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July 01, 2008

My Dream Birth

SandieI've had three unmedicated births -- meaning no induction, no epidural, no C-section -- with midwives attending. Contrary to what some unkind women have said, I don't expect a medal, a cookie, an award or any other kudos for doing something billions of women have done before. I figured if God's apparent curse of a roomy pelvis and wide hips were good for anything it's birthing babies, so I decided even before getting pregnant that I'd attempt birth the natural way.

Birth is like a marathon. I'll probably never run an actual marathon, mind you, but enduring labor and delivery is my personal Olympic feat. Each of my births, especially my first, required physical and emotional training (prenatal yoga, deep breathing exercises, childbirth preparation classes). Each demanded my stamina, my focus, my all. I had no idea how long each birth would take (full disclosure: luckily, they were six, three and four hours long), but I knew that in the end I'd cross the finish line with a newborn in my arms. Plus, birth, like running, offers an amazing, empowering high. Birth provides me with such an overpowering feeling of bliss that you could call me a birth junkie.

When I find out I was pregnant one year ago, I had exactly three thoughts: 1. What the heck happened to the IUD? 2. How is it possible to get pregnant while using birth control THREE times? and 3. Woo hoo! I can finally have a homebirth. The birth junkie in me couldn't wait to have a baby at home after delivering my first two children at hospital-attached birth centers in New York. But I had to endure 37 weeks of pregnancy to get my "fix."

At 3 o'clock in the morning on Thursday March 13th, my bag of water ruptured, and I knew it was baby day; it was time to pace myself and go the distance one last time. Labor started at 6:30 AM, and the contractions were so mellow for the next couple of hours that I emailed my family, helped my kids get dressed, arranged for Jean to bring home our daughter from preschool, posted on Twitter and LiveJournal, and filled the Aqua Doula tub sitting in the basement. When I hugged my children good-bye, I told them they would probably have a baby sibling by the time they got back home. I didn't even panic when my husband left to take our three-year-old to preschool.

When my husband returned home at around 9:30, the contractions were noticeably stronger, but rocking my pelvis, bouncing on a birth ball, listening to my iPod's special "labor playlist" and focusing on a candle's light were just the trick. By the time my midwife Joey arrived at 10, I had been laboring in the tub for 15 minutes, and the waves of pain were more and more intense.

At 10:15 I started feeling undeniable, unrelenting pressure and told Joey I felt the urge to push. Bobbie, the birth assistant and doula showed up around that time, and at 10:22, I knelt in the water, gripped the side of the tub and began pushing. As I wrote in my birth story:

"I just let my body take control and push when I needed to push and rest when I needed to rest. Joey and Bobbie were incredibly supportive, telling me I was doing a great job, to just relax and push whenever I felt like it. I remember asking if the baby had crowned, and in another moment feeling his head when Bobbie said to feel for myself.

I could feel ever sensation as his head moved down, crowned, and emerged. Then the shoulders and the body slipped out. I reached down, turned around and put him to my chest. It was amazing. I smiled, cried, and remember saying, quite selfishly, 'I did it!'"

I had a dream birth: at home, no interventions, just my body and my baby doing a perfectly synchronized dance to push him out into the warm embrace of the water and my arms. I felt so blessed, so ethereal, so joyful, so good. I know many women don't have it this easy, and I'm eternally grateful that I've had such uncomplicated deliveries. The icing on the cake? My son and daughter did indeed have a baby brother waiting for them when they got home from school. I even said to my husband: "I wanna do this again!"

Original DC Metro Moms post. When she's not jonesing for another birth fix, Sandie occasionally blogs at Urban Mama.

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