A note from Heather: I so appreciate when my clients share the good and bad and uncategorized about their births. It is important to hear all of the stories, even the ones with hard and scary parts! This will not change your birth outcome (I promise!) to read ALL of the ways that home birth works, including when it works to transfer mother or baby at some point in the process. Thank you, J! My takeaway: Don't forget to read the part that says call when contractions are x minutes apart OR whenever you feel that you need your midwife to come!
This account was written in December 2016 and then re visited in December 2017. It’s amazing the difference a year makes in memory…and in healing.
I’m making peace with the birth of my beautiful, spunky girl. This narrative is an attempt at some healing, some processing. But it is only part. Birth is written in the language of the soul, and only there can it be understood, perhaps never fully. I realize that there are many more beautiful births than mine, and many more tragic and awful ones than mine. After many months, I find myself at peace with the beauty, the pain, the loss, the gifts, and all the unexpected.
It is what is. It is mine.
This is simply about something I went through that was deeply impactful and meaningful, deeply personal. It is etched in my heart, like the stretch marks are carved into my skin. They are fading, but will always be a part of me.
Did that really happen to me?!?
According to science, I was supposed to bring her earth-side July 3rd. I knew that it was unlikely she would come on the due date, but since I had come on my due date, I kind of secretly hoped she would. However, July 3rd came and went, spent furiously bouncing on my ball, writing my rough draft of my critical appraisal of evidence for my proposal.
Hold on little one. Let me just finish this.
My mom was busy baking and cleaning. She was hoping for an Independence Day baby.
God, please reward her for all her hard work. I love her so much.
July 4th in the morning I did something I was doing about every 3 seconds -ok maybe every 20 minutes- I went pee. Imagine my surprise when a cork like piece of mucus came out. I just stared at it. Ok, I admit, I played with it a bit. I was expecting watery, bloody slime. This was pretty neat. And OMG! A sign! My cervix was softening! I immediately texted my friends and my midwife my thrilling bathroom business. My midwife replied something like “exciting”. Exciting?! What an understatement! Call CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera! I was going to have a baby!!
Come on little one!!! Do you know what is happening? Do you have any idea your about to be born? Don’t worry, you are going to do great. You’re going to be just fine like I keep telling you. I’ll be right there, you’ll get to meet me right away, don’t worry.
Later that day, I had the rest of the plug come out. Yet very non-climatically, nothing else was happening in my body. However, the fireworks were about to start. The fourth of July fireworks that is. I can’t really remember the first cramp per se. I know that by the time me and my mom got to the outlook over the city around 8 pm, I was having a few dull menstrual like cramps every hour. I would sit down and rest through them- they were about 7 seconds, just enough for me to pause and take a deep breath and then it was gone- I took those breaths not because it was difficult or painful, but because I wanted to practice relaxing. In fact, for months during painful things, like stubbing my toe, or a migraine, or whatever it was, I would try to relax and breathe in preparation for labor. The fireworks were pretty, and it was a welcome relief from the monotony of cleaning and micro-organizing and trying to read Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People for my management class, which by the way, doubles as a parenting book.
As we were about to leave, a friend from the mosque spotted me and came over. She asked about the baby, when it was due. “Yesterday” I told her. I don’t remember her exact response, but it contained an element of surprise, as if all babies come on the due date or mothers are induced then. I suppressed a flash of annoyance and welcomed her good wishes. It was the 29th night of Ramadan. An odd night- and the odd nights contain the Night of Power. I had been to exhausted and busy up until 2 nights prior to do any night prayers. Obviously, I wasn’t fasting either. It barely felt like Ramadan. I couldn’t prostrate for more than a few seconds when I prayed the way I love too, because the reverse pressure on my diaphragm made it so difficult to breathe I ended up dizzy and panting. However, I had spent a good portion of the 27th night praying, and wanted to do at least a little more tonight. I was also aware I needed to rest, but that was fleeting anyway with the constant peeing, tossing and turning and shooting pressure pains. I felt like if I was up anyway, I should pray. So I prayed until 11 pm that night. At that point I realized resting was more important. Plus, these achy cramps were still going on.
