Birth Stories

Sara and Tony: Liam’s Birth

I grew up believing that people only safely have babies in hospitals, but when my husband and I found ourselves expecting our first child, I realized I desperately wanted another option. My initial media-driven apprehension (home births don't typically end well in movies) led me to a couple of disappointing visits at my OBGYN office. I saw a different doctor every time, all of which were distant and impersonal in their approach. It didn't feel like there was any continuity of care, and my 15 minute appointments did nothing to address what I was going through emotionally, let alone get out all the questions I had. My doctors didn't seem to share my excitement, and I left each time feeling unfulfilled, and no less at ease.

I'd heard wonderful things about Kirsten, who was so committed during a friend's 36-hour labor that she even napped sitting on a trash can next to her in the bathroom. A few prompting emails from Kirsten later, my husband and I found ourselves in the River Valley office. ALL the midwives sat down with us together and discussed our fears about having a baby, doing it at home, and what we were going through emotionally regarding the pregnancy. We left that day convinced that we wanted a home birth with these women beside us! They CARED, they were excited with us, and they gave us the time we needed as first-time parents to ask all of our questions. Appointments were an hour, which gave us plenty of time to forget--and then remember again--all the things we had on our minds. We left every one feeling more prepared.

As the pregnancy progressed, I had things I felt I needed to ask between appointments. The midwives were available to me on the phone in a way that no OB would ever be. Even though our conversations were often lengthy--sometimes up to 45 minutes! - and my questions many, they always made me feel cared for, and never like I was a bother. Those phone calls were a lifesaver.

The thought of childbirth had always intimidated me, but when my water broke and labor started, I could not have felt more supported, or less afraid. Their apprentice arrived first, and had such a tenderness about her, she immediately made me feel safe and loved, setting the tone for the next 12 hours in the most wonderful way. The midwives soon followed, and the three of them came in and out of the bedroom where my husband and I labored, alternately helping and giving us space to be together. They were gentle and reassuring at times, spoon-feeding me sorbet and squirting energy drinks into my open mouth, and they were firm with me when I needed them to be, pushing me to change positions and tap in to the strength they knew I had inside when I thought I'd already given everything I had.

The experience of giving birth was more difficult, and more challenging, than I had anticipated, but because of our months of in-depth discussions with all the midwives, I knew--at the deepest level--that I was being cared for by people who loved me and really knew me. I was sure that they would be there in the way that I needed them, and not for one single moment during the entire labor did I feel unsafe. I felt secure in being completely, utterly vulnerable in front of them. And when I had a bit more bleeding than usual after Liam was born, they acted quickly and effectively to stop it, and to stop me from being scared by it.

Being able to stay in my own bed with my husband and our brand new baby, and have our midwives come to us for postpartum visits was one of the most wonderful parts of the whole experience. I felt so fundamentally surrounded and supported, it was beautiful. They helped me make sense of the roller coaster of emotions that comes with a new baby, and they were invaluable in those tough early days of nursing him. I can't imagine doing any of it any other way. I will heartily recommend them to anyone, and if I have another baby I will not hesitate to work with them again. They helped prepare me to become a mother on so many levels, and they will always have a very special place in my heart.

Note: Tony and Sara are expecting their next baby in July 2010 and will be having another homebirth with RVM.

Kristin and John: Rory’s Birth

This is how we prepared for your arrival. In the evening, after bedtime snacks, we would sit at the head of Dora’s bed in a line, our backs leaning against the wall – me in the middle, Dora, your sister, on one side and Noah, your brother on the other. It was a futon mattress, with a low to the ground frame, only a foot off the hardwood floors, perfect for an accidental falling off the bed. We would read a story together and then we would practice. First me, a soft moan as I gripped my belly. Your siblings’ eyes would brighten. “And then,” I would say, “It will become more like this…” And my moan would be deeper and drawn out and I would crunch up my face and tighten my fists. Noah, wide-eyed, would say, “You’re having our baby!” And then I would get more serious in my labor imitation, louder and more desperate. “What does this mean?” I would say to them, “When I am looking down at the ground and grunting and maybe even screaming out?” “Baby! Baby!” Noah would chime in. “Is it good that Momma is screaming?” This time Dora, “Yes, it means our little brother or sister is coming out. That’s what you have to do to get them to come.”

