The second pink line appeared on that tiny test and I was immediately overjoyed & apprehensive.
I was 15 months postpartum from my first son, Gabriel. 15 months since I had endured a beautiful but challenging pregnancy, and a birth that could be called traumatic in many ways. But I was ready, this time. I’d learned a lot, and was prepared to do a lot more learning before the birth of my second child. This time I knew 9 months passed very quickly & I got right to work!
I immediately began practicing pregnancy affirmations and read everything I could get my hands on about natural birth. HypnoBirthing, Orgasmic birth & Birth Without Fear to name a few. During this time I learned there are things I can control (or influence) about my birth, and things I can’t. I educated myself about what I can control and practiced accepting what I can’t.
My first birth trauma was related to how I was treated by a midwife in labor; this time I resolved to do my best to meet all the midwives in my practice, but if someone who wasn’t my favorite was on call when I went into labor, to accept that and work with them as much as possible (but also worked up the courage to request a different one at the first sign of disrespect!)
I was also very afraid of my back labor repeating itself. I armed myself with knowledge of exercises to do in case of back labor (the Myles circuit!) and also did exercises while pregnant to optimize the baby’s position. Some of my favorite affirmations had to do with the baby being the perfect position for birth! I was also aware back labor still might happen despite all that, and reviewed pain relief techniques with my husband since I couldn’t have a doula due to Covid!
When 39 weeks hit, I felt as ready as I’d ever be. I was no longer afraid, I was ready to face labor & birth again! While I desired a natural birth, I knew the limits of my own tolerance, especially due to past trauma, and of my own preparation (I definitely could have taken a fall on Hypnobirthing class and practiced the meditations much more). My plan was to labor at home as long as possible and utilize my own techniques to manage discomfort. However, I was not opposed to an epidural if it would give me much-needed rest to be able to push my baby out naturally! (my first was vacuum-assisted & I really wanted to avoid that more than anything!)
On October 10th I woke up at 5 am with indescribable energy — I literally cleaned my entire house before my toddler woke up at 7! The entire day I was having surges, though I was unsure if it was stomach cramps at first. They weren’t very regular, so I was just monitoring them. When my husband and I went to bed around 10, the surges intensified and I knew it was labor. I so badly wanted to sleep but they were too intense — they were around 10-15 minutes apart and then anywhere from 6-10. I was having back labor again, and I did the Myles circuit, but it didn’t let up. Eventually, I woke my husband up around 2 am to do a hip squeeze. I actually even got really nauseous and ended up throwing up my 9 pm snack - all while my toddler woke up! The surges intensified and we broke out the TENS unit, which helped SO much! That combined with music & hip squeezed are what got me through for a while. My Mother in law came over probably between 3-4 am to watch my oldest. I remember around 4:30 having a really intense contraction and literally feeling my cervical dilate — I knew we needed to go to the hospital, even though the surges were still pretty irregular. When we got there we surprised everyone and I was 5 cm! I was eager to get an epidural, as the back labor was just continuing, even though the baby was in a good position. I got the epidural with no complications & got some rest! Around 9 am my midwife came in — I was fully dilated, and even with the epidural was feeling the urge to push!
She was so kind and asked me how long I wanted to delay cord clamping before we even started, and asked me what position I wanted to push in! This was a totally different experience for me and I was so relieved to be respected. I opted to lay on my back (getting too hands and knees or squatting seemed like a lot with numb legs!) The entire time I was pushing I could still feel the baby moving down though, and the nurse & midwife were SO encouraging - this meant the world to me! The people you have in your birth room can really make or break the experience. It is such a vulnerable time & having positivity is non-negotiable! In about 45 minutes I pushed Isaiah out - he was here! It was magical but felt so ordinary at the same time! I was so proud my body was finally able to birth a baby on my own!
I felt so calm and just a peace like never before for hours afterward. This just goes to show, with a little bit of luck, the right team of respectful & empowering caregivers — a healing hospital birth is possible!
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