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25.7.13

Margaret May: A Birth Story

Margaret May: A Birth Story

Margaret's birth was really life changing for me. Her entrance into this world really changed my perspective and attitude on birth. Simply put, I didn't know labor could even BE this way! It was amazing.

Often people ask me how it went (as you do) and expectant mums often ask, "Was it painful?" And I hesitate to answer because I don't want to sound... you know, crazy, but my answer is "No." I wouldn't feel honest if I said it was downright painful. It was intense, oh yes. There was a lot of pressure, definitely. Labor is a bizarre sensation. But it wasn't painful per se*. It was beautiful.

I'll start from the beginning.

Actually, I'll start with Audrey's birth.

...It was terrifying! I was scared right from the word go. I had that awful unbearable feeling that there was NO going back. It was too late to change my mind about going through labor and I was only at the beginning of a potentially long and horrible labor experience. I had no way of knowing "how bad" it was going to get and if I was going to be able to cope through it. That sort of thinking left me feeling really powerless in a situation that felt really scary to me. To be honest, Audrey's birth went fine. It was really straightforward, but it was also long. And painful. I literally fought every contraction with my body and I tensed up. I COULDN'T HELP IT. It was kind of awful. When it came time to push, it was fast and quick (10 minutes and she was out!) and I tore REALLY badly. I had about a zillion stitches and now joke that I was a patchwork quilt. But in reality, I couldn't even TALK about Audrey's birth for a long time without bursting into tears. It left me emotionally and physically scarred.

As soon as we found out we were pregnant again I knew that I had to deal with my fear. My fear had become all consuming and I KNEW that it had affected my labor to some degree. It must have. Stress takes a major toll on our bodies when we're not in labor, so surely it affects us in labor as well? I did a lot of praying. I found a lot of comfort in the Word. But I also realized that, maybe, fear was wrong. It didn't have a place in my life and I needed to deal with it. I needed to trust God regardless of the outcome, positive or negative.

So I did.

I came up with an action plan for me and Phil for during labor. I wanted to be MENTALLY present. I didn't want to mentally check-out like I did while I was in labor with Audrey (there are large portions of the labor that I don't remember). I wanted to play an active role in my labor. And above all I wanted to stay calm, relaxed, and fear-free.

Then my due-date came and went.

6 days overdue I decided to go on a long walk. It was a beautiful, clear winter morning and the sun was shining. I took Audrey with me and we walked around for the better part of an hour and spent some time together at the local park. We swung on the swings (yes, she made me swing too) and ran around (I hobbled). I'll always remember that morning together. We came back for lunch and soon after I started having some contractions. I didn't want to get everyone riled up in case it was a false alarm, but I was secretly VERY excited. We started packing a bag, just in case.

Margaret May: A Birth Story
Margaret May: A Birth Story
I relaxed my way through the contractions and felt a beautiful sense of calm and determination. I was going to get through this as calmly as I could. The contractions started at 10 minutes apart and I started to be convinced that the baby was definitely on her way. Within another hour the contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart. Woo hoo! I sent word to my midwife that the baby was finally on her way. The labor was definitely progressing more quickly that Audrey's labor had... but I felt bewildered, for a lack of a better word, at how relaxed I was able to remain. I was losing my mind at this point last time around. Every time a contraction hit, I immediately relaxed my whole body. Head, neck, jaw, arms, shoulders, fingers... by the time I relaxed every part of my body the contraction was over. This felt EASY! I felt exhilarated! I was able to talk and laugh and carry on with my day in between each contraction, another one would hit, and I would relax into the contraction and focus on my body and my mind staying calm. I settled into a beautiful rhythm and began to let myself think, "I can do this! I WILL do this." It was hard to not feel giddy about the whole thing!

Margaret May: A Birth Story

I labored for 6 hours at home with Phil and Mom at my side. Mom and Phil put pressure on my back when each contraction hit and held a hot water bottle on my lower back when I asked for it. They were AMAZING support throughout the labor. We were talking and waiting for the contractions to move closer together. I guessed that the baby would come around 8 o'clock that night, but really, I was getting ready for the long haul (Audrey's labor was 17 hours). I let my midwife know what was happening. She said that she had another woman in pre-term labor at the hospital and asked if I would be able to come birth there. I felt gutted over what she was asking me. I did NOT want to birth at the hospital if I didn't have to. I decided quickly that, unless I could help it, I would birth at the birthing center with the backup midwife (whom I had never met). At this point, my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and we started talking about when we should head over to the birthing center. I was convinced that it wasn't time yet because I hadn't reached the point where I "lost my mind". I felt really good! I had a decent amount of energy yet and I was convinced that the birth was still really far away. Another strong contraction hit and I leaned into the back of the couch so I could focus through the contraction and suddenly my waters burst! It struck me as hilarious and I scream/laughed at Phil for help! He ran over with a towel and sumo-diapered me with the towel as we made our way to the bathroom. I could not. stop. laughing at my waters breaking. I was literally in tears over how hilarious and bizarre it was. It felt like I was peeing my pants! But it kept GOING and GOING! SO. MUCH. FLUID. Phil thinks it wasn't that funny. But it was. ;)

