My First Birth: My Son’s Blissful Water Birth
It was 2004, in Arizona, in the Spring, and it was HOT! I remember feeling so huge in the last few weeks of my pregnancy and so bloated from the heat. My feet had grown more than a shoe size and I could not fit into any of my shoes comfortably, so I wore my husband’s size 13 flip-flops instead! I did not see the point in buying any shoes the next size up since I was due in a week or so.
My family all came down from California to be around for the birth, as well as my best friend from third grade and her boyfriend. I started having braxton hicks on my due date about two days before I went into labor. My belly would tighten up real tight for a few seconds and then relax. We all got really excited that the big day was coming soon!
The day before my labor began I decided to take a nap. I put on some relaxing classical music and just lay on the bed feeling my belly and feeling my son move around in my womb. I remember feeling him rubbing the inside of my belly with his hand or foot in a really nice soothing way back and forth across the inside of me. It is one of the most precious moments I have of being pregnant.
Unfortunately, my best friend from third grade and her boyfriend had to leave the day before I went into labor! But, my mom, dad, and sister remained. The next morning, my husband went to work early and, when I woke up and went to the bathroom I discovered that my mucous plug had come out along with a small bloody show. That was about 9:30 a.m. My sister had been staying with us and was there making pancakes. I called my hubby to let him know something different was happening. Over the next few hours I started to get cramps a lot like strong period cramps. I got in the bath tub and tried to relax and ride the waves of the mild contractions. When I got out, they got stronger and I felt it was time for some music! I had been listening to Prem Joshua a lot in those last few weeks, so I asked my sister to put on the album, “Sky Kisses Earth”. I listened to that album on repeat for the rest of my labor until the batteries on my boom box ran out!
My water started leaking around noon and that was when my sister said it was time to call my midwife, my husband, and my parents and let them all know it was really happening! The next part is kind of a blur…All I remember is my husband coming back and packing the van. Then trying to straddle the back seat of the van during contractions, my sister feeding me sips of water through a straw, all the while being followed by my sister-in-law who was following us in her car to the birthing center! I remember smiling at her in between contractions and thinking how funny it all must look to her!
When we finally got to the birthing center, where I had arranged to have a water birth with a midwife, it was about 5:30 p.m. or so. I got out of the van and we walked into the main building and into the reception room. They showed me into an exam room where a nurse came in and examined me. I think I was about 5 centimeters at that time. Then they said to walk across the parking lot to the birthing building and a nurse would get us set up over there. That was the longest walk ever! I had two contractions while walking across the parking lot! Each one making my knees feel like they were going to give way. And I was extremely aware of the fact that a car could come into the parking lot or people could come out of the medical building and witness me standing–no make that crouching down–in the parking lot, wailing, during a contraction!
Finally, we made it to the birthing building and they showed us to our birthing room. It was set up like a nice country style bedroom with a white curly metal bed frame. It had a big bath room with a jacuzzi tub in it with hospital rails on the walls above and around the tub and by the toilet.
I quickly set up my Ganesha and candle alter, that I had prepared in my birth bag, in between a contraction. My boom box was still going strong at this point and Prem Joshua was still playing.
The birthing center had a “living room” area where my family and friends could hang out during the labor with three or four birthing rooms adjacent to it. At this point, phone calls had been made to additional family and friends to inform them of what was happening. So far, my sister, my parents, and my sister-in-law were all present.
My contractions kept coming, stronger and stronger. This is when I discovered that my belly dance training had prepared me for more than the stage! My body instinctively knew what to do to keep my joints and muscles loose. The music provided the perfect Middle Eastern rhythms to dance and shimmy during each contraction. My sister, who at this time in her life had three children, was in front of me whispering in my ear two words that I have used during each and every birth since (to stay in control, as I give up my control), “Low Tones”. It is very important that the body stay loose during a contraction and high pitch screaming (although you may really want to just scream!), only tightens the body and thus your pelvic floor and makes your labor much harder. Low tones help you stay loose. Also, focusing on opening the muscles of your mouth and eyes, by widening them, help to open up the pelvic floor muscles. All of those muscles are designed in the same round shape and thus respond to each other. Kinda weird, but awesome!
My husband was behind me and together, with my sister and my husband, I bellydanced and rocked through each contraction.
I remember a medicine song going through my head sung by Brooke Medicine Eagle. The lyrics of which became sort of my inner mantra:
I am opening up in sweet surrender
To the luminous love light of the lord.
I am opening up in sweet surrender
To the luminous love light of the lord.
I am oh-pening,
I am oh-pening.
I am oh-oh-pening,
I am oh-pening.
At some point I felt like I had to take a bowel movement. I remember feeling like there was no way that I was going to be able to do that by myself so I asked my hubby to help me out. Thankfully, he obliged and still jokes about it to this day! It was time to get in the jacuzzi tub. I was almost fully dilated. My boom box had run out of batteries, but it didn’t matter, the music was playing over and over in everyone’s head. My good friend Wendy and her friend had showed up and there was now, including the nurse and midwife, nine people in the birthing tub room.
The water felt so right. It was warm and comforting and my contractions reacted to it in a really positive way.
When it came time to push, my sister took the position behind me in the tub, holding me up and holding my hands. My husband was in front of me in the tub, and my mom had her hand on his back in support. At some point in between pushing, I burped, said, “excuse me” and the whole room broke out in soft giggles. I pushed for an hour and really struggled with the “low tones”. The midwife asked me to reach down and feel the head. It was soft and squishy. When my son emerged, my husband and the midwife caught him together.
My son’s face was a bit blue, as the cord was wrapped around his neck one time. The midwife quickly placed him on my belly and unwrapped the cord. They gave him a bit of oxygen and he pinked right up and let out that most wonderful sound, a baby’s first cry!
He was gorgeous! My eyes welled up with tears of joy as I held my beautiful baby in my arms for the first time.
Somehow we all got out of the tub, dried off a bit and made our way to the bed where I laid down and delivered the placenta. My husband cut the cord. Our baby boy was then weighed and checked over by the midwife and nurse before placing him on my chest to nurse.
He took to my breast naturally and easily. My mom had given me many pointers on how to get the proper latch and how to nurse to avoid cracked nipples, so my first experience nursing was natural and perfect. Without her awesome guidance and preparation, I may have had to learn some things the hard way!
My son weighed 6 lbs. 12 oz., was 19 ¼ inches long and his head was 12 and ½ inches. We named him Chance.
We stayed at the birth center for a couple of hours. I nursed my son and rested while my husband and my family celebrated, called friends and family to spread the news and rested a bit as well.
Before we left, we took an awesome photo of my husband, my sister, and my mom and dad all seated with each other on the couch in the “living room”. It was an amazing first birth experience! Each one of my births has been unique and amazing in their own ways, but this birth was all that I wanted it to be and more. I was at peace, even when in pain during the contractions. I was able to trust my body completely and let go. I proceeded through this birth, fearless, ready to welcome the transformation that was to come. This was the moment that I went from being a woman into being a mother…and I haven’t been the same since.