Daniel, your father, called it the best day of his life.

Sitting on the couch near the wood fire, still early in the morning, after eating oatmeal with honey and cinnamon, I felt the beginnings. My eyes widened and I held the sensation and what it indicated to myself for a couple of moments. I recognized the feeling. We had been waiting for weeks for this to start, and now, on the 26th of January, you stated your intentions.

In the winter, our lives are slower. The garden land behind our house is green only where kale pokes its head out of the snow. Your dad goes out each day to saw and chop wood. The kids read and learn to tell time on the clock in the kitchen. We cook lunch on the wood stove in the midday. On dry days, I go out into the woods and collect kindling. When the fire goes out, we climb into the greenhouse on the side of our house to enjoy the warmth from the winter sun. We take off our sweaters and our cheeks get red from the heat and our noses get pink from the sun. Your arrival on this clear winter day was of no inconvenience to us. Many of these things we could still do, here in our home, as you tightened and relaxed and tightened and relaxed again inside of me.

I asked Dora, your sister, to take out a pen and a paper. She was five years old then. I told her to write down the time whenever I called out to her. She would be monitoring and recording my contractions, I told her. She took scraps of paper from the desk in the dining room. Her numbers were big and bold, made with markers of different colors. She started at the top of the page and at the end she had three full pages of numbers. At the beginning, starting at 10:13 am, I called to her, “Dora, check the time!” She looked up at the digital clock, shouted out the time, and then ran to the piano bench where she had set up her number station. From 10:13 am, until pages of numbers were strewn across the piano’s bench, Dora wrote your progress down.

I called out to Dora from the greenhouse, with a book in hand. I was two hundred pages into Jane Eyre and I was obsessed. You gave me the excuse to withdraw to the sunny room, sitting indulgently while everyone hustled around me to prepare for your arrival. The persistent reminder, the tightening and relaxing, of your coming kept me focused and alert. I knew it was unlikely that I’d have the chance to finish the novel after labor and birth. When a contraction would come, I would put the book down, call out to Dora, then shut my eyes to the sun, tighten my fists as it came and went, and then immediately pick up the book again. I had only a hundred pages to go.

Daniel heated water on the stove and bathed the children. He cooked chili and rice and squash bread. He brought in several loads of wood for the wood stove. He tidied toys, made the beds, and cleaned the morning’s dishes. He shoveled the walk and salted it. Finally, around 1 o’clock, when I said “now!” he called Chana, the midwife’s apprentice. On the phone, she listened through one of my contractions and said she’d be over soon. Like with your brother before you, we had decided to deliver you in our home.

Dora, who had been helping your father with all the preparations, proclaimed, “I can’t do any more jobs! I need to get dressed for the birth!” She ran up the stairs. We could hear the bang of opening and closing draws, the ring of hangers hitting the floor, the creaking of old floor boards from little feet jumping from bed to closet and back again. It was nearly a half-hour later when she returned. She came down with all her regalia - a velvet Christmas dress with beads along the front, white tights, and black shoes. Her hair flowed down her back, only combed cursorily and hurriedly, snarled up at the ends. There was a remnant of oatmeal on the edge of her lip and her slightly yellowed tights bagged a little at the knees. She was radiant.

Chana, the mid-wife apprentice, arrived at 3:00 pm. Dora whispered to me, “Chana is the most beautiful midwife” and then announced to everyone else her intention to be a midwife when she grew up. She ran up to our bedroom to get the birthing kit we received in the mail and she and Chana set out everything all the materials, slowly and intentionally. Chana softly explained each material and its purpose. Chana, in my opinion too, was a beautiful midwife, as were Jharna and Kristen. They had delivered our last baby, your big brother, Noah. It was hard to know exactly which of the contributing factors made yours and Noah’s births as wonderful as they were – the midwives, home birth, or just birth itself.

