Birth story – first draft (2004)

Draft of my story that was published in Understanding Human Sexuality

The birth of my first child, was of course a memorable experience.  In a few words I would describe it as relaxed, personal, secure and simple.

I was under the care of a team of two midwives throughout my pregnancy; I had many opportunities to get to know them.  My children’s father attended many appointments, as we were able to schedule some in the evening.  We each preferred the other of the two midwives, finding something different in the two women that appealed to us separately.  Both my sister and my mom were encouraged to attend appointments with me, they got to hear my daughter’s heartbeat very early on.

When my labour began, I’d been aware of Braxton Hicks contractions for some time.  Even though it was my first childbirth experience, I could tell the difference, yet was still in early labour.  I called my midwife, went for a walk, took a bath, the contractions continued regularly but still quite far apart.  I called my midwife, Sylvia, again.  She said she’d come check on me, and if I were further along than she thought, she would stay.  It was the midwife I had felt a stronger connection with, as it turned out it was not her turn to take calls, but they were so busy with other births that neither of them had had much rest in 48 hours.

As it turned out, she stayed.  We ate, we watched Friends on TV, my family came by to visit with me in my home while I laboured.  Apparently I was coping very well, not sounding like a woman close to active labour.  At 8pm, I was about 5cm dilated, this hadn’t changed in a while.  I had tremendous back labour, and was leaning over all of the couch cushions, with family members taking turns applying counter-pressure on my tailbone.  Still, we chatted and relaxed in anticipation.  Within an hour or so, my midwife suggested we could break my waters, if I wanted to, that it might speed things up.  The intention was to have a hospital birth, so it was my choice, did I want to break the water at home, or head in to the hospital and do it there?   Now, why would I want to make all that mess at home, when someone else could clean it up?

By the time we arrived at the hospital 15 minutes later, things were already beginning to progress.  As we walked past admitting, Sylvia told the staff “she’s further along than she looks, her husband will look after the paperwork”, and upstairs we went.  My sister helped me into the shower, where I soon found that I couldn’t stand up, yet the pressure was too much to sit.  Into the hospital bed I went, where I found myself doing squats from a reclined position.  Sylvia and two nurses in the delivery room were amazing, talking me through everything, informing me of what would happen next, bringing me back down as I lost a bit of control in transition.

My daughter’s father was by my side holding my hand, supporting me when I needed to pull-up and squat with the contractions.  My sister was watching as my daughter’s head crowned, with absolute awe she looked at my then husband and says “you have to SEE this!”  He took a quick peak, but dared not leave my side.  I felt my daughter’s hair and her head was delivered without incident, then she rushed out, tearing me with her shoulder, so fast that the she almost flew right past my midwife’s arms!  With great interest Sylvia informed me that my daughter’s umbilical cord was longer than she’d ever seen before.  She and my husband measured it later to be approximately four feet long!

Then my daughter was wiped and swaddled and handed to me.  I remember that feeling like she opened a part of my heart I never even knew was there.  The love I felt for her had been there all along, long before she was conceived, just waiting to be released.  Within moments of her birth, my mother was in the delivery room to meet her first grand-daughter.