I hopped into the shower and my contractions quickly sped up to 2 minutes apart. Mom was getting a bit nervous and strongly advised that we head over to the birthing center soon. I still felt fine but since my contractions were only 2 minutes apart, it seemed like a good idea.

We hopped in the car and made our way to the birthing center. As soon as we got there my contractions increasingly got stronger and stronger. We quickly met the backup midwife** and made our way inside. At home, I had felt great with the hot water on my back so the midwife suggested I hop in the shower for some relief. I didn't want to come out because the water felt great but we felt like we should do an internal check to see how far I had progressed. I was checked and the midwife informed us that we were already at 8cms! *fist pump* I WAS THRILLED to have made such great progress on my own at home! I felt like doing a backflip! I felt so relieved and excited. SO different to my previous birth experience. WE WERE DOING IT!

Margaret May: A Birth Story
Margaret May: A Birth Story
Margaret May: A Birth Story

Transition hit, and it was certainly harder, but I was still able to carry on conversation in between contractions. I was still mentally PRESENT and it felt really good. I opted to hop in the bath for the rest of the labor. Phil hopped in with me and applied some much needed pressure on my lower back and massaged my shoulders when I started to tense up. He's good, that man.

Margaret May: A Birth Story
Margaret May: A Birth Story

8 o'clock hit and I felt a huge wave of pressure descend into my bottom. It was time to start pushing, she was making her way out. She crowned quickly and effortlessly and that's when I started to stretch and burn. As soon as I felt the burn I was struck with fear. Pure terror. I knew that the burning was normal but I immediately associated that stretching and burning with tearing! I was reminded of how badly I tore with Audrey and it felt like I was ripping all over again. It was a really scary feeling! I was afraid of losing all that blood and the threat of a blood transfusion.

My contractions completely disappeared in that moment of fear. My body seized up and I suddenly couldn't continue. I leaned against Phil and fought against her head that was already halfway out. My midwife urged me to carry on but I simply had no contractions to work with and I started to panic and lose my cool. I felt like my control was slipping away. I knew that I needed help and that I needed to focus, so I opted to stand for the rest of the pushing to let gravity assist me. Phil pulled me to my feet and my contractions immediately returned. That decisive action was enough to snap me out of my fear and return some of the control to me. Two more pushes and she was in my arms.

Margaret May: A Birth Story
Margaret May: A Birth Story

You never forget that feeling of holding your baby for the first time. It's true love and pure bliss.

Margaret May: A Birth Story
Margaret May: A Birth Story
Margaret May: A Birth Story

She went straight into my arms and we cuddled and while she suckled for almost 2 hours. Can I get a hollah for NO STITCHES?! I feel so blessed to have had such a lovely and gorgeous birth experience. I couldn't have hoped for anything better. I feel SO pleased with how it went. I feel really proud of myself and I feel really EXCITED for next time. Whenever that is. I no longer fear birth. I look forward to it. And I look forward to conquering my fear of 'the burn' next time. I'm confident that next time will be even better.

Glory to God in the highest! He was my strength in time of need.

*Except for the pushing part at the end and then it BURNED! Least favorite part... followed by the BEST PART! The baby!
**She was SO so lovely!!! She was so gentle and calm. She was very low profile until I needed her. Me and Phil both agree that she was JUST what we needed. 

28 comments:

  1. so beautiful and precious xxxx that black and white shot is amazing xxx

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  2. Wow! WOW! Beautiful story, and such amazing photos - the one of you meeting Margaret is simply, utterly gorgeous. The best I've seen.

    Yay for conquering your fear, and yay again for no stitches! I think a positive experience and not tearing makes all the difference to your recovery (I LOVED my birth with H for these very reasons, and felt so good (SO GOOD!) afterwards) too.

    You are an amazing, strong birthing mama!!

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful xxxx

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    1. Thank you, Ange! I absolutely adore this photo. I remember the FEELING so clearly, but mostly I love Phil's expression of love. Melts me to my core.

