There are two births that come with every new baby–the birth of the baby, and the birth of the birth story.
A mother’s telling of the birth of her child, I believe, has the potential to be profoundly healing, not only for her, but for any woman who hears her story.
As I nursed my baby at three this morning, I read another mama’s birth story. I was riveted, and I kept reading even though my daughter had long since fallen asleep.
As I crawled back in bed, I found myself thinking about this other woman’s birth story instead of my own. Up until that night, I would lay awake, my mind turning over the events of Vivi’s birth, over and over. Did I make the right decisions? Is there anything I would have done differently? Am I traumatized? Is she?
But this time I thought of someone else, felt her suffering and pain, her joy and renewal. Just from reading her story, I realized, I felt more healed from my own.
By sharing our stories, as mothers, as women, I believe we have the power to heal ourselves and womankind.
So, here goes.
So much was different about Vivi’s birth, and yet so much was the same as Izzy’s.
What was different:
We labored at home for as long as possible. My doctor assured me this was one of the best ways to ensure a successful VBAC. Because once you arrive at the hospital, the intervention begins.
My husband was my doula. He studied to be the best doula he could be. He would stay up most nights reading this book I bought him the size of a dictionary for doulas, dads and birth partners. (Great book, by the way, here’s a link to it.) When I went into labor he exclaimed with the slightest bit of panic, “but I haven’t finished the book!” and speed reading commenced.
We weren’t as scared. We just did this two years ago, and it all felt familiar and manageable. We had confidence that it would eventually end and we would not, in fact, be in labor for the rest of our lives. I trusted myself to handle the labor and contractions unmedicated just like I did the first time.
My contractions stayed far apart throughout my entire labor so that the mood stayed calm and peaceful. During dinner I would pause between bites, put my hands on the table and breathe through a contraction and Izzy would do the same, pushing air meditatively out through her little lips, gripping the table.
We napped. I kid you not. We slept on and off throughout the night while we labored at home, and intermittently at the hospital, right up until it was time to start pushing. My contractions stayed 5-17 minutes apart the entire time. We were cracking jokes, having regular conversations, chatting with the nurses, checking voice mails and everything! Totally unreal.
My water broke on its own seconds before the doctor arrived to break it. Hallelujah! None of this elbow-deep in my lady parts asking to break my water, like last time.
I got to try all the positions during labor and pushing that I wanted to try the first time. During labor with Izzy, I was so exhausted and so out of it, and my contractions were so intense that I felt absolutely paralyzed to change positions. For months afterwards, I would think, “What if I had tried different positions? Would that have changed the outcome?” Now I know with absolute certainty, nope! It wouldn’t have.
I felt more empowered with my ability to push. I simply had more energy this time, and my head was clear to understand the directions of pushing.
I never went into “labor land,” I was completely lucid and present with my husband the entire time, and it was such a gift. (Labor land was such a gift with Izzy’s birth.)
I felt crystal clear about my decision to have a Cesarean birth this time. I was 100% certain that I wanted a VBAC only if it came easily. I did not want to force it. I wanted to do what was best for the baby. Period.
As I lay on the operating table for the third time in the last two years, I had one distinct thought: “I chose this.” It was healing in a way. I didn’t feel like a victim.
I chose to stop pushing this time after 45 minutes (instead of 3 hours) and not to try the Pitocin and the extra fluid flushed into my uterus to see if it would keep Vivi’s heart rate from dropping to a frightening 35 beats per minute during each contraction.
I chose not to see if I could push her out despite the signs she was showing us that she was in distress. I felt I made this decision easily as mother, instead of a mom-to-be. I wasn’t torn between having the “perfect” birth experience, and getting her out safely.
When they later told me the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, I knew I made the right decision.
Vaginal birth just wasn’t in the cards for me in this lifetime, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s an energy block in my body, maybe it has to do with Izzy and Vivi’s chosen path to enter the world, maybe it’s the result of a past life trauma, or the chance to learn a lesson about interacting with western medicine.
Or maybe it has nothing to do with anything, it just is.
What was the same?
Both births were Cesarean.
Both times they handed me a beautiful, healthy, baby girl afterwards.
Both times I thought to myself, “Thank God, thank God, thank God.”
Curious about Izzy’s birth story? Here it is. 🙂