You will probably have false labor for a few days, or it will start and stop several times before its for real. The cramps aren’t anything but your cervix softening up a bit. Don’t get excited. Doesn’t look like she will be a Ramadan or Eid baby. Don’t get too excited!
I prayed for the birth one more time. From 11 -3 am I had the longest and best sleep I would have for many months. And by that, I mean I tossed and turned, and tossing and turning with a big pregnant belly isn’t easy. The cramps woke me a few times but I went back to sleep. I was so tired. Then at 3, I would just start to drift off, and then another one would annoy me and I would moan a little. S. would pat me and say sorry. Around 6 am I got up, went to the study room and got on my computer. I had the notion I should starting timing these, just to check. 11 minutes apart. 15. 9. 14.
Breathe. In, out. This is only your cervix softening, you have a lot more to come.
S. left for work at 7. A few minutes later I had a really bad cramp. I wasn’t handling it that well. I had to put my head down, my fists crawled at the air and my breaths weren’t slow and mellow and deep, I gasped a bit.
That sucked! How are you going to handle real labor if you can’t even breathe right through that?!
I went to wake my mom. I apologized- this wasn’t anything exciting, but it was just hard enough I didn’t want to be alone anymore. She got out her little timer and an index card and we started timing them together. I had a pre natal appointment at 10, but didn’t think I felt well enough for it. So I texted Heather (midwife) and told her what was going on. She was encouraging, and we decided she would come for a house visit. I also texted my friend M. about my lack of sleep. She was sympathetic, and we agreed it was probably several days or more away still, this being false labor and all, but that once you can’t sleep, its still labor!
I went back to bed trying to rest. I just couldn’t. Heather came a little after 10. I was expecting her to say not to get my hopes up but much to my astonishment she said based on all my signs, she wouldn’t be surprised if it was tonight or tomorrow.
Probably tomorrow then. Wow! Tomorrow is Eid. That would be cool. I don’t have anything to wear to Eid prayers that fits me anymore. But I doubt I can go if I still feel like this. But it might stop and I end up going anyway. I dared to hope not.
She also advised I eat, try to take a bath, and drink my magnesium and nap. I didn’t think that I could, but agreed to try.
What if I take a bath and then the cramps stop and nothing else happens? Well, that’s what happens. Labor starts and stops before you get to the real thing.
Around 1 pm, I took said bath. It felt great. I love baths in general. I was so tired. I drank my magnesium and crawled into bed. Much to my surprise I woke up 45 minutes later as a dull ache spread between my hip bones. I felt so much better. I went back out to the living room. I picked my book back up and tried to read. It was hard to keep my mind off everything. I had down on my list “once labor is established” to email my professors. Well, S. was supposed to email them so I could concentrate on the whole labor thing. But I decided to let them know I was in early labor, I couldn’t do homework anymore, so might as well let them know I was going to be MIA for now. It was 5:28 pm. I was back and forth between the ball and the couch, and by now I could predict the cramps. I knew I had about 7 minutes in between…could be 10, maybe only 4 or 5. I was beginning to dread them.
I’m not handling this well. It is hard to breathe well in the very middle. I’m not doing a very good job.
I remember I decided to read over my birth mantra’s. I was so uncomfortable, I could only stand hunched over. It was like my stomach never fully relaxed. I went to the fridge and re-read the paper saying when to call the midwife for the hundredth time. No, my contractions weren’t regular enough yet. And they weren’t all over my entire stomach. They had to be over my whole stomach to be “real”.
Should S. come home? No, it is almost the end of the day. Let him finish work. No need to get him excited.
I decided to text S.- apparently that the baby was kicking a lot and I thought I might be in labor.
“This power is from you. It cannot be stronger than you”. Right. Right. I need to remember that when this gets much worse.
My mom was making dinner and timing the cramps.
Around 6:45 S. came home. He had to finish an assignment and turn it in. I was disappointed, I kind of would have preferred we cuddled and a massage at this point. But I still had time, lots of time, so I figured he could help me afterward.
