I wanted this birth to be different from the first. In between the births of my babies, I was present for my nephew’s birth in the Netherlands. My sister’s birth had challenging moments that left me a little afraid of birth, it is hard to watch someone you love in discomfort.
Interestingly enough she never described her birth as traumatic. I would have to say from my experience, I felt a little traumatized and fearful of trusting my body and the natural birthing process. Even though, I whole heartedly feel very passionate about birth matters and trusting your body. Therefore, I felt it absolutely necessary to arm myself with the greatest (female posse) around. I wanted a team and I wanted to feel nurtured and cared for.
I had the awesome opportunity to work with the ever incredible Angie & Lori, founders of The WOMB. We met weeks before my birth to discuss my plan, desires and options. I shared with them about how knowing numbers from my first birth is what ultimately led to the perception of a challenging birth (it really wasn’t) and a hospital transfer. It was their brilliant advice and support that perhaps I am not told numbers this round (cervix dilation & how many hours until the next internal exam), we agreed to do a thumbs up (we are progressing) and thumbs down (labour has stalled) system. This felt so good to me, really, really good.
I talked about needing more pain management techniques this time around, the TENS machine among other options were explained to me and I felt good about that too. We discussed the use of music, lighting, essential oils and hypno-birthing. I really felt like I was going to have a different experience this time.
I was almost 2 weeks overdue this time and I was going out of my mind! Induction is something I never wanted to consider, so I was really frustrated. I did go for all the ultrasounds and necessary steps to ensure my baby was healthy and safe. In my last ultrasound they had predicted that my baby was over 10lbs. I kept this number to myself, I didn’t want to hear peoples reactions to how I was possibly going to birth such a large baby naturally. I trust my body and believed that if she was that big that my body would figure it out. I was emailing all my naturopathic friends daily, asking for advice and acupuncture. I really wanted to drink castor oil but I knew that doing it at the wrong time was not going to help put me into labour. They all supported me by encouraging me to relax and trust my baby, she would come when she was ready.
At 9 days overdue, my husband and I decided to stay up late and watch Drugs, Inc. I have no idea why, perhaps it was late and there was nothing else on. We ate snacks, relaxed and at 2am when he was ready for bed- I quietly spoke up and said, I think it is time. Funny thing about labour is that completely forget what it felt like until the first contraction and I had an immediate “oh hell no”, I do not want to do this again reaction. Do you get me? 😉
I think at this point I was having contractions, definitely not too intense but regular enough to think that something was happening. At 3am I made the call to my doula, Angie and she and the photographer, Jen were on their way up. When my doula arrived she assessed the situation and promptly set me up with the Tens machine. Which felt like literal magic during every contraction that I was currently experiencing. At 5am my mother-in-law came for my son and now my house was ready to allow me to move freely (without waking him up). Also at 5am, I called my energy worker, Sandra and my sister. I assume, as I do not recall, the midwives were also called around this time.
As the sun began to rise we headed upstairs to get set up. My husband had the job of filling the birthing tub and so I went into our bedroom to labour there. This time I had the birthing ball, tens machine and my doula guiding my hypo-therapy (I must say I preferred this to a recording), she was able to keep my mind in a really good space and encourage movement when needed, to allow things to continue to progress. This allowed for positive assessments with my midwives, they would share my progressions with my team and I was continuously told that things were progressing nicely.
Everything about this labour was different from my first, I was really in a good headspace, cracking jokes in between contractions, my water had not broke yet, I didn’t feel alone and progress was happening. The similarity was that I was GBS+ this time as well, despite all my efforts to treat to have a negative GBS status, I was unsuccessful. What was different was that when they tried to set me up with IV antibiotics, a vein could not be found. After several unsuccessful attempts (and multiple practitioners trying to locate a vein) it was decided that since my water had not broke and that my labour was progressing so quickly that we would not go ahead with this and just assess for symptoms postpartum. I agreed to this as an option, in fact I was secretly very pleased they could not find a vein.
I felt very nauseous through every contraction, the peppermint essential oil and cold cloths on my neck helped immensely for that. And as my labour progressed, the TENS machine started to not provide the same kind of pain relief it once was. Labour was really starting to intensify. At this point I was assessed again and what I can gather from what I was told was that I needed to move in order to allow things to continue to progress, which is the last thing you want to be told when you are already uncomfortable and every shift feels like a real effort. I was encouraged to move to the birthing tub, but I had to remove the TENS- which broke my heart. But I trusted my team and had to believe that this was the right next step.
(The face that says it all, I was very attached to the TENS machine and I did not want to have to take it off).
