I'm so happy to announce the birth of my daughter Fiona Lily Rose. She was born on December 14, 2014 at 5:40 PM. She was 8 lb 12 oz, 20.75" long, healthy and beautiful. We had a natural birth in the birthing tub, at the midwife-run birth center in Rogers, Arkansas.
It was a stark contrast to the birth of my first daughter, which was a hospital birth with many interventions... I was induced with Pitocin at 41 weeks, had an epidural, and had a very fast labor, lying on my back with baby in the sunny-side up, position. The doctor wasn't there for most of my labor, only arriving to catch the baby and give me an unnecessary episiotomy, which led to 4th degree tears. My recovery time was over a month and was very painful. I had residual pain for several months afterwards. It was several years before I felt ready to even consider having another baby, because I was scared of labor.
During this last pregnancy, I had two doctors recommend that I have an elective C-section because of the fourth degree tearing my first time. They said it would happen again, that I could end up with permanent damage, and it was better to just avoid it by having a C-section. My husband and I both very much wanted to do a natural birth and sought another opinion, that of the midwives at the birth center. I'm so glad we did. We had a truly amazing birth experience this time, drug and intervention free, and it was so much better for me and the baby. Not only was the birth much more peaceful than our first time, but my recovery time was much faster. I walked out of the birth center 4 hours after having the baby. It was less than a week before I was feeling like myself again.
My labor was very fast this time as well, less than 3 hours total. It was a Sunday afternoon and my husband Chris had gone down to the car and was fixing the brakes, which he had waited as long as possible to do because he didn't want to be stuck in the middle of a brake job if I went into labor. I was lying in bed half-asleep when I felt a sensation like a little *pop* in my belly, a little different than the baby's kicks and also in the wrong place, too low. I realized it was my water breaking. I grabbed an apple on my way downstairs to tell him, thinking I'd better eat something now since I might not be able to eat for a few hours. When I got down to the car I asked him, "How much more do you have to do?"
"I'm done!" he said.
"Good," I said, "Because my water just broke."
He took the car for a quick test drive and I went back upstairs and called the midwife. This was at 3 in the afternoon. She said to wait until I was truly in labor (contractions about 1 minute long and 4 minutes apart) to call her back and we'd go meet her at the birth center. By the time I was getting off the phone I was already starting to get some cramps. By 3:30 I was having minute long contractions just a minute or two apart. Chris quickly packed the car and got our four year old ready to go. We dropped her off with my cousin just before 4 and started driving to the birth center. By that time I was having very strong contractions. I lost the ability to really talk at all because the contractions were taking all my energy and concentration. Every bump in the road was extremely uncomfortable. I kept wondering if everyone else was hogging the road or if Chris was driving very fast but I couldn't ask him. He told me later that after I dropped the f-bomb during a contraction he started going 90 mph.
We got to the birth center a little after 4. The midwife, Lauren, asked me if I wanted her to check me. I couldn't fathom the idea of getting up into the bed at that point. I just wanted to get in the tub. I told her, "No, the baby is coming really soon." She said later that she didn't think I could be so close because I was still so calm. I was very focused. In between contractions I had Chris get my headband, chapstick, and put on music (Kula Shakur, his pick, turned out to be perfect).
I think by the time I was getting in the tub I was already in the transition phase, and it wasn't long before I knew it was time to start pushing. My instincts completely took over and with just a few encouraging words and instructions from the midwife I felt I knew exactly what to do. After changing positions a couple of times I felt at some point I needed to get back on my hands and knees in the water and wordlessly did so with a little help from Chris. Lauren coached me through slowly pushing the baby down the birth canal, then a couple of big pushes that took all my strength to push out her head, and then right away another big push and her body came out. Fiona was born in the water at 5:40. I will never forget seeing her for the first time, a dark shape moving through the bottom of my vision and then she was on my chest. I had dreamed that she would have a full head of dark hair and sure enough she did. I looked down at her and just thought immediately how tiny and sweet she was, such a tiny helpless face. And I felt tremendously happy and protective of her.
I had some very minor tears that required a few stitches but nothing like the first time. My body, when allowed to give birth naturally, performed much better than when forced by drugs and strapped to a table... (not surprising is it?) The entire experience was very empowering. I encourage other women to research natural birth, specifically the Bradley method and the principles of Lamaze were both great resources for us. Though I don't plan to have any more children I am no longer scared of childbirth. It doesn't have to be painful or scary, it can be a truly beautiful and amazing experience.
Fiona is almost two weeks old now and doing great. She is very sweet and laid-back. We feel very lucky.
Happy New Year!