Birth is truly an incredible, powerful and unpredictable phenomenon... I remember being asked during my pregnancy what my "birth plan" was and always feeling that was a funny question. I definitely had envisioned myself in an intimate and comfortable home setting but truly the plan was always to be fully present and do whatever was needed to safely usher our daughter into the world.
It was the morning of Friday Feb. 26th when my partner Michael looked at me and said he didn't feel we would make it through the weekend without her arrival. We went about the next couple of days taking long walks, indulging in my insatiable nacho craving, playing music and trying not to think about it too much. I was experiencing heavy period like cramps, but I didn't feel as though there was any organization or growing intensity to them so I took it as Braxton Hicks. Then on Sunday evening at 8:30 we were out walking our dog under the stars when my water broke. What an incredible feeling! We were giddy walking back to the house to the sound of my shoes full and squishing. I jumped in the shower to rinse off and we called Karen to let her know the news. We were a bit of a commute from her so we began packing up the car to head out, assured we would have hours of labor before being close to birth. Contractions came on pretty strong while I was in the shower and I remember thinking to myself "wow this is going to be pretty intense if this is the beginning of labor!" Michael then took a shower and I felt like I needed to use the restroom so I went to the downstairs bathroom. While sitting there, all of a sudden I felt something coming out! I panicked and pushed it back up with my finger and screamed up to Michael, afraid it was the cord. He helped me back upstairs, we called Karen and she told Michael he was going to have to look and see what it was... I will never forget hearing him say that it was a foot! We had no idea until that moment that she was breech, so this news was a total shock. Karen said she was sorry to say it, but we were going to have to head to the hospital and that she and Paige would meet us there.
It was about an hour at this point since my water had broken and rushes were 2 mins apart and had me on all fours. We called 911 and within moments had a house full of firefighters, police and paramedics... All of whom didn't really seem to know what to make of me. Michael finally called up from downstairs and said we needed to move, so I managed to walk downstairs between rushes and get into the ambulance. They wouldn't let Michael ride in the back with me, and the rushes were almost unbearable to handle on my side strapped to the gurney. I started to cry and pray... Surrendering in that moment all the ideas I had about what my birth was going to be. I prayed to Divine Mother for strength, courage and a safe delivery. It wasn't long before we arrived and we were greeted by nurses who also didn't seem to know what to do with me (other than keep me from pushing). I wanted so badly to flip onto my hands and knees and was feeling the strong urge to push, but I was told I had to remain on my back. I was being prepped to head to the OR.
Everything was moving so quickly and the rushes grew so intense that the next time I opened my eyes we were in the OR and the Dr had just arrived. I had been laying down but made Michael raise the bed so I could look at him. There I was all sprawled out and in Transition, and this wave of calm washed over me. I introduced myself to the Dr and asked how he was doing? He chuckled and informed me they were getting ready to preform a C section. In that moment, I realized I had read all of those Ina May Gaskin books to know it was possible to safely do a vaginal delivery a breech baby. I was able to let go of every other idea about this birth, but I wanted the opportunity to try to naturally deliver my little girl. I looked straight at him and said "will you please let me try...? We had been planning on a home birth, and I would really like to try this naturally." He paused for a moment then told me he had done many vaginal breech births back in the day, but it was no longer a standard procedure there. I simply said again "please..." After another moment he said "ok, on your next contraction, I want you to push." The whole energy of the room changed, and I did... I pushed like I never had before, straight through my next contraction and then some... On the first contraction he put half his arm in to free her other leg and on the second the rest of her little body came sliding out! Within a moment she was wailing and I was in love.
Lila was born at 10:46 PM just 2 hours after my water breaking. As my shaking body pulsed with adrenaline, I looked around at everyone in the room. The Dr., all of the nurses, the pediatrician, my sweet Michael... there wasn't a dry eye there. It was a powerful experience for all of us, and I will forever be grateful to all of them for allowing me to deliver our sweet Lila Grace. I will also forever be grateful for Karen and Paige's wisdom and supportive care teamed with the reading I did during my pregnancy which afforded me a wealth of knowledge and allowed me to make conscious and informed decisions to advocate for myself and my baby during and following my labor.
Birth is the most empowering experience I have ever had... Physically, emotionally, spiritually... I am forever changed.