for me to read during labor. I read these words over and over as they scrolled through on the computer screen in front of me. My sister in-law had said that I was “struggling for glory.” I kept thinking, “I’m struggling for glory, and her name is Jayden Grace.” This period was intense, it was quiet, and I was full of fear, hope, strength, pain, and love. My midwife moved my cervix to help the dilation progress and told me that she could move the pocket of water that was obstructing my baby’s head from coming out, that it would get more intense, and the baby would soon follow.
I believe in mind, body connection, and I experienced it first hand during this labor. The fear from a previous hard delivery and recovery lead to anxiety and hesitancy. My body knew this and was attempting to hold this baby in, and I wasn’t “ready” to push her out. So, we waited and I kept working through each painful contraction.
An hour later, my midwife came back into the room and offered again the same option. My husband saw my hesitancy, fear, and saw how tired I looked. He looked at me and said, “you will have this baby; it is going to happen, and you can do this.” I glanced at my mom, sister, and my midwife and gave her the go ahead. She helped my water break and my baby’s head was free to come down and out. These procedures were not under the category of fun. I would put them in the category of awfully painful, “don’t ever want to do that again,” but they worked.
All of a sudden my midwife said, “You are going to have this baby. You can either get out of the tub or turn around and have her in the water.” We hadn’t even considered a water birth, but the thought of trying to get out sounded like trying to sprint one hundred meters after running an Olympic marathon. Needless to say, I got into position in the bath. All of a sudden the uncontrollable urge to push (you know what I’m talking about if you have been here) started. I began to push, but my midwife instructed me to hold back during the contractions as she helped to stretch me. She then had me push in between contractions. I do not think I have ever done something so counter intuitive, but it worked. Then she looked at me and said, “Push your baby out.” I remember saying, “just a minute, let me take a breath.” I inhaled, exhaled, and then I pushed, and out came our lovely little girl. As she was put on my chest, there was such great relief and joy to see her face and her little body. We had done it. I had struggled, for glory, in a manner quite different than I had expected, and her name was Jayden Grace.