When I was pregnant with my first child, I spent a lot of time researching different types of birth and the reasons behind many parts of hospital births. I discovered The Business of Being Born, a documentary that is well known in the natural birth community. The documentary focuses on the cascade of interventions that can happen in the current birth culture in the US. It demonstrates how power and control it is often taken away the from the moms and how over time we have been taught to doubt and think poorly of our bodies and how prevalent these thoughts are among pregnant women today.
During my teens and early twenties when discussing having babies with friends, I would joke that I planned to walk backwards into the delivery room to make sure it was easy to get an epidural. I often talked about scheduling the delivery and just having the baby cut out because I didn’t want to mess up my lady parts. I had no intention of breastfeeding or baby wearing whatsoever. My kid would be in their infant car seat with a blanket over them because I wanted to live my life and we would just add a baby into the mix. Those were my thoughts towards birth and bringing life into the world.
After a lot of research and asking people I knew, I decided I wanted something different. I had a lot of experiences in my life that I felt my body had failed me and didn’t do what I thought it was created to do, but I knew deep down inside being a woman meant my body knew how to give birth and for the first time I wanted to stand back and trust that. I wanted to let my body show me it wasn’t going to fail me and that I could trust it.
My first pregnancy was really easy; I breezed through it. I got to my 40 week appointment and my OB checked me (as is regular practice in prenatal care), and I was not effaced or dilated at all. I was not progressing and my cervix was deemed “unfavorable.” My OB was willing to let me go past my due date but following rules they have to adhere to, I couldn’t go past 42 weeks so inevitably we had to talk about inductions. If you’ve seen The Business of Being Born, you know that it sheds light on the cascade of interventions that often happen in the American hospital with moms in labour, which tend to result in a high c-section rate. I knew in my head that if I was induced, it would begin that cascade and before I knew it I would be laying strapped to a table while my baby was being cut out of my abdomen. I was petrified and felt once again like my body had failed me. The one thing it should know how to do and it can’t even figure that out.
After trying my hardest to naturally go in to labour and trying all the different ways to do so, I ended up going in to the hospital to be induced. My induction started on a Monday morning. I had asked for a slow induction to ensure I could maintain as much control as possible in a potentially out of control situation. My labour continued through Monday and Tuesday and some time late Tuesday night I was ready to start pushing. I had been on pitocin for something like 36 hours and without an epidural when we entered the pushing phase. You hear stories of women that gave two good pushes and out came baby, well that would have been a dream. I pushed for 5.5 hours. Exhausted from labour and pushing for so long, and not to mention the fact that all I had eaten in over 24 hours was a piece of toast, the OB came in and gently brought up a c-section. Fear over took my body. He explained that standard procedure would have only allowed me to push for 2.5 hours but because Print and I were doing so well they let me go past that, but didn’t want to wait much longer. In the same conversation vacuum extraction was brought up. I ended up consenting to a vacuum extraction because I didn’t think I had the energy inside me to push any more.
Print was born and I got to hold him on my chest. Meeting my little guy and touching him and looking at the skin tag above his left nipple, and the little point on his right ear, and the birth mark on his cute baby bottom made me realize he is mine. I was the first person to see those little things that make him Print and make him my little one. I had my baby. But I didn’t have the birth I wanted. My desire to ignite faith in my body that I had not experienced before was not what I got. Instead I got more doubts. Doubts that it didn’t know what to do and had betrayed me again.
These reasons and a plethora more are reasons I am choosing to do things differently and (?) have a home birth this time. I want the empowering experience of my body going into labour on its own, contracting and working so very hard in its rhythm to push life into the world when my new little one has the courage to make the journey out to join our family. The desire for this little one to be born with his or her big brother looking on and also being present for their first breath opposed to later being introduced into the family this little one will be in the family from the first moments of life. I see the pictures of moms that have such joy in their births, the relief, the joy, the satisfaction in knowing their bodies sustained and brought life into the world. Knowing that their bodies alone did that and will continue to sustain the life that was formed inside them with the milk their bodies have created. Labouring and delivering at home, the place you spend your time, the place you’re most relaxed and at ease and around the one you love and love the new life that is coming into the world is one of my biggest desires. My first birth was never in crisis mode, but having unknown people in and out during that most precious moment was distracting and stole a little intimacy and beauty from those first moments as a new family.
These are the things I want with this birth, the satisfaction and empowering feeling of knowing my body didn’t betray me and did exactly what it needed to do when it needed to be done. And a new life, a human with individual traits and a little personality emerged Earthside to join the family and community of humanity.