Emerson's Beautiful, Healing Birth

Emerson Elle was born on Monday, March 31st, 2014 at 9:38 pm weighing 6 lbs 9 oz. I had a website back then in which I focused on gluten free, dairy free recipes and healthy living and I happened to post my birth story there, so I truly have the benefit of referring back to that original blog post. It is interesting to look back on this old post from four and a half years ago and contrast it to my most recent birth experience... twins, but that is a story for a different day. We decided to have a natural home birth with the assistance of midwives and, although it didn't quite go as planned as you will see, it was beautiful and, I would argue, healed me from my first birth, which was highly medicalized and traumatic for me.

I knew I was going into labor Sunday night, so I went to bed to rest up for what I knew could be a long stretch without sleep (my first labor was 36 hours with no sleep). Fortunately, I was able to sleep through the light contractions until 4:30 am when they became too painful, but not horrible. I told Cam to stay home when he got up to go to work because this baby was on her way! The contractions continued throughout the day, sometimes moving further apart sometimes getting closer together, so we thought we'd go for a walk in the mall and purchase some clary sage essential oil to make the birth go smoother. We enjoyed a really nice lunch at an fantastic Mexican place that is sadly no longer there. By dinner time the pain had become too much and I couldn't eat, so I jumped into a warm bath tub around 7:30 pm where I felt much more comfortable. By 8:30 pm, I told Cam that he'd better call the midwife because my contractions were getting closer together. Cam convinced me that we didn't need the midwife just yet because our first birth took so long and he was concerned that we had a long night ahead of us. If we called too soon everyone would get tired and I would end up going to the hospital - good reasoning at the time, but guys don't know shit about birth. By 8:45 pm I, again, asked Cam to call the midwife and this time he did. It took her a while to arrive, so it's good her put the call in. In the meantime, my contractions started to get closer and closer together and the duration between them became shorter than the contraction length, so definitely moving into active labor. At around 9:30 pm I experienced my first "pushing contraction" and my water broke (still no midwife). At around 9:34 pm I had my next pushing contraction where I literally could not help but push. This time Emerson's head emerged (still no midwife!). Just then the midwife barged through the threshold into the bathroom where I was still soaking in my tub. I told her, "The head is out and the next contraction will be the whole baby." She asked me to get in a reclined position so she could better see. Up until that time I had been rocking back and forth on my hands and knees, which turns out, is my very favorite birthing position, and, sure enough, Emerson was born a minute or two later. The pushing phase was less than 10 minutes in total - you gotta love it! Sure, it was painful, but that's to be expected. I know the second time is always faster and easier, but I also credit the changes I've made in my diet for the difference in births between Baby 1 and Baby 2. I had no drugs, including no pitocin for the delivery of the placenta and no pain relievers afterward. My recovery was also very quick (compared to the first time around) and I was up and walking pretty much right away. I think the thing that bothered me the most were the after pains, which you don't get with the first child. They were almost as strong as contractions and occurred about every 15 minutes for the next 4-5 days when they thankfully disappeared.

I tried not to edit my original birth story too much here, but there was some language in there from almost five years ago that I felt uncomfortable with, even though I was already on a natural birth path. I was bothered by my submission to change birth positions for the benefit of making somebody else's job easier. Sorry, not sorry. I think that autonomy in birth is very important and, reading this passage now, I realize how quick I was to follow someone's instructions without question like a good girl. I was also dismayed to read that "this was a quick recovery" because that just strikes me as the perfectionist in me rearing it's head. My original birth story did not include the palm-sized clot I passed in the following week or two because I was still carrying my three year old up and down the stairs and the super unpleasant internal ultrasound I underwent to see if placenta pieces were retained - they weren't, by the way, I was just overdoing it and refusing help. And it's difficult to really put into words, but, dang girl, you just gave birth... one of the things that will forever define me as a mother - this is monumental and I'm almost just dismissing it as some no big deal injury to heal from (if that) instead of recognizing the sacredness of this moment. My body became a portal and brought forth life and the understandable state of vulnerability that experience left me in. I wasn't supposed to just "heal and get over it", but my eagerness to prove to everyone around me what a healthy, strong, independent woman I am got in the way of just taking a moment. If you're reading this and take anything away from my birth story, take this away, take your moment, be vulnerable, accept all the help when friends and family offer it. Don't be perfect. Just enjoy your sweet newborn as much as you can because it's a special time and they don't stay that little and helpless for long.

And Emmy, if you're one day perusing my website and come across your birth story, thank you so much for bringing your healing, vibrant, sweet energy into our lives. I strongly believe your birth healed the trauma that came before it and set the stage for me to realize that my body is not broken, birth is not a medical event, and, together with my baby, I can birth all on my own without being told how and when to push What a gift you gave me.

#StoryMedicine #Birth #Postpartum