We moved to the tub and thats when I leaned on going deep into my own world. I laid there breathing through contractions, making low noises to allow my body to relax and I held hands with the women around me. My birth team was calm and they kept me incredibly calm and my husband worked hard to ensure the tub stayed warm for me. It was big and required his constant attention, which I was completely okay with. My midwives would keep coming in and expressed concerns that my membranes had not ruptured yet. They wanted to get me out of the tub to rupture my membranes so that my labour would continue to progress. I was in La la land so I was willing to do what I was told. Although I didn’t love the idea of my membranes being ruptured for me. Then this beautiful moment happened where Sandra (energy worker/ intuitive counselor), spoke up and said, “I am getting that we should wait 5 minutes”. Everyone agreed to let me labour for 5 more minutes in the tub. My midwives were not comfortable with me giving birth in the tub so ultimately I had to move.
When my 5 minutes were up everyone helped me get up and make my way to my bed (you know the bed I had not prepped for labour with plastic sheets, because the second time around I just didn’t get to it- this matters in a moment..). My midwives truly believed that I had time left to go so women scattered, some went to the washroom. As soon as I got to my bed I felt a strong contraction coming on, I got on all fours and just did what felt natural. I pushed, I made yelling noises (probably not functional, but felt so right in the moment) and in that one contraction and allowing gravity to do its thing, my water broke and in that same moment my baby was on her way. I could hear the excitement around me, I could hear my midwife furiously trying to get gloves on to catch this baby and I just kept pushing. I felt my husband presence now and I liked that. I do not recall how long this moment was, but it felt like 3 mins, one giant contraction and I was done. I was so impatient to find out what I had, I think I was asking and I could hear my sister Yelp “it’s a girl!”. I was so thrilled, I secretly (or perhaps not so secretly) wanted a girl so badly, I was so ecstatic. My daughter was born, and I was exhausted. I quickly moved to my back so I could hold her.
What I remember most about this moment was how proud my husband was of me, crying tears of joy with me. I remember women cheering and clapping, I had a full house and we celebrated.
And I remember the oxytocin high, man was it good! For 15-20 minutes I felt like the most badass, beautiful woman who had ever existed, I was in complete euphoria. Totally naked on the bed, belly now soft and totally covered in everything that had come out with my daughter- I was a mess and yet in that moment I was a goddess, a wild woman in her element.
When the oxytocin decreased and I assessed the reality of the situation I promptly asked for something to just throw a blanket over me so that I could be a little more discrete, funny how we do that when they all had been privy to everything moments earlier.
Everything felt much for natural this time around, skin to skin, bonding, breastfeeding, all of it. I loved that part about having done this before, it was sweet relief and much less of an adjustment this time around. I remember having a really weepy day 3 postpartum, normal baby blues. And because I trusted that she was okay (I constantly checked on my son, because he was my first born), I was calmer, more rested and able to enjoy my time with her.
Here were some of my favourite takeaways from the birth of my daughter:
- Village. Having a tribe of women to keep me in my power, nourish and support me. If this is a possibility for you, I highly recommend it.
- Home Birth. I dreamed of having a home birth so badly, it is where I felt safest, I loved that I was able to experience it. It was as magical as I had thought it would be.
- Pain Management. I felt I had explored more options this time around that were very helpful. A doula for one was imperative to my mental strength and pain management (hip squeeze anyone?), the TENS machine was a game changer for me! The reduction in low back discomfort was HUGE. Talk to your midwife or doula about options for your birth.
- Essential Oils. Peppermint oil on a cold cloth was the only thing that helped with my very intense nausea throughout labour.
- Labour/Birth Tub. The warmth of the water was very helpful in the last parts of my labour, it allowed my body to lean into the surges to allow progress.
- No Numbers. This was one of the best pieces of advice shared with me before my labour. Type A personality? Not good with hearing that things are not progressing as quickly as you would like? Stubborn and rebellious and wanting to move through labour despite how far you are from giving birth? Then this might be a great solution for you too. You’re welcome! ?
- Trusting Your Body. I love the intelligence of the body, it will always move in the position that aids in efficient labour. Birthing on all fours felt powerful and efficient (more so then lithotomy position). Oh and gravity, I am super grateful for gravity!
- Oxytocin. Thank you for oxytocin for the opportunity to experience what it feels like to be a superhero badass and know my power with absolute clarity. I reflect on this moment all the time. I will never forget the power and the pride. Wild and powerful in all my naked glory. Did any of you experience this?
My labour the second time was around 8 hours, Sadie weight 9 lbs 4 oz (not 10 lbs but close). No tearing, no drugs. But I must share that the uterine contractions post birth are very uncomfortable (how your uterus contracts back down to size), I took the Advil for this, it helped a lot. Why don’t we talk about these things- I would have loved to not been so shocked by that part.
Birth is awesome. Birth is normal and powerful. Transformative and empowering.
I hope a different narrative helps you trust your potential.
Sadie, thank you for choosing me to be your mommy. Love you!
Much love to all,