The Birth I’d Always Dreamed Of
by Lauren Stone
For two weeks I had had some minor contractions. On again, off again and was rather frustrated that nothing ever seemed to come of it. I had just given up thinking, “This is it.”
On Wednesday May 2nd I had checked my cervix and there was none. Just a soft bulge and baby’s head. Though I was only dilated to about 2cm.
Then on Friday, May 4th after taking my middle daughter Nyami to afternoon kindergarten class, my youngest daughter Brenna and I were home alone. I had been having strong contractions all that morning, but didn’t have my hopes up too high.
A little before noon, I was sitting at the pc checking my e-mail when my water broke. Only the fore waters came out. Just enough to get my skirt a bit wet.
I sat for a while and sent a few brief email messages, then sent word to my mother to pick Brenna up. I had Brenna bring me a towel. I knew that when I stood up there would likely be a gush of fluid. I put the towel between my legs and stood up and there was a much bigger release of fluid. WHAT a feeling of relief that was. Though there was no sign of my mucus plug, which struck me as odd.
I got Brenna ready to go, told her the baby was coming and she was going with Oma for awhile. Mother picked her up and I was alone. I felt so calm and peaceful. I chatted online with my friend Michellea for a while. I think she was nearly as excited as I was.
My contractions were coming hard and fast by now. I changed the light bulb that had burnt out in the bathroom, sat my little stool next to the tub with my supplies and ran the water. I was so anxious to finally hold this baby. I couldn’t have been more ready.
I told Michellea it was time for me to get into the tub and I’d let her know when baby was here. I was simply listening to what my body was telling me and following that without question. I knew it was time to enter the water, so I did. It was warm and soothing. The water level was just about half way covering my enormous belly.
I reclined just slightly and the contractions were gripping me hard. I remember talking to myself out loud, “Relax and go with it.”, “Baby is almost here.” I could feel the baby moving down into the birth canal. I had only 4 or 5 contractions in the tub when his head crowned. No pushing, just relaxing and letting my body body do it’s job.
I reached down and felt the head bulging out and thought to myself that I had no desire to push. Yet with the next expansion that all changed. My body squeezed and pushed with no conscious help from me. Half the baby’s head was out.
I remember thinking for a brief few seconds “WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I DOING!?” Then an answer from deep inside of me came, “You are having the birth you always dreamed of”. Again I was calm and filled with a remarkable sense of safety and joy.
It seemed like a long time before the next contraction. I was burning and thought for a moment just to push on my own. But I waited and reassured myself that the next one would come soon. Again my body began to push. This time I bared down and pushed with all the strength in me. Slowly the rest of baby’s head slid from within me. I felt the back of his head and his perfect left ear. I checked around his neck for the cord and it was just a neck.
I adjusted my position slightly and just breathed. Waiting for the next wave and talking to baby, stroking his smooth, slippery little head that I thought was bald.
After a couple of minutes the final contraction came. I pushed again and supported the thin stretched tissue slipping over his left shoulder.
Once the shoulder was free, I gently lifted his head and helped to release the right shoulder and out he came into the water, arms outstretched.
I saw him for the first time then and reached under the water, lifting him onto my belly. His eyes tightly closed he snuggled into me and I rubbed his back and rinsed him a bit. Much to my surprise he had a full head of beautiful black hair – which is where I found the mucus plug, stuck in his hair. I laid him back on my legs and got what I could rinsed away.
I reached over and got a towel to cover him. I felt compelled to leave the water now. Still, I was listening to my body and acting accordingly. His cord was plenty long, so I held him close, carefully getting out of the tub. A gush of blood ran warm down the insides of my legs onto the towel covered floor.
I moved my supplies from my stool to the counter and sat at the edge of the stool. The cord stopped pulsing and I tied it off, cut and checked it. We went into the kitchen to get some juice and check the time. I was so thirsty and had forgotten to take a drink into the bathroom.
We went back to the bathroom and I put him to my breast. He nursed for 30 mins or so. I called my mother, or maybe she called me. I told her baby was here and she said she’d bring my three daughters to see him shortly. I asked her to wait until the placenta had delivered and I’d call her back.
About 40 minutes after Marley’s birth I had to pee, but as soon as I sat down I could feel the placenta drop. I thought to myself that I didn’t want to fish it out of the toilet, so I moved back and squatted over a chux pad and out it fell. Big, firm and completely intact.
I was so in awe of my body’s efficient work. Everything was so primal, so natural, so calm, so healing. This really was the birth I’d always dreamt of. No one to talk to me or ask questions. No one to distract me or stress me. Just me and baby. Alone together. My focus was total and unbroken. I felt strong and rewarded. It was the most empowering moment of my life.
I called Mother back and asked her to bring the girls in 30 minutes, so I could shower and clean up the “mess”. She insisted that I wait and let her come now. So I waited. I think she felt a bit left out. I had not told her that I was going it alone. She was used to the home births with the midwife and was supportive. Though I knew she wouldn’t understand my need to do this, my last birth, by myself.
In a few minutes the knock came at the door and there they were, Mother, Rachel (10), Nyami (5), Brenna, our Mother Hen, (3) and my nephew Garrett (7). I handed over the baby and showered. My ribs were starting to hurt at that point, but I felt good overall.
I got out of the shower feeling renewed, refreshed and reborn. I put on my cloth pads and the lovely nursing gown that Stephanie P. had made for me. I looked in the mirror and I was beaming, so proud of my body and my new son.
I placed the placenta in a big ziplock bag and cleaned up the floor, soaking the bloody towels in a tub of cold water. I placed the placenta in the freezer and joined my family. The children were all fussing over who got to hold Marley next. Brenna announced very matter of factly, as though I did not know, “Mom, he has a penis!”.
After an hour or so they all packed off to Grandma’s house to spend the night. A “treat” for them, a break and a chance to further bond with Marley for me.
After finally weighing and measuring him, my estimates were a bit off. He weighed 8 lbs. and was 21 inches tall. Marley Elijah, bright, alert and beautiful.
After sending a brief online birth announcement, we spent the remainder of the day and evening nursing and cuddling and sharing in the joy of each other’s company.
The next day I realized that I had sustained a small tear on the inside of my left labia, which made urination a stinging experience, though it did not require any stitches. Rinsing with comphrey tea eased the discomfort and within 4 or 5 days it was quite well healed.
Marley is a diligent nursling and on the third day my milk came back in full force. Much to my surprise, Brenna who had waited so patiently for this event, as my milk supply had dwindled during the pregnancy, had weaned herself. Announcing that she was too big for nummies. That was rather sad for me, but she knows when it’s time and I have to respect that.
Marley is truly a joy to us all. Peaceful and calm. Quite the focus of his sisters’ attentions. Marley’s birth was such a grand experience in my life. The water was soothing and aided tremendously in my ability to relax. My confidence was unwavering, the solitude intense and enriching. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.