And then, I’ll remember when they brought her to me again— wrapped, cleaned, and perfect— and we snuggled and I knew I would never let her go. I’ll remember how we tried to nurse for the first time, hours later and how it took us an hour, but we figured it out and it was amazing.
Hers was a beautiful birth.
Hers was a beautiful birth. It was an amazing and emotional experience where I was introduced to love in a way I never had before and where my heart became permanently attached to a human being I didn’t really even know yet. I wouldn’t trade that day and the euphoria that accompanied it for anything in the world.
My son’s birth was quite different. As beautiful and magical as my daughter’s birth had been, it wasn’t as healthy for me or for her as it could have been. The many interventions that happened could have taken a turn for the worst, leading us to a C-section or worse. I’m not saying that some C-sections aren’t necessary or that unnecessary C-section births aren’t beautiful, but there are many risks involved to both mother and baby that aren’t part of a natural birth. Also, delivering your first child via C-section or even with an epidural can set the stage for more births with interventions. These interventions always come with risks for mother and baby.
My son came on his own. The contractions were mine, the pain was mine, the pushing was mine. My body did what it was made to do in its own beautiful timing and cadence. It was textbook—if that is even a thing. Babies come when they come and he happened to come in the progression that doctors prefer. It was a midwife-assisted hospital birth. My midwife was amazing. She listened, affirmed, and followed my birth plan like it was law. My son’s birth started in the tub with the gentle swelling and waning of early labor contractions, and ended on the bed, a place I chose to be, where I delivered him lying on my side with no stirrups, no bed transformations, and minimal monitoring. In between was a series of moving, pacing, swaying, eating, and curling up in a ball to try to sleep. After only four contractions, he popped out on his own in a rush of fiery, bone-moving pain followed by a slippery warmth that I’ll never forget. He curled up naked against my skin for the next hour or two learning to breastfeed and snuggle while the nurses and midwife patiently waited until I was ready to give him up.
His was a beautiful birth.
His was a beautiful birth. It was an amazing and emotional experience where I was re-introduced to a mother’s love and where my heart became permanently attached to a human being I didn’t really even know yet. I wouldn’t trade that day and the euphoria that accompanied it for anything in the world. I love the memories equally. I remember both births with fondness. The excitement when it was “time,” the trial of labor, followed by the joy of delivery. Though I wish I’d done my daughter the service of letting her come naturally, it doesn’t make her birth less beautiful or less moving. I’m still blown away by the memory of her tiny body, the scent of her soft skin, and the way it felt when she latched on for the first time and became entirely dependent upon me in a brand-new way. For both deliveries, I did the best I could. I prepared myself for labor and delivery in every way I knew how and faced it with all the bravery I had. I never intended any interventions for either birth. The difference is the education I received prior to delivery. I didn’t believe my body could do labor when it came time to deliver my daughter. I fully believed in my body’s abilities when it was my son’s turn.
When preparing for my daughter’s birth, I was told to expect pain and I learned that I might not be able to handle it. I was given many pain medication options and told that there are lots of routine interventions that are to be expected during birth. I felt that the doctors knew best and that I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. When I was eight days late and so tired of being pregnant and my obstetrician asked me if I wanted to have the baby that night, I was like, “Oh yeah!” When preparing for my son’s birth, I knew more about what I needed to research.
I’d learned where the education prior to my first birth had failed. With my midwife and the wise writings of people like Ina Mae Gaskin, I discovered that my body is, in fact, capable of delivering the baby it grows. I learned that you can’t really put pregnancy or labor on a set timeline. Your due date is a suggestion. The baby will come when it’s ready. The duration of each stage of labor is also a suggestion.
Again, each baby’s entrance into the world follows a different timeline and most of them don’t really need medical assistance. Labor and delivery is not, in fact, a medical thing and shouldn’t be treated as such. With that information under my belt, I prayed, prepared, and learned coping strategies for labor. I entered the hospital room knowing that my body was capable and I was able to trust it throughout the entire labor. My labor with my son progressed quickly. I think this is mostly because it was my second birth, but I also know that the fact that I surrendered to each contraction and embraced each difficult change and transition without fear helped to lesson the amount of time I spent laboring. The difference between my two, perfectly and equally beautiful births was my prior education and preparation. I went into the first with fear of the process, and into the second ready to embrace it. I entered the first delivery not believing I was capable, and the second knowing I was.
While preparing for birth, you should really be as educated and empowered as possible. Know your options. Know what you’re capable of, and make a birth plan that you and your partner are familiar with that you give to your midwife or doctor ahead of time. If you have a doctor who seems to scoff at your expectations, switch doctors. That’s not the kind of person or the kind of energy you want present during delivery because your body responds to your emotions. If you’re stressed or upset, delivery is going to be more difficult and a presence like that will not be relaxing. The first step is in picking a doctor or midwife who believes in you and has beliefs along the same lines as yours. This labor is something you will be doing, not your doctor/ midwife. Their job is just to assist, or intervene only in the case of an emergency. Your job is to deliver the baby and you are the one who should have all the choice in how that should be done.