Editor’s Note: At TodaysMama, we believe that every mother has the right to choose her birth experiences and that every experience is different. One experience we’d like to forego is the tradition of only sharing birthing horror stories…because, really, how is that helpful? We’ll continue to share stories of homebirth, hospital birth and the occasional I-meant-to-have-a-hospital-birth-but-I had-my-baby-at-home-but-it-worked-out story.
-Erin Oltmanns, Managing Editor
Guest Post from Laine Holman:
It was the day before my due date and time to visit the midwife. My first birth had been a traumatic and unnecessary cesarean two years before, and the devastation that had followed was immense. I felt powerless, broken and like a total failure. For this second birth we had sought a practitioner that would listen to me and my body, as well as the tests results of the trade. My research had led me to a VBAC homebirth, and though my choice had been met with concern and doubt from family and friends, we knew through our study and the way we felt in our hearts that this was the right choice for us.
At our prenatal visit, the midwife checked vitals and listened to my belly. As she found a heartbeat, she spoke her gentle “Hi baby” to answer it’s perfect time. She sat up with a smile, “Baby sounds great.” All was well. After our visit, we accepted an invitation to stay for dinner, but by the end of the night a low backache made me anxious to get home. On the long bouncy car ride, I began having contractions.
At home I cleaned the house to see if the contractions would continue. As I headed for the kitchen to rinse the dishes before bed, a strange feeling hit me, like a wave of nausea, and I sat down. This time the contraction that came demanded some attention, and a deep sustained twinge made me reach below my belly. “Whoa! This is labor!” I stated, decisively. “Give me the phone.’
The midwife was alerted that she might be needed later, and my best friend came over to help ready the place. She and my hubby prepared the birthing tub. Our mood was light, and at twelve thirty it occurred to me what day it was. “Hey, it’s D-day!” I announced. “That’s right!” my friend chimed, “Today is your due date.”
I headed to bed to rest, but soon I was waking every few minutes to breathe through the swells. In a few hours I was no longer sleeping between the contractions, and the bed became confining. I headed for the bathtub. It felt good, but I knew that the light work was over and now we were getting down to business. I slid back and forth in the warm water, feeling the surface edge along my skin. As the contractions mounted and ebbed, and the twinging pain of dilation became the center of them, for the first time I wondered if I had made a big mistake. There are no pain killers. What if I need the drugs? I thought about the 2 vicodin in the medicine chest left over from my hubby’s oral surgery, then smiled at the thought. That would be like trying to put out a house fire with a water pistol. I worried a little as another swell began to rise within.
We called the midwife, and at 4:10 am she arrived. I went to the bed and was checked. In my previous birth, the cervical check I had at 17 hours had been devastating news, so I was fearful that I would not be dilated at all. Out loud I said, “I’ll be happy if I’m a 3”, while in my mind I thought, “A four, happy if I’m a four…”
“Laine…!” the midwife said smiling, as if she’d just learned I had been keeping a secret from her, “You’re an eight!”
“Really?” I begged in my heart and aloud. My spirit soared. Eight became my new lucky number. “Eight.” I said it over and over in a whispered smile. A contraction was the only thing that could make my smile fade, but soon I was focusing again.
“Can I get into the birthing tub?” I asked, already on my way. The thrashing contractions sighed as I got into the warm water. Within a few minutes they went from two minutes apart to almost seven, and I gratefully drank in the peace granted me in the minutes between.
The room glowed by candle light that I caught in brief snatches. I rested on my husband’s chest between surges, and he held me and breathed with me. We worked for a few more hours, and I cherish in my heart the sweet memory of his tenderness at that difficult time. We were a true partnership.
Suddenly there was a sensation I had only read about before, and I knew what was happening. There was burning and stretching, and amazingly, a feeling that my very bones were gently moving apart. With each forceful swell, my body opened further and further. “Here comes baby!” came an excited and calming voice, “Reach down and touch your baby!”
My fingers never felt anything sweeter than the downy fuzz of the top of that tiny, soft head. With his body still inside me, I touched my baby before he was even born! With my husband’s hand reaching over mine, we stroked the little being that was ours through a union of incredible love. In a moment and an eternity, we met him, and though there would be joy and love in the hours and days to come, there would never again be a moment when we would be so fully eclipsed in each other’s existence.
He came, then, in a whoosh, and I brought his slippery, curled body up to my belly in such astonishment as cannot be described in words. With the blue light of dawn just creeping through the windows, we welcomed our child home. No birth could have been more perfect, no dream more gratefully realized.
I gave birth. Gave it to my child, and to myself. Gave it to my body, as it realized the power and grace that had always been there. To myself, to heal and reclaim the woman I am. Nothing was taken that day, only given, as only a gift can be.