Holy shit you guys. Birth is a trip.
So many stories through the history of my life prepared me to fear my impending doom-date (aka my future spawn’s birthday).
Halfway through my pregnancy there was nothing I feared more than having to deliver this baby. I was so scared that any time I found myself reading any sort of material designed around educating myself and preparing for the labour and birth – I would end up crying. I’d beg my husband to somehow take over my body and do it for me. He’s tougher than me. And way braver.
He said he would if he could. And whether this was actually true or not. I believed him and let it comfort me the small amount that it did.
I made it a mission to seek out positive birth stories. I knew they existed even though I hardly heard any. Positive birth stories seem like Narnia… you have to know exactly where to look and even then, you might have to jump a few hoops to find what you’re looking for. But it seemed the universe was on my side. When I made the conscious effort to find the stories, they also found me.
Every story was so incredibly unique from one to the next. The only thing that stayed the same between them was the tone of each woman’s voice. They sounded confident, bold, empowered, at peace, and proud. It was amazing how many women said they didn’t like to share them because they have felt condemned by others for their experience. (That they didn’t ‘suffer’ enough??)
After hearing and reading several empowered stories, I decided that I wanted to create the best environment for myself to facilitate my own positive birth story. I didn’t care how it happened, or what didn’t go according to plan – but I was determined to have a positive story to share after our kid landed.
I meditated and visualized daily, I sought out resources for hypno-birthing, and was gifted an amazing, custom meditation lead by my good friend Dianne [Soul Conversations] that was incredibly empowering and created tremendous mental ease as I approached my due date.
Brin and I also signed up for birthing/baby classes with Sharon Loose of Calgary Birth Essentials. The idea of birth classes made me wanna hurl. All I could envision were bad 90s movies where the ladies are wearing a moo-moo, sitting between their partner’s legs on the floor and being coached on how to breathe. Ugh. We tried other methods of getting the information we needed but finally just bit the bullet and registered. It was actually the BEST thing we did.
Sharon was so helpful and informative; she went through everything in a zero-fluff, zero-BS, zero-moo-moo-sitting-on-the-floor way. We didn’t have to role play or do anything dumb. We just got to ask a bunch of questions and she gave us a buttload of information that would unbiasedly support a large variety of birth ‘plans’ (I put plan in quotes because… well you know why.)
Information is something that makes me feel at peace. The more I feel I understand, the more empowered I feel. Education is powerful tool to yield, and Sharon was the cat’s meow in providing all the information we needed to feel really good about going into our birth experience.
So… for anyone that’s like me, and wanting to read a positive birth story. One that doesn’t involve any scary narrative what-so-ever – here goes…
Our Birth Story :
On April 29th I was watching a movie. I had actively decided to stay up past my ‘bedtime’ (I was self imposing a 10pm curfew in effort to get as many quality sleeps in as possible before baby arrived). I started my movie at 10pm because sometimes I’m a rebel like that.
So yes, rebel me was sitting there watching my movie and working on crocheting a small tote bag. I was fidgeting a lot; found it hard to get comfortable. I kept moving around from the couch to the floor to the birth ball back to the couch. Late pregnancy is wildly uncomfortable. I thought nothing of this weird dance.
It was about halfway through my movie, when I noticed the crochet needle slipping from my sweaty hands that I realized I was unconsciously rocking my torso back and forth. I thought to myself: hmmm… maybe I’m in pain.
I had busted out my contraction timer a few times trying to figure out how it worked. I thought I’d take this chance to give it another go. Who knows, I’m 4 days overdue, so maybe something’s going down.
The pains I was experiencing were not following any formula we’d been taught, so I ignored them. I’d been having cramps for about the last 4 weeks anyways, this was likely no different than all those. I went back to my movie, and my crochet project.
My husband came upstairs from playing video games just before 11:30pm. I mentioned the pains to him, and said I didn’t think it was labour. But maybe it was? I wasn’t sure. I just knew that every so often it felt better if I got up and walked around. Or rolled around on the floor a bit. He stayed upstairs with me, and watched while I took the occasional break from my crochet project to roll on the floor with the elegance of my whale-like state. I think he suggested we take a walk outside maybe 3 or 4 times… but I really wanted to finished my project! And the movie was almost over. At least wait till the movie was over.
