Trusting My Body: Ailia’s Birth Story
Welcome to the first edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama!
In the month of January, we start afresh, a new year, new ideas. Hence, our participants have looked into the topic of “Birth and New Beginnings”. Take a look at the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants.
The first contraction woke me at 1:45a.m. While the contraction was very light, something instinctual told me that this was the beginning of the real deal. I untangled myself from Kieran’s legs and reluctantly left the warmth of our family bed to use the restroom. Another light contraction washed over me while I was in the bathroom, and I decided to stay up for a few minutes to see if the contractions would pick up or peter out.
After another contraction or two, I nudged Tom at 2:00a.m. and told him that I was fairly certain I was in labor. He asked if I needed him, and I told him to get more rest – I wanted to take a shower. Not only had I not showered for a few days, but I also thought that a shower might slow the contractions down if this wasn’t really labor. The warm water felt marvelous, and I don’t remember contracting while I was in the shower, but as soon as I got out and began to dress, another much stronger contraction came on. I took time to dry my hair and let my friends and family know that we were anticipating a Thanksgiving baby.
In the fifteen minutes it took me to finish those tasks, my contractions had gone from mildly annoying to increasingly uncomfortable. I woke Tom up at 2:50a.m. and asked him to get the dining room ready. The two biggest tasks would be moving the table and chairs and setting up the birth tub. I also called my midwife, Amber, to let her know that we were setting the room up. When I called her, my contractions were about five minutes apart and 45 seconds long. She asked if I could talk through them; I considered that and said “well, if I had to, yes, but it wouldn’t be pleasant.” Amber told me to call her back when the contractions were two to three minutes apart and a minute long.
I hung up the phone and told Tom to start timing my contractions. He started timing immediately, because a strong one had just hit. As he started getting the room ready, my focus centered abruptly on the waves of contractions. I hesitate to call them painful – although they were – but I felt so calm, so wonderfully assured that my body knew exactly what it was doing.
I remember thinking that this labor was absolutely nothing like my labor with Kieran. While there are obvious differences – my labor with Kieran took 30+ hours at a birth center with a medically-minded midwife, my labor with Ailia took only 2.5 hours at home, and I labored alone for most of that time – the mental differences are what really amaze me. With Kieran’s birth, I felt scared and out of control during much of my labor. I remember struggling against my body – I was fighting contractions, and when the midwife told me to push (hours before my body was ready to push), I had no idea what I was supposed to do. With Ailia’s birth, I felt prepared. I’d been doing daily relaxation techniques and affirmations because I was so nervous that I would have a repeat of Kieran’s birth. I had convinced myself that my body knew what to do – all I had to do was give myself over to it.
And that’s what I did. When contractions felt like they would overpower me, I retreated to the part of my mind where I felt safe and calm. I still felt the contractions, but at some deeper level of my consciousness, I accepted them.
So after hanging up with Amber, Tom timed the next four contractions: they were two to three minutes apart and over a minute long. I texted Amber around 3:20a.m. and told her, and she said she’d get ready to head over. By now, I was vocalizing loudly through contractions. I’d also made several trips to the bathroom and seen a hint of bloody show. Tom was still setting up the birth pool, and I asked him to come help me through a couple of particularly difficult contractions. He pushed against my hips, and the counter-pressure felt so good.
Tom went back to the birth pool, and as I watched him finish the liner, I mentally rolled my eyes – there was no way I would be getting in there. During a break, I tried to clue Tom in to this fact, but he was intent on finishing his job. (He later told me he’d thought I was crazy, in no way did he think I was close to having a baby.) At some point during this time, Amber texted and said to let her know when I wanted her to head over. I immediately texted back one word: Now. I knew it was time. I also (belatedly) realized that I should call Lacy, my birth photographer, but as I searched for her number, another big contraction forced me to abandon that task.
When that particular contraction hit, it was just past 4:00a.m. I’d been using the birth ball to support myself, calmly and steadily moaning through each one. But this one was big, and the panic threatened to unnerve me for the first time. My brain registered the intensity of the pain, and I started to lose my focus. But some inner peace – a peace I never imagined myself capable of – wrapped its arms around that hurting, scared part of me and whispered, “You can do this. Your body is designed for this, and you are amazing.”
And I believed myself! I took a breath and got it together, and in the next moment, I realized I was really about to have a baby. In that very next contraction, I felt Ailia descend through my pelvis. It was the most incredible feeling – I was so aware and in tune with everything going on in my body that I could practically visualize the baby moving through me. As soon as she had descended, I felt my body gearing up to push.
I hollered1 to Tom and told him that I was about ready to push. He asked if I was sure, then he started to mess around with the birth pool again. I told him that it was too late for the pool and asked him to help me take my pajama pants off. He helped me move over to the plastic drop cloth, and another contraction hit as I was struggling out of my pants – a pushing one. I dropped to my hands and knees, Tom rolled the birth ball over to me, and I groaned.
