home birth week : graham's birth
I've spent the entire week thinking about what I would post today that hadn't already been covered in some way by all of my previous writings. On Monday I used Sela's story to share how I came to find home birth and to explain typical prenatal/postnatal care with a home birth midwife. Today, I would like to tell you about what I learned with my experience with Diane and what I took away from that relationship to help me better articulate the kind birth I wanted for Graham.
In home birth, as with any kind of birth, it's hard to anticipate what will happen or what kind of things will or won't work for you. For example, I found that during Sela's birth I hated being checked for dilation. It was painful, annoying, and I found it to be discouraging, especially when I didn't progress much (or at all) from the last time she checked. I also knew that for Graham's birth I wanted to stay in the tub to deliver him. Diane didn't feel comfortable delivering babies in the water and had me get out of the tub before Sela was born. In her defense, we had never talked about the possibility of a water birth and I had no idea how much I would rely on the warm water to soothe my laboring body.
When I started meeting with Briana for prenatal visits, we spent a lot of time talking about Sela's birth. Briana was there as the assistant midwife and she is actually the one who 'caught' Sela. It was so great to have her listen to my concerns and to have her offer her insight and solutions to each of my fears. She assured me that as long as things progressed normally there would be no reason to check dilation, that she felt a water birth would be an excellent choice, and that she would be more than happy to help me achieve the kind of birth I wanted.
Just in case you're wondering, having a midwife that is also a close personal friend is really, really awesome. I would send her text messages asking about vaginal twinges and for a lemon curd recipe all in the same message. Our appointments were some of the most healing, honest, and hilarious hours I've spent with another person.
One particular appointment comes to mind, and it had such a profound affect on me that I recorded it in my journal.
Here are the excerpts:
April 22, 2009
All month I've been getting bad news and having bad dreams. So many friends are losing their babies, having traumatic birth experiences, or having children born with unforeseen disabilities. My dreams are dark, terrifying, and leave me faithless and sick with worry. I'm finding it impossible to shake these concerns and feelings, and I have no idea if this is hormone-fueled anxiety or mother's intuition. Am I crazy, or is there something really wrong?
May 12, 2009
Yesterday I met with Briana and I told her everything. I just kept talking and talking and talking about my fears, bad dreams, and everything that has been running through my mind these past few months. She listened. She gave me the space I needed to wring all of the ugliness and darkness from my heart.
When I had finished, she told me a story of a mother who had lost her baby, and she cried. She told me a few stories of complicated births and the skills she used to safely bring mothers and babies together. She told me many more stories of happy, healthy babies born to strong mothers.
She told me truth.
As I left, we hugged and she said, "Rachel, you are a good mom. Just be a mom. Just be the mom you already are."
The quiet confidence she had in me and in her skills as a midwife helped ease my anxiety and I was able to put my fear aside and move forward. The rest of my pregnancy went by quickly as I spent my days chasing a busy toddler and preparing for baby Graham's arrival.
Graham's story is a simple and sweet one, and I don't feel that I can do better than I did in my recordings the morning he was born.
July 17, 2009
Happy Birthday, baby Graham! Your birth was absolutely beautiful. It was peaceful, sweet, and perfect. I spent the evening in our bath tub, holding your dad's hand and thinking of finally meeting you, holding you. Your dad gave me a wonderful blessing before Bri arrived and I held onto those words as I labored through the night. At midnight, I was exhausted and I curled up next to your dad and feel asleep holding his hand and listening to his deep rhythmic breathing. The contractions were still strong, but they felt distant and I was able to allow my mind and body to rest. I woke up at 3:30, ready to have a baby and frustrated that nothing was happening. I was convinced that labor had stalled and I had brought everyone together for a false alarm. I sat on the edge of my bed and offered a quick prayer of gratitude for my body, our family, and you. I also prayed that Sela would sleep well, that you would be born soon, and that you would be healthy and strong. After my prayer, I stood up and my water broke! I woke your dad and climbed into the bath. Briana came quietly into the bathroom and knelt beside the bath tub. I felt your body moved father down into my pelvis and your head crowning. I kept saying, "He's coming! He's coming!" I reached down and felt your tiny, soft head, and I smiled.
And then you were here. You were slimy and warm and absolutely beautiful. I cradled you into my chest and told you how much I love you and how happy I was that you were here safe and sound. You responded with a loud, long cry. You cried and cried and cried while I rocked you and whispered sweet words of love and comfort while your dad held your tiny fist in his hand and Mimi smiled from the doorway.
Thank you, sweet baby, for giving me such a beautiful, life-changing experience.
I love you to the moon,