My birth story doesn’t begin there, but much earlier, even before I had any children. My mother has birthed seven kids but I was never able to see any of those births. Then my two younger sisters had kids and I was able to see one birth up close and personal. It was at a hospital and took over eight hours. She lay motionless in bed and kept throwing up, and then all of a sudden she had to push. I am still awed to this day by her ability to look so calm when the pains of labor were so intense. Shortly after came my turn as I got pregnant. So far all the births in my family had been natural with no pain meds other than gas and a few morphine shots. So the one thing I wanted was to continue the family legacy and show my strength by having a natural birth. I hired a doula and I didn’t know much, but a natural birth was the ultimate goal. Anyway, the birth of my daughter is a completely different story, but in the end, I had an epidural after 24 hours of labor with no end in sight. I felt defeated, depressed and so weak. That experience left me feeling hollow; the first words I told a friend afterward were: “It feels like I’ve been to war and barely survived.”
After much-needed healing time I vowed one thing to myself: next time I would birth the way God intended me to and have no regrets. Fully natural birth was still my dream. But I knew I couldn’t do it in a hospital as it was a stressful environment. I began researching home births and fell in love with the idea. But first I needed a midwife. I applied to all the midwives in my city, but I was turned down each time. The sad reality is that there are far too few midwives in our province to accommodate the growing demand for their services. So I reluctantly returned to my previous GP. She was quite lenient and respected most of my choices, and wasn’t adamant about pushing procedures on me. My heart wasn’t at ease, though, and I kept praying for a miracle. I remember quite vividly one day sitting in my office at work, raising my hands in the air and making a prayer that I would find a midwife, and then a few minutes later, something just told me to send an email request to all the midwives in town once again. The very next day, I had a reply from one midwife practice telling me they had a new midwife on board who was accepting new clients. I jumped for joy and immediately said YES!
Thus began my journey to what I imagined would be my happiest and most confident birth. Being under the care of a midwife is so different than seeing my GP. For one, our regular appointments always started on time and lasted sometimes an hour. In contrast, with my GP, I had to wait for an hour just to be seen for 15 minutes. My midwife never rushed me and took the time to truly get to know me. She also always advocated for natural remedies and educated me on the most practical and realistic outcome for each potential situation. When I first began seeing her, my GP had sent me to get glucose tests done and since I failed the first test, she wanted to send me to the two-hour test next. I was adamant that I didn’t want to be subjected to such a test again. I had had gestational diabetes with my first and I was more than ready to adopt that lifestyle if needed. My midwife was more lax; she advised me to get the tool testing kit and to self-monitor myself. I remember with my first when I refused to go on insulin at the diabetes clinic, the doctor bluntly told me I would be responsible if my baby died. Thankfully I have a strong faith in God’s decree and her emotional blackmail did not work on me. But this is an example that left a bitter taste in my mouth when it came to the mainstream medically-led pregnancies system.
I had begun to look forward to my weekly visit with my midwife. I took afternoons off and would sometimes go get massages afterward. This pregnancy was shaping up to be the happiest I had experienced. That’s saying a lot because I had never enjoyed a pregnancy; I’d just thought of it as a means to an end. But I felt glamorous; my skin glowed and my soul was at peace. I felt no fear and harbored no apprehension. It continued this way until my due date came and went. Another week went by with no baby in sight. I started worrying then; my plans for home birth were in jeopardy. Past 42 weeks, my midwife couldn’t ethically proceed with home birth. But I had bought a birthing pool, hypnobirthing books, candles, etc. I had no back-up plans!
Once again my faith intervened and reminded me of the promise I made myself after my first delivery. Only God knew how this would end, but I had promised to be kind to myself no matter the outcome. So I proceeded with faith and embraced the journey head-on. I stooped checking myself for signs each day and decided to enjoy the last few days or weeks. As soon as I let go of the dread came my time. It was 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning and I was having what I thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions, which were so familiar to me and caused me no alarm. But since I had a “bloody show” since the day before, I decided to play it safe just in case. I told my husband to take our young daughter to his brother’s house and then texted my sister and asked if at least one of them could come here. My husband asked me if this was real and I refused to believe it as I had so many “near-miss” occurrences, you could say. Anyway, he called me after dropping our daughter off and asked me if I needed anything. Of course, I had last-minute requests, such as a TENS machine and other little minor things. I had decided to eat in my mindset of just in case and prepared for a long day.
