Birthing Remembered

I've been thinking a lot about Lucy's birth lately. A couple people have asked about it lately and it seems like the reactions I get to my brief synopsis of the event lead people to one of several conclusions. Of course, part of that is because I'm trying to condense an intense, life-changing event into a 1-2 minute story so I'm not saying I blame them but it has had me thinking about what Lucy's birth was - and wasn't.

It was not "lucky" - I didn't just get lucky to get the birth that I did. I knew what I wanted and actively worked to get that. Now I know that some moms do the exact same things (or even more) as I did to prepare for birth and it doesn't work out - baby's breech, water breaks but labor doesn't start, etc. Things happen that are beyond anyone's control.

I like to think of the race analogy. Most people who run a 10K successfully have prepared. They have trained and worked hard to get to the point where they can run a 10K. Nobody would say to a runner after the race that they were so "lucky" that they were able to finish. Now, it's true, some people are unlucky and even with proper training before hand, aren't able to finish. They twist their ankle or wake up with a cold or whatever. It isn't a weakness on their part or anything they should be ashamed of but neither does it take away from the achievement of those that do finish.

And other people, like my older brother, just wake up one day and decide to run a race without any preparation. Probably not the best idea, and definitely not the way I would recommend running a race or experiencing natural labor, but he has survived so far (running, as far as I know he has never experienced labor :-) and if it gets you there, I guess it worked. But for most women, laboring without drugs or interventions involves effort, both before and during the birth. It wasn't just luck.

It was not easy - This is probably what a lot of people think (and some even say!) when they hear my labor was less than 6 hours. I think some moms must be thinking of the first 6 hours of their laboring experience and not the last 6 hours because I'm here to tell ya, it wasn't easy! I'll avoid any cliches like "They call it labor for a reason" but it was easily the most intense event, both physically and mentally, of my life. Back to my racing analogy, it took effort to get to the race part and effort to run the race.

It was not perfect - This one is the one I dislike the most because I hate the idea that a homebirth or a natural labor can only happen if the stars magically align and everything is the exact textbook definition of perfect. I pushed for almost 2 hours. I pushed without ever feeling the urge to push (really, never ever, she was crowning and I didn't really want to push - which frankly, was very frustrating). I tore. All of those things are probably due to Lucy's non-ideal hand by the face position and I most certainly hope that baby Dewey keeps his/her hands down. Lucy and I have been singing head, shoulders, knees and toes a lot lately so maybe that will help :-) But again, it was training, not luck. This time, it was my midwife's. She knew what was happening and what positions to suggest and we got through it.

It was ideal - I'm going to stop a moment and beat this poor running analogy to death. I know that not everyone wants a natural birth just like there are people (like me!) who have absolutely no desire to run a 10K. I think runners are cool and I am the first to cheer them on at the end of the race but there is no way I want to be out there running alongside them. If that is how you feel about giving birth without drugs, okay, don't give birth without drugs. But I don't like people thinking the above things because it makes it seem like it is not achievable and I happen to believe that most women could give birth naturally just like most people could complete a 10K. You don't have to be a super woman, you don't have to have a crazy pain tolerance or be a marty. I actually think the pain tolerance thing is funny because the people that know me well know that I am the biggest wuss when it comes to pain and all things blood/needle/hospital-ly. The idea of a flu shot has me hyperventilating.  I've fainted after getting eye drops for crying out loud!

But for me, I wouldn't change Lucy's birth at all. Because I know my body did what it needed to do. Craig was there for me in the way he needed to be and he and my midwife gave me the support and confidence I needed to be able to let me body work. There were times when I doubted myself, and not just the standard middle-of-transition times but the I've been pushing for over an hour and nothing is happening and does my body even know what it is supposed to be doing because aren't I supposed to feel like pushing!? times. I really didn't think I could do it. Craig probably had some doubts/worries too but he never let them show. And I know that if anyone had even brought up the idea of a vacuum or forceps, even just told me they were an option, I would have lost all confidence. But I also trusted our midwife and if she said I was doing fine, I was going to believe her. And you know what, she was right.

It's hard to look back on labor because so much of it is fuzzy but there are those few specific things I do remember and the above is what I know about last time and what I know about this time as well - it won't be easy, I am prepared, and it doesn't have to be perfect.

Another memory that helps, I distinctly remember sitting in bed with Lucy only an hour or two old, while our midwife was packing up her equipment. She asked me how it compared to my expectations and I said "I could do this again, not tomorrow, but in a year or two." I am still believe that.


  1. So fun to go back and read your birth story with Lucy! I'd forgotten about it, but it was really similar to ours in terms of timing, pushing, etc. I did have a natural hospital birth, but still, for 1st babies, I'm amazed at the similarities.

    I have no doubt you will be able to have a great 2nd birth experience. Who knows...it may be even faster than the 1st!! Prayers for a healthy momma and baby regardless.

  2. Thank you for the running analogy. I did what I could, but I "sprained my ankle" the day of the race. Now I just have to try to keep my perspective right so I can cheer others on without secretly wishing they'll sprain their ankles too so I'm not alone on the sidelines.

    I'm really excited about seeing Dewey soon!

  3. Thanks for the great post! I learn so much from you, and appreciate that you share these experiences (and the wisdom you've gained from them!) Thoughts and prayers for Dewey's coming! :)