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  3. i felt exactly the same about my second labour, it was so unpainful I feel embarrassed telling other mums about it in case they think im lying or being a santicmummy hero. but it was so beautiful and peaceful and just not painful! My first labour was all the screaming though, ha.

    congrats on your beautiful baby and incredible birth story :)

    http://www.violetlulu.blogspot.com

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    1. "it was so unpainful I feel embarrassed telling other mums about it in case they think im lying or being a santicmummy hero."

      Exactly!!!! <3

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  4. Wow, what an amazing story. And so empowering! I love the photos too. Our third baby is due in 10 days, but it will be my first go at natural full-term labour (the twins came by emergency c-section at 26 weeks). I'm nervous but determined to remain as calm and relaxed as possible. Your story (I was eagerly awaiting to read it!) has really encouraged me. Congratulations and thank you for sharing :)

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  5. Ah, lady! I am in awe of the beautiful individual into whom God has been and is shaping you! *wipes a tear*

    <3

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  6. Such a beautiful story. I had a very similar water birth and it was strangely enjoyable as well - more so than it was painful. Your daughter is gorgeous, congrats x

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  7. I'm crying. This was such a beautiful story.

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  8. such a stunning depiction of the miracle of birth. i absolutely love how open and honest you are. you are truly blessed with such a beautiful family

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  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am 13 weeks pregnant with my first baby and there really aren't enough stories like this out there. What encouraging writing and inspiring pictures. Thank you for sharing, you've comforted this anxious mama-to-be.

    Oh, and sorry for the anonymous comment - we're still in the process of making our news known to those who are close to us :)

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  10. Thanks so much for sharing. How absolutely beautiful. All of it. Margaret May's birth remind's me of birth stories in Ina May Gaskin books. Stories about how birth can be.

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  11. How beautiful! I literally teared up when I reached the part where you finally pushed Margaret out and saw the picture of you standing up. Oh my goodness. So inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story :)

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  12. Oh man, that black and white photo! Amazing. Amazing. A beautiful story, you wonderful woman.

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    1. You inspired me that it COULD be done better! Your birthing is and always has been an inspiration to me. <3 xo

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  13. All those photos are amazing! You can really see the calmness and concentration on your face. I love it.

    And I'm glad to finally read your birth story! :) I'm so glad it went well for you. Reminds me in some ways of my labour with Miles, although I would definitely and unreservedly use the term "pain" there. :p But being amazed at how quickly it went, yep... concentrating on relaxing my whole body, yep... and panicking at the moment of pushing, yep! (With Rowan I remember the pushing as a relief from the awfulness of the contractions, so when Miles was born I was surprised and outraged by the fact that it really hurt!) And giving birth standing up is one of the most empowering things ever.

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  14. Talia I've been waiting and checking and waiting for your birth story....This is soooo beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your story and how God strengthened you! What an awesome testimony! Congratulations! :)!!!!!! i love you xx

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  15. Wow Talia, such a great story and so empowering for everyone to read. I LOVE that photo of you meeting little Margaret May too - how cool will that be for her to cherish as she gets older and perhaps becomes a Mum herself one day? I also experienced a pretty awesome birth with Pipi and am still on a high from it almost 3 months on! x

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  16. This is so beautiful!
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    A beautiful birth story.

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  17. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story - So encouraging!

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  18. Gorgeous beautiful story - yay for you all!

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  19. Thats is most beautiful story and I agree that black and white photo is such a wonderful capture of the birth! So lovely to hear that your birth experience this time was so empowering :))

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  20. The most amazing, uplifting story. So beautiful. Reminds me a lot of my 2nd birth too http://www.mnmsadventures.com/2009/09/introducing-mylo-jake-maloney-born.html. It's a blessing to have faith in our Ceator having created us to go through this process isn't it xx

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  21. This birth story and your description of how it wasn't painful but intense is how I would describe my last two labours(not my first though). My last baby born July 23rd this year I can say the second stage was not painful at all and I felt my focus descend on me as her head was born, I didn't get any grazing and no tears and so the water in the birth pool was crystal clear even after birthing the placenta. I read Jackie Mize book supernatural childbirth and it has some amazing stories of painfree childbirth in there. You will conquer that fear of the burn next time, you might not even get the burn again(like me) but you are so right in being proud of yourself, you rocked it! I know what you mean though about feeling cautious saying it wasn't painful(almost like you lose credit for your hard work if it wasn't painful). And don't let anyone tell you you're just lucky coz we know its still hard work!

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