One Year Later: Remembering Birth

One year ago, around today, I was getting ready to have my second baby. Oh, I’d been waiting and waiting and waiting. Wanting that birth to come more than anything. And you know what? It just wasn’t coming.

My due date came and went. Then two more weeks passed by. I did everything I knew how, but my cervix was unbudging.

Acupuncture three times a week and hardly even a braxton hicks. In New Mexico, 42 weeks is as far as you can go and still have a homebirth. Oh, how I wanted a homebirth. Specifically, a homebirth after cesarean. Oh, how I grieved when I had to let go of that. And oh, how scared I was that another hospital birth would mean another cesarean.

My midwife called our local hospital and was told they wouldn’t induce me for a VBAC. It would pretty much be an automatic cesarean. So she called this Doc in Albuquerque who is known for delivering breech babies and other old school things. He said come on down. I was so happy for the glimmer of hope he offered. And so scared. Could I really be going to be induced again? The same procedure that had ended so disastrously last time?

 My dear friend had wise words for me then, about how this was not the same road leading to the same place I’d already been. She said, sometimes life gives us experiences that are remarkably like things we have been challenged by before, only we get to meet them with fresh wisdom and strength. I began to see this journey as one of healing as well as a birth. Whatever lay before me, I would rise to meet it as a love warrior, with an open and courageous heart.

Nevertheless, I whined to the doc, “My cervix is unpoenable!” He looked like a scruffy gnome with his long hair and beard and Navajo bolo. He was unphased. “It might take a few days, but I see no  hurry,” he said. And that was when I knew we were going to be okay (I wasn’t paying attention to the three days part).

It helped me to see myself not as a victim of pitocin, having an especially painful labor due to pharmaceutical augmentation. Instead, I just reminded myself I was in labor. This was my labor. Mine. And nobody said labor was easy (okay, maybe those hypnobirthing people do, but I wasn’t there for easy, I was there to have a baby!).

I stood swaying on my feet, leaning against a hospital table, moaning like a howler monkey. For oh, about 18 hours. Doctor checked me and said “Great news! You’re 3 cm!” And I did celebrate, just a little. After all, my cervix had never been 3 cm open before! But then I started doing labor math and figured out I had about 40 more hours to go, and began planning my epidural. But hey, if you can get through the first three years of motherhood without tv, then surely you can get through a 26 hour labor without an epidural, right? Not to be blithe about it, though, because I surely did scream for it after they broke my water and things got a-rolling for real.

My husband shooed away the anesthesiologist, pulled me back onto my feet, and we got down to the real work of having a baby. It was at that moment the tide shifted and I knew I was going to have this baby naturally, right there on my two feet. And I was so glad that hypnobirthing never worked for me because this was amazing. And harder than shit. I don’t like to curse, but it’s true. Birth is so hard and so so good.

The nurses kept telling me “You’re having your baby!” And I was like, oh, so that’s what’s happening. Because it just doesn’t seem possible that anyone could feel like that and survive. And to think every person ever to live on this planet was brought into the world in some way resembling this–it just boggles the mind. It felt amazing to be a part of all that. I was having my baby!

Things were cruising now. We were in, swept away and carried by the birth. Through transition, my body pushing of its own accord.

Doc asked, could a few med students come in and watch; they’d never seen a natural birth. Ha, this was not the candle lit water birth I’d dreamed of–this was better. It was my birth! Let them come in, I said. Let the whole world witness my might! My husband held me in a supported squat. The doctor knelt on the floor and delivered her onto blankets.

And so Maida was born.

 My child, bringing you into the world was the first gift you gave me.
My heart is full with you!

24 Replies to “One Year Later: Remembering Birth”

  1. My eyes are welling with the waters of tears, birth, life!! Happy birthing day mama, Happy birthday Maida, so glad you were both born, courageous, gorgeous and brave, together. Now that is a birthing story sister!!! Loving you both and all the magic and miracle that is birth.

  2. Kyce, I love your warrior story, your courage to meet whatever was to happen, and the photos of that lovely, small face next to yours.

    1. That is a very small face, isn’t it? Rachel, thank you also for your courage in telling the story of your son’s birth and first months with such honesty and grace. I have learned much from it.

  3. That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve read in a long long time – thank you! 🙂

    Congratulations to mum w/family & welcome to the world to Maida from a random reader!

  4. “birth is so hard and so so good” yes!!! i read this as i await the birth of my third child. congratulations on your triumph. what beautiful ladies, all three!

    1. Oh my, I was surely inspired by the mazing story you just told about Gabriel’s birth. I am holding the beautiful images of you holding him in that pool, surrounded by your family, in my heart.

  5. Wow! Thanks for sharing your journey! I had a cesarean after three days of labor and failure to progress, and I hope for a natural birth next time. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story! It warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes. May many more women to come face their fears, let birth happen and find their power the way you did!

    1. So good to hear from you my dear old friend! May your words come true! And thanks to you for all the work you do helping to make this happen.

  7. thanks for sharing your amazing birth story, kyce. i love hearing birth stories from VBAC mothers, and i love that your story is so honest and empowering. i planned a homebirth for my first (and so-far only) child, but after 29 hours of intense labor at home, i ended up in the hospital after all with an emergency c-section. it’s always encouraging to me to hear from other mothers who have had a natural birth the second time around, and i love that you were able to have such an empowering birth even in a hospital setting. i think it’s so important to realize (or remember) that having an empowering birth involves more than just setting or the fine details. your story really reaffirmed that for me. thank you!

    1. You are so right, Meredith. Even now I sometimes grieve a little when my friends have simple, uncomplicated homebirths. Why couldn’t I? And yet our journeys to birth are so personal and so powerful–they are about so much more than the outer trappings of where and what kind of music was playing. Birth really takes place on an inner level, when we face incredible challenges and find the capacity to meet them. Even my first birth, which was so traumatic for me, offered this gift. If you decide to have another baby, I highly recommend taking Birthing from Within classes. They really speak to all this.

  8. Oh Kyce, how beautiful! Happy Birth-day!!!
    I had two VBACs- victory births- specifically VBA2C. I understand your feelings so well, all you said brought them back to me- I never fail to tear up reading VBAC stories!

  9. But hey, if you can get through the first three years of motherhood without tv, then surely you can get through a 26 hour labor without an epidural, right? —LOVE IT.
    You are incredible, beautiful, strong and SO SO very inspirational. I’ve read a lot of birth stories, but this one truly hit me.

  10. …crying…
    and so happy to get to read this and revisit that special, special time in your life and our friendship

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