Beyond 3:00 pm, the happenings of your birth are in no particular order in my mind. There are just vivid moments that could be cut and pasted into a multitude of sequences and I wouldn’t know the difference. One image comes from early on. I went upstairs to use the bathroom, Jane Eyre in hand. I sat on the toilet – I was so close to finishing the book! – until Chana came to look for me. “Women like to find quiet places sometimes,” she said lovingly. She wanted to watch me a little, to check on my progress. I think I smiled at her, but I remember so desperately wanting to hide away, even from her, not necessarily to labor in solitude, but just to finish the book!

I remember that we had no battery for our camera. Your father, all bundled up to brave the January winds, walked to the corner store. It was unlikely that such an item would be found among the candy bars, toilet paper, and pig’s feet. He was welcomed by the Dominican owners who had become our friends over the years. Red cheeked from the cold, he glowed and bragged, and “We’re having a baby!” Cheers erupted in the little store. This was part of our joy at giving birth at home – just down the street, just next door, just around the corner were our neighbors, our friends. And, against all odds but with consistent with the magic of the occasion, the battery was found, at the bottom of a shelf in the back, the packaging dusty and yellowed, but functioning fine.

And then finally, the most amazing gift: your sister and brother stayed with me in our little home, in the very room, throughout labor and birth. In the beginning, they cooked and cleaned with their dad, then they hung up little white lights around the edges of the room, and then they ate homemade ice cream. Between contractions, they gave me water to drink with a much-coveted straw. They hugged me regularly. Daniel turned on the music and we all swayed. Even then, I was in awe. I looked at them as if I was an actress and they actors in some type of miracle, unfolding before my eyes. I remembered the birthing practice in Dora’s bed with them, in the days of your gestation. I would groan and grunt and scream so that they could experience these things and see them as normal and good and productive. I wanted them to recognize me when I started to birth so that they might be willing to stay near me to see their new sibling. And here they were, dancing and chatting around me.

I remember that after all the dancing, eating, cleaning, talking, Noah, your brother, crawled onto his father’s lap on the couch near the woodstove and he fell asleep. Kristen, our midwife, said, “Children know what they need.”

Once he slept on the couch near me, or maybe because he finally slept, I entered into the final stages. I was less aware of the miracle and more desperate for the conclusion. Dora and Daniel cuddled off to the side since I had moved past the point of our labor practice sessions and she needed support. You were so insistent, the contractions every minute, and then came the urge to push - unmistakable. Couldn’t see a way out. I looked around desperately. It was just you and I. The midwives noticed that your heart rate slowed in the squatting position, so I laid on my back on the pulled out futon. Chana was at my feet, sitting on her stool, her hands outstretched. She and the others were talking to me. I was relieved that they were in charge, that I could let birth take over and they would monitor its progress and let me know what I needed to do. I had never forgotten Jharna’s words to me during the last pushes of Noah’s birth, when I felt so ready to have it all done, when I was feeling a little sorry for myself, and I was breathing in quick and spurty gasps, saying things like “Ouch! Ouch!” She stared at me from across the room, “Kristin,” she said firmly. She speaks as if her feet are planted firmly on the ground, no matter on what ground she stands. “Get a hold of yourself. Find your center. Find that center and hold to it.” I looked at her and I could feel my frantic gaze soften and get strong and serious. She was right. I looked at the wall across the room, the air all around me, and I focused. With you, in these last moments, I remembered this. I tried to hold the pressure and the pain all in my center and face it without panic. After two pushes, when I thought surely you’d slide out with the next push, into the room warmed by the woodstove and your family, Chana said to me, with all her grace and beauty, “Kristin! Careful. Hold back. A slow, slow push now. If you don’t hold back, you could tear. Slow, wait, breath.” And I looked at her and I, longing to have you out, got a hold of myself and you. I slowed down, my eyes focused on her. I held back against the persistent urge to push without reserve and I started a slow drawn out push. Light, controlled, and slip. There. There you go, baby. Here you are.

