June 24, 2009

The Secret

I attended my first home birth this week. I am part of a small group of friends in Dayton that support healthy home birth, and want to help expecting moms however possible. Some of us are more educated than the others, so we try to have at least 2, if not 3 of us at a birth. We are not midwives, and do not practice medicine; we are not licensed. Natural birth is best left alone. So we don't do much but encourage the mom to keep her sounds productive, drink fluids and move around, and warm the blankets for the baby's arrival. The mom knows this, and wants to home birth anyway, so when we're invited to be a part of it, we're truly honored. This was my first experience as a doula (birth attendant/mother's helper, encourager, etc) at a birth. The mom's labor was very similar to my own with Melody last year. The night wasn't at all what I had expected, and it taught me a lot. But it was wonderful.
The mom went into labor in the evening, and by about midnight we were convinced it was the real thing, so I made it over there a little after then. She was laboring perfectly, contracting normally (and frequently), and truly beautiful. I was in awe of her true, natural beauty, as her body worked and she allowed it to. I felt utterly helpless. I knew her pain; I remembered exactly how it felt. How there is nothing you can do to escape it, nothing really to ease it. I just wanted to hug her and cry for her. I couldn't think of anything else to do, so I began to hold her hand during contractions. When she squeezed back, I felt good about my presence. She began pushing around 3. It was intense. When we saw the head, we couldn't help but to start yelling, excitedly telling her to keep going, he's coming! I vividly rember being positive that there was no way she could stretch more the get the entire baby out. It seemed impossible. But she did stretch, and the baby's head was born! It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Then it became scary, as the baby's head looked very blue. The other doula didn't look at all concerned, so I didn't say anything. The last thing you want to do is worry the laboring mom. Get the baby out, and then deal with whatever needs to be dealt with. But inside, I was in knots. The rest of the baby was born in one push, and he was perfect. He immediately pinked up and looked completely healthy. Talking about it after the fact, I was informed that a blue or white head is normal at birth, as long as it becomes pink soon after the rest of the body is born. Since the baby is still receiving all of it's oxygen through the umbilical cord at this point, there's no need for concern. I don't know how I missed this in all the books I've read, but apparently I did! I can't wait to experience another birth without that worry.
After the birth, the mom had a slow trickle of blood for the hour before the placenta was born. This was a little worrisome, but after the placenta came out, the blood loss decreased. Since she was feeling dizzy that first day, we told her to go to the hospital if she felt bad for the next day, because she did lose a good amount of blood. I was worried about her that first day, because I didn't want her to go through what I did. Eight days after Melody was born I went to the hospital and had a D&C procedure to remove some placenta pieces that broke off in the uterus and didn't come out on their own after the birth. The retained placenta was making me very sick. I remember how awful I felt that first week, so I was praying that she wouldn't have the same experience. Thankfully, today she looks great and is feeling much better. I do think her body expelled the entire placenta the first day, and that she will be just fine. The baby boy is perfectly healthy and beautiful, and nursing well. All in all, the birth was a complete success! Healthy and happy mom and baby, as well as the comfort of their own bed.
I was so honored to be a part of this, and I can't wait to experience more.
As she labored, I remember thinking "I feel so bad for her; I'm so glad I'm not going through that right now". But as soon as the baby was born, and lay nursing in her arms, I was envious of her. As much as I don't want another baby any time soon (I really don't), there is something so wonderful and powerful about the presence of a newborn. I would go through the 9 months of discomfort, and the hours of pain, just for that first week after the birth with the endorphins and the brand new baby. I guess it's how God wired us as women.
I'll close with a great quote:

"We have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful; it's that women are strong." -Laura Stavoe Harm

1 comment:

  1. Lucky you. Now you know how I felt being with you at Julian's birth. You may have chosen the hospital with him, but the feelings are the same. You were miserable. Julian was in peril due to the lovely knot he had made in his umbilical cord. All I wanted to do was hold you and tell you it was going to work out perfectly. And now you understand why all us women were shouting as you pushed. It is such an electric moment, to witness a child being borne.