I underwent a planned C-section with my first baby Lilli. I was told that she was breech and too small and needed to be taken at 37 weeks. When I suggested that her size was hereditary (my family is small) and wanted to give her a few more weeks to develop/turn head down, the doctor snapped at me and asked if I wanted a "stillborn". The conversation left me feeling like I had no voice and that Lilli's birth was none of my business.
After she was born, I was so in love with my sweet Lilli but at the same time felt deflated. My body hurt, physical recovery was slow, nursing was very difficult and I was emotionally bruised. I was never given the chance to see if a natural birth was possible. I had carried her for 9 months only to have her birth hijacked at the end. That's just how it felt. I understand the need for C-sections but wished they would have allowed me to feel more like a mother and less like something they needed to pull a baby out of. Deep within my soul I truly felt that giving birth was the most sacred experience a woman could ever have, and I deserved a chance to experience it.
When my husband Vince and I met with our midwives for my second pregnancy we knew it felt right. I was surrounded by strong nurturing woman who acknowledged that my desire to have an intervention free birth was natural and supported. Throughout the process they not only monitored the baby's progress but mine as well. They made sure I was healthy in all parts of my life, not just the pregnant part. We had comfortable conversations where I was encouraged to ask questions and discuss any worries. As the months passed a bond grew which made their presence during the actual birth feel natural. I also practiced hypnotherapy with Arlene Thompson to mentally prepare myself for labor and weed out any lingering tension which could distract my body from a successful birth.
Due to my strong female support system I was not afraid when the early signs of labor began to appear. Cramping began in the afternoon and slowly progressed into actual labor that night. We called Liesl around 12am. The contractions felt intense but because I was 2cm dilated they advised me to rest in bed in order to conserve my energy. Two hours later my water broke and before I knew it I was in the birthing tub squeezing Vince's hand like it was made of steel. When Liesl and Laurel arrived I barely even knew they were there. They didn't stare, prod or tell me what to do. They were the guardians of my birth and gently melded in with the labor process. I spent the remainder of my labor/delivery in the birthing tub. The warm water cradled my body into a natural birthing position and provided me with a sense of calm.
I felt like it was just Vince's hand, me and my descending baby in the room. My labor was an extremely private and intimate experience. I have never felt more connected to a moment. I was full of the type of strength and power only a woman can possess. I rolled with the natural intensity of my labor and never felt afraid.
After 5 hours of active labor and 15 minutes of pushing, I was able to touch my daughters head. It was so incredible. I literally felt no pain at that point. One last push brought Pearl Emmeline Hall fully into the world at a healthy 8lbs. Liesl gently guided her up into my arms where we were skin to skin, warm in the water. She didn't yelp out or cry immediately, we were just together, it was peaceful. The cry did come but quickly settled. She was so relaxed and alert. We were able to look into each others eyes and immerse ourselves in the moment. Pearl was never surrounded by frantic latex gloves or ripped away for suctioning etc. because there wasn't a need. She was healthy, strong and ready to nurse. My midwives made it possible for me to bring my baby into the world in the most sacred and gentle way possible.
I remember feeling shocked that I had actually given birth. Shocked that it truly wasn't that complicated when left alone. Mothers really do know how to birth. To be honest I'm still trying to process the immense strength and sense of 'wholeness' I experienced that day. It was not only the day I met my precious baby Pearl but also the day I met the most beautiful part of myself as well.