My Birth: A Great Sense of Empowerment and Happiness
By Kerri Stephen, Minneola, FL
It was Friday, August 19, 2011, my late father’s birthday. Would this be the big day? Time would tell. For the moment, I drove into work. The day passed as a normal day until around noon. The tightening in my belly left my stomach feeling as hard as a rock. My stomach tightening and relaxing was beginning to increase in length and frequency. It wasn’t enough to keep me from working.
Five o’clock came, and I drove home thinking, “This is it!” After arriving home, I began experiencing what felt like intense menstrual cramps. My baby was coming! Mark, my husband, was at work and wouldn’t be home until later. I restrained from calling him wanting to save the surprise for when he got home.
The contractions were becoming more intense. I thought, “So this is what it feels like to be in labor. It will be painful, but I can and will get through this.” I walked around the house and practiced breathing like I had learned in my childbirth class.
When Mark got home we went for a walk outside. When we returned, I assured Mark to get some rest. I wanted him ready to support me when I would need him later.
I tried to lie down to sleep. I closed my eyes between contractions and prepared for the next one. I discovered that moaning during them made the pain less. Sounds weird, maybe, but it worked for me. At 3 a.m., the noise must’ve awoken Mark. He suggested we call my midwife who was ready to meet us at the birthing center.
With an uncomfortable drive, I was glad to receive a warm greeting from my midwife. She checked to see I was five centimeters dilated and praised me for managing so well this far on my own. That gave me further confidence to achieve my goal of a natural birth.
We made ourselves at home in the cozy, bedroom-like room and got soothing music playing. Having discussed my birth plan with my midwife in advance, she knew to give me privacy. I had freedom to move and walk around, and the baby’s heart rate and my blood pressure were checked periodically. I appreciated the reminders from Mark to eat and drink water. Mark tried massages that we practiced in our childbirth class. Now that I was in labor, I didn’t want to be touched. I’m sure Mark felt helpless, but having him respect my needs and his presence alone was what I needed.
Around 2 pm, there was no mistaking the urge to push. My natural instincts took over. After half an hour of pushing, I felt physically exhausted and wondered, “Would I be able to push this baby out?” With words of encouragement, I drew all my strength. At 2:32 p.m., baby boy, Eagan, was born just two days before his due date. While not on my dad’s birthday, it was Mark’s mom’s birthday. Eagan was placed on my chest. After the cord had finished pulsing, my husband cut it. I soon after breastfed. After just a few hours of giving birth, dad, and a healthy mom and baby headed home. I walked away with a great sense of empowerment, happiness, and an adrenaline high that would linger for days.
I was fortunate to be referred to a midwife for my prenatal care. When I first started my care I envisioned delivering in a hospital. That’s how everyone I knew delivered, including my mom. After doing research, including taking a childbirth class, I decided on a natural birth. My husband supported me, but I felt let down by family and friends. With all the research I’d done, having a natural childbirth seemed like the healthiest choice for my baby. The childbirth class taught me different labor positions and alternative ways for coping with labor pain, helping me mentally prepare, and gave me self-confidence.
Eagan’s advancements continue to amaze me. I contribute that to taking responsibility for his health before and during my pregnancy and delivery. When it comes to childbirth, have confidence in yourself and your ability to get through labor. Many fears or questions I had were answered by listening to my body.