At one point I started asking my mom to come and rub my tummy during the cramps. She mentioned that my whole stomach felt really firm. Rubbing my tummy helped so much.
Really? But I don’t feel it “everywhere”. Just in my lower stomach. Its only my cervix softening. Oh boy here comes another one. Wow. Breathe. Breathe. Wow. Nope, can’t breathe.
“Help!!!!” I yelled. My mom came rushing over to soothe me. S. gave me a hug and massaged my back a minute before resuming his homework. When asked about this later, he said I wasn’t acting like it was serious.
Ahhh! Shit!!! Crap. Ok ..ok… ok, here its going down a bit. Yeah, breathe. There you go, breathe it out. Ahh yess. Oh thank God. It’s over. Ah, maybe not quite, there’s still a dull ache there. I can deal with that. Oh man, crap. That did not go well. My mom and S. aren’t saying anything. Because I am not doing well. They’re worried that I’m not handling this well. And its barely even started. Got to do better on the next one.
I was all over the place now. Leaning over the sofa. On the ball. My doula friend suggested I call my midwife. At some point I texted Heather, and told her how I was doing, and she said to let her know when I wanted her to come back. I replied “Shouldn’t I wait for the contractions to be all over my whole stomach?” I think she replied, that yes, or 5 minutes in between. Well, they still weren’t regular. Nor were they all more than a minute. I mean, there was at least one that was only a mere 50 seconds. Not yet.
S. went back to his assignment in between the contractions.
I wish he would just keep holding me. Maybe he’ll be more supportive when I’m further along. He does need to finish that.
It was hard to communicate what exactly I wanted from him. Was he almost done? Yes. I was tired and a little out of breath. Now that I look back, I was entering the veil. I did not see it. I did not choose to enter it. I wish I had.
I finally decided to give in. I called Heather. During the conversation a contraction hit. I told her what was going on. We agreed she would do something, I can’t remember what, and be over within the hour. She sounded calm and unhurried.
Obviously, because you still have many hours ahead of you. Oh man. Well I’m glad I called now so she has enough time.
A little later, I threw up during one. It felt horrible. I hate puking, and this was the worst puke ever. It said in the Ina May book that this meant the end was near.
Oh no! Oh my God!!! I’m way closer than I thought! Will Heather even make it?
Scared, I told someone to call her back and tell her. Again, she re-assured them it was normal. I knew it was normal dammit! I had read the book ok?! And it said that meant the end was near! Hurry!
I decided to tell S. to go ahead and get the pool ready and light the candles. It wasn’t how I thought, it was happening fast. From there on I had the impression of people rushing around me. He put on the Qur’an to play. I couldn’t hear it well. I wished I could.
Just breathe. Focus on doing this right. You have to do better! Once Heather gets here she will help you.
It seemed like hours later and yet only a few minutes she walked in the door. I think I told her I wasn’t doing so great breathing and all. I don’t remember getting much re-assurance. Crap. They can see your losing it and they’re worried.
Heather decided to do a dilation check. I was surprised. We had discussed how this would be unlikely, and I wasn’t excited about this at all. But at this point, whatever she thought was good. I just wanted to rest. I stumbled toward the guest bed and half undressed. I could not make it to my bed. Moving made the pain worse. It was around 10 pm.
A very sadistic man invented the dilation check. I swear, she was moving her entire forearm around all my organs. A little liver and gallbladder re arrangement while she was at it. Oh. My. goodness.
Heather: “Oh yeah wow! she’s nice and low”.
Pain. Intensity. Everything blurred, the cells in my body …. shouting. Can’t…can’t…breathe.
I writhed in distress, curling up into a ball, holding my breath and panting. Heather sympathetically said “Annndnddd…. yeah that’s going to bring on a really strong contraction”.
Mhhhmm. Thanks for the heads up. Not.
Heather: You’re a good 6, if not a 7.
What!?! YAY! So I AM in labor! Oh thank you God! Thank you!
Me to S.: “That’s good. But it could still be a while.” He cuddled up behind me and held me, massaging my stomach.
