Tuesday, August 01, 2006Reflections on my First-Time Labor and Delivery
One year ago today I was in labor with my first child, who was to be named Aidan. ( I didn't know that at the time!) I thought I'd share some reflections on that event, as it's definitely a topic which most of we women love to share and hear over a cup of tea. Men, be warned: Below content may be a bit too much for you if you haven't gone through this with your wife already!
My labor was a very peaceful, beautiful one, although it was indeed brutal and long. I was blessed to have a homebirth, with my husband, mother and the midwife by my side whenever I needed them. Aidan was posterior for the whole of labor and finally turned just before coming out. One year ago yesterday my water broke at 4:45 AM, putting me immediately into the early stages of labor. I then remained in labor until the next day (today) at 6:40 PM when Aidan took his first breath of air. The labor was all back labor, which, as many of you perhaps know, feels like a truck driving into your back, or like a sledgehammer being pounded into it during the whole contraction. Something my midwife had on hand was her birthing ball, which is basically the same as those yoga balls in the stores. I ended up using that for most of my labor, as it provided the same position as the "pelvic rock" position on hands and knees but didn't involve me having to use my arm/wrist muscles. I simply put my chest on the ball and stayed in that position through each contraction. I also found the shower to be really helpful for relaxation. I share these aspects with you all because if you have back labor, you may find that these things really help!
Being in labor, believe it or not, was something that I had always longed to do ever since I was the age of 15. I wanted to go through that life-giving pain. It wasn't terrifying or scary to me; it was a life-giving force which resulted in a beautiful new baby. Of course, I had the privilige of going to many other births with my mother who is a midwife. I was sort of her apprentice for a time. -I was also blessed to be able to witness the birth of 3 of my siblings. So I suppose that helped me to prepare for my own birth quite a bit. So when the time came, I felt ready to go. I felt strong and capable. I had been swimming laps for my whole pregnancy 4-5 days a week for 45 minutes straight and felt fit as a fiddle! Little did I expect that it would take me 36 hours to go through the labor of my son...When I was in hard labor, and especialy towards the end, left with nearly no energy during the hardest part, I didn't think I'd make it. -You know, the stage when you're not laboring peacefully and beautifully anymore, but are starting to look like a hag and are wasted, wasted, wasted. I literally felt like I was going to die. I'm sure many of you can relate! Yet something incredible happens: your body does it! God helps you through that incredibly demanding time, and even with no food or drink inside of you anymore, in the midst of utter fatigue, you push and your baby is born! It's truly miraculous!
Going through labor can be a very spiritual event. Ellie says that she feels like she can unite herself to Mary in her pain of childbirth. I found my self "clinging to the Cross" in this painful time. It was, to me, a time of union with our Lord who also suffered through life-giving pain, and in the end, in a very physical way, through blood and water, gave birth to new life: the Church. It's amazing how childbirth and His crucifixion parallel each other.
On a home-birth note: The aspect I loved most about having my baby at home was that it was my home: the place where I felt most comfortable and easy-going. I walked up and down my own stairs by my husband's side to get labor going when it slowed down. I took showers in my own tub. I made Aidan a birthday cake in my own kitchen during the first few hours of the "easy labor"... the list goes on. We lit candles in our bedroom to help me to be peaceful and to get rest, to inspire us all towards prayer. My husband and I were able to have privacy and be alone together for periods of time. He was my primary "birthing coach" throughout most of my labor. (And boy, was I impressed!He had never seen a birth, let alone hold a baby, and he was my prince the whole time. Everything came naturally to him.)
I think your body does best in labor when it can relax best and when we focus on the pain. I felt very blessed that all went safely and that I was able to give birth on our own bed, in my own home, where Aidan immediately entered his familiar territory, where we could bond with him best and be a family. After all, giving birth is not a medical problem; it is a natural part of life and women have been doing it forever. I'm grateful that hospitals are there for the dangerous times, for emergencies. But unless something goes wrong, homebirth is the route I hopefully will be able to take for the rest of the children.
By the way, we are expecting our second wee one in the end of February... please do keep our new little one on his/her way in your prayers, as well as Ellie's, who is coming much sooner! I'd like to start a prayer chain or prayer list for expectant mothers. Hmmm...
Nuestra Seniora de la Leche y Buen Parto, Pray for us!
(Our Lady of Milk and Good Birth, Pray for us! )