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“Telling the truth with compassion, this powerful documentary makes clear the extent to which women are trading their birth rights for a mess of porridge.”
Author of The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth and Obstetric Myths Versus Research Realities
I spent months and months being terrified of giving birth for the first time. I was terrified of an episiotomy, of having incompetant or just unsympathetic medial staff, of being in pain in labor for countless hours. So, starting late, about 28 weeks I started doing some hard-core research. I read Birth Without Violence, Birthing From Within and Magical Beginnings Enchanted Lives and Spiritual Midwifery (every expectant mom should read this book) among others. I drafted a detailed birth plan but realized that the things I was afraid of (unnecessary pain, prolonged labor, episiotomy,c-section, seperation from my baby) could be avoided or the chances greatly reduced by just not giving birth with drugs and not going to a hospital. I found a terrific midwife and opted for a home birth at my parents house.They live about fifteen minutes away. At 35 weeks I was 2cm dilated and 75% effaced so I was taking it easy and cut back work to part time because we
were concerned about me going into labor.
However, I made it the whole forty weeks. When my due date rolled around I was 4cm and 100% effaced. Columbia was very low and all was ready. We were all thinking any day now. Scott (my husband) and I had our bags mostly packed except for a few things like toothbrush etc. I was planning on at least 24 hours in labor because I knew that for a first time that was perfectly normal. I had all sorts of techniques and support systems in mind. Melissa (midwife) her assistant Carrie, Scott and my mother would be at the house for the birth. My due date was Saturday, May 17th. I had pretty much stopped having any warm up contractions. Melissa told me it was because my
body had everything pretty much done, I just had to go into labor. So as I said my due date arrived and then another day passed. And another and another and another and another. I LOVED being pregnant so I wasn't in any rush to get it over with but by the next Thursday I was starting to wonder. I mean really, with how ready I obviously was what was holding it up? I went to bed the Friday after my due date still not having any contractions or other signs of impending labor. At 3:30am Saturday, May 24th I woke up and felt my first
real contraction. I wasn't positive that it was one at first. It was so different from everything I'd felt before. I spent about fifteen or twenty
minutes in the bathroom making sure it wasn't a false alarm. I started timing them and they were five minutes apart and starting to get stronger and I knew that it was probably time for me to have a baby. So, I woke Scott up and told him this might be it. I wanted to wait a bit longer before calling anyone or getting dressed because it was about 4am and I sure didn't want to alert everyone for a false alarm. Besides, I figured I had many hours ahead a few minutes wouldn't make a difference. A few minutes was all it took for Scott to be positive and he began to get his things packed up. By about ten minutes after Scott getting up I was having to stop what I was doing completely during each contraction. It took forever to get the few things I needed together and Scott was helping me, calling my mom (Teryl) and the midwife, getting his things into the car and warming it up and then helping me get dressed. I was trying to talk to Scott to tell him it wasn't really going like I thought it would. By the time we were getting in the car (about 4:20am) there was absolutely no break in contractions. I had enough presence of mind to grab a roll of paper towels as we walked out the door and Scott was on the phone with Melissa the whole time giving her reports. I remember being in the house and thinking, they aren't pausing, they're supposed to be at least two minutes apart and they aren't stopping! This is transition. I knew it was from reading about it but my mind wouldn't really accept it. I mean people don't just wake up in labor and go into transition half an hour later. But we hadn't even pulled out of the driveway when I had to pound on the door and scream it was so intense. At this point Melissa suggested she just come to us but I gasped out that Scott should just drive and hurry. I did not want to have the baby at my house where we weren't prepared and where my roommate was sleeping. We had been on
