Anonymous Mom is a column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity. The following is a follow up to an Anonymous Mom column we published last December.
I’d like to share the story of the birth of my second child, a baby girl named Eve. Six months ago I welcomed her into a tub set up in my bedroom after just three hours of labor. The experience was almost— but not quite—perfect. It was so different in every way from the traumatic home birth of my son nearly two years before.
During my pregnancy I wrote an article about my emotional decision to attempt another homebirth. That story was incredibly cathartic for me to write and share and it proved to be a catalyst for my changing perspective. Somehow, putting my messy truth out there helped me bring back into focus what was really important. I took to heart many of the reader’s comments and sought help from a variety of sources. Simply put, I was rattled and had lost my confidence; I had to work to get it back and to change my inner dialogue. The physical difficulty of my pregnancy only exacerbated my psychological roller coaster. But as my due date approached, I was so at peace with my decision that it was hard to believe I’d felt so conflicted and scared just a few months prior.
I had to wait until 41.5 weeks for labor to start, but once it did, we were off and running. My midwife, well aware of my precipitous first labor, arrived an hour after contractions began. I was walking down the street stopping at every mailbox for a contraction when she pulled up and ordered me back inside. I was three centimeters. Then my water broke, she administered IV penicillin since I was GBS positive, and my contractions seemed to be progressing rapidly. I asked her to check me again before I got into the birth tub and I was six centimeters dilated.
Oh, that birth tub! Easily the best 60 dollars I have ever spent. Just as the contractions were getting difficult I got into that tub and the warm water took everything down a notch. I found comfort there and was able to relax for a few minutes before there was more work to be done. I had my Hypnobirthing CDs on -- and while I don’t believe I was ever hypnotized -- they were key to me mindfully relaxing and fixating on a positive mantra. The contractions became very intense as I relied on my doula to distract me with different tricks for coping with the pain. I turned to her every time I thought I was going to blow a gasket and she coached me through it all.
While I’d hesitate to call any labor “easy,” this one was relatively so. It was decidedly not horrible and generally manageable. There was only one moment when my mind went to a negative place. Simultaneously, I thought- Oh, no! Square peg, round hole …there is no way, absolutely NO WAY this is going to work. I can’t do this! Those thoughts were followed by yelling every swear word I knew and a few I made up – and that was all followed by holding my baby in my arms. I can’t describe to you those next minutes other than to say that I felt complete, sheer, utter, sweet, sweet relief and a sudden, overwhelming swell of pure love. Our beautiful, healthy baby girl was with us at last.
It wasn't all easy; I had a retained placenta and a manual extraction, which was every bit as unpleasant as it sounds. Seriously, what are the odds that I’d have such similar, but totally unrelated, rare complications after both of my babies' births? It was different this time though. While I’m grateful the midwives at both of my births were skilled in handling the problems that arose, during my second birth I felt cared for and safe instead of panic stricken and out of control. The gruesome minutes were just that; there was no prolonged suffering or lengthy recovery. In the end, one thing had gone wrong, not ten.
I am so proud of myself for choosing a second homebirth. Sure, I’m proud I did it the first time, but that was an easy decision for me. Going for it the second time involved soul searching, but I followed my gut and did what I believed was right. My backup OB, Certified Nurse Midwives, therapist (thanks to everyone who suggested I see one), doula, and family unanimously supported a second homebirth and its medical soundness. The only thing standing in my way was my fear. I wouldn’t let fear dictate my decision. That was not who I was. That was not who I wanted to be.
I don’t have any stake in arguing about homebirth versus hospital birth or over the finer points of the matter. That’s been rehashed on the internet ad nauseam. This is about my journey. You do what is best for you and your family. The fact that I even considered another home birth after my first experience is a testament to how much I value it.
As I march forward into this dangerous jungle of mothering I do so with a bit of awe. When I started writing ten months ago I didn’t know how this story would end but I found the answers and the strength that I was seeking within myself. Now I’ve watched as my body has grown, delivered, and nursed two babies. I’ve watched as it’s gained and lost 100 pounds in the process. I’ve learned to have a little more respect for that body and its incredible power.
The day your child is born is one of the most profound and transformative of your life and the implications are far reaching; how you feel about it matters. Whether in large part or subtly, somehow it shapes you. If you had a rough time on the first go around, let me be the first to tell you -- it can be different the second time.