My sister arrived almost at the same time as my husband, around 8:30. By then the pains were about 20 minutes apart; I still referred to them as Braxton-Hicks and refused to say “contraction” in fear of being disappointed yet again. When my sister and husband arrived, he asked me if he should set up the pool and I was reluctant but my sister insisted and I’m so glad she did. By 9:30 I knew this could be it and so I texted my midwife for a second time, the first time being at 6 a.m. to tell her it hadn’t stopped. She told me since it was still early to get comfortable and call her when things got more serious. Well, by 10 a.m. I was having regular contractions of about 10 minutes apart, but I still thought it would take a long time. This was a belief acquired during my previous birth, where it took almost 48 hours. So I was in for a long haul, or so I thought. I tried watching a movie with my sister while my husband ran around the apartment trying to set up the birthing pool. The contractions were so intense I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I liked walking and when I had a major contraction I would stop and my sister would hold my hips together while I breathed through it. By 10:30 things were moving fast and I started getting scared. I asked my sister to call the midwife and tell her to get here fast. I remember receiving a call at 11:05 from a number I didn’t recognize and thinking it was my midwife, picking up, and then quickly passing the phone to my sister when it turned out to be a family friend. That contraction was so painful it brought me to my knees in agony. But being on my knees was the most comfortable position so I didn’t fight it. After that most painful one, I moved to the living room and knelt down in front of the couch and had what I can only describe as the most intense urge to urinate without being able to. That’s what my water breaking felt like, and I never had experienced that with my first. I always thought of this as an awkward but painless event, but not mine! My water burst and it was a loud pop and I couldn’t move afterward. I was five feet away from the birthing pool but it might as well have been five miles! My sister and husband urged me to go into the pool. Mind you, this was around 11:20 and I still couldn’t believe how fast this was going.
I got in the pool by sheer will and determination. I immediately screamed that the water was way too hot! My poor husband, who was frantically calling the midwife to hurry at this point, was forced to pour cold water in the pool also. My sister was behind me and all I could scream was, “Help me, please help me.” I was in so much pain I didn’t even know what to do. My husband sat on the couch in front of me and held my hand while still calling the midwife and asking her what to do. She told him: “Tell her not to push,” which infuriated me because I wasn’t trying to do anything! In fact, I felt so out of control it was as if I was having an out-of-body experience. I could feel the head; my body was expanding but it just felt impossible and anytime I tried to push I almost passed out from the pain. At that precise moment, I calmed my breath, went inward, and made a quiet prayer and asked God to help me. It lasted for about two minutes and all of a sudden something popped out. I screamed, “Something came out!” as if we didn’t know what was about to happen. My sister, who was still behind me, held my son’s head above water and told me to push once to get the shoulders out. I did and he was out in one swift move. I then rotated and put him on my lap. I was shivering and crying and I kept saying, “I did it, Lord, I did it.” I held him in my arms for what felt like hours but was only a few minutes when the door burst open and my midwife ran in. I told her she missed all the action; she kissed my forehead and told me how amazing I was. My husband cut the umbilical cord after it had stopped pulsing and was able to hold our son while I delivered the placenta. I then took a shower in my bathroom and changed into comfortable clothes. By then, more family members came as they couldn’t believe I’d delivered already. Since it happened so fast, I didn’t even have time to tell anyone I was in labor. I was comfortable in my bed and all cleaned up when my daughter came home to meet her new brother. Her first words were, “Oh, Mommy, where did you buy him?” The magic of that moment still brings tears to my eyes today.
I later found out that my midwife almost got pulled over by the police from the way she was speeding to get to me. Then, she parked like a madwoman when she got to my building and our neighbors were concerned. My husband had a near heart attack when he realized there would be no help coming and it took him a long time to see the beauty in our birth story. My sister was my rock; she never wavered, never stressed and never doubted my ability. Had it not been for her I don’t know if my poor husband could have handled all of it on his own.
After this delivery, I was on a high. No amount of post-delivery aches or pains touched my spirit. I felt God had tested me and I came out victorious. I felt invincible and embraced the God-given strength I possessed as a woman. It was the most painful yet most healing experience I have ever endured. I would never be the same, nor would I want to. I would do it again knowing everything it implies and all the agony it comes with. I’m a warrior now and I fear nothing from this day forward. My son holds a special place in my heart; he is a living testament of this victory and reminder of the blessing that God has chosen me to have.