First, a bit of history…..Clara is my fourth child and was my third homebirth. My first birth was in a hospital, and while it was a good birth by hospital standards, it was not what I had envisioned. My next two births were homebirths, and they were excellent births, but still not what I wanted. Clara's birth was everything I wanted.
I have always pictured myself birthing quietly and without fear. However, that had not happened in my three previous births. I always ended up “losing it” at the very end. When the adrenaline kicked in, I was always really scared, and I would react with the typical yelling and screaming, ranting, and raving that you see during TV births. After my first three births I felt ashamed that I had acted that way. So I was determined that my fourth birth would be different, and it was.
I woke up on Saturday morning with a painful contraction, I never gave it a second thought, but just rolled over. I was, after all, two weeks away from my due date. A few minutes later, another came. I ignored it.
A few minutes later, my husband rubbed my belly. I asked him to stop. (When I am having contractions I can't stand to be rubbed) I still hadn't caught the hint that I was in labor. Ryan and I laid in bed and talked about all of the preparations we wanted to get done that day so that we would be “ready” for the baby to come. We also had a big party to go to at 3:00 that afternoon, and I had been looking forward to it all week.
I got out of bed and went into the bathroom, then I said, “Oh CRAP!”(I never say that). Ryan said, “What's wrong, is the toilet stopped up?” I said, “NO, my water broke!”
I was really upset! I was NOT ready to have this baby! The house was a wreck, there was furniture all over the place because Ryan had started painting the nursery the night before, I still had a bazillion things to do on my list, and worst of all, I was going to miss the big party!!!
I called the midwife and let her know my water had broken then I got in the shower. When I got out I called the midwife back and asked her to go ahead and come. We made arrangements to have the children picked up by friends and started frantically cleaning.
The midwife got to the house about an hour later and we got the living room prepped for birth. We were thinking that the piddly contractions would give way any minute to the hard and fast labors I was accustomed to. I was 8 cm dilated, but the contractions barely hurt, and were a good 8-10 minutes apart.
I walked around for a while and went up and down the steps trying to get labor going stronger, but it didn't really help. So then the midwife asked if she could “have a conversation with my cervix.” I agreed and she set to work applying pressure to two points on my cervix to try to get things going.
Sure enough that did it! We went back into the living room and Ryan asked if I would like to sit on the birthing stool. I immediately said YES! I had never planned on giving birth there, it looked so uncomfortable, but it was actually perfect.
I sat there through two or three contractions. The midwife asked if I would like to move until I was pushing since the stool wasn't very comfortable for long periods of time. I told her I would be pushing soon and that I was not moving.
The midwife put a hand mirror on the floor so that I could see exactly what was happening and Ryan supported me from behind. The baby was moving into place to descend and things were getting very tough.
This is the point in all of my other labors where I have panicked. I paid very close attention to my breathing, and instead of screaming or yelling I hummed. No one told me to do it, but it felt right so I went with it. I kept praying silently asking God to bring my baby down.
I stayed so focused on bringing my baby down that I didn't notice any pain just very strong sensations. Finally I felt her start to move down. I watched the mirror intently and went from not seeing her at all to seeing her head, to crowning, and then her head was born all in one contraction.
The midwife told me to reach down and touch my baby, and for the first time, I listened to her! I have always been too scared or in too much pain to do this, but have always wanted to.
There was a short pause, about 1 minute before her shoulders were born. I reached underneath her arms and pulled her out. What a feeling to deliver your own child!
Immediately I was overcome by emotion. I did it! I just had the birth I always dreamed of having! I started crying and I told the midwife, “This is the birth I have wanted for five and a half years!
Clara's birth changed me. Instead of just letting birth happen to me, I participated this time, fully. I didn't run away from it in fear, I embraced it.
One day I will tell my first daughter the story of how she taught her mother how to give birth. I will always be so grateful to her for this lesson.