The birth of a family

I found out that I was pregnant with our first child when I was 19.  Young and a little terrified I wanted to do everything right.  Fate brought me to a job as a barista at our local co-operative grocery store just weeks before, where I was fortunate to be surrounded by women in my community that believed birth to be a normal life event and pregnancy a gift.  I was connected with local midwives and took childbirth classes and read everything about being pregnant and giving birth that I put my hands on.  Time went on, months and weeks passed, we waited on the arrival of our baby.  I wondered about eye color and how big it was going to be, what color hair he or she was going to have. We had decided not to find out the sex of the wee one so it could be a surprise. I feel like it’s one of true surprises left in life. My sister who lived in Arizona at the time was called me to tell me she would be here on the 22nd and to hold the baby in until she got here. My response was a sarcastic… Yeah, okay. My “due date” was on the 24th so it seemed possible that it could happen.  After a few nights of what I thought was labor, which turned out to be those tricky braxton-hicks contractions, I was convinced the baby wasn’t ever going to come… maybe I was just ready.  I talked to him and told him we had a name picked out and that we were ready for him to come when he thought it was time and that our life would be safe and full of love.  Then after a night of no sleep and what seemed like constant trips to the bathroom to pee, I had my first real contraction at 5:47am.  (Coincidentally, my sister’s plane arrived in the state only a few minutes before, I guess the baby listened.)  Whoa, I thought, I don’t know if I can do this. I sat in bed for a while trying to get my wits about me. This is it, the moment of truth. I tried to rest for as long as possible, knowing I was embarking on a journey that would need my full strength, but that seemed impossible. I was too excited. I finally woke Derek up at 7 and we sat there together in bed. I called my mom and told her to come on over.  At some point we heard a small chirp and to our surprise there was a grasshopper in our covers. She assured us this was a good omen.  I called my midwife to let her know (about the baby, not the grasshopper). It seemed like she already could tell by the sound of my voice… Is it time? She said with excitement in her voice. All of these things were reassuring but I was still scared.  Scared of the change and of the pain. As the morning past I showered, and cried a little. I walked around the block a few times, I rocked on the birth ball, I rested, I ate and drank whenever I needed. I called my friends to tell them to send some good birth energy my way.  With every passing wave* I said to myself I can do this.  Then it got to a point where I stopped talking and just started doing. Rocking, walking, rolling with it one minute at a time. We kept in contact with our midwife and collectively decided it was time to go to the hospital.  We got there and I refused the wheelchair because sitting and being still was painful, walking felt good.  I got to the labor and delivery room and my midwife was already awaiting our arrival. She did a cervical exam and was excited to say I was at 6cm. Time wasn’t a factor, I was still able to keep my concentration despite the questions and the poking and monitoring that was required of the staff. I showered and layed on my side in the bed. At this point I was experiencing an intense case of chills and warm blankets were piled up all over me like I was in a nest. It felt good. I felt warm and safe. I realize now that I was in transition. The place of rest before the work of pushing out a new life began.  Then my midwife noticed my sounds changed from moaning to grunting. She asked if I felt like pushing and I said I thought that I did. I started to push with the urge. This is actually a relief, I thought it would be the worst part, but now I felt like I was able to deal with the sensations in a more active way. After a few hours of position changes and lots of cool wash clothes on my head I finally assumed the squating position on the floor, holding onto the side of the bed for support. My whole family and midwife were all on the floor with me. Finally his head emerged and I felt the ring of fire, that’s what birth professionals call the crowning of the largest part of the babies head. You slow down and feel the burning, the stretching of the skin. With a few more pushes I reached down and grabbed my baby and pulled him up close to me.  I didn’t cry, I didn’t know what to feel. I kept saying “It’s a baby” like I didn’t previously realize that it was going to be an actual human being. I really was a little shocked it was a baby. He was boy. Perfectly pink and chunky. He had a head full of thick black hair and his eyes were those of an old soul. He was perfect. We named him Oliver. At that moment my whole life was filled with a love that I had never known possible, a new view of the whole world and everyone in it. A new inner strength and confidence of what I had just accomplished, a birth free of medical intervention and medication. You can’t recreate that kind of empowerment. It was a completely unique and beautiful experience that I will forever cherish. I can look back and say with pride that I made choices that ensured full support of my body during this time. I surrounded myself with people that respected me and my instincts, despite my age. I can truthfully say that the night my son was born, so was I.