the road a couple of minutes and my contractions let up. I was glad for about ten seconds but as soon as they did I had to push. Oh, no! I started panting and fighting and doing everything I'd read about to NOT push and slow it down. Soon after that Melissa told Scott to pull over and check for the head crowning. Thankfully it wasn't. But Melissa decided there was a good chance we wouldn't make it there so she left my parent's place and headed toward us. My mom jumped in car with her and we met them half way down Columbia Falls Stage Road, about five minutes from my parent's house. I was so relieved to see Melissa's headlights coming towards us. I didn't even realize she was meeting us on the way until Scott said, "We are almost at the hill, I see you!" Thank god! Not pushing was the hardest part of the whole labor. Melissa had arrived at my parent's, unloaded her equipment and then had to jump back into her car and just head to us. So, her emergency stuff like oxygen was still at the house. But it was definitely the right choice because she would've been too late if she'd taken the time to pack it back up. Anyway, we pull over and she jumps out of her car and comes to my door. I put my right leg on the door and my left on the dashboard. Melissa checked me and said the baby's head was RIGHT THERE. She listened to his heartbeat and she
comforted me and told me to go ahead and push. That was more of a relief than I can even describe. I never realized that pushing is not a choice on your part. Your body pushes, you either help it or not but it will do what it has to no matter what. Melissa was giving directions, having everyone get blankets so we could warm them over the vents on the dash, having my mom call home to get Carrie to bring to
the emergency equip as soon as she got there, while still focusing on me and the baby, she was incredible. There was one moment of total terror through it all. Melissa told Scott to call an ambulance in case her equip didn't get there in time. I heard "ambulance" and was freaked. I did not go to this effort to go to a hospital. But Melissa promised it was strictly for back-up and we would just sen them away afterward. Turns out they arrived 10 minutes too late anyhow. It all took maybe fifteen minutes. Carrie arrived with the oxygen etc about a minute before he was born. I started pushing and Melissa listened to his heart again at which point she said he wasn't liking this and not to wait for contractions, just keep pushing. I stalled a second when his head crowned cuz WHOA is that ever a weird feeling. Melissa just talked
me through and told me I was doing great. Another few seconds and Columbia was born! It was 5am. The sun was just lighting the sky over Columbia Mountain and there were three deer watching us from a nearby field. Good omens, I think those deer speak strongly of the Goddesses presence. Scot and my mom both said it was surreal how perfect the morning looked. I had a fair amount bruising and a tiny tear but no stitches. He was put on my chest and we were wrapped up in blankets while Melissa made sure he was breathing well and we were both alright. Scott cut the cord while I cuddled our son. We stayed for maybe ten minutes after he was born to deliver the after birth. That was almost harder at first because you're a bit gun shy at that point, any more pushing is really not too appealing but it was pretty cool when I realized it didn't hurt. Then Melissa drove us the rest of the way to my parent's to make sure she was able to keep an eye on us. We had already decided to name him Columbia but how ironic for him to be born on Columbia Falls Stage Road. Everyone got to the
house and we settled into bed and snuggled and Columbia nursed and it was heaven. He was 7lbs 3oz, 19in long. Carrie cleaned up the car for us and laughed at what she saw as soon as she opened the door. Two flip flops on the floor and a placenta on a bag in the middle! Melissa confessed that it has always been a secret desire of hers to deliver a baby in a car. I wouldn't change a moment of it. It was intense and unexpected but it was also flawless and amazing. And I think it demonstrates very well that birth is a natural occurence not a medical emergency like we are programmed to believe. We women are made for it and our bodies are so much more capable than we give them credit for. I can't believe that after so much preparation and buying supplies and getting ready for a long labor it was all
irrelevant. Even the pain wasn't bad. Not saying it wasn't strong but just that even that felt right. There was not a negative moment. I am definitely never selling that car.
Debra Pascali Bonaro is the director of Orgasmic Birth and co-author of the book Orgasmic Birth, Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying and Pleasurable Birth Experience. Debra helps birth pros and new families all over the world learn about the details of gentle birth. Visit www.debrapascalibonaro.com to join in a webinar, attend a destination workshop and learn more about natural childbirth.