Serena: Julian’s Birth (VBAC)

I had planned to have my first-born son, Finnegan, at home. But three days after my water broke, I ended up at the hospital. A much un-wanted cesarean section and a rough beginning in the hospital NICU left me with a sense of loss and failure. No matter how much I tried to accept  and honor the birth I’d had, I still felt, on some level, deeply inadequate as a woman and mother.  My body had betrayed me, and I had failed myself and my child. But as a single mother (with wonderful sperm-donor friend) and professional carpenter, I only had plans to have one child. So after Finnegan was born, I “moved on” from the world of birth. I nursed him for 21/2 years, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, and enjoying a natural, gentle, attached infancy with him.

As Finn grew, however, I felt my plans changing. Even by the time he was a few months old, I found myself toying with the “only child” question. I spent the next year obsessing. Was there any way I could handle having a second child by myself? What were the pros and cons? I live with two devoted house mates, and get a lot of help from my family and a very involved donor-Dad. Would my community support me having a second child? Could I afford more time off? More child care? Feeding two teenagers someday?!? Eventually it came down to the fact that when I pictured the future, I simply always saw two children in it. Luckily, my sperm donor was excited to be a Dad again, and after five inseminations, I saw that beautiful second pink line on my home pregnancy test.

Pregnant again, I delayed thinking too much about the birth until I finished my first trimester and the worst of the morning sickness. Then I began to consider my options. A home birth was still my ideal, but I had to decide if it was realistic for me this time. I began to read about uterine rupture (when the scar from a previous c-section opens up under the strain of labor). I had begun pre-natal visits with the hospital midwives who had been my back-up last time, and with whom I’d had my eventual c-section. I met with the doctor of their practice, who told me she was very much in favor of VBACs, and has an impressive 80% success rate. She is not, however, in favor of VBAC at home, and told me bluntly that there was a one in two hundred chance of rupture, in which case “If you’re at home, you both die”.

It wasn’t an easy decision. But I thought it through carefully and ended up feeling like I could in good conscience pursue a home birth. First of all, I didn’t have any added uterine rupture risks; I’d had only one cesarean, a low transverse scar with no history of infection, and plenty of time between the two births. I thought a lot about The Odds of a rupture. One in two hundred, or 0.5%. What does that mean? I didn’t want to take a gamble on orphaning my three-year-old! Then I remembered that when I planned to have my first birth at home, I had accepted that there was about a 98% chance of a normal, healthy out come. I decided that 97.5% is not really that much different. Especially when I considered that things can go wrong in hospitals too, and there is nowhere you can go for a 100% guarantee of a good outcome. Lastly, I vowed to find midwives I could really trust, and to be willing to be open-minded enough to transfer to the hospital with no fuss at the slightest indication of trouble. I mentally promised myself and my son that I would not try to be a hero, and would remain open to a home birth, a hospital birth, or a repeat cesarean - whatever it took to come safely through to the other side.

I started working with a home birth midwifery practice that I had passed up in my first pregnancy because I was afraid they were a little “too strict”. This time, contemplating a VBAC at home (sometimes called HBAC), I wanted the most medically trained home birth midwives I could find. River Valley Midwives, with three skilled midwives and an apprentice, had a good relationship with the local hospitals, and an excellent reputation. I was gratified that they welcomed me as a VBAC client.

My first birth, ending with a hospital cesarean, left me feeling completely powerless, acquiescing to interventions I hated, and later asking permission to have time with my child “Is it OK to hold him now?”, “Am I allowed to nurse him yet?”. He came in to the world while I was paralyzed with the epidural, and with my arms literally tied down. At the end of a week, I took him home as if he was a gift given to me by the medical establishment that made all the rules.

