A Family Event
by Malisa Knudson
I had my first baby in the hospital. It was a very unpleasant experience, to say the least. When I conceived again, my husband and I decided to have a homebirth with a midwife. Unfortunately, no midwives were to be found in our area so we opted to consult with a sympathetic medical doctor for prenatals and have an unassisted homebirth. My husband had grown up on a cattle ranch. He had delivered calves all his life and felt very comfortable with the idea of catching our own baby. Our plan was to go to the hospital ONLY if we felt it necessary. We invited my parents and a sister-in-law to be in our home for the birth too – a real family event.
At 11:45 PM I am awakened by a wet feeling. Realizing my water has broken, I wake my husband and head to the bathroom to shower and change clothes. Contractions are strong and hard. The bathroom supplies me with a place to relieve my sudden diarrhea, to vomit, and to shower. Soon my husband is at the door asking me if he should get things ready. Yes, yes, yes, I tell him. The urgency in my voice indicates to him that things are moving along FAST – much faster than any of us expected. After about 1/2 hour in the bathroom I decide to come out and walk around but the contractions take over and make that very difficult. Memories of fear, tension and back labor from my hospital birth keep me from going to the bed. I kneel and lean against the couch trying to stay calm through contractions that are coming one right after another. I do well as long as everyone leaves me alone and lets me concentrate.
Suddenly I feel a pushing sensation that was absent with my first birth. It is a great feeling of control, relief, and pressure. My husband suggests I come and get on the bed. With pillows for support, and my wonderful husband massaging my perineum with oil I enjoy “the push” of birth. My mother is at my feet in awe of the whole process. The feeling is exhilarating – nothing else like it. Even the dreaded “ring of fire” that accompanies crowning is not that bad. My body is in control – it knows exactly what to do and what not to do. No doctors and nurses forcing me into prescribed positions, telling me when to push, poking fingers into my vagina. I can feel the baby’s head coming, making her exit in a gentle non-rushed way. The feelings are wet, breathtaking and pleasurable. My body pushes a couple more times and out she comes all at once, from head to feet. Exactly 47 minutes since my water had broken. No episiotomy, no sutures and shots, no IV, no drugs, and NO STIRRUPS.
I have since gone on to become a midwife, vowing to help other women and their families find pleasure and joy in childbirth by educating and protecting the normalcy of birth.