I’ll never forget when my midwife told me this. It was my third pregnancy and we were talking about what I envisioned the birth would be like. I had had two fast and easy labors already with my girls so I really thought I knew the drill. I was expecting another baby to come at lightning speed. I even joked with my husband that I thought this one for sure would be the one he’d have to deliver himself with no one around. Boy was I wrong. My son’s birth was longer and more challenging than I ever thought it would be. Maybe it was that boy energy that was so new to me. But it was beautiful in its own way and more empowering than I thought possible and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it!
It started in the same way as my other labors, mild but regular contractions around noon that didn’t stop as I did daily tasks around the house. I embraced every contraction excited that I would meet my baby soon. Around 6 pm things got harder. I had to stop and breathe through contractions and could no longer carry a conversation through them. At my midwife’s suggestion I tried to get some sleep knowing that if things got more intense I would need to be well rested. But of course I couldn’t sleep at all. I was too excited!
Around 10 pm I began moaning through my contractions, a good sign that labor was progressing and things could start moving fast. The midwife and her assistant came over soon after that and we sat in the bedroom casually chatting in between contractions. I had every expectation that my baby would make his arrival in only two or three more hours. But he had a different plan. Contractions were strong but not becoming closer together. We tried all sorts of different positions to get things to progress. But what really did it in the end was walking! I just remember endlessly pacing back and forth across the room through contractions. The movement was rhythmic and wonderful! I would walk to my midwife at one end of the room and she’d briefly grab my hands with an encouraging smile and then I’d turn right around and walk to my husband at the other end to meet his comforting gaze. It reminded me a lot of my time as a competitive swimmer, methodically swimming laps back and forth, back and forth, focused and yet in a trance.
I started to get really discouraged when the sun came up. I started to think to myself that I couldn’t do this anymore and that he was never going to be born. But then, as I was walking across the room yet again, I felt his head start to come out! It happened so suddenly and without any warning! I immediately kneeled down on the floor where I was and started pushing. My husband was right beside me, breathing with me and telling me I was doing great. And after three pushes my son was born. At 6:28 am in the morning.
The amount of physical endurance and mental determination that was required of me to birth my son was astonishing. But I’ll never forget how I felt seeing him and holding him for the first time. All of the pain and frustration melted away instantly. And I couldn’t stop smiling. It took 12 hours of hard work, but it was a rich and beautiful experience. It was perfect.
- Abby, successful home birth to baby boy Robert
Photo credit: @pittsburghbornphotos