During my second pregnancy, I had some opportunities to gradually reclaim some control over my childbearing self. There was some concern about high blood pressure, which I had had last time, and was starting to have again at my pre-natals. With the wise support of my midwives, I bought my own blood pressure cuff, and started to keep track of it at home, only to discover that it was perfectly normal, and only showed up high at check-ups! We decided not to take it at all in the office, and I simply brought in my records from home for the chart. Later, I “failed” the glucose tolerance test, and was diagnosed according to that test as having mild gestational diabetes (chronic high blood sugar levels can eventually cause big babies and can cause placental problems at the end of pregnancy). Again, I decided to self-monitor, and started checking my blood sugar four times a day. I found that I was perfectly able to control my blood sugar levels through diet and exercise. I continued charting these things through the rest of pregnancy, and it reassured me and my caregivers (including my back-up hospital midwives) that all was well. A few months before my due date I started thinking about pain. I realized that my first time around I had not been prepared for the intensity of labor - I just assumed I would be able to handle it, being a strong and spiritual woman. But in actuality, I think I “fought” the pain a lot, and often felt scared. So this time I did my homework. I was blessed with lots of strong Braxton-Hicks contractions, so I got to practice a lot! I imagined my birth canal opening like an anemone, I imagined a giant whale swimming down and out of me, and I practiced going straight to relaxing and opening at the start of any pain.

As my due date approached I had extremely mixed feelings. I felt like I was in a good place, like my mind was open to the different possible birth scenarios. But I couldn’t truly imagine that it would be any different than last time. As I set up the home birth supplies, I remembered clearly how disappointing it was last time, to dismantle the unused tub and give away my unused birth kit. So I tried to focus on letting go and accepting, and to enjoy the last few weeks alone with my older son, toddling around with my giant belly as the snow melted away and we watched for the first spring flowers.

Mid-April

First I went wading in the water. Every few nights, hours of regular contractions, ending with the dawn. Consciously opening, relaxing, breathing. Beautiful spring days spent with Finn. Trying to be patient, practicing for the pain. Keeping an open mind about the process. Finn and I reciting a mantra “we don’t know when, and we don’t know where, but our baby will come”.

A Wednesday night, six hours of regular contractions. Watching the clock. Mild. Every five minutes, but again they disappear with the morning light. Hmmm. Thursday, dinner with house mates and some friends. Below the surface of the conversation and food, my contractions are saying hello again. Slightly stronger? More Braxton-Hicks? I let them be and enjoy the evening. Thursday night I cover the windows, cover the clock. And we sleep soundly in the dark.

Friday, April 23rd

Dawn light, waking up and noticing my body, considering the quality of the contractions I’d noticed dimly in my sleep. Were they regular? slightly stronger? A sudden, slightly painful pop in my cervix makes my eyes open wide. Weird, but nothing follows. I doze again, then decide to count the seconds during the next contraction, just out of curiosity. One one hundred, two one hundred, three one hundred... Suddenly another pop, bigger than the first, as if the baby punched my cervix with it’s little fist! My water has broken.

6:45 am

A flood of warmth between my legs, soaking the pillow between my legs. The feeling of the fabric turning wet along my thighs, an understanding, a hope. Like an early morning positive pregnancy test.. Here we go. I call Kristen, my primary midwife. I have a few contractions while we’re on the phone, but I talk through them with no problem. We decide to keep in touch, but we both assume this will be a slow process. She will plan to arrive by early evening and spend the night - in the meantime I will relax and work on getting in to labor. I call my sister Me; she will come right over and help me focus and open.

I am calm and excited. A definitive beginning - I know I’ll have a baby within a day or so, since a VBAC can’t go on too long. Either it goes smoothly at home, or I go to the hospital. Finn is still sleeping peacefully. I call to Mom (conveniently enough here overnight) in the guest room, “my water just broke, can you watch Finn?”. She squeals, and I head off to the bathroom to have diarrhea, and more contractions.

