Let me be the first to admit that I am not one who can stand much physical discomfort. When I first expressed my desire for a natural birth, Hans was a little worried. One finds oneself willing to make exceptions, no matter how difficult, for the object of one's affections. We wanted to give our little person a good beginning, at least to the best of our knowledge and capabilities. This is why love is a powerful thing. It changes people. And it has since transformed me into a morning person. But I digress.
My feats of endurance are fine but few. Emeth's birth and my three climbs up Mount Kinabalu are among my cherished occasions of growth. However distinct the experiences were in kind, in many ways my memories of them parallel. They were endeavors of great hope, with promises of sunrises and new life. They were sweet yet marvelous, compelling in their reminders of my humanness, weak and messy, and my need for other human beings.
My water broke around midnight, on the first day of April, 2008.
Hans was my champion in shining armor, my confidant, and my doula that night. He held my hand, with the other hand putting counter-pressure on my lower back as each contraction progress. He paced me, watched the monitor, reported the lengths and strength of my contractions. I took at least three steaming hot showers; they relieved me tremendously. As the pain peaked, I was unable to stand and we had exhausted all hymns. It was Hans who asked me to recite for him a psalm in hebrew. Psalm 137 was the only one I knew by heart. Thus, in my delirious state, I sat by the waters of Babylon and chanted, though weep I did not.
Hans adds this part: A little before 9 a.m., we were starting to wonder how much longer this was going to go on, and how much worse it could get. Just as we were thinking this, the nurse came in, told us we were ready to give birth, and that the worst was over. Which it was. This period was more painful than the birth itself, which was a relief in comparison.
At 9:41 a.m., I gave one last push. Hans missed Emeth's arrival because I was holding him ever so tightly around his neck.
I've always thought people were lying when they say you will feel no pain once the baby is out. I thought this was an unrealistic, yet another romanticized hollywood myth about the noble feelings of motherhood (which I found I disturbingly lacked throughout my pregnancy). My friends, mothers-to-be, I can attest now there is at least some truth to this. And it is not because I was so "overcome with joy."
I was joyful, in many senses, but my first meeting with Emeth was a little awkward. I stared at him and said, "Hi Emeth" about a dozen times. I didn't know what else to say. Albeit I have given birth only once, I can assure you I felt no pain. In fact, I was walking and enjoyed my fourth shower that morning within two hours after the delivery. It is true that the recovery for the next few months was uncomfortable, but not awful.
Lastly, below is a copy of our birth plan (minus a few details for confidentiality) for the purpose of giving you a rough idea some things to consider. For the most part, our birth was what we hoped for. I did have an IV with antibiotic but I was still able to move about and take showers.
We would also like to add that we did take many hours of birthing classes with an extremely dedicated and competent instructor. These hours were extremely beneficial to us and suited to the way we learn as a couple.
Secondly, we are indebted to two nurses that night. Advocates of natural birth themselves, they believed us and were confident that we were committed to our decisions. They allowed us the space to labor with minimal supervision. Though the doctors gave several suggestions of drugs, the nurses respected our birth plan and were protective of our desired birth.
For all these things and so much more, we are thankful.
A Proposed Birth Plan
To the OB/GYN and the Family Birthing Center:
We are grateful for your help and care. As we look forward to the birth of our son, we would like to share with you a few decisions we have considered with respect to our delivery and recovery. We have made our decisions to the best of our understanding in the hope of a healthy and uncomplicated delivery for mother and child through natural childbirth.
- We would like to go into labor naturally, and not be induced before 42 week gestation period.
- We are working to avoid medication and will request it as needed
- We would like to have mobility during labor to encourage the labor process.
- In order to have the ability to move about, we would prefer intermittent fetal monitoring and to maintain hydration by regularly sipping water, rather than with an IV.
- We are preparing to avoid an episiotomy and would prefer that the mother’s perineum tear naturally.
- We would like for the cord to stop pulsing before it is cut, and dad would like to cut the cord.
- We ask that the mother would not be given Pitosin to deliver the placenta.
- We plan to breastfeed our child exclusively and prefer no bottles or pacifier.
We are grateful and trust the discretion of our care providers. We look forward to experiencing this important event with you.