My story starts back twenty-plus years. Lots of young girls dream of their wedding, their dress, the flowers. Not me. From as far back as I could remember, I dreamt of my births. I dreamt of the miraculous way each body would enter the world, I loved everything baby-related.
Fast forward to February, 2006. My husband and I were giddy with excitement over our home visit with my midwife. We were planning a home birth, which was, of course, a part of my childhood dreams… somehow this stemmed from the inspiration of my mother giving birth to my oldest brother on the kitchen table (which has been graciously handed down to me, thank you, and if you’re shocked, well, you wouldn’t be if you met my mother). Everything was in order, sanitized, prepared. I had candles set everywhere as naturally, a pregnant body looks much more elegant birthing in candlelight. Two days later I was given the devastating news that our firstborn son was breech. Devastating may be an intense term to describe the moment, but being that this birth was what I had dreamt of for as long as I could remember, I was devastated. My midwife would not deliver a breech baby. We tried every possible action to get our son to turn. Acupressure, chiropractic, massage, stretches, handstands, swimming, floating, and our favorite: smoking mug root on my pinky toes (the best part is it smelled like pot, so we were pleased to circulate rumors in our neighborhood). March 7, 2006, our son, Carter, entered the world via-c-section into a bright, cold, and sterile room. It was far from what I had dreamed.
Regardless, he was there, with us, and he was beautiful. Two years later, we had moved from our country environment to the “big city”… our new insurance would not allow me to have personal midwifery care, but I was informed that I could try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). This news was exciting to me as it is a growing trend in the medical community to ban VBAC’s. As the due date approached, I sadly felt a very familiar sensation: a head… in my ribs. My second son was breech as well. Again, devastated. I also knew this blew my chances for a VBAC in the future as two cesareans usually means your chances to give birth like a normal woman would are gonzo. March 21, 2008, our son, Everett arrived. The not-so-good news? His lungs were filled with fluid, a very common side-effect of elective cesareans…he spent four days in the NICU in which I had to sneak in like a ninja just to breastfeed him. The only word I could use to define the entire situation was unnatural. Everything about the process was completely unnatural.
We recovered, though, and eventually had two healthy, busy boys. One year later, I found out I was pregnant. From the beginning things were much different with this pregnancy than the previous two. At the end of my first trimester, we had a scare and thought we lost the baby. Come to find out, we had lost one, not both of them…that’s right, I was pregnant with twins! What a shock it was, but what a relief as well to know we had “fighter” in there. We found out weeks later that the fighter was a little girl. As my pregnancy progressed, my body did as well, in a way that was foreign to me. My hips spread, wide. The pants I wore all through the pregnancy with both boys wouldn’t even fit past my thighs. Something within me knew that my body was doing what nature had intended it to do, and a spark of hope stirred within me. This is when I decided to do all I could to fight for a VBAC. I’ll spare the details of my journey, but in the end, I was granted the opportunity to birth vaginally. I was elated. To add to my joy, my daughter very much cooperated with my new wide hips, had nestled head down and stayed there for the remaining time of my pregnancy.
We hired a doula as my husband and mother were quite nervous about me laboring at home (there is a slight risk for uterine rupture with VBAC’s). I wanted to labor as long as possible at home because I knew I would be on close watch at the hospital if I didn’t progress on their standard timeline… February 23, 2010, six days past my due date, had found me a miserable, tired, and grouchy mother and wife. I did what everyone advised against… I drank castor oil. I’ll refrain from all of the lovely details, but what I will say is that, by surprise, my beautiful daughter, Scarlett, was born near my bathroom floor (out of my very capable vagina, I might add), into the hands of her daddy. I held her on my chest, looked into her eyes, nursed her, talked to her, all while leaning against my husband. Her cord remained attached, her and I, still joined together for 20 minutes. My mom used chicken scissors to cut the cord, the doula delivered the placenta (which remains in my freezer to be planted–yes, you can gag, but at least we didn’t’ eat it), and we all sat shocked at the beauty of the VBAC that took place. Even though it took two very medical births to get there, we got the home birth I had always dreamt of…except this time, it wasn’t planned by me, it was given from her.
Note from Design Mom: for the duration of my pregnancy, I’ll be posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. You can find them all by clicking here. I’d love to hear your story or memory or advice, feel free to submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.