During pain you can distract yourself, during eating, or sex, even prayer, working out etc., your mind will still wander. But mine did not. I was drifting, pulled back to conscious thought at random. I knew nothing but the waves, the heaving of my stomach contents until nothing but the taste of bile was left. A breath, breathe, and another wave and another. The waves did not rest-only abated slightly and then came back with relentless determination. However, they never were over my whole abdomen.
S. isn’t saying anything. I’m sucking at this. I don’t know what else to do.
Drift, float. The pressure, the wave. I’m hot! Weakness, and cold. Brrr. Cuddle S.
I prayed out loud: “God, dear God. Please let me rest. Give me 5 minutes of a break and then I can go on.”
Sleep. Precious, otherworldly sleep. I felt like I rested for just a second, and yet several hours. My prayer was answered.
The next thing I knew, my leg was wet. Warm, in a nice way. It was spreading. Opps! Poor S. just got soaked!
My water! I had forgotten all about that.
I yelled out “My water just broke!”
What is THAT? Oh. My. Goodness… she is coming! It doesn’t hurt- at all!
I yelled out again “She’s moving down!”
Heather peeped back into the room. She explained the pool was ready, but it was up to me if I wanted to get in it or stay here and continue laboring.
Crazy lady, I’ve been waiting here forever to get in it. I need some kind of relief!
The pool was my main thing I was looking forward to. I’m going in dammit. Just wait, let me finish this contraction and then hopefully I can make it there before the next one.
They helped me in. Heather mentioned I had the choice to leave my top on. Crazy lady. Why would I want a wet top clinging to me?! At the same time, some tiny part of me still felt a little shy. Ahh, the pool felt wonderful. Oh this heavenly water. Here came another one…I braced myself. But I was ok! The water was helping. Except holy crap, I was so HOT! Someone had lit a nuclear reactor in my body. No, seriously.
I breathily demanded a fan, anything to help with the heat. Then it passed, and the water felt wonderful again. Two waves later, she was moving down again.
It doesn’t hurt! But that feels really weird.
S. was holding me under my arms. I sagged into him.
Here comes anothe… ohhhhh!…this was a mega wave. My entire body was engaged. This power from outside, or somewhere deep inside, I could not tell, rippled through me. And I was pushing, pushing with all my might, the power would not let me do anything but push, and just when I thought I had exerted all the pressure I possibly could, it asked me for more, it surged, and I pushed harder.
This is beyond words. But it does not hurt?
I shouted “I’m pushing!”. No, duh. I was trying to tell them that there was no way I could not push. I was trying to explain the power.
Rest. Sweet rest. Sweet warm water. Wait, there was something…
I asked Heather “ Don’t I get some honey?”. She looked amused. “Would you like some honey? You can have some honey, sure”.
Nothing else is going” right”, but yes, I’m going to get my honey!
My mom explained where it was and she went to get it. She gave me some. Mmmm that was good. But, too much, too sweet. Besides, here came another surge.
The power was back. And it had brought a friend. The verb pushing does not describe it well. I was splitting, crushing, bursting. As if my whole life had come down to this moment. The surge traveled in all directions, up in my throat in the form of some primal noise, down my legs in a terrible shudder, up my arching back, and mostly to my butt. The silly thought crossed my mind “it really does feel like your going to shit a bowling ball”.
S. caught me. I tried to sit on the comfy pool seat. Ohh. NO, no, no sirree! I couldn’t stand even the slightest pressure on anything. So I floated.
Huh. I haven’t pooped.
It felt like 3 seconds later the power was back, coursing through me- I was becoming it - and it was defining me. I had no control, but I did not mind. I think my eyes rolled back in my head, and Heather saw it. She looked at me calmly. Her calm did not match the situation. There was no calm, only raw energy and chaos around all of us.
Can’t she see it?
“I know this is really hard for you right now, but what your feeling is normal” she said.
As trite as it sounded, it was music to my ears. It was the reassurance I had been craving. I wanted to cry, but the power was back, and it demanded so much more from me than I had…and yet as it spread, it also gave…gave the strength it demanded.
Now it hurt. The ring of fire is a great way to describe it. I was aware of only the power and this burning… battling each other. The burn was winning.