So after the movie was done, we walked outside for a bit. I had to stop and hold onto him periodically because the cramping was pretty noticeable. But then it went away, and we carried on.
I still wasn’t convinced I was in labour. I decided to take a bath. If this was some ‘false’ thing – then a bath would diffuse the situation for sure. And holy man. It DID feel better. My cramping didn’t go away, but it noticeably reduced in intensity. I felt like a new man. (or whatever).
Now… from this point, things for me get a bit fuzzy… kind of like recalling a dream. Because you, dear reader, know this as my birth story, and therefore know that I was in labour – which was much more information than I had at the time. I was pretty much in denial about the whole thing.
So the long and short of it was I started to feel really nauseous, and was dry heaving a bit. Eventually I actually threw up, and only then did I truly entertain the idea: Oh. Maybe I AM in labour.
I got in and out of the tub a few times trying various movements/positions to feel ease and relief – and sometimes even a sort of leverage on the intensity which was climbing gradually. Every contraction rolled in like a wave… I could feel it coming – like seeing a wave form in the distance before you actually catch it. When it would hit it was powerful – but also temporary. Between contractions I let my whole body relax. Even sort of blissed out in the state of complete relief in the absence of that intensity.
Our app had told us to go to the hospital like 4 separate times already (for us with home-birth this means call the midwife) but I was still not convinced it was time. I had only been in labour for like… an hour or two. And my contraction timing was all messed up; they were supposed to be in this particular pattern when we were meant to call her. I didn’t let Brin call our midwife until quarter after 1am when I was having double and triple peaking contractions and the intensity was referring into my upper thighs (this would usually indicate late labour… which baffled me because it had only been 2 hours). Brinley got our home-birthing supplies together between contractions. He held my hands during them. Our midwife arrived at 2am.
When she rolled in I was mid-contraction and also in the middle of this powerful dry-heave. She looked at me and said: “Are you pushing??”
Me (mid-contraction): “No… I don’t know. I thought I was dry heaving?”
She checked me and I guess I was ready to roll. Brin offered to fill the birthing pool (another thing I wouldn’t let him do because we were supposed to wait for the midwife to get there for that…) – and we were told: nope, no time! Brin sat on the edge of the bed and I sat between his legs, those weird ‘dry-heaves’ got really strong (Fetal Ejection Response… check it out #themoreyouknow) and 2:34am we had a baby.
It was the craziest experience I’ve ever had. I’ve had the occasional runner’s high. I’ve climbed mountains. I’ve played on big stages in front of thousands of people. And I have never in my life felt as powerful, as high, and as much a rockstar as I did after giving birth.
I liked my kid well enough – but the amount of love I felt for myself after delivering our son was something I’ve never experienced. I was so incredibly proud of myself. I felt tough, powerful, strong… and my husband reinforced that by telling me almost every hour for the following days how proud he was of me, and how amazing he thought I was. I am so thankful for having had the opportunity to truly acknowledge and see my own power. What a gift.
So yeah. In summary. 3 hour labor, start to finish. It was the ultimate in badassery. I would give birth 100 times over being pregnant. I’m going to create a separate blog post that details some of the steps I took throughout pregnancy that may have helped contribute to our positive (and speedy) labour experience – and a couple things I would add or do differently in the future. I did get a pretty hefty tear that was very near needing a ride to the hospital to fix, but luckily didn’t.
If I could go back in time and soothe my own worries… I’d say this:
Labour is tough. It is. But it is absolutely, wholly, and one hundred percent something you’re capable of. The pain is temporary. Enjoy the breaks. Your body knows exactly what it’s doing. That baby knows exactly what it’s doing. You just need to let it occur. The pain rolls in and out like a wave. It’s gone as quickly as it comes. There is not one part of this you can’t do.