When I became pregnant with my eldest daughter, Asha, I immediately thought, “oh thank GOD for epidurals! I’ll get mine in the parking lot.”
Then one day I quite accidentally stumbled upon Henci Goer’s “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Childbirth,” and having always prided myself on being a “thinking woman,” I dove into the book head first. Immediately I knew that the epidural was not an option. I left my practice of FIVE obstetricians (at 37 weeks I had only met each of them once or twice) and began seeing the midwives at the UCSD birth center.
Now, this birth center was within a hospital, but I went on to have a beautiful and very fast (4.5 hrs) birth, without IV, continuous electronic fetal monitoring or pain medications. It was an empowering and wonderful, yet very frightful experience for me. Frightful, I say because I was in a cold, impersonal hospital, with bossy nurses. Not to mention the fact that we had to drive an hour (while in very active labor) to get there.
Two years later I became pregnant again. I immediately sought out a homebirth midwife and from my first appointment, the experience was entirely different. Instead of some random nurse checking my urine, the midwife taught ME how to check my urine. My 2 year old helped the midwife hold the doppler and measure my belly each time. I was in control. I was empowered. I was also educated, as I had become a doula when my older one was about 15 months.
As with my first, I had a fairly easy pregnancy.
This time, however, I took extra care of what I ate, I excercised regularly, and gained just 18lbs. I was very healthy, and did yoga and bellydance often. I also used my birth ball from about 28 weeks on… I sat on it whenever I sat down! My husband and I took a Hypnobabies course and practiced almost nightly.
On the morning of December 20, 2008 (40 weeks to the day) I awoke around 8:30am and poured a bowl of cereal. I could feel what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions, happening about every 5 minutes. I felt my belly harden, and a very faint, dull ache in my cervix. I took my time with the cereal, made oatmeal for my older daughter, checked Facebook!
Around 9am I sat on the birth ball and timed my “Braxton Hicks.” They were every 4 minutes, lasting about a minute. I called my midwife , who had a 1 hr 15 min drive, and gave her a heads up. She said, “call me when you think you want me to leave.” Then I called my best friend and doula and she said she’d be over after a quick shower. At 9:30 am, the dull ache intensified enough that I needed my older daughter (who is very high needs) out of the house. Our babysitter came and got her, and I went to the toilet shortly after.
Must have been around 10am…I had bloody show and called the midwife and told her to leave right now. She then called our second midwife who lived a bit closer, and she set out on her way. My best friend/doula arrived, and I was moaning out contractions in my bathtub. I was very tense, but she is a massage therapist and she began to rub my shoulders, which immediately calmed and soothed me.
After a while I felt the need to use the toilet, so my husband and my doula helped me out of the tub. I completely emptied my bowels and had tons of bloody show and several hard contractions. I felt nauseated. I made it back to the bathtub, but hit transition.
My husband and doula were mouthing “where the F@%& is the midwife?” to each other, but I was oblivious to that.
I moaned and hollered away, and at one point stood up out of the tub and declared, “Forget this. Take me to the hospital right now! I want drugs!” Of course, I only half meant it, and I knew I was in the middle of transition, thus causing me to have such thoughts.
I made it to my bed and got into child’s pose alternating with all fours. I was pushing. Still no midwife. My water released all over the bed (thank God we had had the good sense to cover the mattress with plastic earlier that morning).
Finally one of the midwives arrived and I asked her to check me and make sure it was ok that I was pushing. She just sort of chuckled. Obviously it was ok to push. There was no way not to push! The midwife had brought another doula with her, an amazing, maternal woman with wonderfully cold hands that felt GREAT on my hot neck and forehead!
Ten minutes later, at 11:37 am, Shayna Rose was born into my own hands, in my own bed. It was the most beautiful, incredible experience of my life. It made me want to give birth a thousand times more (our main midwife arrived ten minutes after the birth!).
If only every woman could experience this phenomenal joy. BRING BIRTH HOME, WHERE IT BELONGS!!!
I am a DONA (Doulas of North America) trained and Hypnobabies Certified Hypno-Doula, an aspiring midwife (currently completing prerequisites for the graduate entry nurse midwifery program at the University of California – San Francisco), a mother of two strong and vivacious daughters and part time web admin and marketing director for MyBestBirth. I am also co-representative for the California Association of Midwives – Region 10. I am passionate about helping to educate and empower women.
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