She’s stuck. She’s not moving down anymore. IT BURNS AND SHE’S STUCK!!
“She’s stuck” I told Heather. “Why do you say that?” she said. “Because she’s not moving anymore.” “No, she’s not stuck, she’s just stretching you”. She said it very calmly as if she had heard that many times. She said more but it was lost on me as I swayed in the water, supported by S’s hands. My mom was fanning me during the surges. There was a suggestion to turn on the overhead fan and then turn it back off when she came out, but I knew she was coming soon.
She. has. to come.. out …next. One. I’m being so loud, I wonder what the neighbors think. Oh well.
It was back all too soon. I wasn’t ready, but I knew I had to finish this or I wouldn’t be able to. Heather was applying counter pressure but I was barely aware of it. I did see my pelvis parting and the glimpses of some hair.
Whoa. That is just weird. Hey, at least I’m not pooping.
I embraced the wave and fed it my determination. Suddenly, I felt a slip and with it the most profound relief I’ve ever experienced.
Ohhh…. Thank you, God!!!
Her head was out!! A few seconds later, as if the power knew I could not wait, it resurged and her whole body slid out. It was the more incredible feeling ever. Relief. Bliss.
S. whispered in an awed voice “Wow” and then a few moments later “AlhamduiAllah (praise be to God)” as Heather gently pulled her towards my chest. I felt a strange sensation of the cord inside me accompanied by a little tug.
“Her cord is really short.”
I was leaning back against S., but at this I raised my head for a second and saw that she only had about 6 inches. Words were exchanged, but all I knew was that Heather was holding her and then she was crying.
Hahaha. Just like the movies. How funny.
The power was gone, and it had taken everything else with it. I could not move. I could not talk. Breathing was hit or miss. Heather was babbling about moving to the sofa or some such nonsense. As if I could move.
Oh yeah. The baby needs to come out of the water.
I must have communicated this, because the next thing I knew S. was heaving me out and over the pool (no small feat- I later found out this hurt his back for many months) and Heather was following with R. She laid her on my stomach since the cord wouldn’t let her reach my chest and covered her with towels and blankets. I struggled to lift my head and look at her.
Oh my God. That’s my daughter!!
I felt like crying, but was too tired.
“Salaam aliakum (peace be with you)” I told her. “Welcome to planet Earth”. I did manage a weak smile. S. was by my head staring at her. Her eyes were closing and opening and she was making tiny gurgling noises. I felt my heart swell like never before.
Heather was pressing on my stomach. I moaned and my head fell back.
I don’t want any more pain!!
“Your fundus is nice and low” she reassured me.
Good. It’s all over.
I think it was here S. said the call to prayer in her ear. I was too tired to watch. We rested a just few moments, the baby and I both struggling to open our eyes. The pain and pressure in my pelvis was getting worse. Heather told me to cough and push a little. I was not excited about it, but complied.
Ahhh! …ahh. Ok. That feels much better. I forgot about the placenta.
Heather pushed down on my fundus hard.
Mmmm! Maybe not!
Then she was on my chest, and we were trying to breastfeed. It took her a try or two, but then she was sucking away. My uterus hurt. I was trying to keep it together to focus on her breastfeeding but holding her was exhausting and the cramping was very distracting.
I remember I looked at Heather and asked “Isn’t there anything you can give me for that?”. Half a second later she was back with it. It got a little better, but not much.
The baby wasn’t breastfeeding anymore. I’m not sure if she had stopped or I didn’t have the energy to hold her up anymore. I kept asking if she was ok.
Don’t drop her. Just keep holding her. That’s all you have to do.
Heather was asking me if I wanted to eat something.
This crazy lady. I can’t move. I hurt- the cramps. So weak.
“I’ll have some orange juice” I mumbled. A minute later Heather said she needed to go inside me and check for a clot. She didn’t mince words this time, saying it would hurt.
More pain? Seriously!?
“If I don’t, you may have to go to the hospital” she said. Somewhere in this she gave me some injections.
She’s serious. Oh man, this sucks.
I braced myself. It wasn’t enough. It felt like I was pushing R. out again. Just when I thought she had finished - she went deeper.
