Around about this time three years ago, I was labouring in my kitchen. It was a beautiful summer’s day and we had thrown open all the windows to let the light and air fill the room. Midsummer poured in on top of us. My husband and midwife were with me. I remember circling around the kitchen island, stopping every now and then to stoop down and support my body during a contraction, while my husband silently applied counter-pressure to my back. I remember being in the birth pool with him at my head breathing me through each surge while my midwife poured warm water on my back. I felt safe, so supported, strong…and happy.
When I thought things were getting too much and had a bit of a wobble, my midwife – who had been mostly a silent, observing and comforting presence in the background – slipped into my focus and brought me back to my concentration and confidence. I remember her reassuring promise that in the next push, my baby would be here and I believed her.
It was an incredible day. I’d never experienced anything like it. Everything was just right. My labour started by itself. I laboured comfortably in my own home with just two people who I trusted. It was completely undisturbed. Our beautiful baby boy was born into my arms. We had immediate skin to skin, delayed cord clamping and my placenta delivered naturally. He started breastfeeding straight away and when he was ready for a little break, my husband had some lovely skin to skin time, while my midwife helped me shower and change. A couple of hours later, my husband tucked us into bed.
It was perfect. There was not one thing I would change about it. I loved giving birth. In hindsight, I consider myself blessed. I know what it’s like to have a wonderful, positive birth experience when I know a huge number of women have never had that. What I didn’t know at the time was that I only had that one shot. That was my one and only opportunity to have a natural birth and I am so grateful it went as well as it did. If I have another baby, it will be a Caesarean birth.
It took me a long time to get my head around this, that I would never again experience that comforting, rhythmical sensation of mild, warming up contractions. Or the intensity of late labour ones and feeling my body and baby work together. Or the sensation of my baby moving down through my birth canal. Or that incredible feeling of accomplishment as I held my beautiful baby close to me. And I was angry. I felt like I had been robbed. After my son was born, I looked forward to doing it all over again, and maybe again. I wondered if anything would have been different if I knew at the time, it would be my first and last opportunity to do it “my way” but then I realised it didn’t matter. It was a whole experience, complete in itself in that moment that can never be changed.
Life has chosen another path for me and I realise now that I am more than lucky to have these wonderful memories. A good friend said to me that my anger at not being able to have another vaginal birth was testament to what a positive experience I had because she couldn’t think of mother she knew who was looking forward to doing it all again, including herself. I thought that was profoundly sad…and then agreed with her observation.
It was amazing. From my perspective it was the perfect birth. But now I’m ready to redefine what else could make a birth perfect for me and if I’m lucky enough to find myself in the position of welcoming another baby again, it will be perfect too.