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?
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.