"This is MY baby. This is MY baby," I repeated over and over in my head right before each wave to push consumed me. The urges were so strong that I felt like I could loose my breath completely.
The sun shown bright and I listened to the neighborhood children play outside as I labored calmly in my birth tub. I had wonderful rests between surges where I listened to birds and dosed off to sleep. My doula whispered, "You are having a beautiful birth, Thais."
I was, but I also struggled with doubt the whole time. I was scared that I might not be able to pull it off. Even when West's head had crowned, I thought that he would get stuck and
would have to transport me to the hospital for another cesarean. And then, the hospital would have birthed by baby not me. But somehow, I managed to overcome those doubts right before each surge with my simple chant, "This is MY baby." Sometimes I would say, "Let's just get through this next one. Just one more."
The realization that only I can birth my baby in the way that I want was an on going theme for me throughout my pregnancy. People that I felt dependent on and wanted at my birth didn't work out for one reason or another. Even Maria had to go lobby in Washington on my due date, and I had to come to terms with the fact that she might not be there for the birth. Luckily, West came when she got back. I am so grateful for that.
For my first son's birth, subconsciously, I always thought that I'd be saved like Cinderella is saved from her evil step-sisters. I assume that it is a cultural message ingrained in my psyche since I was a little girl. It's important to have support, but the reality is that only the Mama can birth the baby. It is hard to be alone on such a hard journey, but the belief that I could do it and my two years of preparation allowed the baby to come. I pushed as hard as I possibly could. I wanted him to arrive protected at home and in peace.
"This is MY baby," I chanted over and over again to myself. And I did push him out. He came right out like he should. It took only one hour of pushing after seven hours of active labor. Baby West was born at home on a gorgeous, sunny day. His demeanor is as peaceful and calm as the way that he joined us. And, he is so loved by me and so many others who have followed my recovery from my first son's birth to the discovery and actualization of a home birth with my second. When Maria put him on my chest, I rejoiced, "I did it! I did it!"
, my doula, cried with joy next to me as she listened to my reaction. I feel so powerful. Birth really is empowering.
As I celebrated holding my new baby in my arms and watching him nurse perfectly without any instruction. Maria said, "Now that is an unmedicated baby." After a brief celebration, Maria was looking serious again because I still had not birthed my placenta. We waited an hour and tried everything from angelica root, to nursing, to a shot of pitocin. Finally Maria had to make the decision to call 911 and have an ambulance transport me to UCSF. I needed a manual removal of the placenta. It was only Maria's fifth ambulance transport in her 23.5 years of being a midwife. Four of the five transports were placenta related.
Maria can perform the procedure herself, but since I had had a previous cesarean the chance of hemorrhaging was too risky. The procedure at UCSF was short and I was back at home shortly afterward. I am happy to have had a good hospital experience rather than one of a victim. It was a necessary part of my healing.
As Maria and I waited for Zack to pull the car around in the quiet lobby of the hospital at midnight, she said, "This is what home birth is all about, it's a collaboration with the hospitals. We come to them when we need their services and we only use what we need."
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