I felt fiercely private and protective of all aspects of my first birth, leading up to and then beyond my due date. I didn’t want anyone to know I was in labor, I didn’t want anyone to be there except my husband and my doula and later my midwife, I didn’t want anyone even talking out loud about their predictions or how they envisioned it unfolding for me: day/time/outcome/etc. And… it worked out well. I spent most of the day going about regularly scheduled activities and during my 5 hours of active labor and then 1 hour of pushing it was just me, my husband and my doula (and later my midwife) with nobody else being any the wiser. I had no idea what to expect and I needed to experience it by myself with no outside disturbances or distractions, I very much felt like I *knew* exactly what I needed and it seemed to be perfectly true. I wanted to focus entirely and completely on the task at hand, nothing to break my concentration. I barely talked and there was no conversation between contractions, it was all very intense the entire time – but worked well, the entire labor & birth were very efficient.
This time I seem to be behaving exactly the opposite. Part of it has to do with the fact that now it is not just my husband and I but our son too and he requires more, a friend will be coming over to play with him and take him in and out of the house as he wishes. This friend may have another child with her so it could not just be him running around but one of his little best friends too.
Part of it is that our living situation has changed, our location and the fact that I know longer work for a paycheck full time, my full time is now spent looking after our son. Because of this a doula was not a viable option this time, *but* my midwives have a couple of women they work with that love to come to births to lend a hand, just because they love to. I haven’t actually met them yet but told my midwife I would adore and appreciate any extra help, emotionally, physically, even just help around the house as things are much more chaotic than last time.
And then there is birth photography. Photography was not even a consideration with my first birth and the farthest thing from my mind. My doula said she would snap a few shots for me and thank goodness for her because her three or so pictures are all that I have of that day and night and I actually LOVE looking at them. A few weeks ago I saw these photos of a girl I know that lives near us and I fell completely in love. I couldn’t stop looking at them for days (she is totally going to think I am a creep the next time I see her) and when I found out the photographer is actual a home birth mama herself any reservations I had about the process were gone and I just wanted her there too.
So now the count for my birth is: my husband, my son, possibly one of his toddler friends, one of my friends, two midwives, a possible free doula I have not met and a photographer – and my house is less than 1,000 square feet. It feels completely insane yet entirely right to me all at the same time.
The other day my son & I watched this birth video and I felt even another huge shift in how I envisioned my birth.
I didn’t want it to be me in an intense, unbreakable, focused place tuning out all of the people and probably inevitable pseudo craziness around me, I want to be a part of it. I want to talk and laugh with the women around me like in the video, and I see the entire environment much more light hearted in general.
I re-read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth this pregnancy and something in it really stuck with me. I can’t remember exactly what Ina May said but it was something to the extent of not being a crazy, dramatic, shrieking woman towards your partner during labor, that they (your partner) deserve positivity and for you to be nice, not slinging insults their way, etc. She talks a lot about “relaxation of the cervical sphincter that correlated with positive and loving words spoken during the most intense phase of labor” and “how the words [you speak] affect [your] labor” and then goes on to tell stories of mothers that would tell husband, baby, midwives and the friends helping how much she loved/appreciated them and Ina May added that “[she had] never noticed anyone’s cervix remain tight and unyielding while speaking loving and positive words”
I felt that during my first birth a lot of my rest between contractions was spent anticipating and bracing myself for the next one – and I would really like to have a go at some laughter and breaks in the tension and intensity this time around.
But then I think… am I crazy? Why fix something that isn’t broken? My labor with my son was swift, straightforward and effective. Can I really get the job done in a completely different environment? Is what I see for this birth actually right for me (and subsequently baby)?
I am a very changed person since the birth of my son, I feel like a lifetime of joy, tears, love, growth and sleep deprivation have taken place in the three short years since he joined us earth side. And I am also a vessel for an entirely different human being this time. Her wants and needs may not align with her brother’s in the slightest.
And so… I am just going to trust. Trust that everything has come together exactly as it should. Trust that when I say or do something without thinking about it first it comes from a place of inner wisdom. And trust that everything is fluid, no matter how the birth environment is it can always change if I or baby need it to.
How have your births differed from child to child? Has becoming a mother once changed the way in which you give birth again?
Do you *know* what birth holds for you and your baby while pregnant? Has envisioning the kind of birth you want come true for you? I would LOVE to hear other people’s experiences <3