Finished in the bathroom, I make it back to the bedroom in time for Finn to wake up, a little confused. “The baby is ready to be born! Now I will be doing that hard work to help the baby come out!” Mom takes Finn off to the Creamery for breakfast.

8:00 am

Sitting on the bench at the table, trying to eat some breakfast. Contractions are picking up strength startlingly fast. Meg arrives, calm and loving. I tell her it’s already getting really intense, and can she quick hand me a bowl so I can throw up! I complain to Meg, I can’t relax enough to deal well with the contractions, because of needing to hold myself upright on the bench.

We abandon the idea of breakfast, and somehow make it upstairs. I ease myself down on the bed, on my left side. I don’t quite get my feet on the bed, and they hang off the edge of the bed for the next few hours - I am concentrating too hard, and just never get a chance to scoot myself the rest of the way on.

My sister and I in my den. Dark curtained windows. Contractions taking all my relaxation, with deep breaths and low moans. Even between contractions I am completely involved, completely focused. Meg rubs my back, hums with me. I need to hear her low voice meeting mine. She reminds me where to go, she is my anchor. I can’t bear her to leave me - she has to sprint to the bathroom and back. My body is working hard and fast. We decide to record five contractions and then call Kristen for an update.

Between contractions Meg dials Kristen. She tells her they are every 4-5 minutes, lasting 1-2 minutes each. They talk briefly about how things are going. I take the phone to ask about eating - I am worried about staying nourished since I keep throwing up. She starts to reassure me, and then a contraction starts. I say “hang on, hang on” and set the phone down on the bed. We go through the contraction and Meg picks up the phone. Kristen has heard our labor song, and says she and the apprentice are going to come right now! Meg sends my house mates off to fill up the birth tub in the other room.

Every cell relaxing, every cell working, every cell overwhelmed at the intensity. Pain, pressure, passage, every cell allowing, every cell willing. No fear. Total involvement.

I get shaky. I’M FREEZING COLD, I NEED A BLANKET. I’m sweating and hot, but DON’T TOUCH THE BLANKET! I can’t seem to stay relaxed anymore - instead it starts to feel better to engage my muscles during the contractions. I’m starting contractions with the low moaning, but it keeps spontaneously turning into a strong yell, and then a warrior growl. It suddenly feels great to be loud, it eases and releases. It feels so much better to use my muscles... Am I wanting to push? Could it possible be happening that fast? I want to get in the tub! I want the midwives to come!

10 am

Chana Luba, the apprentice, arrives, all smiles and pleased with what’s going on. She asks if she can check my dilation. Yes! I want to know what’s happening. A gloved hand...one finger...two fingers... What is it? Nine centimeters! Oh my god! No long drawn out half-labor this time. No threat of transport as the hours tick by. I AM HAVING THIS BABY AT HOME! The best news. The best news. A victory.

Kristen arrives a few minutes later. Now it is a party! Everyone is happy, everyone is smiling, we are on a boat ride. She checks me to confirm, and I somehow get up, undress, and head for the tub. I relax in the tub, go through a few contractions. At Kristen’s request, Finn brings me a spoonful of honey. Very sweet, he tells me “Its OK, you’re just having the baby”. He plays in the swivel chair, sings me Circle Game. He comes and goes with Mom, or plays with Eric (their donor-dad, on site for the birth) downstairs.

KT (the second midwife) arrives, and pushes back a lip of cervix while I give my first deliberate push, and then I’m fully dilated! I ask if I can reach in and feel the head. They say of course, it’s your body and your baby! And there it is. Rubbery soft skin over hard skull. Alien and mine, just a few inches from the air. Could I have felt Finn’s head during that long labor three years ago? I never got the chance - at the end I was in a hospital bed, hooked up all kinds of ways and on my way to get a c-section (at full dilation, but before pushing at all). How different to have this moment in my own home, floating in warm water, touching my baby for the first time while it is still part of me. Another victory.

