Every year on my son's birthday, I replay the day he was born. There is no memory ingrained in my mind as well as the events of that day and it's no wonder that women carry those feelings and memories so strongly. It's pivotal, emotional, and life changing.
That day, I woke up around 3:00 am with a back ache that was coming and going, waking me up, and I suddenly realized, "I think those are contractions!" They were mild throughout the day, coming and going in no particular pattern. I went for walks, getting shout outs from the neighbors about the size of my belly. I watched funny movies, ate pizza, bounced on a birth ball. I could tell something had changed, but it had definitely not fully kicked in. Late in the afternoon my midwife advised me to take a Benadryl and try to get some rest, so I did. And one hour later I woke up with a start to some strong contractions coming every 4 minutes. We called for the midwife and she got there around 6:00 pm. I remember her looking surprised when she saw how short the space was between my contractions as she listened to for my baby’s heart rate. I remember sitting on the floor, my husband talking me through a guided relaxation as my water broke. Things picked up quickly from there. I got in the tub and hummed my way through every surge, trying to stay out of the way of my body as it worked and repeating to myself "A woman in a coma can have a baby." I spent most of my time kneeling or squatting and suddenly I needed some help. I wasn't getting a break and things were so strong. My midwife checked me and said I was 10 cm and I could try pushing. I tried to push in the tub, but it didn't feel like it was working and I remember thinking "I made it this far, what if I can't push out my baby?" I got out of the tub and sat on the toilet where I pushed my hands against the walls on either side of me, bracing myself against the intense pressure I was feeling. "I don't think I can do this. I don't want to do this!" My midwife said "You are doing this, you've got this." I will never forget how her face looked at me like there wasn't a doubt in her mind that I could do this. That moment of doubt passed quickly as I was again lost in the task at hand. I got up and walked to my bed and squatted down next to it. Boom, I felt my baby's head move down low with that squat and suddenly I felt ready to push. I got up on the bed, lying on my side and 20 minutes later, at 9:25 pm, my baby was next to me, pink, crying, tiny, and beautiful. He was crowning and then flew out into the hands of my midwife in one tiny push. She had said to only give tiny pushes as he crowned, but I didn't even get a chance. He just flew out. And he has been flying around at that speed ever since.
I will never forget the words I heard the midwives say while I was pushing. I heard one say to the other, "She's so strong." And suddenly, that's the type of woman I was in my mind.
I had my baby, on my bed, in my house, with nothing but the sheer force of my own body. I saw my strength that day and from then on, I never stopped feeling the certainty of what I am capable of.
My birth story is about my baby. It's also about me. That's why our stories are so important. That's why birth matters so much. That's why the words we say to women while they are at their strongest, but also their most vulnerable are so critically important.