Four days ago, my second beautiful girl, The Pixie, was born here at home. I had a lot of expectations surrounding this birth, ways that I wanted this birth to make up for the birth of my first daughter. Thankfully this birth more than compensated — it also allowed me to accept the first and, more importantly, to move on.
Timeline of The Pixie’s Birth
- Friday, our due date, comes and goes. We’re all a bit surprised, but what are you going to do?
- On Monday I panic about impending ‘snowmageddon’ predicted for Tuesday night. I tell The Pixie that she has to come out by the next afternoon or wait until Thursday.
- The Pixie chooses sooner rather than later, and mild contractions start at 6:30 that evening, continuing every three minutes for four hours.
- Around 10:30, the contractions slow to every ten minutes. At 11:30 I go to sleep.
- At 3:30 I wake up. Contractions are still there, but not regular or strong. Back to sleep.
- By 6:30 I get up again, and at 7:30 the contractions are regular and getting stronger.
- Midwives come at 10:30.
- Near noon, my midwives suggest breaking my water to move things along. I ask if that will increase the pain and they say yes. They tell me the baby’s head is low but the water is blocking her progress. More pain? I tell them that they’re crazy.
- After two more contractions, I agree to let them break my water. Pushing begins immediately.
- At 1:15 The Pixie is born.
Compared to the birth of The Princess, this was a breeze.
Timeline of The Princess’ Birth
- Water breaks at 9:15pm on my due date. Total panic ensues.
- Midwives come within an hour. They suggest we birth at home because we might not make it to the hospital. We agree that birthing at home is preferable to birthing in the car
- Fully dilated and pushing at 11:00
- Slow progress and utter exhaustion prompt ambulance trip to the hospital at 3:00 am. Evil paramedics choose bumpiest roads in the city. DH (also a medic) swears I’m the worst patient he’s ever seen. I contemplate divorce.
- We arrive at hospital, and epidural brings sweet relief. Can’t feel a thing. For hours.
- We assume that birth will be assisted in some way, but OB is content to wait it out.
- After three more hours of possible pushing (remember, total numbness), The Princess is born.
Turns out The Princess hand was up, making everything more difficult. Despite knowing that, I’ve always wondered if it was my fault. If I hadn’t panicked, would it gave gone better? Was I not strong enough to birth a baby? Was I just a wimp? Deep down, I felt like a failure.
In light of our experience with the first birth, we did everything we could to make this time better. Whereas The Princess’ birth was surrounded in chaos, panic, and fear, I wanted this one to be calm and peaceful. For this reason, we chose to do a home birth — hopefully a gentle water birth (which didn’t work out because our water tank quickly ran out of hot water and took five hours to come back). We also took five weeks of hypnobirthing classes (that’ll be another blog post) and I listened to my birth affirmations and relaxation CDs almost every night for months (fyi: I never want to hear Marie Mongan’s voice again). I felt ready when the time came.
But honestly, deep down, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it. I don’t tolerate pain well. I’m not very brave. But with the help of our excellent midwives, we got through it, and I feel like I can truly accept the first birth now that I’ve gotten through the second. The first one made me think I was a failure. Now I don’t believe that any more. I’m strong, physically and emotionally. I’m as strong as anyone else.
The pain of the first birth stayed with me a long time, dragging out my recovery time and delaying our bonding. This time, though recovery is still slower than I’d like , I can no longer remember the pain of labour – either the first or the second. And I have to say, it’s nice to let that go.