I do some warm-up pushing in the tub. The water feels nice, but after a little while it’s clear I can’t get in a really good position for effective pushing. We leave the tub and head for dry land. My bed all made with birth sheets. I am a movie star, a hero. My body is working normally! I am unbroken, strong, safe, successful. I am so relieved to be doing this, after three years of feeling like a failure. I am elated at each step of this process. I am a woman in labor, I am at home, and I am pushing!

11 am to 1:17 pm

I rest between contractions. Sip water. Take breaths. My right middle fingertip resting on the baby’s head. Our connection silent, private, alive. Part of me aware of gentle conversation - midwives, Meg, Mom, offering support, ideas, encouragement. Part of me focused totally on my finger on the baby’s head, Hello my baby. We are OK, we are doing this.

Then a contraction comes. A wave building. My breathing changes. The women are attuned, their voices pick up, loving, guiding, cheering. The pain is intense, deep, pure. I take a deep breath, close my mouth, and turn my roar into a push. The power of pushing envelopes me. It feels good, unstoppable, it drives the pain away. It is all strength, it is all surrender. I feel my finger shift as the baby moves forward. The women love it when I give one extra push at the end. I love to hear their cheers.

A rest. I breath a little oxygen. Sip a little water. Listen to the baby’s heartbeat, steady, good.

Slowly the baby’s head eases forward, out and down. Each push a little farther before slipping back again. So much work for such a short journey! I am on my back. Meg and KT hold my legs - knees to armpits while I push. Now they can see the head - it has begun to crown. Kristen massages around the head. Her hand somehow makes me push harder and I let go and just push in to her hands. They hold a mirror, I can see the head peeking!

Now when I push I feel a stretching and burning. I know about this, I’ve read about this. I think, OK, we’ve moved into the stretching and burning phase. I push. They tell me to push in to the strongest pressure, and I do. I am willing, I can continue this phase... And the head is out!

What?!?

I just felt the stretching and the burning, but the head is out already. Oh my god, really? They are unwinding the cord, twice around the baby’s neck. They invite me to feel. I reach down, I can’t believe it!

How did it happen? Somehow my two hands reach down. I feel not a hard head, but now a whole body! Warm, wet, squishy, slippery. My hands around it’s torso... and I lift it onto my chest.

Oh, the baby on my chest! Wet and warm, clean, pink, wiggling. I absolutely can’t believe it’s over! I can’t believe that’s all there was to it. It was so EASY! And who is this little one, resting on me so perfectly. I am swimming in gratitude, in beauty, in perfection. I did it! I am in awe of this new story, this new beginning. I am re-born with this birth. Triumphant, my body has come alive again.

The room has erupted into cheers, and I join in. There is so much love, so much celebrating. We have worked, we have won, and the world has changed and begun again. Finn comes to hold the baby’s hand. He was in the room to see the head come out and is gentle and happy.

After a while I peek and see that it is a boy. It feels right, my two boys. They are both perfect for me, my children, my chosen ones, my family. We are awash with love, we are cared for, cleaned, held and cherished. The next morning he is named. Welcome, Julien Sage.

Julien is six weeks old now, a sweet, mellow baby. Finn is adjusting admirably, and is a loving, protective big brother. Our family feels complete, and we are well supported by our community.

So that’s my home VBAC story. One last thing that I want to mention is the difference in my self-image following this birth. I’ve had absolutely no sex drive since my cesarean, and the post-partum weight loss last time was fueled by self-loathing. I found my scar disgusting, and could barely bring myself to touch it while bathing.

This time I feel completely in love with my body! I am just as stretched out, and I have just as much weight to lose. But I am so proud of what my body did, that I see it totally differently. I cherish my body now, and I can even imagine having sex again eventually! My post-partum has been really smooth. I was up and about quickly, never bled a lot, and I’ve already started losing weight. I feel like this birth experience gives me a well of gratitude and self-confidence that will stay with me as I go forward as a parent and as a woman. Thank you, Universe!