You’ve got to be kidding me!!!
“Oh yeah…yeah… you’ve got lots of clots.” Amid the pain, the back of my mind registered that she was changing out lots of chucks and there was blood everywhere.
I was so relieved when she was done. She pressed on my stomach some more and I had the sensation of liquid leaking out as if I was a sponge and she was squeezing me. Just when I thought the horrible ordeal was over, she informed me that she need to put her finger in my butt and check my tear.
I wanted to throw a tantrum but was so far beyond exhausted I managed a weak nod.
Don’t …drop her
Heather looked into my eyes. She was calm as she said, “This tear is beyond my capability to repair. You’re going to have to go to the hospital.”
I recognized the calm. It was the same way I talked to my patients when I needed to act quickly but didn’t want to create alarm. I knew in that moment that I was safe and Heather was very capable- because it is the mark of expertise to recognize when you’re out of yours.
“Ok” I said. Part of me was devastated; the other part was too tired to care and trusted that if that’s what I needed, I should go. I told her I wanted my mom to hold the baby and S. to go with me.
She should know what to do with the baby better than him.
“Call Dad and call M., tell them to pray”. S. got my phone and I called M. Mom called Dad. I closed my eyes and listened.
“Hello Grandpa.” Mom said. He immediately started in babbling about how he couldn’t sleep. Of course. Always about him.
Finally He paused and said “did you say Grandpa?”. I didn’t have the will to continue to track the conversation.
Don’t drop the baby.
Heather asked mom to get off the phone and help.
Everything started to spin and fade. I was fighting, determined not to leave the moment.
“Whoa, I’m dizzy!” I tried to shout.
Oh no. Oh no. Shit.
Panic. Peace. Leaving.
OPEN YOUR EYES!!
Huh. This isn’t bad. No! No! TRY!
I fought. The room came back into focus a bit. I kept fighting.
S. brought a shirt. Somehow, we managed to get it on. They asked me if I wanted to cover more but I was too tired.
My mom was going to meet the ambulance. Then they were there. Half a dozen army-looking men were in my private space. Seeing everything, yet not truly seeing. To me, it was a very long time as they got their stuff together.
There was a white towel spread over the stretcher. And then I had to move. I gave my mom the baby. It wasn’t fun. As gingerly as I sat down, my tailbone still really hurt. I was still basically naked with bloody chucks plastered to me. Of course, I had lots of help but I might as well have been asked to do 100 pushups, my whole body shook violently.
They lifted the head of the stretcher, and everything went black. “Whoa! Head! Needs oxygen!” I shouted but it came out a mumble. They lowered it back right away. Somehow, I managed to hold onto reality.
That was really dumb.
We were moving out the door and down the stairs. Each stair hurt. I opened my eyes.
Wait…I thought they were open?? …. why are we at the top of the stairs still?!
Time blurred…up was down…the whole world floated underwater. Then we were going over the cracks in the sidewalks. Every jostle sent lightening through my pelvis. My tailbone hurt so bad.
Well, I guess its good it’s the middle of the night. Hopefully none of the neighbors will notice the fire truck and the ambulance and the naked lady being wheeled out.
I gritted my teeth as they loaded me in the ambulance
Huh. So this is what these things look like on the inside. Not too bad.
A man sat next to me and we chatted about my name and DOB, and that I really would prefer my IV not in the AC (elbow) but if he insisted it was ok. I was feeling better already. I was suddenly very chatty- wanting to know my heart rate and blood pressure. My heart rate was 145, but my blood pressure was almost normal.
My body is compensating.
I asked them about their night and we continued talking about medical stuff. I was trying to make it less awkward, trying to assure them indirectly I wasn’t stupid having a home birth and that I knew what I was doing.
