I didn’t fully understand the capacity of love until I gave birth to it. Nine months had all accumulated to this one act. My heart had been slowly filling with joy as I created a bond with the child I carried. My husband and I speculated what it would look like, what it would sound like but we could never fathom how much we would love him.
As long as I had the concept of having children, I knew it would be at home. I have never been the biggest fan of hospitals. I think hospital visits can be prevented with the right wellness program. Instead of treating sicknesses, I had the thought of preventing them. With that in mind, the birth of my babies was not to be a procedure but instead a family event.
As my due date approached, I worried about it less and less. I would listen to my body. My baby would let me know when he and my body were ready to take on the adventure. Thinking back to the week before, I should have realized his arrival was upon us. My feet had swelled to tree trunks for the last three weeks. Then one day (just days before Benjamin was born) the swelling went down. I woke up and they were almost back to normal. My body was preparing itself for the event ahead of me.
I had been getting practice contractions for a few weeks. Not bad, I thought.
I had planned on going to a concert with a girlfriend but had the sudden urge to clean the spare bedroom. I swept, I mopped, I moved things around, I climbed on the step ladder, I cleaned cobwebs in the corners and I even chased a wasp out of the room with a broom! Well, needless to say I must have motivated Benjamin because as soon as I finished I started feeling contractions. My contractions started at about 8pm on July 2nd. I sat down on the couch and tried not to think about it. After all, Edgar, my husband, would be at work for another 10 hours! They started really light and I was not quite sure if I was in labor or not. I didn’t want Edgar to have to leave work so I think I subconsciously didn’t allow my body to keep advancing. I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep. I was alone that night. Alone with my thoughts, my excitement, my anticipation. I managed to stay calm and get some rest. I called Jan at 6am when Edgar got home and let her know I was in labor. She told me to time the contractions and try to get some rest while I still could. They were still light and inconsistent.
At about noon we decided to go to the store. I needed food for the next couple of days and had not prepared! We got back and called Jan right after because the contractions were getting stronger. I could no longer walk and talk through them as easily as earlier in the day. Jan and Pam got to the house at about 2:30. They then started setting up the birthing tub. It actually got set up in our bedroom. The whole time they were setting up, I was in the bedroom just swaying through my contractions. My contractions were isolated to the lower pubic area. I could not sit or lay down with them. I had a small bench by my bed and had pillows propped up on the bed and would kneel on the bench and lean forward on the pillows. We learned so many positions in our birthing class but when it came down to it, that was the only position I could be in. It just took a couple of contractions to find it. I kept having to use the bathroom. We don’t have one upstairs so I kept having to go up and down the stairs. I think that progressed things quite a bit!
At about 4:30 the contractions got to be much stronger. Up until this time I was still eating! I had just finished eating some almonds and watermelon. The contractions still weren’t regular and consistent. They were really all over the place. But Pam knew exactly when I had the urge to push. She knew they were progressing differently. I didn’t even have to tell her. I then went in the tub. Edgar went in the tub with me. It was great having him in the tub because I could lean on him and use him for balance. I was also able to look him in the eye and gather strength from him. It was such an amazing bonding experience. We did it together.
My water still had not broken. The baby’s head could be felt through the bag. Then the bag finally broke. I didn’t even realize it had! Right after that at the next push they could see and touch the head. Edgar touched it and Jan told me I could touch it, but I couldn’t do it. I was in such a Zen state that I knew if I touched his head I would break that concentration and lose focus. It would have been way too exciting!
The actual pushing was done when I was ready to push. Not once was I told to push. They told me to do so when I had the urge. The pushing stage was pretty fast. Right after the water broke, there were just two more pushes. I was on a mission! I think it was fast because I could feel what I was doing. The baby then just bolted out! There was no guiding him; he just came out fast! It was amazing. That was at 6pm. I had been in labor for 22 hours. It did not feel like it at all. It was gradual and my body could handle it.
The next few hours were like floating on a cloud. I was giggling and grinning while I was holding him. As soon as he was born into the water, he was given to me. I held his little wet body and could not believe that was my baby. I felt like I had always known him, like we were always together. He didn’t make a sound. He was calm and silent. Edgar sat behind me, holding us. The three of us were together in that water. In love. Then he opened his eyes, it was magic.
We sat in the tub for a while. Edgar cut the cord once placenta was delivered and we went to our bed to cuddle with our little sunshine. As I write this, the tears well up in my eyes. I can hardly speak or write about our experience without crying. There was such joy in our birthing experience.
Jan and Pam will forever be in our hearts. Together they helped us in what is now the single most important day of our lives. Jan’s voice and words helped ground me and bring me back to a calm state. Back to a state where I had control. She was my strength when I felt like I had no more. I will always remember Pam’s gentle touch. She wiped my forehead and gave me water through the whole process. These two women are two of my heroes. They are helping women reclaim their births. They are empowering us to have stories such as mine.