year story took place in. 2012.
country birth took place in. united states.
For my first birth, I knew I wanted a home water birth, one with just me and my amazing boyfriend. My pregnancy was low risk, and my OB-GYN fully supported my decision for a birth that was not only natural, but unassisted. My boyfriend, Theo, and I bought a huge birthing tub and waited patiently - a whole week after my due date - for the real labor to begin.
I'd been having contractions for some days, but it wasn't until April 16th, 2012, that the labor began in earnest. The contractions were mild, but noticeable, and about 20 minutes apart. For the sake of my privacy, my mother came over and collected my step-daughter, telling her I'd call her after the birth so Azalea could meet her new sibling. I reclined in bed and practiced breathing as Theo prepared some food for us to eat later. I began to notice the contractions intensify slightly, but kept breathing through them...breathing...breathing...until they finished. I imagined riding a wive and landing gently on the beach as the contraction ended.
Theo finished cooking and came into our room. He rubbed my belly and kissed me sensually until another contraction came to break the passion. "Oh...ah...oh!"I began to moan as the contractions got stronger. I felt like I was progressing, noticing my contractions were now ten minutes apart. I asked Theo to check my cervix. As I felt another wave coming, he touched my cervix, looking to see how dilated I was. I noticed the motion felt good as he touched me gently down there, coupled with the intensity, the pressure of the contraction. I moaned, a mix of pleasure and pain. Theo barely had time to tell me I was 5 centimeters dilated before I told him to keep touching my cervix area, realizing how it helped get me through the pain.
After about 90 minutes of this, Theo left the tub to check my dilation level. "Seven centimeters." I had been hoping for more, but Theo was making the labor such a great experience I almost didn't mind. Since I'd been sitting or lying down for most of the labor, Theo encouraged me, "It's like sex. Try out new positions and see what feels right." Eventually, I assumed the squatting position, with my boyfriend there to help me stay upright. More sensuality, and LOTS of rhythmic breathing helped get me through the next 2 centimeters. By 9 centimeters, I was no longer moaning - I was roaring. It gave me power as I screamed throatily through the extremely intense contractions, just 40 seconds apart from each other. The pain was beyond description. Burning is the best word. My cervix felt like it was being torn apart. "Ahh!" I screamed, "Oh, baby, baby, baby, oh baby! Come, baby, baby, baby!" The repetition yelling came naturally out of my mouth as I bounced and moved my pelvis rhythmically to deal with the pain, still squatting. "I love you I love you I love you I love you!" When women describe peaceful labor as they near birth, I laugh because it is so far off what I experienced.
After a long period of transition (when laboring, every ten minutes feels like eternity), I could feel my baby - my beautiful baby, at the bottom of the birth canal, just about ready to be birthed. A new sense of tranquility came over me. I stuck my finger into my vagina and felt my baby's soft head, and hairs. I invited Theo to do the same. "I think its time," I breathed. Sensing my new calm, Theo breathed back, "You think its time."
"It's time," I said, Theo echoing me once again. I readied myself for what I knew to be the most painful part of labor: the delivery. Some women experience an easy pushing process, but this has never been the case for me.
"The mirror!" I breathed, reserving energy, and Theo handed me the hand mirror I would be using to view my baby entering the world. I highly recommend this. You've been working up to this moment for so many painful hours! You should at least let yourself see the most beautiful part happen! We positioned ourselves: me, sitting, legs spread, Theo behind me, holding me gently so I could catch.
I began to push now, watching the developments in the mirror. The baby took encouragement in the form of several large heaves until it started to crown. And if I thought 9 centimeters was painful, it was nothing like this. The head crowned as I pushed steadily, but not quickly. The baby's large head moved slowly out my vagina. Watching the birth, tears welled up in my eyes. My constant mantra now, was "Oh it's so beautiful!...oh it's so beautiful!...Oh, my God, oh, it's so beautiful!!!" Finally, after the long and searing pain of the head crowning, the shoulders needed to be pushed out. They were squared up to me, making this phase incredibly difficult and painful. I broke my mantra at this point to scream at the sheer, awful pain, and broke out in tears. My mantra picked up again as I peered down and saw my baby sticking out of me. What a sight! I took a gigantic, deep breath, and with an almost manly "UGH!" pushed the rest of my baby's body out. "It's a girl," Theo whispered.
"Its a girl," I screamed, now my turn to echo. I cried buckets of tears as I held my gorgeous, 8 pound, 5 ounce baby girl in my arms. She cried loudly. I whispered her name into her ear, wondered if she was listening. "Finley Clove...Finley Clove...I love you...your daddy loves you," in between sobs of unrequited joy. Theo and I wrapped her up in a cloth, and I continued to hold her, and cry and speak to her, and soak in the womanhood I felt I had just achieved. It wasn't getting my period. It wasn't losing my virginity. It was giving birth, on this magnificent spring day, that finally made me a woman.