At the next break, we heard Kieran wake up. Tom went in to get Kieran, and while he was in the bedroom I reached down and felt Ailia’s head during another contraction. I called to Tom and Kieran, asking Tom to get back in with me right now. When he got back in, I breathlessly peppered him with requests: call Amber, get the camera and take pictures, get the camcorder and record, and for the love of God get over here and help!! Tom managed to get one (dark, blurry) picture, he turned on the camcorder and threw it on the table (so there is sound, but no picture), and he called Amber and threw the phone on a chair.
As I pushed, I gently massaged and stretched my skin with my fingers, and I roared. Kieran sleepily wandered into the dining room as Ailia’s head was starting to come out. He walked behind me to look, then he ran back around, rubbed my head, and said “You can do this, mama!” At some point, Tom asked Kieran to get on the phone with Amber, and you can hear Kieran’s little voice on our (pictureless) video say, ”Amber? Can you come help? Mama is having a baby right now.” just as calm as calm can be.
I remember a few things very distinctly from my pushing stage. The first is how calm and collected Tom and Kieran both were. You’d think that I give birth on our dining room floor quite regularly with how ho-hum they seemed to be at the time. The most vivid physical feeling I remember is after Ailia’s head and shoulders were out. I yelled at Tom to “stop pushing me! Stop touching me!” because I thought he had randomly started to put counter pressure on my hips again – but it was like he was moving me from the inside. It was the strangest feeling. Tom responded, “honey that’s not me, the baby is squirming to get out.” And so she was! Tom could see her squirming from the outside, and I felt her pushing against me from the inside. I said “Get ready to catch, here it comes!”
Within seconds, Ailia and I worked together and she was in Tom’s hands. I had another moment of panic when she did not move or breathe (for what seemed like much longer than it was), and then she took her first breath as I held her to my chest. Once she was breathing I looked and announced she was a girl. Within about two minutes I birthed my placenta in one easy push – between the quick placenta delivery and a part of the umbilical cord that looked like it had been squeezed, Amber thinks that Ailia probably grabbed on and pulled the placenta along with her.
And so went our short – and incredibly empowering – homebirth. I am so thankful that I believed in the wisdom and power of my body- I know that my faith in myself helped make this experience so peaceful and gentle. And Tom and I have agreed – if we ever have another baby, we’ll just have a midwife on standby.
?Visit Authentic Parenting and MudpieMama to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 27 with all the carnival links.)
- Becoming Intentional with My Time Valerie at Momma in Progress shares the beginning of her year-long journey toward more intentional living.
- Alirik’s Birth Story: Sweet Surprise Lauren at Hobo Mama tells the sweet surprise unassisted home water birth story of her second child.
- My Rebirth: An Honest Look Darcel at The Mahogany Way talks a little about some of the fear and insecurity she’s felt over the years since starting her parenting journey and her blog.
- Trusting My Body: Ailia’s Birth Story After a very challenging birth with her son, Dionna at Code Name: Mama was nervous about having another natural birth. But practicing relaxation techniques and birth affirmations proved to be just what she needed to have her perfect, peaceful, unassisted homebirth.
- My Homeschool Philosophy Paige a Bay Dust Diaries shares her new year’s resulution about homeschooling.
- Yet Another Resolutions Post... Zen mummy‘s resolutions for a better 2012
- Renewing Green Passions in the New Year Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction talks about renewing a passion for green living in the new year
- Birthing and New Beginnings… And Better Mothering Sheila at A Living Family shares her first ever New Year’s resolutions to be a more mindful, compassionate and respectful mother to her two-year old daughter after the recent birth of her son.
- An Open Letter to MTV Regarding 16 and Pregnant Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama delivers a pointed message to MTV about how they misrepresent birth and parenthood on 16 and Pregnant.
- Setting Intentions Megan at The Other Baby Blog shares another way to ring in the New Year.
- Spencer’s Birth Story Momma Jorje shares her family’s story of birthing her son with Down syndrome.
- Looking Forward, Looking Back Erica @ ChildOrganics shares how she is able to look back at the loss of their daughter and yet move forward with her family at the same time.
- Unique unto Itself. Melissa of Vibrant Wanderings has chosen a word for her second child’s birth: awareness.
- The Unassisted Birth of The LIttle Buddha. Laura at Authentic Parenting shares the birth story of her new baby
- Birthing and Resolutions: Keeping Good Things in Motion. MudpieMama shares her VBAC story and why she skipped making resolutions in the traditional way.
- The Birth of a New Era by Mandy from Living Peacefully With Children
- yes, hollered might be the appropriate term in this instance ↩
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"Trusting My Body: Ailia’s Birth Story"
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