The doctor met us at the door. They wheeled me straight to the second floor. It looked like the entire floor was waiting for me, along with two of my old classmates. At first I was embarrassed, but they were cool about it, joking with me. Plus it was two I always liked. I started to relax…I knew everything happening now. The transfer to the hospital bed, the lab technician trying all my veins that were normally nice and juicy but had collapsed, the bustle. It was familiar. I chatted with them too, and happily accepted a low dose of pain medicine. I had had quite enough pain, and the birth was over. It occurred to me that I had not thought of pain medication until that moment. My classmate inserted a catheter…and it was painless. I tried to tell her our teacher would be proud but was too sleepy. They sewed me up, and it wasn’t exactly pleasant but the medicine helped a lot.
S. sat next to me as I chatted away about all kinds of nonsense. Slowly people trickled out of the room until it was just me and my nurse- J.- my old classmate. I was so far beyond weary. My mind returned to my baby and I suddenly missed her. A few minutes later Heather and my mom were there with her and laid her on my chest. I finally cried a bit then, I felt awful for leaving her. I tenderly cradled her and got my first good look. She was so precious. I laid my head back intending to go to sleep, but she wanted to nurse again. The reality that no matter how tired I was, she would come first set in. I felt underwater, but this time from utter exhaustion. I gave her to S. to hold and the nurse chuckled at how awkwardly he held her, but it seemed normal to me. Day was breaking and the shift would change soon. I was so grateful for my urinary catheter.
She started to make those adorable newborn sounds that aren’t quite a real cry, and squirm. S. placed my daughter back on my chest and she immediately relaxed and slept. She would literally stay right there for the next day. Heather finally said goodbye. I checked to make sure R. had room to breathe for the umpteenth time and let my head fall back into the uncomfortable piece of cotton they called a pillow. My thoughts were a spinning medley of everything that had happened as I slowly drifted off into a light sleep.
* People talk a lot about surrendering, and letting go of the fact you don’t have control. I never faced this. I was aware of the fact that I had no control over what my body was doing, but it did not bother me. In fact, I was happy, because all I had to worry about was trying to breathe and let it do the rest.
* I had this entire notion of home birth as beautiful, calmer, natural, spiritual, and surrounded by love. Empowering. I was supposed to face the hardest thing I would ever face and push through it. If I would describe it now, I would say that my home birth was raw. It was a kaleidoscope of intense physical sensations, the only spiritual aspect a beautifully answered prayer for rest. I was well taken care of physically, yet I felt so alone at points. Everyone did their best and some were experiencing their own fear. In addition, there were other relationship dynamics that weren’t at their best. Looking back, I feel empowered, but I still feel it was God who gave my body the energy. My body never let me down, even as I lost a liter and a half of blood, it compensated and worked the way it was supposed to the entire time.
* The hospital experience was good. I was treated with respect, well attended to, and the only somewhat disparaging remark was that I was brave to do a homebirth. I was very grateful R. did not have to be a patient, yet they still helped me with breastfeeding. As a professional myself, I was glad to have professional help to the bathroom because the first time I tried to stand my heart rate went way up and my oxygen dropped and I wouldn’t have wanted to pass out at home. Having someone change me the first few hours was wonderful. S. and my mom got a bit of rest too, which was lovely for them.
* Being at home for my labor and birth was secure, warm, and great in so many ways. I loved the pool. I did not have to worry about when to leave, as by the time I realized this was the real thing I would have been in terrible condition for even a 5-minute car ride. I felt in control of the things I could control, like the lighting, food, noise etc. Most importantly, I was allowed to labor the way I saw fit, and where I wanted.
* At the time, the transport was ok. I tried to normalize it. But it was a very not normal thing, probably not even for the EMS men. It remains an embarrassing, scary and painful experience.
* Having Heather come for home visits and available via phone the following weeks was AMAZING. She saved my sanity on several occasions. The closing the bones ceremony was very healing. Sitz baths and “padsicles” are the bomb.
* I only remember what I have written, and even some of this is filled in from S. and Mom. I do not remember my daughters face, her cry, what she felt like. I was not there when she was weighed and measured. I had to leave her for almost 3 hours. These are by far the most sorrowful parts.
* A year and a half later when I think about it, or a friend is in labor, I feel: Loss- A quite, dull ache. Apprehension- This has replaced the wild panic. Excitement – I want to try again. As well as excitement for the other person. Distance- It seems far away, and long ago.