I believe in the power of nature, the strength of my body. The labor and delivery of my first child was a week of nature testing my belief. On day one, jabs to the side of my abdomen began. Knowing a bad snow storm was coming and sensing the anxiety of my family, we drove the 35 miles to the hospital. I chose this hospital because of their family friendly policies. A brief visit to the hospital confirmed what I suspected, something was happening, but it wasn’t going to lead to a birth right away.
The next day, fetal monitoring and an ultrasound showed the placenta to be healthy and established for the midwife what I already knew, my baby was fine. During our visit, she told me I had experienced “false labor” and my body didn’t know how to coordinate itself into “real labor.” In 2 sentences, my practitioner, a woman I had chosen because I trusted she would support my efforts at a natural childbirth, had destroyed my self confidence. The doubt I had buried under months of practicing positive thinking had been allowed to surface and he was on steroids, flexing his muscles every moment he could steal.
Now at a week overdue, I was pressured to have my labor induced. Was the natural birth I had hoped for an unobtainable dream? On night three, my abdomen felt like it was lifting to my chest with 30% of the contractions I experienced. Finally I was feeling effective contractions but they suddenly stopped at 5 am. Nights 4 and 5 were much the same with the percentage of effective contractions increasing each evening only to suddenly stop in the early morning. My tears of discouragement turned to an angry resolve. I sought support and answers to “why” from a friend with a similar long labor and the doula who had conducted our childbirth classes. Maybe the baby was positioned wrong, maybe I wasn’t relaxed enough, maybe I had unfinished business and wasn’t ready for the baby to arrive. Over night 6, all of the contractions were effective. Day 7 was different. The sensations didn’t suddenly stop and though they were still not coming with a timed regularity, they were there after breakfast and a shower. “Let’s go” I said. “We’re not coming home until this baby is born.” Three hours after arriving at the hospital, our beautiful boy was born. Our amazing birthing team had done it. My husband kept me comfortable with cool compresses and iced beverages. My mother’s calm and soothing voice kept my mind busy visualizing relaxation so my body was allowed to do its job unimpeded.
The midwife later told me his umbilical cord was unusually long and wrapped a couple of times around my son’s abdomen, holding him high in the womb. I no longer believe my baby was testing and preparing me for the challenges of parenthood. He was working his way, as best he could over 5 nights of contractions, to reach the birth canal. He allowed both of us time to rest during daylight hours. If only I had trusted nature and my baby, I would have allowed myself the peace and pleasure of those winter days.
As I prepare for the birth of our second child, I am giddy with my belief in nature and my body. If I sense the need to travel the 6 miles to the local medical center, I will gratefully accept the services of the skilled staff there. Otherwise, you will find me at home with a homebirth midwife, surrounded by my family, trusting and listening to nature, my body, and my baby.
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