CELEBRATING MILA: A BIRTH STORY
365 days can fly by fast. Next thing you know you’ll be like me… in complete awe at the fact that you now have a one year old! This child will have a blossoming personality, most likely a tooth or two, taking their first real strides to walking (if they haven’t already begun) and innocently but not so innocently biting down on your nipple (for the breastfeeding mamas). But the best part about it is that you’ll be so in love with this being in a way you never knew existed until you became their mom.
Thinking back to the day my heart began to live on the outside of my body, my first memories were in the wee hours of that Sunday morning. I had a homebirth and my midwife had to fly into Bermuda from Boston (she was amazing F.Y.I.). For a few months leading up until THE BIG DAY I had been having those birth spasms we mamas know as Braxton Hicks. It wasn’t until my midwife arrived and easily confirmed this by touching my tummy as one occurred that I actually knew what they were for sure. Going back to the morning before my daughter was born I recall an intensified sensation a bit more powerful than the usual Braxton Hicks I was used to. I remember thinking to myself, “It's beginning. These must be the real thing.”
Pairing that occurrence with the fact that I could barely sleep I intuitively self-diagnosed myself as in early labor (not that pregnancy is an illness or anything because it’s not). Upon accepting this I began to familiarize myself with my surges (contractions) which at that point would come every so often. It’s such an invigorating moment when you realize it won’t be long until you can finally meet the lovely baby you’ve been housing for almost a year. It’s also a bit nerve wrecking, especially for first timers like I was because I was still a virgin to childbirth and still a bit apprehensive as to whether or not I was going to be able to endure it all (spoiler alert: I could and so can you). I mean really, birth is an unpredictable phenomenon so whether it’s your first, second, or fifth you still just don’t know what to fully expect.
I know I ate a banana at some point and finally managed to get tired enough to fall asleep around the time I would have usually been waking up. Fast forwarding a little, my next memory was being awoken during a nice slumber (to set the scene I’m cozy in the A.C. on a summer day) to the sound of what I literally could have mistaken for a rushing river or waterfall. My waters had released! Mila’s father who lives in the States had flown down for the affair (no pun intended) and he was napping next to me so I excitingly and frantically (I can be super animated) let him know and he proceeded to get me napkins, a towel or plastic bags? At this point I can’t recall which. Some people’s waters never release or they have a slow drain out so they don’t really notice when it’s happened. I was pretty happy that mines released with such drama and I got to experience the thrill of it all.
With many first time mothers whose uteruses have never contracted to birth a baby before, the expectation is a longer labor. With my waters releasing around noon, our guestimate was that Mila would make her appearance into the world sometime in the early hours of the next morning, maybe midnight. To be honest from this moment on I cannot give you a play by play because when you’re in labor you are in a zone. My tunnel vision was in full effect but I can tell you that labor progressed pretty steadily from there.
All I have are the key moments I remember, like me throwing up. At that point I knew it wouldn’t be much longer. Having had taken birth and doula classes I wasn’t afraid when I threw up, I knew it was a good thing. In between my surges I actually did a lot of sleeping. That’s a plus to birthing in the comfort of your house; you can walk around, get in the birth pool, bend over the couch or sit on your toilet while you’re having a contraction and then go lay back down in your bed for a quick re-up in between. It all was very natural. I felt at home, because I was.
I reached full dilation much faster than anticipated. The next thing you know my dad’s gone rushing down the road to pick the midwife back up from where she was staying (which wasn’t too far from my homestead) while my moans were starting to get more low and closer together. I do remember thinking to myself, “Maybe epidural wouldn’t have been a bad idea.” But then the surge would be over and I’d switch my thoughts to, “That wasn’t so bad. You can do this Sinead!” Apparently my dad drove over a staircase because he was so excited and nervous. If you know him this makes for a good laugh. By the time my midwife got back to the house I was about 8cm. It was actually pretty cool because she was able to gauge how much I was dilated just by the sounds I was making before she actually checked. 9cm. Then 10cm came.
It was time to push. I was submerged in the warmth of the birthing pool. With the assistance of Mila’s dad who actually to my surprise joined me in the pool, my midwife, midwife assistant, doula and mother all present (and other family members lingering somewhere far enough but close to the vicinity) I ebbed and I flowed to the beat of my contractions. Boy oh boy, a baby’s head coming out of your vagina is a real stinger! I was exhausted and starting to lose my oomph but I remember my midwife motioning me to feel my daughter’s head which was crowning. I didn’t want to but she took my hand and placed it in her head and by feeling the softness of her hair the most magical thing happened. I got the burst of energy I needed!
With some position adjustments and a little squat action my little baby girl came floating right on out. Her dad picked her up out of the water and I felt a sense of great accomplishment and relief. What were my first thoughts? “Welcome to the world sweetie!” and “Dang, she’s light.” In the meantime my/ her umbilical cord was a bit short. I couldn’t place her on my chest with ease so we ended up having to cut it before I birthed the placenta. I originally wanted to wait until it was out before we snipped the cord but that’s a part of the unpredictability. It took me a bit to birth my afterbirth as well so I did some homeopathy which worked. I also had to get a few stitches which were casually done on my living room couch. At this point there was no privacy and it was whatever.
In hindsight, having had the experience I did I would say that I’m definitely more pleased than not. I do live at home with a large family which presented its own challenges but for the most part my birth space was respected. If I am ever given the privilege to have another baby I’d definitely want an even more intimate environment but I am glad that I was able to share this experience with my family and friends as an example that birth is a natural and beautiful thing. Being a vessel of love and the gateway for a human to enter the world is a delicate time and I am so proud of myself for all that I resiliently endured to give my daughter the welcome I feel she deserved to the best of my ability.