I needed real healing after my first birth. The kind of emotional healing that only came when my second birth went amazingly well. After that one, I believed I could do anything! Then, in the midst of my third birth, my confidence slowly crumbled into a mixture of confusion and doubt. But my fourth, ahhhh, my fourth and last was complete surrender and total bliss. I went out on a high note, one that gives me a tingling feeling every time I see a newborn or pregnant woman. I won’t tell you where it tingles, but it tingles alright.
As different as each of my birth experiences was, there was not a single one where I didn’t channel a higher power.
“We prayed, meditated, spoke with our son”
My firstborn had some difficulty coming out due to the cord wrapped twice around his neck. I endured a very prolonged, brag-worthy labor…nearly three days! Eventually, I was surrounded by a team of nurses, midwife, and doctor all telling me a c-section was inevitable. I wasn’t on their team. It literally took days, but I finally, finally stood up to everyone and asked for a few minutes for my husband and me to be alone. With our physical world spinning, we tuned everything out and focused completely on our baby. We were never so serious, so scared, and so determined. We prayed, meditated, spoke with our son…whatever you want to call it. We played IZ’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” so I could hear my favorite line, “I hear babies cry and I watch them grow…” I wanted to hear my baby cry so badly! Not quite twenty minutes later, the nurse checked me and I was dilated a few more centimeters! She looked at me and said, “Whatever you just did, keep doing it.” And we did.
“I had no drugs, no epidural”
I have a hard time explaining my second labor. All I can say is it was an out of body experience. As soon as a contraction started building up, I went into a trance-like state and visited a world so heavenly and peaceful, I often didn’t want to come back when the contraction had subsided. In fact, my midwife later told me she was growing concerned at how lifeless I would become. Indeed, I closed my eyes throughout most of labor. This I know because it was filmed. I had no drugs, no epidural. Just endorphins and a peaceful escape.
“This time, I prayed hard for an epidural”
I was so confident going into my third labor that I stopped at my favorite bakery on my way to the hospital, treated myself to a cupcake, and bought a fruit tart to share with the nurses. I had come a long way since my first birth, knew what I was capable of thanks to my second, and yet, when complications arose, there I was back to my scared and confused self. Turns out, my baby was in the posterior position. We tried to deal with the lower back pain and the ceased dilation; the doctor tried to turn her around. Everything just led to another threat of C-section. This time, I prayed hard for an epidural. It worked, I dilated quickly, and even though I couldn’t exactly “feel” those pushes, I thought each one of them through and my 9lb, 2oz. baby girl was born, sunny side up.
“I ignored early labor entirely”
I knew my fourth birth would be my last, so I did everything in my power to savor it. Well, first I ignored early labor entirely. I went about my life as if I wasn’t having contractions every 5 minutes. I cleaned my car, made food for the kids, put away clean laundry, took a shower, blow-dried my hair, I kid you not. There was a point where I thought about keeping the intensity and frequency of my contractions to myself in order to “accidentally” have a home birth, something I always wanted to try. Alas, I opted to stick with the familiar plan and checked in at the hospital…at a whopping 7cm dilated! Of course, I wasn’t home free yet, but I had this moment of feeling truly blessed, truly at one with women giving birth all over the world, truly thankful to feel every physical sensation it took to get my baby out and into my arms.
I believe a woman in labor has a foot in two worlds. We are like magnets, drawing together spiritual and physical energies to bring forth life. I gave birth with my body and soul.
Be sure to check out the rest of my Birth Story Reflections series: